The Red Centre of Australia: Emtpy streets for hundreds of kilometres, amazing nature and a small town called Alice Springs. Located roughly 1500 hundred kilometres away from every bigger city, right in the middle of Australia, it might seem like you’re stuck there, once you get there. Getting there – another story: Unless you fly, you look at a at least twenty hour long journey.
I took a bus up from Adelaide. It took 22 hours and was possibly the worst thing I’ve ever done. In hindsight I would definitely recommend doing a roadtrip in your own or in a rental car. No matter which way you come from, there are amazing things to see along the way, and it is an experience of a lifetime, while a little dangerous, to do a roadtrip through the unique Outback of Australia. I, however, was short on money, so I chose the quick way to get there and find a job. But no matter why you head to The Alice (this is what Australians call Alice Springs) it will be an amazing, one of a kind, experience
First Impressions and Other Wrong Things
There I was, tired and sweaty, with my heavy backpack and a tiny two weeks of travel experience, basically in the middle of the desert. After the bus driver pointed me into a totally wrong direction, I found myself in this empty, dusty town, that was nothing like I expected, surrounded by grim looking Aborigines, completely and utterly lost. I knew nothing about them, other than the fact that they were the first people in Australia and that they looked like they were going to jump me when I tried to smile at them in open-minded-traveller-fashion.
In the next days I learned to use Google Maps and that looking an Aborigine in the eye was very disrespectful. Their culture is vastly different from ours and extremely interesting.
What to Do and Where to Go
“What on earth did you do in Alice Springs for four and a half months? Isn’t that in the middle of nowhere?” This is what a lot of people ask me, when I tell them about my stay in Alice Springs. Now, most people are probably only going to be staying in Alice Springs for a few days and while it is basically in the middle of the desert, there area lot of things you can do.
If you are staying for a little longer, you will meet the most interesting people, forget what rain feels like and experience Australia’s Outback in the most intense way.
During the Day
It is most likely going to be sunny, no matter the season. Here are a few things to do during the day:
- Visit the beautiful Aboriginal Art Galleries in Todd Mall
- Have a coffee or a typical Aussie Brekkie (Australian Breakfast) in one of the unique Cafés
- Visit the East and West Macdonnell Ranges (If you don’t have a car, you can book a tour)
- Book a tour to the Kangaroo Sanctuary
- For the brave: Visit the Reptile Centre and get to handle snakes
- Watch the sunrise or sunset from Anzac Hill, just outside of town and only a small hike, will have an amazing view
- Or: step up your game and watch from the top of Mt Gillen, while taking a little more effort, the view will be worth
You’ve had an eventful and probably hot day in beautiful Alice Springs and now you want to hit the town. While there is only a few places to go, all of them have their own atmosphere and since there are a lot of backpackers you will find a party on almost every day of the week. If you have only one night in Alice, you can do a pub crawl and go to almost every place there is.
Four of the main pubs and bars are located close to each other in the town centre. First of, to start out with a roadhouse atmosphere, you can head to the spacious ‘Uncle’s Tavern’ for a burger and a game of pool. Next up you can head to ‘Montes’, half open air and half under a roof, with some crazy decorations, you will have a blast. Just down the road is ‘The Rockbar’. With it’s rustic atmosphere, you’ll have to have been there during your stay at least once. A little bit further down, in Todd Mall, you will find ‘Epilogue‘, which offers a beautiful rooftop bar and often has some life music. As the night progresses, your last stop is the Casino. A little bit out of the town centre, but easy to reach via Taxi. The Casino is open until 4am and with a dance floor, gambling machines and an outside area for smoking and sitting down, it is great way to end your night out in Alice Springs.
When To Go
Australia’s Red Centre has a very unique climate. While it is sunny during the day around 300 days a year, it can get cold during the night. From about April to October you will definitely need a warm blanket at night. In Summer however, it gets very warm, up to forty degrees Celsius, while the heat is very dry. The most comfortable climate you will find in September, October and November, especially if you will do a camping trip to the Outback’s famous Uluru(Ayers Rock) & Co.
Last but not least: Be warned! There will be a lot of flies. And the further you get from town, the more they will be. And they will be everywhere. You have three choices: Makes friends with them, establish the ‘Australian Wave’ (Frantically waving your hand in front of your face) or you can buy a fly net.