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Amazing Alice
alice springsWhen it comes to Australian outback towns, there are none perhaps more known than Alice Springs. This brilliant town is positioned right in the heart of the Territory and is nestled between the West and East MacDonnell Ranges. It is also ideally located just a day's drive from Darwin, which is perfect for a scenic drive.

Sunny days are present for most of the year and are accompanies with wide, blue skies. The winter nights here get very cold, so don’t forget your thick socks. In summer the temperatures can soar to over 40 degrees. The best time to travel is spring and autumn, where the temperatures are not as extreme, allowing you to enjoy the scenery to a greater extent.

Although small, the Alice, as it is often referred to as, offers a unique diversity that the second largest town in the Territory should. You will find history in every corner, as the town was forged by brave pioneers and flying doctors who, essentially, put Alice on the map. Be sure to pay a visit to the old telegraph station, which also offers bush walking and some pretty picnic spots. The Royal Flying Doctor service is known and loved by all Australians, and a visit to the original base is a must to see the museum and enjoy the interactive tours.

The Alice Springs Reptile Centre also has to be seen, especially if you have boys with you (of any age!). You will be amazed at the large range of reptiles on show, including the frilly neck lizards, thorny devils, goannas, pythons and venomous snakes.

One of the highlights of your stay at Alice would have to be the ‘Spirit of the Night sky’, held at the Milky Way Café and Observatory in town. This educational and entertaining presentation, featuring powerful telescopes and displays will give you a greater insight into the heavenly realms.

The MacDonnell Range Holiday Park is a great place to stay and is highly recommended if you intend to stay here for a while. The park is nestled in a central location and has excellent amenities, with plenty of room for the whole family.

Beyond the ranges surrounding Alice Springs you will find the majestic Simpson and Tanami deserts. The Simpson is famous for its vast mesmerising dunes that seem to go on forever, and although you can venture close, it should not be crossed unless you are with an experienced guide. Camel treks and four wheel drive expeditions are possible, although you won’t see many other people in this part of the world.

There are plenty of day trips not far from town which are equally as fascinating. One popular natural attraction is the Rainbow Valley, which is nestled in the James ranges. You can also visit Chambers Pillar on the way, an attraction that is blessed with unique rock carvings and is steeped in history.

Travel north from the town centre and you will be awestruck by the natural beauty of the bush, with camping, bush walking, gem fossicking all popular activities among the tourists and locals. Visit the Gemtree, where you can visit the gem fields on organised tours and actually find a treasure to take home. They also offer a large caravan park if you are not in a hurry to head home. Spend some time out here and enjoy the wonders of the starlit skies. Nothing beats an open campfire in the outback, with a majestic sunrise waiting to awake- you at dawn.

Heading south just over 100 kilometres, you will be rewarded with some of the most stunning scenery imagineablecat Finke Gorge National Park. There are also camping facilities at Palm Valley, which is known for its bountiful cabbage palms, if you want to stay overnight.

If you can allow an extra few days, make sure you plan to visit the famous MacDonnell Ranges, which surround Alice Springs. The West MacDonnell ranges are easier to reach, with swimming holes and bushwalks spotted all through the spectacular gorges. Take your time and camp overnight, or leave at dusk and enjoy a picnic at a swimming hole. The East MacDonnell ranges are also stunningly beautiful, featuring the stunning Trephina Gorge. Definitely a must-see while in the area.

Alice Springs is surrounded by some of the most incredible rugged Australian outback in the world. It is the ideal base to visit those hidden natural wonders that beg to be appreciated and enjoyed.

Christine Barton

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