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Australia's most famous outback town, Alice Springs, is a modern township with a rich Aboriginal culture and European explorer history. ‘Alice’, as it’s simply known, hosts a jam-packed calendar of festivals and quirky events, and offers adventure experiences like quad-biking, bushwalking and hot-air balloon and camel rides.
The East and West MacDonnell Ranges stretch out for hundreds of kilometres on both sides of Alice Springs. They are an adventure playground with hiking trails, four-wheel drive tracks, swimming holes and camping spots.
Alice Springs & Surrounds ‘must dos’:
Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, 440 kilometres south-west of Alice Springs, is the spiritual heart of Australia. One of the great natural wonders of the world, Uluru (Ayers Rock) towers above the surrounding desert landscape to a height of 348 metres.
To the west is Kata Tjuta (the Olgas), a collection of 36 rock domes estimated to be 500 million years old. The third natural icon of this area is Kings Canyon, 300km north-east of Uluru in Watarrka National Park with 100 metre-high sandstone walls, walking trails, palm-filled crevices and views across the desert.
Uluru & Surrounds ‘must dos’:
The ‘Red Centre’ refers to the Northern Territory’s three southern destinations of Tennant Creek and the Barkly region, Alice Springs and the Uluru-Kata Tjuta region. These are the places overseas visitors usually associate with the ‘real Australian outback’ for their landscape of red dirt, blue skies and boundless horizons.
In the Red Centre, visitors can experience world-famous natural icons, Aboriginal art and culture, outback adventure, unique wildlife and colourful characters. The Explorer’s Way and Red Centre Way tourism drives link Red Centre destinations.
There are two airports in the Red Centre: Alice Springs Airport and Ayers Rock Airport, near Uluru. Domestic airlines fly to both from most Australian capital cities. These airports are not serviced by international flights. International visitors can connect via Darwin or other Australian capitals for a flight to Alice Springs or Ayers Rock airports. The Red Centre Way is a popular tourism drive that links many of the Red Centre’s icons. From Alice Springs, visitors can access other Red Centre destinations by hiring a car, joining a tour, or boarding a bus or light aircraft.
Central Australia, which includes Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Uluru, has a semi-arid climate and Australia’s four typical seasons: summer, autumn, winter and spring. In summer (December–February), temperatures range between 20C (68F) and 35C (95F). In winter (June–August): 3–20C (37–68F). Spring and autumn bring warm days and cool nights. Temperatures can be extreme here; below 0C (32F) overnight in winter, and above 40C (104F) in summer.
Tennant Creek is a small, friendly township between Alice Springs and Darwin, with a rich history shaped by Aboriginal culture, cattle stations and gold mining—it was the site of Australia's last gold rush in the 1930s.
The vast Barkly Tablelands stretch east of the town and are home to cattle stations the size of small European countries. South of the town are the sacred Devils Marbles, hundreds of giant round boulders, and eastward is the Davenport Range National Park, a 1120-square kilometre nature reserve.
Tennant Creek & Barkly Region ‘must dos’: