Alice Springs is best known as the jumping off point for a visit to Uluru (formerly called Ayers Rock). The two places are often mentioned simultaneously, leading many to believe that when they arrive in Alice Springs, they are in Uluru’s back yard. Actually, Alice Springs is almost 300 miles from Uluru. In between and all around the two are dozens of other outback opportunities to explore.
Take a look on the map and you’ll see that Alice Springs is in the middle of Australia’s Red Center. Prior to the building of roads and the arrival of basic necessities, the entire region was considered uninhabitable by Australians of European descent and many intrepid explorers died trying to survive in the outback. At the same time, this area has been the home of aborigines for tens of thousands of years. On an outback tour from Alice Springs, you can learn how they not only survived, but thrived.
Only 50 miles from Alice Springs is the tiny outpost of Santa Teresa. Santa Teresa is the home of the Ltyentye Apurte community. A highly prolific artistic community, many of the artists’ works are on display in Alice Springs and in galleries throughout Australia. A visit to Santa Teresa gives visitor’s the opportunity to see how the community lives and works and to meet the artist’s in person. An ideal way to visit is by helicopter. Quick, safe and scenic, it affords you the opportunity to get a bird’s eye view of the vast Red Center and top off your flight with a purchase of authentic aboriginal art from the source.
There are many 4 Wheel Drive tours available from Alice Springs that offer you the chance to see the outback as few others in the past have been able to see it. Riding aboard specially adapted 4WD vehicles, you will definitely be taking “the road less traveled.” In fact, most of the routes you travel on are called “tracks” instead of roads. Take for instance the Hay River Track into the Simpson Desert. This multi-day tour will take you into the heart of this awesome and previously treacherous landscape. Along the way, you will camp out on the land of an aboriginal elder. After that, even the track disappears and you’ll drive across, around and over great dunes, your itinerary determined by their shifting patterns and your personal interests.
On the Western fringe of the Simpson Desert is Witijirra National Park. Here you’ll find Dalhousie Springs, a collection of over 60 artesian springs out in the middle of one of the world’s driest landscapes. On a longer 4WD excursion from Alice Springs, you will press on until you arrive here for a day of rest and relaxation before making the return journey or moving on to even more remote outback adventures.
If a day trip is all you’re looking for, there are plenty to choose from and tours can be tailored to suit. For example, the bird life in the outback is amazing – if you know where to find it. From Alice Springs, full day to multi-day bird watching and photography tours are regularly offered or can be made by arrangement. The list of indigenous bird species that have been caught on film in the outback surrounding Alice Springs runs into the hundreds and includes rare and endangered species.
When you think Alice Springs, don’t just think of Uluru. Of course, it will be a highlight of your trip, but give yourself extra time to explore the Red Center from your Alice Springs accommodation.
Rob enjoys the vast magical Outback of Australia. If planning a holiday to Australia checkout the range of accommodation on offer across Australia to start planning your trip.