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Historic, laconic and occasionally eccentric, the outback town of Alice Springs is an unpretentious treat for those tired of cosmopolitan trappings. Unfurling on either side of the settlement are the wondrous MacDonnell Ranges, where sandstone cliffs loom majestically over placid waterholes. A microcosm of central Australia’s remarkable environment can be explored at the Alice Springs Desert Park, where the region’s fascinating flora and fauna have been assembled. In the town itself, browse the unique work of Aboriginal artists in the local galleries, and visit the School of the Air, which broadcasts classes to kids on remote properties ...

Historic, laconic and occasionally eccentric, the outback town of Alice Springs is an unpretentious treat for those tired of cosmopolitan trappings. Unfurling on either side of the settlement are the wondrous MacDonnell Ranges, where sandstone cliffs loom majestically over placid waterholes. A microcosm of central Australia’s remarkable environment can be explored at the Alice Springs Desert Park, where the region’s fascinating flora and fauna have been assembled. In the town itself, browse the unique work of Aboriginal artists in the local galleries, and visit the School of the Air, which broadcasts classes to kids on remote properties spread out over a million square kilometers. When you’re ready for some solitude, head into the West MacDonnells to marvel at grand Ormiston Gorge and ancient ochre pits. At the end of a looping dirt road is Hermannsburg, its old Lutheran mission now housing paintings by Albert Namatjira, who was born here. The less-visited East MacDonnells offer superb bushwalking at rugged, beautiful oases like Trephina Gorge.

Paul Smitz
About the Expert

Paul Smitz has coauthored a dozen guidebooks for Lonely Planet on places such as Australia, New Zealand, Malaysian Borneo, Brunei, various Pacific Islands, Prague, and Brussels.

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Paul Smitz for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    June through July, when it’s not too hot or wet