How to Spend 72 Hours in Alice Springs, Australia

Get to the heart of this astounding country

Written by: Dave Owen

There is nowhere else in the world like Central Australia. Its sweeping desert landscapes dotted with opportunities for adventure, cast of colourful outback characters, captivating Aboriginal culture, and much more, means no two visits are ever the same Alice Springs, located at the beating heart of Australia, is the ideal city to base yourself to see it all.

Whether you’re passing through on a wider Northern Territory tour, or staying a while to find some work, there are so many amazing things to do in Alice Springs. These are just a few of our favourites.

ellery creek big hole

Working in Alice Springs

Alice Springs is a great city to pick up some paid work and settle down for a while. Backpacker jobs are plentiful: bar staff, farm hands, promotional workers, and more are always in demand, so you’ll never struggle to find employment. That means you can get paid while using your time off to explore everything Alice Springs has to offer! It doesn’t get much better than that.

Adventure

Outback ballooning

The best way to appreciate the vast beauty of the desert landscapes around Alice Springs is to see it from the air. The consistently bright blue skies guarantees top conditions for a hot air balloon ride over the MacDonnell Ranges and the surrounding bush, during which you can marvel at the epic views and keep your eyes peeled for red kangaroos and other Australian wildlife in their natural habitats.

alice springs mountain biking

Outback  cycling

You’ve seen it from the air, so now it’s time to properly explore the outback on the ground! Immerse yourself in this extraordinarily rugged environment by hiring a mountain bike to get off-road and on-track. Alice Springs is renowned for its biking trails, which include access to the MacDonnell Ranges and the Larapinta Trail. Make sure you pack plenty of water!

Alice Springs to Kakadu

From: £475 / 6 Days

For travellers looking to discover Australia's wild and rugged heart, few trips compare to this six-day adventure through some of nature's scenic best. From parched red landscapes bathed in the light ...

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Simpsons Gap

The Larapinta Trail includes Simpsons Gap, which almost serves as a microcosm of Central Australia. The scenery includes the towering cliffs of Simpsons Range and a permanent waterhole; the area teems with wildlife, including black-footed rock wallabies; trails reveal a host of native plants, including ancient Ghost Gums. Simpsons Gap is also significant to the Arrernte Aboriginal people, with several dreaming trails and stories crossing the area.

West MacDonnell Ranges

While you’re at Simpsons Gap, it would be rude not to explore the rest of the West MacDonnell Ranges. You’ll be handsomely rewarded by seeing the walls of Standley Chasm glow gloriously red at midday, before escaping the heat by diving into the natural swimming holes at Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, and Glen Helen. You also shouldn’t miss the Ochre Pits, once used by Aboriginal people as a quarry for ochre pigments used in painting.

ormiston gorge alice springs

Wildlife

Kangaroo Sanctuary

This 188-acre wildlife sanctuary is dedicated to rescuing orphaned baby kangaroos and injured adults. Take a guided sunset tour to meet the residents as they wake up from their daytime slumber, and learn all about how to care for these iconic Aussie animals.

Reptile Centre

You wouldn’t want to meet some of the Northern Territory’s snakes and lizards in the wild, so instead go where they’re kept safely behind glass! The Reptile Centre houses over 100 kinds of native reptile, from tiny geckos to gargantuan saltwater crocodiles. Most fascinating are the snakes, including some of the most venomous in the world.

alice springs reptile centre

Alice Springs Desert Park

The desert might appear barren, but it teems with life, and the ancient landscapes of the Desert Park offer a vital glimpse. From dry river beds to dense woodland, you’ll see plenty of local wildlife and explore Aboriginal culture. The nocturnal house guarantees glimpses of the more elusive species, while nocturnal tours give you the chance of seeing endangered animals in the wild.

Melbourne to Alice Springs Overland (Basix)

From: £850 / 10 Days

Travel from Melbourne to the Red dirt of Alice Springs, taking in the region's biggest and best-known drawcards along the way. Drive the famous Great Ocean Road and Oodnadatta Track, hike the Grampian...

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Culture

The Alice Springs Telegraph Station

Alice Springs is home to the best preserved telegraph station in Australia, now a museum that tells the compelling story of how this startlingly remote country became connected to the rest of the world. A guided tour around the beautifully restored stone buildings also includes a visit to the original “Alice Spring”.

Royal Flying Doctor Service

Imagine having to provide medical support for over 7 million square kilometres of outback. That’s the reality for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and the Alice Springs tourist facility reveals all about this incredible service. The highlight is the John Flynn Hologram show, which jaw-droppingly brings the story of the RFDS to life.

Outback to the Red Centre–Adelaide to Alice Springs

From: £749 / 9 Days

Forego the typical coach tour and get off the beaten track from Adelaide to Alice Springs and explore some of the most remote areas on Earth. From Adelaide, hit the Flinders Ranges and cut through the...

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Food, drink, and nightlife

Page 27 Cafe

A day packed with any of the above Alice Springs things to do might leave you needing to recharge your batteries. Page 27 is the ideal spot. This quirky cafe offers a massive menu to suit any taste, arguably the best coffee in town, and a unique atmosphere perfect for relaxing.

Epilogue Lounge

If you’re feeling in need of a hearty meal, Epilogue has you covered. An extensive menu is available through the day, before the bar opens in the afternoon. Kick back with a beer or cocktail and gather your energy for another day of adventure (or maybe a big night out on the town…).

Montes Lounge

Did somebody say big night out? Chances are you’re heading to Montes. While its chilled out during the day, as soon as the evening arrives it comes alive with live music, DJs, and other shows, the bar fully embracing its circus atmosphere.

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