5 Things to do in Alice Springs

Highlights

  • Climb Mt Gillen at sunset for incredible views of the McDonald Rangers and Alice Springs.
  • Admire the amazing shades of orange at Standley Chasm at noon.
  • Walk amongst the wallabies at Simpsons Gap at dusk.
  • Take a day trip to the stunning McDonald Rangers.
Mt Gillen Alice Springs

Mt Gillen Alice Springs

How long do I need in Alice Springs?

Whether you are just stopping by Alice Springs for the day before flying to Uluru, on a business trip to the red centre or you want an 'out of the ordinary' adventure, Alice Springs offers more than you would expect.  Natural beauty is everywhere you look.  

Things to do in Alice Springs

What are the best things to do in Alice Springs?

1. Mt Gillen

Mount Gillen is the highest point in the centre of Australia and is a beautiful hike that gives amazing views of the plains around Alice Springs.  The hike starts at Flynn's Grave on Larapinta Drive (refer to map below) and is best started in the late afternoon for two reasons: 1. to avoid the heat, and 2. the mountain's rock glows an incredible orange when the sun is lower in the sky.  The walk takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour and can be easily hiked for anyone with moderate fitness.  The final 20 metres is a bit of a rock climb but nothing that can't be safely negotiated. 

We think that the ideal time to do the walk is actually about an hour before sunset.  This way you get the amazing orange all over the countryside and you get to the top of the ridge just in time for sunset.  Provided that it is a clear night and the moon is out you should have enough light to walk down safely; but bring a spot light just in case.  And definitely do not attempt this on your own.

How to get to Mt Gillen: The hike to the top of Mt Gillen begins at Flynn's Grave on Larapinta Drive which is just 7kms from Alice Springs.

 

2. Standley Chasm

Standley Chasm is 50km west from Alice Springs on Larapinta Drive and is clearly marked.  Standley Chasm is an easy 15 minute walk from the Kiosk Carpark. 

The Chasm provides some amazing scenery and perfect photo opportunities.  The Chasm is best viewed at noon when the sunlight shines directly between the gap in the gorge.  If you have an opportunity to walk past the Chasm, take it! (As it is often closed to tourists.) 

3. Anzac Hill

Anzac Hill is just a short stroll up from Todd Mall (central Alice Springs) and will provide you with gorgeous views of Alice Springs and also provides some interesting information about the men and women involved in WWI.  We recommend that you walk up here before or after dinner for a beautiful sunset.

The view from Anzac Hill

The view from Anzac Hill

4. Morning walk along the Todd River

Maybe a little bit out of left field but personally the best time to experience the beauty of Alice Springs is at dawn.  Hire a bike (most hotels/hostels provide either free or cheap bike hire) or go for a run/walk along or in the Todd River.  The Todd River (99% of the time) doesn't have any water in it and it is surprisingly beautiful because of this. 

Start your walk anywhere along the Todd and head West out of Alice Springs towards Mt Gillen for the best scenery. Even pick a spot on a ridge and hike your way to the top. 

How safe is Alice Springs?

Alice Springs is generally a very safe place; however like any place there are areas which are not safe after dark.  As a couple you should not have any issues being anywhere in the CBD.  However, we would not recommend that you wander around the outskirts of the Alice no matter who you are, and females should be especially careful walking around after dark by themselves.  Absolutely do not walk around the Todd River at night.

Eating + drinking

You will not find any Michelin star restaurants or even any fine dining in Alice Springs.  You will, however, find some very relaxed outdoor beer gardens, such as Monties, Evolution or the Rockbar in the city centre.  Unfortunately there have been several places close down recently as the local economy has slowed. 

To eat: try Loco Burrito which provides an interesting and enjoyable option and is a good break from the normal, greasy pub food that is the norm in Alice.  If Thai food interests you, try the restaurant in the Double Tree Hilton hotel called Hanumam.  The culinary landscape is constantly changing in Alice so do a quick review of Trip Advisor before you go.

Word of warning: stay away from any seafood purely because you are, at the closest, 1,500km away from the nearest ocean (and as you can see above - the Todd River rarely has any water, let alone fish).

Day trips

There are many things to do in Alice Springs but there are also a number of day trips you can take which are within a couple of hours drive such as the MacDonnell Rangers.

1. The MacDonnell Rangers

The MacDonnell Rangers is a great day trip from Alice, however if you have time you could also very easily spend a few days out there at the Glen Helen Resort.  The ridges of the West MacDonnell Rangers is approximately 160km from Alice Springs.  The highlights of the West MacDonnell Rangers are:

  • Ellery Creek Water hole - a beautiful gorge that is perfect to have a dip.
  • Ormiston Gorge - a wide open gorge with some nice walks.
  • Redbank Gorge - similar to Ellery and Ormiston and offers some very enjoyable walks.

For more information the NT Government has some good information on the walks available.

Ellery creek

Ellery creek

Ellery Creek Water Hole

How to get to the Rangers: you essentially have two options: 1. either hire a car, or 2. speak with any of the many tour operators in Alice Springs.  We personally prefer the car option as you can stop when you want and have that extra bit of freedom.  Just make sure you hire a car with unlimited kilometres!  You can also get to Uluru from the MacDonnell Rangers but you need a 4WD as it is a dirt road from Hermannsburg through past Kings Canyon.

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