How to See the Best of Alice Springs in 24 Hours

Alice Springs Travel Tips

Alice Springs Travel Tips


Many people know Alice Springs, Australia as the gateway to the Red Centre. From Alice thousands of travelers launch exhaustive tours of Kings Canyon, Glen Helen and of course Uluru, otherwise known as Ayers Rock. Many people just pass through Alice Springs, which is a shame, because it’s a great, if not quirky, community with lots to do and see in its own right. So when you plan your trip to Australia’s Northern Territory, be sure to schedule some time in Alice Springs. Here are my recommendations to see the best of the city in 24 hours.

Ghan Museum, Alice Springs

Alice Springs Activities


Ghan Train Museum
Construction of what we know of today as the Ghan began in 1878 in Adelaide, South Australia. It wasn’t until the 1920s that train service extended to Alice Springs, prior to that the final leg of the journey had to be made by camel. The Ghan Museum is housed in a former train station, and is also the final resting spot for strange bits of railroad paraphernalia, from full sized locomotives to random bits of iron rusting away. The museum itself though is clean, well organized and infinitely interesting. I found myself reading through mid-century travel posters and gazing longingly at proper dinner service sets, a remnant of a more civilized era of travel.

The museum isn’t just an odd accumulation of stuff though, it is well interpreted and there are plenty of explanations detailing the rich history of the Ghan. Before leaving, we walked through the old train cars, imagining what it must have been like to be the first to make the long journey through the Red Centre.

Alice Springs Desert Park
Tucked away in Alice Springs is one of the best animal experiences in the world, the Desert Park. The Desert Park is a unique nature experience that showcases the flora and fauna of the central Australian desert environments on 3,212 acres of land. It offers guests the opportunity to experience the variety of the deserts of central Australia, exploring the inter-relationships between the plants, animals and people. They also have a unique nocturnal enclosure, giving visitors the chance to see many iconic Australian animals they would never see otherwise.

The nocturnal walk was one of my all-time favorite animal experiences, and is not to be missed. For thirty minutes it was a parade of strange nocturnal creatures including bilbies, wallabies, bettongs and fuzzy rats (disappointed it wasn‘t called the rataby or something). It was fascinating as the guide related stories of saving various animals, some of which are the last of their species. Whether you visit by day or night, make sure the Desert Park at the top of your Alice Springs to-do list.

Alice Springs Desert Park

Other Notable Attractions:

Museum of Central Australia – Located at the Araluen Cultural Precinct, the Museum of Central Australia houses an extensive display relating to Central Australia including natural wonders of this arid region, unique fossils of extinct megafauna, minerals and meteorites and desert life forms.

School of the Air – This famous radio-based school system broadcasts across an amazing 1.3-million-sq.-km radius. Guests can listen in if school is in session or just enjoy the free tour.

Royal Flying Doctor Service – Like the School of the Air, the Royal Flying Doctor Service was born of necessity, a way to service the people living in the vast Outback. Tours are available and there’s even a small museum.

Old Timer’s Museum – I have no idea what this is really supposed to be, we didn’t stop, but it may be worth a visit just for the oddity of the experience itself. From the outside it appeared to showcase lots of rusty cars and farm equipment, but some may find it interesting.

Australian Outback

Alice Springs Accommodations


Crowne Plaza Hotel Alice Springs
We never planned to actually spend the night in Alice Springs, but our plans changed suddenly on the ground and we were left in the lurch. Thankfully we found the Crowne Plaza, a comfortable and well priced hotel in Alice Springs. Even though we didn’t take full advantage of the amenities, the hotel is large and even features a huge pool area, perfect on a hot Outback day. The restaurant was pan-Asia and delicious, surprising for a hotel restaurant. If I were to return to Alice Springs, I would not hesitate to stay at the Crowne Plaza again.


Alice Springs iPhone Apps


These are a few apps you may find useful during your visit to Alice Springs.

Alice Springs Genius Map – Offline map offers street level detailed map with streets and landmarks.  Cost $0.99

Alice Springs Airport – Fast and convenient access to the latest arrival and departure times. Cost Free

Museum of Central Australia – Audio guide to compliment the experience of visiting the museum. Cost $1.99


By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer.

4 thoughts on “How to See the Best of Alice Springs in 24 Hours”

  1. Thank you for posting this, Matt.

    To anyone who’s thinking of coming to see the outback, do as Matt says: spend time in Alice Springs.

    Do not skip it out and just rush off to Ayers Rock/Uluru.

    This is a huge mistake.

    The town itself is home to over 300 Aboriginal sacred sites. Every hill, large rock and River Red Gum tree is of significance to local Arrernte Aborignal people.

    The town is built around these sacred sites – which is why you don’t see houses built disrespectfully on hills and there are so many big, old trees left intact.

    Along with Aboriginal significance, Alice Springs has some of most amazing and unexpected cultural life you’ll find in Australia.

    It’s a hub for yoga, vegetarian food, creative photographers, folk/blues musicians, alternative energy, painting, birdwatching and of course, hiking and camping.

    The desert makes brings out the quirky best in those of us who live here, and we love to celebrate with oddities like the Alice Springs Beanie Festival and the Bicycle Film Festival, and a boat race in a dry river bed called the Henley-on-Todd.

    There is enough to see and do in the town to keep you busy for several days. Add trips out to the East and West MacDonnell Ranges, and you’ll be kept busy for more than a week.

    Alice Springs is the heart and soul of the ‘real’ outback – it’s the outback’s capital right in the middle of this vast, brown, spiritual and breath-taking continent.

    You have to come see it!

    1. Amanda, Thanks so much for these great comments! I didn’t address the significance to the Aboriginal peoples, so thank you for doing that. Alice is a great community and I really enjoyed my time there.

  2. 24 hours is good, but if you have more, here’s a few more reasons you might want to stay on in AliceSprings . . .

    – At least 1 full day to visit some of the gorges and natural waterholes of the MacDonnell Ranges. Swim in an outback pool in a massive red stony gorge. Great hiking through this area. Easily accessed by car, or you can join a day tour

    – Araluen Art Centre is the town’s hidden jewel. Home to indigenous and non-indigenous fine art from around Central Australia including an excellent Albert Namatjira collection. Entry ticket includes the Museum of Central Australia which is next door.

    – Every afternoon at dusk the rock wallabies descend the ranges and can be hand fed at the Heavitree Gap Resort on the south side of town. You don’t have to be staying there to participate (but if you do, its good budget accommodation).

    – To see wild kangaroos, go for a late afternoon walk around one of the walking tracks at the Telegraph Station nature reserve. 3 Minutes from town but feels like you’re in the middle of no where.

    – The Crowne Plaza is good but Alice Springs has accommodation for all tastes and budgets. From backpackers to hotels and a good selection of friendly B&Bs. All of whom will be happy to help you get the most out of your stay.

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