Alice Springs - Full of Surprises!

As Australia's definitive outback town, mention of Alice Springs conjures up images of dusty red views and spartan vegetation. For the most part this is what Alice is surrounded by- a starkly beautiful yet harsh and unforgiving landscape where only the hardiest can survive.

But Alice has a few surprises in store that the uninitiated visitor may not expect. Spectacular mountain ranges with elaborate river systems lie nearby, as do dense bushlands that are home to some amazing tall gum trees. At the base of steep sided gorges you can find refreshing waterholes filled with clear, crisp water, with a variety of birds and wildlife drinking from them come sunset.

In fact, if it wasn't for the unique character, rich heritage and colourful people of Alice you might be tempted to bypass the town altogether for its beautiful surrounds!

But Alice has forged a unique identity for itself in Australia, just as early pioneers forged a life for themselves here many years ago. And this identity is a hit amongst tourists, who come from far and wide to experience this quirky desert town and its unique festivals and events.

There is a history of strong recognition of cultural heritage in Alice which has led to a powerful community spirit- a community that is receptive to tourists and will welcome you with open arms. So prepare to be amazed by the wonders of the Alice Springs region!

One spot that holds a special place in the heart of all outback residents is the base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This was the first medical aerial organisation in the world, and its possible to visit the working base, enjoy a guided tour and a presentation and browse through the interactive museum on site.

Another interesting place to visit is the old Telegraph Station, which lies about 4 kilometres out of town and was the original site of Alice. It was built in 1872 and the well preserved building houses various artefacts from early last century - a fascinating insight into history!

Alice is surrounded on each side by the East and west Macdonnell Ranges, towering mountains characterised by steep sided gorges and numerous rock pools. The West Macdonnells are the more popular because they are closer to Alice and easier to access, with most of their wide range of attractions being within a four hour drive of the town.

Beautiful swimming holes include the Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, Glenhelen Gorge and Redbank Gorge. Another great place to visit is the Ochre Pits, where Aboriginal people used to harvest the red ochre for use in tribal dances. And although they may be a bit further away, the East Macdonnell Ranges are still worth a look, especially the stunning Trephina Gorge which is known for its stunning quartzite cliffs and River Red Gum lined watercourses.

In keeping with the outdoor-oriented nature of many of the tourist activities in Alice, walking the Larapinta Trail is a favourite pursuit. This 223 kilometre trail runs down the backbone of the West Macdonnell Ranges and is divided into 12 sections that walkers can join at any given point on the journey.

Thus you do not have to walk the entire length, but can choose to join or leave at a number of points accessible by motor vehicle. The stunning views you encounter while traversing the rocky ranges are just reward for your exertions, and the photographs and the memories you come away with will be yours to treasure for life.

If you choose to walk the trail for a number of days you will experience the amazing night sky that Alice is so famous for. The clean air, the clear skies and the lack of city lights make this one of the best viewing points of our galaxies in the world.

Of course you dont have to go on the Larapinta for these views, they are just as special from the town itself. At the Milky Way Cafe and Observatory in town a presentation called the 'Spirit of the Night Sky' is given. This uses powerful telescopes and displays to provide deep insights into the heavenly realms, and is an educational and entertaining way to spend an evening.

While Alice Springs might not be your typical tourist destination where beaches, bronzed bodies and blue seas are your standard fare, it is an unique and interesting place where you can enjoy spectacular desert scenery, friendly outback faces and powerful insights into local and indigenous culture.

Expect to be entertained, fascinated and amused every day you are here as you make the most of the wide range of fascinating activities and stunning sights that Alice Springs is renowned for.

A hire car from Rent New Cars will is the perfect means of traversing the landscape in affordable comfort and style.

Gavin Wyatt

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