The area surrounding Alice Springs is a land of deep chasms and gorges carved though rust coloured ranges. The desert landscape is punctuated by unexpected oases and waterholes and ancient meteorite craters. It is home to an ancient people whose culture is alive and well.
Alice Springs sits at the junction of the East and West MacDonnell Ranges. The spectacular West MacDonnell National Park is home to many amazing natural attractions, such as Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, Ellery Creek Big Hole and Ormiston Gorge and Pound. The renowned Larapinta Trail runs 223 kilometres through the West MacDonnells and is one of the world’s great walks. To pioneering Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira, the West MacDonnells were his inspiration with their dramatic landscapes and ever changing hues.
Highlights of the East MacDonnell Ranges are Emily and Jessie Gaps, Trephina Gorge, Ndahla Gorge, Ruby Gap and Arltunga Historic Reserve. Arltunga was an important gold and gem prospecting area and for a while was the most important settlement in Central Australia. Now only a few restored stone buildings remain.
Hermannsburg (an historic Aboriginal settlement, and the birthplace of artist Albert Namatjira) and Palm Valley (Finke Gorge National Park) are an easy drive from Alice Springs.
Those looking to go further off the beaten track can explore the Simpson or Tanami Deserts, fossick for gems at Gemtree or Ruby Gap, or visit remote communities like Santa Teresa and Titjikala, where tours offer a chance to experience Aboriginal culture and watch artists at work.
A visit to the iconic Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, home of the monolith Uluru / Ayers Rock, situated 461 kilometres south west of Alice Springs on the traditional lands of the Anangu Aboriginal people, is an unforgettable experience.