3 days in Alice Springs
This three-day itinerary will introduce you to the vibrant and modern city set against the backdrop of the magnificent MacDonnell Ranges.
Alice Springs is your basecamp to adventure.
Less than 3.5hrs flight from most capital cities in Australia, it is also easily reachable by road or by the legendary Ghan train.
This three-day itinerary will introduce you to the vibrant and modern city set against the backdrop of the magnificent MacDonnell Ranges. You’ll be drawn into the rich history of the town, and the ancient and prominent Aboriginal art and culture.
Start your engines
If you have arrived in Alice Springs by any other means than driving, it is highly recommended that the first thing you do is hire a vehicle for the trip. There is so much to see and do in and around Alice Springs and having your own reliable mode of transport will mean you won’t miss a thing.
First stop, Alice Springs Desert Park
Make your first destination the Alice Springs Desert Park. Situated on Larapinta Drive, the Desert Park is a ‘must see’ for every visitor to the Red Centre.
Spot rare and endangered animals in the low light of the nocturnal house and discover the star attractions at the ‘free-flying birds of prey’ show. Here you'll see the desert come to life.
Stroll along the 1.6 kilometre trail to experience 3 separate habitat areas within the park. There are informational talks throughout the day, including a presentation on Aboriginal Survival. Make your way around the park at your leisure, and then relax with some refreshments at the onsite café.
Take in the history at the Telegraph Station Historical Reserve
Make your way to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve and get your body moving on a mountain bike tour, leaving from the Trail Station.
Tours leave at 2:30pm daily and are led by an experienced local rider, with all gear provided. You can also organise to go at a time of your choosing if you give the company 24 hours prior notice. No experience is needed; this is a great activity for people of all ages.
Check into your accommodation. There are many lodging options available in Alice Springs, from luxury hotel rooms to camping under the stars. Take your pick, and get a good night’s rest ready for a big day tomorrow.
Drift away on a hot air balloon ride
Rise early and take to the skies in a hot air balloon for a magnificent bird’s eye view of Alice Springs and the Red Centre. As you drift into an outback sunrise of pastel blues, purples and yellows, keep an eye out for native wildlife and the iconic Red Kangaroo down below.
Indulge your senses at Olive Pink Botanic Garden
Once your feet are planted firmly again on the ground, it’s time to indulge in a cooked breakfast at the Bean Tree Café which you can find nestled in the Olive Pink Botanic Garden.
It is Australia’s only arid zone botanic garden and the perfect place to relax for breakfast or lunch amongst the native surrounds. Take the time to wander along the walking trails to see the hundreds of plant species that are native to the Red Centre, or spot some of the 80 bird species which have been recorded at the park.
Be inspired by the early pioneers
Next stop is the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Get amongst the interactive displays and step inside a full-sized replica on a modern PC-12 airplane, part of the exciting new collection. Here, you'll gain an insight into the iconic Australian outback service established by pioneers in 1928.
There is an onsite café, where you can dine under the original verandah and enjoy the amazing blue skies Alice Springs is known for. Sit back and relax with a coffee, especially blended for the RFDS by a local coffee roaster. The ‘Flying Doctor Coffee’ can be purchased from the onsite RFDS Doc Shop, so be sure to pick some up to take home with you while browsing through their other goodies!
Meet new scaley friends
It is now time to get up close and personal with some of the Northern Territory’s favourite wildlife at the Reptile Centre, which is home to the largest reptile display in Central Australia.
Here you'll get to meet Terry the Saltwater Crocodile, see huge perentie goannas, thorny devils, frill-neck lizards and some of the world’s most venomous snakes. Join one of the daily shows to learn more about some lizards and pythons, which is followed by a supervised handling session – a perfect photo opportunity!
Revel in a bush tucker dinner under the stars
Enjoy a special dinner cooked in a bush setting and served under the Milky Way. Your host, a local Arrernte man, will introduce you to bush foods and traditional cooking for this spectacular three-course meal set in the West MacDonnell Ranges.
Soak up the spirituality of Simpsons Gap
Get to know the outskirts of Alice Springs and hit the road heading 18 kilometres west of Alice Springs along Larapinta Road to Simpsons Gap, which is an impressive opening between the towering cliffs of the West MacDonnell Ranges. The area is also an important spiritual site to the Arrernte Aboriginal people, where several dreaming trails and stories cross.
See the beauty of Ellery Creek Big Hole
Continue along Larapinta Drive, turning right at Namatjira Drive towards Ellery Creek Big Hole where you can stop for a refreshing swim. This location is one of the most popular and picturesque swimming, camping and picnic spots in the region. You'll understand why when you set eyes on the spectacular waterhole surrounded by the high red cliffs and sandy creek.
Lunch at Glen Helen Lodge
Driving further west, stop over at Glen Helen Lodge. The landscape around Glen Helen is truly spectacular with towering sandstone walls greeting you as you arrive. You'll be spoilt for choice with the delicious food available on the menu for lunch – however, not many people can go past the famous Glen Helen Burger.
Enjoy lunch teamed with a cold drink as you relax on the back verandah of the restored homestead overlooking the majestic Glen Helen Gorge.
If you’re feeling adventurous, sign up for a 4WD tour or a scenic helicopter flight to discover more of the area.
See Alice by camel
Make your way back to Alice Springs in time for a sunset camel tour at Pyndan Camel Tracks. A camel ride will definitely be an experience youll want to tell your friends about.
The camel tour starts at Pyndan Camel Tracks yard, through White Gums Station and follows an avenue of Iron Bark and Mulga trees across a clay pan flat. You'll be led on your ride by one of Pyndan’s camel experts who will tell you more about these iconic animals.
Finish the ride and the end of your journey with amazing views of the glowing MacDonnell Ranges as the sun goes down.