Centre of a continent, and the biggest city between Port Augusta and Darwin. In Alice you are half way in and out of the outback and yet still a world away from real civilisation. The most dangerous city in Australia, it is a place that I was dubious about visiting. Everyone I had spoken to warned me, “don’t go out at night”. We scuttled into Alice Springs and headed straight for a resort I’d booked us which has suspiciously changed names from booking to arriving.
A little research quelled my unease, Alice has quite a high Aboriginal population, and though most are general, law abiding citizens, a pocket love nothing more than getting smashed off their bonce and then fighting. Alcohol laws are strict, as are rules regarding loitering and, seemingly most things. It was the first time we had seen a strong police presence, with a police man stood outside every single place that sells alcohol checking the IDs of people wanting a drink, who are actually limited to just one bottle of wine.
I have to say, Alice Springs surprised me, not only did we find the legendary Loco Burrito, a place serving the tastiest burritos outside of Mexico, but we didn’t have a single issue, at all.
Not only is the city synonymous with its demographic and location, it is also the jumping off point for the MacDonnell Ranges. Split into East and West, the latter gains the most interest, partly due to the world renowned Larapinta Trail, mostly due to the countless opportunities for bush walking, swimming in waterholes and Aboriginal heritage.
Within Alice itself there is a few places of note, predominantly the camel rides for $7 each, the desert park, and aviation museum. We spent our time between east and west MacDonnell Ranges and our top picks are Ormiston gorge in the west, which is a stunning waterhole set amongst gorgeous rocky, green spattered scenery. It is also the coldest water any of us have ever experienced. Bone shaking, hypothermia inducing cold, thankfully nice and warm 38 degree temperature quickly ease the joint stiffness.
In the East we loved the simpleness of the Trephina gorge walk, an hour long stroll along the top of the gorge before descending down into the dried up river bed that meanders back to the car park.
The best thing about the MacDonnell ranges is the sheer scope of what to do. We would turn off at every signpost and go explore, the only time we did a wheel spin U-Turn was when we realised that you had to pay to see Standley Chasm. Rubber marks remain, we do not.
Read the full trip…
We then drove through the Australian Outback to Coober Pedy, Ayers Rock, Alice Springs got robbed in Tenant Creek and the finished up at the top end in Darwin. The full journey can be read here: The Outback