#AskAway – What should I do in Alice Springs?
It’s the gateway to the heart of the Australian Outback, the West MacDonnell Ranges and Uluru, the spiritual home of its Indigenous community. It’s also a must-visit on pretty much every traveller’s bucketlist — including our team member, Holly, who recently visited to answer all of your questions. “It’s always been on my bucketlist and I was positively thrilled to get to fly there!” Holly says. Welcome to Alice Springs, a town like no other — from whatever angle you look at it.
Get the full picture
Wherever you travel, it’s always worth getting your bearings first, and we reckon there’s no better way of getting the lie of the land than with a bird’s-eye view. We hitched a ride with Outback Ballooning for the full panoramic experience. So, make sure you’ve stowed your baggage safely, your seat’s in the upright position and … Well, just get ready to be wowed by the views of the desert as the sun — and your hot air balloon — rises over the West MacDonnell Ranges. You might even spot a mob of ‘big reds’ (kangaroos) raising dust as they bound across the desert below.
Holly is naturally quite at home in the air, so was excited to get into the basket for a pre-dawn flight. “I couldn’t wait to get back into the sky and what better way than comfortably cruising in a hot air balloon?” According to Holly it’s the best view of Alice, but then: “Every seat is a window seat in the Outback,” she says.
Swap your four-wheel drive for a four-leg ride
It can be a rugged life out there in the Red Centre, and getting around can be as much of an adventure as the sights you’ll get to see along the way. But if you choose to cruise around with the ships of the desert for a guided tour, get ready for a bumpy ride. These guys from Pyndan Camel Tracks might look grumpy — and can sound pretty grumbly, too — but hitching a ride on a camel train is one of the most fun ways to get amongst it in the Outback. Holly was particularly taken with her camel Pixie’s luxurious eyelashes. “I can confirm Pixie and I really hit it off — though she wouldn’t share her eyelash secrets with me for some reason?!”
Cuddle up with joey and friends
Did you know that kangaroos mostly sleep during the day? No, we didn’t either, but it’s why the best time to visit The Kangaroo Sanctuary, run by Chris ‘Brolga’ Barns’, is in the late afternoon. That way, you’ll not only get to learn more about those big reds you spotted from your balloon at sunrise, you might get to feed them, too. But the highlight of a tour here has to be snuggling up with an orphaned joey — cuteness overload. It was “love at first sight” when Holly met Priscilla: “A little queen of the desert and melter of all hearts …”
Learn ancient skills and reach for the stars
From the art galleries of Alice Springs to the ancient rock paintings of the desert, the Indigenous culture of Central Australia is alive and kicking serious goals. It might take a while to hone your boomerang-throwing skills, but all you’ll need to enjoy the bush tucker served up for your campfire dinner is a good appetite. Holly found her new favourite native ingredient, the quandong (“The desert peach …. so delicious and nutritious”), and got to try her hand at throwing a returning boomerang under the guidance of Alice Springs Desert Park guide and Arrente man Doug (it’s all in the wrist apparently).
Then take some time to sit — or better still, lie — back while the guides from award-winning Earth Sanctuary take you on an astronomical journey through the star-filled night sky above. We guarantee you an experience that’s out of this world! Holly was stunned to learn that it’s possible to spot a galaxy outside our own, all with the naked eye. “Mind = blown,” she says.
But the best thing about Alice? That’s its people, according to Holly. “It’s hands down the coolest, friendliest, funniest, most knowledgeable and caring community who cherish their ancient and rich Indigenous culture, land and all of its inhabitants.” Holly says.
“I am so grateful to have spent such quality time with so many locals and to experience the beauty of their home in Alice Springs.”