Alice Springs is a vibrant city that has seen thousands of years of culture infused through art and story. Sprawled across the red Outback, the West MacDonnell Ranges and its surrounding rivers, this Northern Territory town is a true hub for the region.
A day exploring this stunning landscape is a must! Discover the world-class hikes at Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm and Ochre Pits.
1. Araluen Arts Centre
The Araluen Arts Centre is Central Australia's hub of visual and performing art. Designed around a sacred 300-year-old corkwood tree, it's home to four galleries and a theatre.
The centre showcases the beginning and continuing development of the contemporary Aboriginal art movement. It also features a significant collection of works by celebrated watercolourist Albert Namatjira.
This self-guided cultural precinct provides visitors with an opportunity to engage with world class visual and performing arts, learn about Indigenous dreaming and heritage and immerse themselves in the local culture.
The precinct includes the Galleries and Theatre, The Museum of Central Australia (incorporating The Strehlow Research Centre), The Central Australian Aviation Museum, Central Craft and Yaye's Cafe. In addition, visitors can experience a number of significant public works of art and Arrernte sacred sites.
2. Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has a rich and varied history of delivering urgent medical care to remote Australia. At the museum, you can learn about their work and see a Pilatus PC 12 aircraft in full flight.
This museum is a fascinating place to visit and it's easy to spend a couple of hours exploring its collection, interactive displays and replica aircraft. It is also home to a 70-seat theatre where you can watch a film about the RFDS.
The RFDS has been around since 1928, with the founding vision of Reverend John Flynn to bring health and hope to the Australian people living in remote areas. At the museum, you can witness the impact the RFDS has made and experience what it's like to be a pilot or nurse for a day. You can also play with state of the art technology, a life size hologram of the founder and explore virtual reality.
3. Alice Springs Desert Park
If you're after a bit of Aussie wildlife and culture, head to the sprawling Alice Springs Desert Park. It's like a botanic garden, a zoo, a centre for Aboriginal culture and an environmental conservation institute all rolled into one.
The Alice Springs Desert Park is only seven kilometres from town and can be reached by self-drive, public bus or bike. To get there, take the 400 or 401 Buslink public bus from town and disembark on Larapinta Drive.
Then, join a guided walking tour to discover the plants, animals and characters that make up Australia’s Central Australian deserts. There’s also a free-flying bird show and a spotlighting tour that showcases the adventurous spirit of Alice Springs.
4. Namatjira Gallery
Located on the ground floor of the Araluen Arts Centre, this gallery is one of the best places to see Indigenous art. It holds a significant collection of regional art, including four galleries and a 500-seat theatre.
Among the most famous Aboriginal artists of all time, Albert Namatjira began painting watercolours in Hermannsburg, 130km west-southwest from Alice Springs, in 1934. His richly detailed, Western art-influenced paintings of the outback deviated significantly from traditional Aboriginal designs and symbols.
Known for his iconic depictions of ghost gums with luminous white trunks, palm-filled gorges and red mountain ranges turning purple at dusk, Namatjira's work has become etched into Australia's ethos and consciousness. His paintings also address the colonial past and its consequences for Indigenous people.
5. Alice Springs Reptile Centre
A must-visit attraction for any animal lover, this small but mighty centre has an impressive collection of venomous snakes, thorny devils and geckos. It’s also home to Terry, the 3.3-metre saltwater crocodile, a real Territorian who was captured in Darwin harbour and has been living at the centre since 2002.
A visit to the Alice Springs Reptile Centre is a great way to learn about the fascinating creatures of the Northern Territory and Central Australia. It’s a fun, informative and incredibly educational experience and the lizard shows are especially entertaining for children.
The Gecko Cave is another popular stop here, with a huge collection of gecko species that would otherwise be impossible or unattractive to see in the wild. Visitors can get up close and personal with a variety of the centre’s lizard residents during the daily shows or try their hand at a supervised handling session.