Alice Springs, or Mparntwe in the local language, is the physical and spiritual heart of Australia's Red Centre, and the traditional home of the Western Arrernte people. Surrounded by desert sands and the striking red rock of the distant MacDonnell Ranges, the Northern Territory's Alice is the gateway to the iconic Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon and a vibrant hub of fascinating cultural activity.
Here are our top five cultural activities in Alice Springs.
Araluen Cultural Precinct
Alice Springs' Araluen Cultural Precinct offers a unique insight into Central Australian mythology, art and culture. At your leisure, wander around the Albert Namatjira Gallery, the Museum of Central Australia, the Connellan Aviation Museum, the Strehlow Research Centre and the seven sacred Arrernte sites and significant trees of the Two Women Dreaming Track. Admire traditional local handicrafts and develop a deeper understanding of ancient Aboriginal Australia.
Alice Springs Desert Park
At the Alice Springs Desert Park discover the secrets of the land and its original inhabitants; learn about the region's history and its significance to the Australian Aboriginal people, and be immersed in an ever-changing environment, where no two days are exactly the same. Located ten minutes from Alice Springs, the 1300-hectare Desert Park comprises three distinct habitats - Woodland, Sand Country and Desert Rivers - and offers interactive and educational displays, as well as presentations about bush tucker, desert art, tracking and traditional Aboriginal weapons
Alice Springs Telegraph Station
Marking the original site of European settlement, established in 1872, Alice Springs Telegraph Station and Historical Site gives visitors a different perspective on the cultural heritage of the town. After serving its intended purpose for sixty years the Telegraph Station was used as a schoolhouse and welfare home for Aboriginal children. The original "Alice" waterhole, after which the town was named, is located nearby.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service Tourist Facility and School of the Air
Australia's Royal Flying Doctor Service originated in Alice Springs and became an outback legend. The award-winning tourist facility boasts a 70-seat theatre, informative interactive portals and a life-size replica of an operational Pilatus PC 12 Aircraft fuselage. At the Alice Springs School of the Air Visitor Centre gain insight into the school's history as well as its unique teaching methods. A far cry from the final high-frequency radio lesson of 2005, the School of the Air now utilises satellite broadband technology. Live lessons can be viewed by special arrangement.
Emily, Jessie and Simpson Gaps
Visit the sacred sites of the Arrernte's Caterpillar Dreaming, the Emily and Jessie Gaps, located in the Heavitree Range just 10 kilometres east of Alice Springs. Part of a Dreaming Trail, legend has it that the caterpillar beings of Mparntwe forged these and other topographical features. The sacred symbols depicting the story are etched into beeswax, fat and ochre paintings. Similarly, Simpsons Gap is an important sacred site, and remains a permanent waterhole. Visit at dawn or dusk for the best chance of spotting Black-footed Rock-Wallabies.