Glen Helen Gorge, Tjorita/West MacDonnell National Park
Glen Helen Gorge, Tjorita/West MacDonnell National Park

Alice Springs and the Red Centre

Framed by the MacDonnell Ranges and the never-ending desert landscape, Alice Springs is a thriving, spirited outback centre famous for the personality of its locals and natural wonders. The gateway to the Red Centre, sunny skies all year round and a calendar filled with events, any time of the year is a great time to visit the NT.

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Places to stay

Aptly named the Red centre, Alice springs is located right in the centre of Australia. The centre of Alice is lined with historic buildings, art galleries, shops and restaurants, which make it the perfect place to enjoy a stroll during the day or find a bed for the night . You’ll find everything from budget motel rooms, backpacker accomodation and campsites to luxury hotels. If you plan to book a tour, base yourself at one of the family-friendly serviced appartments to familiar chain hotels to be easily collected. If you’re visiting on business or an event at the Alice Springs Convention Centre, opt for one of the modern hotels in Desert Springs. For something different check in for a night or two on an historic working cattle station.

For an extraordinary stay in West MacDonnell Ranges National Park, then book a stay at Glen Helen Lodge to soak in the incredible beauty of the earth’s oldest landscapes. This central Australian outback region is located 130km west of Alice Springs, and is the perfect place to base yourself to see the many attractions in the surrounding areas Glen Helen and Ormiston Gorges.

At the heart of Arrernte country, Alice is also a great place to start your trip to the extraordinary desert icons of Uluru (Ayers Rock), Kata Tjuta (the Olgas) and Karlu Karlu (Devils Marbles) to the north and Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon).

Things to do

Alice Springs' striking landscapes, remote communities, and unique pioneering history create a diverse destination to explore. Begin your outback adventure exploring historic sites, see the work of local artists in Aboriginal art galleries, join a cultural event, or try one of the many adventure activities on offer in the desert landscape.

Experience the magic of the Parrtjima festival that lights up an ancient canvas like no other. Held in April, the unique festival includes a program packed full of live talks, events and music by local and national musicians.

For those who prefer an active holiday, take a walk in the Alice Springs Desert Park and get up close with diverse flora and fauna. Hikers may prefer the breathtaking Larapinta Trail - voted as one of the top trekking experiences in the world with 7 day, overnight and short walking options. Take time to explore the West MacDonnell Ranges, filled with great hiking trails and waterholes to take a refreshing dip.

At the end of the day relax and sample the produce of this vibrant town. Quirky bars and cafes, and restaurants with stunning views are just some of the attractions in the CBD. Choose from outback-inspired dishes showcasing emu, crocodile and kangaroo, native fruits and berries, or feast on cuisines from around the world.


Where to go

More about the MacDonnell ranges Ellery creek big hole

MacDonnell Ranges

The West MacDonnell Ranges form a natural city wall around Alice Springs and are filled with breathtaking chasms, gorges and waterholes. The most popular spots and walking tracks are Simpson’s Gap, Standley Chasm, Ormiston Gorge and Glen Helen.

The East MacDonnell Ranges are popular for bush walking, camping and four-wheel driving. At Emily and Jessie Gaps you'll see a large rock painting that depicts the caterpillar dreaming of the Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal people. Further east is Trephina Gorge, N'Dhala Gorge and Arltunga.

More about the MacDonnell ranges
Read more about the Rainbow Valley Rainbow valley desert

Rainbow Valley

Renowned for its sandstone bluffs and cliffs featuring bands of colourful rock, it's an easy day trip from Alice Springs. This amazing natural wonder is most spectacular in the early morning light or late afternoon sun, when it changes from ochre red to orange and purple - or after heavy rainfall, when the whole scene is reflected in the claypans.

The Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve is located about 75 kilometres south of Alice Springs and best accessed by four-wheel drive.

Read more about the Rainbow Valley
Car hire information Australia tasmania cradle mountain national park

Getting around

From the airport: Alice Springs airport services domestic flights only and is located 15km from the town centre. The taxi rank and shuttle service is located outside the terminal.

Around town: Central Alice Springs is small enough to explore on foot. Bus and taxi services are also available, and it’s wise to use taxis at night for safety reasons. If you’re visiting the national parks, Uluru and Kata Tjuta, you’ll need a hire car or guided tour.

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Important information

Disclaimer: ^ You must be a member of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program to earn and redeem Qantas Points. A joining fee may apply. Membership and Qantas Points are subject to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program terms and conditions.

Disclaimer: ^ Qantas Frequent Flyer members will earn 3 Qantas Points per A$1 value unless otherwise specified, for hotel stays booked through, except Classic Hotel Rewards and Airbnb bookings. Points Club members will earn 25% more Qantas Points, and Points Club Plus members will earn 50% more Qantas Points. Qantas Points will be credited to your account at least 8 weeks after check-out. Qantas Points may be earned by the member in whose name the booking is made. Members will not be able to earn points on additional charges paid to the accommodation provider for extras (including cots, breakfasts and other incidentals) on check-in or check-out (as applicable).  

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Disclaimer: ++ Status Credits are earned on eligible Qantas, Jetstar, oneworld® member and oneworld connect® airlines only - see the Airline Earning Tables and Qantas Frequent Flyer program Terms and Conditions for details. Status Credits may not be earned on some fare types and booking classes. 

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Disclaimer: + The number of destinations is correct as at 25 January 2024 but is subject to change.