Connect to rich Aboriginal traditions, awe-inspiring landscapes and pioneer history in Alice Springs, which sits just south of Australia's geographic centre. Learn about the area's first inhabitants – the Western Arrernte Aboriginal people – in the Araluen Cultural Precinct and in the vibrant art lining Todd Mall. Find out how plucky pioneers shaped the modern town in the Telegraph Station Historical Reserve, Royal Flying Doctor Service and School of the Air. Experience an outback adventure on a camel trek or hot air balloon ride. On your final day, 4WD through the prehistoric terrain of Finke Gorge National Park, visit a huge comet crater and see where acclaimed Aboriginal painter Albert Namatjira grew up.
At a glance:
- Two nights Alice Springs
- Araluen Cultural Precinct
- Hot air balloon over McDonnell Ranges
- Alice Springs Desert Park
- Hermannsburg Historic Precinct, birthplace of famous Aboriginal artist, Albert Namatjira
- Finke Gorge National Park
Climb to the top of Anzac Hill for sweeping views over Alice Springs and the distant MacDonnell Ranges. Breakfast in one of the bustling cafes along Todd Mall, then join a hop on and off bus to the town’s main attractions. See where Alice began at the Telegraph Station Historical Reserve, part of the revolutionary telegraph system that connected England with Australia in 1872. Sit in on a virtual lesson with children in remote parts of Australia’s centre at the School of the Air. Wander through the Araluen Cultural Precinct, learning about Central Australian mythology, art and culture. The precinct’s attractions include the Albert Namatjira Gallery, Museum of Central Australia and the seven sacred sites of the Two Women Dreaming Track. Afterwards, browse the rich Aboriginal art strip of Todd Mall. Return to Anzac Hill to catch the mesmerizing, lava-like sunset before enjoying a feast of bush tucker in a restaurant in town.
Do a dawn camel trek to the sandy Todd River, where each August the quirky Henley-on-Todd sailing regatta is held. Or see the desert awaken in soft colours on a hot air balloon trip over the rugged McDonnell Ranges. Afterwards, learn about the unique birds, animals and habitats of the Red Centre in the award-winning Alice Springs Desert Park. Walk through different desert habitats, watch free-flying birds of prey and learn how Aboriginal people have survived here for thousands of years. Visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service, where you can listen to pilots’ inspiring stories of outback rescues. These real-life medical emergencies will give you new insight into the isolation of life in the Australian outback. In the evening, dine in an old Ghan train carriage or join a big barbeque in town.
Finke Gorge National Park
Hire a four wheel drive or join a tour to the ochre expanse of Finke Gorge National Park. Drive along the dry Finke River to Palm Valley, a desert oasis where prehistoric red cabbage palms flourish. They stand as stubborn reminders of a time when our red centre was lush with tropical forests. Drive west along the Mereenie Loop Road to Tnorala (Gosse Bluff) Conservation Reserve, where a huge comet crashed more than a million years ago. For the Western Arrernte Aboriginal people, this crater has a more magical Dreamtime explanation. Driving to Alice Springs in the other direction, you’ll pass the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct, best known as the birthplace of famous Aboriginal watercolour artist, Albert Namatjira. See some of his original works hanging in the restored, 19th century mission buildings. Return to Alice Springs or unroll your swag beneath the stars. You’ll find camping facilities back near Palm Valley in Finke Gorge National Park.