Alice SpringsAlice Springs, or 'The Alice', lies in the heart of Australia, and is unofficially considered the Outback's capital. While it was regarded as a 'dead heart' during colonial times, due to the surrounding barren landscapes, today both residents and visitors recognise the physical and spiritual importance of Australia’s Centre, and it indeed is beating alive with Aboriginal traditions and sacred sites, a vibrant local art culture with a fascinating pioneering history, and still incredible landscapes.
The CityAlice Springs came to life in the 1870s, as a telegraph station by a small spring, and it was one of a series of repeater stations on the telegraph line linking Adelaide to Darwin to the rest of the world. Despite its isolated location, it became an important part of the communication network for Australia and the northern terminus of the Ghan Railway line. Today, it is still a communications and service hub for central Australia, with all the establishments you would expect in a modern town, grouped in the blocks surrounding the Todd Mall. Also, Alice is one of the main embarkation points for seeing Uluru, the famed red monolith 500 km away. There is a wealth of historical sights from the Old Ghan Railway to the Telegraph Station, with parks housing fascinating reptiles and birds, a host of fine dining cafes and restaurants, and amazing rocky landscapes right on the doorstep. Alice also enjoys a warm climate without the humidity of the Top End, so the city can be perfectly visited at any time of the year. It is particularly popular for a round of wacky festivals, bush sports and dusty regattas in the dry river bed during peak season. Alice also remains a great place to learn more about rich Aboriginal culture. Seeing the land through their eyes provides a deeper understanding and insight into the true spirit of the area.
Do & See
Alice Springs is a great base for a holiday in Central Australia, so do allow at least a week to see the town and the surrounding area. Although you will likely still barely scratch the surface of what there is to do and see, the following spots should not be missed.
In Alice Springs, there is something suitable for every budget, and most places are dotted around the centre allowing easy access. The greatest thing about Centralian food is that it matches its surroundings: hearty, wholesome, and plentiful. Make sure to try some local meats such as kangaroo, emu, or camel. You may even venture to try buffalo, crocodile or the varying flavours of bush tucker. However, if your tastes are more in line with contemporary Australian cuisine, you can count on anything from French bread to mouthwatering steaks, and from Asian curries to bush tucker in all the cafes, pubs, and restaurants around town.
The best place for your daily caffeine fix is the Todd Mall where you can watch a myriad of characters pass by in the form of local artists, buskers, tourists and indigenous folk. Alice has come of age with cappuccino, French bread and hearty breakfasts so you will not have to forgo any pleasures.
Bars & Nightlife
Despite its laid-back vibe, night life does happen in Alice’s pubs and taverns, and there are even casinos and clubs if your bent for gaming or dancing. Sports fans can keep up with national and international events at several bars that broadcast live with Fox Sports. Also, there are several annual music festivals including the Bush Bands Bash (September) with indigenous music, and the Bass In The Dust (October) which both bring good tunes. Stay tuned, and check local newspaper for upcoming festivals and events. Do keep in mind, however, that Alice is officially "dry" so drinking is not allowed in public but only at a private premise, bar or restaurant.
Most people come to Alice to pick up Aboriginal arts and crafts, such as clapping sticks, didgeridoos, spears and paintings, and there are a myriad of galleries and shops to buy them at. Try to experience the variety of shops, however, and just enjoy some casual stroll through shops and stores.