Alice Springs

Alice Springs is nestled at the arid center of Australia, along the southern border of the Northern Territory, approximately 1500km from the nearest major city, north and south. This desert landscape is home to a large collection of Aboriginal communities, and it is filled with a rich history, both human and natural. From Uluru, formerly Ayers Rock, to Kings Canyon and the charming townspeople. Alice Springs, also called Mparntwe in the Aboriginal dialect, is a popular destination for many travelers and the center for travel into the fabled Outback.

History

Alice springs, Australia
Alice springs, Australia

For over 50,000 years, the Arrernte indigenous people have inhabited the arid land of central Australia. With varying terrains, the area offers a range of topographical characteristics, such as mountain ranges, gorges, and waterways, which have become part of the Aboriginal way of life. Local sites and attractions maintain two names, the original native title and the European title, each maintaining traditional worth. In the late 19th century, permanent settlement began, especially after the discovery of gold just east of Alice Springs, which was formerly named Stuart after the expedition spearhead, John McDouall Stuart, who first led an expedition through central Australia. In this part of the country, the original mode of transportation was camel.  Cattle and camels became the chosen livestock that seemed to thrive in this landscape, and exporting of these animals has become a profitable business opportunity, especially the hardy purebred camels into the Middle East. Within Australia is a unique system of education catering to the youth of the isolated areas of the outback; Alice Springs boasts the first of these correspondence schools, which have spread throughout the country and are still a great success in sharing education where it would be otherwise limited.

Attractions

Alice Springs Attractions
Alice Springs Attractions

Though the town is fairly isolated from civilization, Alice Springs is a major destination hub for many attractions, including Kings Canyon, Uluru, and Kata Tjuta, all great opportunities for hiking and seeing some of nature’s finest. Named by the native Anangu people, Uluru and Kata Tjuta respectively mean Earth Mother and Many Heads. The first explorer to view Uluru was Ernest Giles in 1872, who later described it as a "remarkable pebble," and named Kata Tjuta after the Queen of Wurttemberg, whose name was Olga. Uluru received its European name the following year by William Gosse, who reached the base of the stone and chose the name to honor the Chief Secretary. Today, the traditional Aboriginal names are encouraged and used in official documents once again. Within Alice Springs, other sightseeing opportunities include Alice Springs Desert Park, Olive Pink Botanical Garden, The Residency, Adelaide House, and Old Timer’s Museum. Visitors may enjoy an experience of local events that take place throughout the year, such as Alice Show, Camel Cup Racing, Finke Desert Racing, Henley On Todd, a river sand racing event, and the Beanie Festival, a knitting festival with a majority of beanies of every material and style imaginable.

Alice Springs Hotels & Lodging

Alice Springs Hotels & Lodging
Alice Springs Hotels & Lodging

Accommodations in Alice Springs are held to a different standard than the typical hotels of Europe and America with an emphasis on rooms, rather than amenities and facilities, so star ratings will typically reveal room qualities to be expected by guests.  Alice Springs lodgings range through a variety of types and options, from hostels to bed and breakfasts to hotels, including Toddy’s Accomodation Resort, Alice in the Territory (pictured), Best Western Elkira Court Motel, and the Alice Springs Resort.

Top image: c_neuhaus (wikipedia), CC BY-SA 2.0

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