When people come to Alice Springs they seem surprised to find it takes several hours to get to the various sights in the area. Here are some ideas of places to visit that are within a day’s drive of Alice Springs. First we’ll go to the west. No, you cannot see Uluru from Alice Springs, but you can drive there in about 5.5 hours. It is about 460 km from Alice Springs. Accommodation at Ayers Rock Resort ranges from 5-star hotel to camping. Besides visiting Uluru (Ayers Rock)
and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas),
the resort also offers a variety of activities. Many people combine a visit to Uluru with a visit to Kings Canyon (Watarrka). From Uluru, the drive is about 4 hours. Driving to Kings Canyon from Alice Springs is about 5.5 hours. Emu Run Experience offers a variety of tours to Uluru, Kata Tjuta and Kings Canyon.
Hermannsburg is about 127 km west of Alice Springs. It is famous as the home of Aboriginal landscape water colour artist Albert Namatjira. National Trust-listed Hermannsburg Precinct is an old Lutheran mission which has been restored to their original 19th-century condition. Be sure to enjoy some of their famous apple strudel.
Located just west of Hermannsburg, is Finke Gorge National Park. Here you will find Palm Valley which is home to a diverse range of plant species, many of which are rare and unique to the area. This includes the Red Cabbage Palm for which the Park is well-known. The Park is accessible year-round except when the Finke River is in flood. Access is limited to high clearance 4WD for the last 16 km of track.
4.5 hours north of Alice Springs is Wycliffe Well, the UFO capital of Australia. The Roadhouse has UFO paraphernalia, alien statues and souvenirs. Locally made Aboriginal artefacts and paintings are also available. Accommodation includes motel rooms, cabins, caravan park and camping.
About 15 minutes north of Wycliffe Well is Devil’s Marbles. Devil’s Marbles is a living cultural landscape. It is a collection of gigantic rounded granite boulders, many of which are precariously balanced on top of one another. There is a short, self-guided walk with signs explaining the formation of the “marbles.” Then take time to wander and see a variety of “marbles.” You can walk around for a long time and find new and interesting views. Camping is at a simple bush camping site with no facilities other than pit toilets, picnic tables and wood barbecues. Bring your own firewood and water. Camping fees are paid onsite; only cash is accepted.
Tennant Creek is about 100 km north of Devil’s Marbles. Learn about the 1930s gold rush at Battery Hill Mining Centre.
You can also visit the Telegraph Station, one of four of the original 11 stations remaining in the Northern Territory.
Nearby is The Pebbles which are known as the smaller relatives of Devil’s Marbles.
Lake Mary Ann is about 5km north of town. It is home to many water birds and is a cool and shady spot for a picnic or swim.
Finally, we will head south of Alice Springs. Two hours south of Alice Springs in Rainbow Valley. The Rainbow Valley area features scenic sandstone bluffs and cliffs. These provide opportunities for spectacular photos, especially at dawn or dusk, or when the claypans near the bluffs are holding water.
Chambers Pillar is 2-3 hours south of Alice Springs. Access is along an unsealed road. After the Maryvale turnoff, a 4WD is required to negotiate deep sand drifts and steep jump ups. Chambers Pillar was a landmark on the long overland journey from Adelaide to Alice Springs before the coming of the railway in the 1920s. Many of the early travellers left a record of their visit in the soft sandstone. At sunrise and sunset, the Pillar glows like a burning ember as the sun’s rays strike its walls.
Coober Pedy in northern South Australia is 689 km south of Alice Springs. Coober Pedy is the opal capital of the world. It is also famous for its
underground homes, shops, churches and accommodation.
You will also want to visit the Breakaways which is about 33 km north of town. Continue along the track from the Breakaways and see the Moon Plain. The Moon Plain is a vast expanse of rocky plains unlike anywhere else. The lunar like landscape has been the set for many movies including Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Pitch Black and The Red Planet among others.
You will also see the Dog Fence which was built to protect the sheep in the south from the dingo in the north. It stretches 5,300 km across Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.
Whichever direction you go from Alice Springs, you are sure to find some place interesting to visit.