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Alice Springs is located in the heart of Australia, in the so-called Red Center, named after the red color of the soil. The color stems from high levels of iron that oxidize when exposed to the air. The city is located 1300 kilometers in a straight line from the nearest large cities, Darwin in the north and Adelaide in the south of Australia.
The area has been inhabited for thousands of years by the country's original population, the Aboriginals. In the second half of the nineteenth century westerners arrived after the construction of a telegraph relay station and the settlement was called Alice Springs.
To the north of the city lies Anzac Park, a tribute to the Australian and New Zealand soldiers who were killed during both world wars. From Anzac Hill you have a beautiful view of the surroundings. The original telegraph station is situated a bit further north. The city still counts many beautiful, historical buildings, like the Adelaide House (the first stone house in Alice Springs), the Old Courthouse and Residency and the Hartley Street School. You may also enjoy visiting the Flying Doctors station. This service is still indispensable because of the huge distances in the Australian outback.
There are also a few museums in Alice Springs that are worth visiting. Art and utensils of the original population can be found in the Aboriginal Art and Cultural Center. The Museum of Central Australia focuses on the flora and fauna of the Red Center. Here you'll find for example a replica of a giant freshwater crocodile and the largest bird that ever lived, the Dromornis stirtoni.
Tourism is the main source of income for Alice Springs. People mainly visit the city to enjoy the surroundings. First of all there is Uluru, also known as Ayer's Rock. The name was changed at the request of the Aboriginals, who consider the rock formation a sacred place. It is therefore with sorrow that they watch tourists climb the rock. This happens less and less though as people not only respect the Aboriginal traditions, but also because the climb is extremely strenuous and dangerous.
West of Uluru lie the Kata Tjuta, or 'many heads' in Aboriginal language. A walk through these bright red rock formations is an absolute must. It's a lot quieter here than around Uluru. You can cover the beautiful route between Uluru and Kata Tjuta with your 4 x 4 rental car. You will pass stunning gorges, such as Simpsons Gap, Standley Chasm, Palm Valley and Kings Canyon.
The best time to visit Alice Springs is between April and October, when it's winter in the Southern Hemisphere and day temperatures are bearable.
Both to the west and east of Alice Springs lie the MacDonnell Ranges, consisting of parallel low mountain ridges and dry valleys. At first sight, it seems nothing but desert, but there are several waterholes with lush vegetation and wildlife. You can also discover part of the MacDonnell Ranges by camel. Pyndan Camel Tracks organizes trips on the 'ship of the desert' through the beautiful Ilparpa Valley. Another fun way to have a good look at the surroundings of Alice Springs from a high altitude: a balloon ride. Not cheap but definitely spectacular.
The Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve is situated 145 kilometers southwest of Alice Springs. This is where almost 5000 years ago a meteorite hit the earth, or rather, several meteorites, as the colossus disintegrated just before impact.
The area north of the city is the El Dorado for gold diggers. Well, gold ... People are said to have found gold sometimes, but most people return with garnet, zircon, tourmaline, apatite or quartz. You can have your treasures ground or turned into jewelry on the spot.
Alice Springs has a wide range of accommodation on offer ranging from five-star hotels to cheap accommodation for backpackers and everything in between. Most people prefer to stay in the city center, around Todd Mall.
Finding a parking space for your rental car in Alice Springs is no problem. However, of course you mainly want to use your car to explore the surrounding area. In doing so, watch out for kangaroos and emus that may cross the road. Animals are particularly active at sunrise and at sunset. In addition, you may run into so-called road trains on Australian roads. These are trucks with four or five trailers, so they are exceptionally long. If you want to overtake one of those road trains, make sure you don't see any oncoming traffic for at least half a mile!
Alice Springs Airport is located 15 kilometers south of the city. You can easily reach the airport in your rental car via the Stuart Highway.