Introduction to Alice Springs

The Alice, as it's often known, grew from humble beginnings as a lonesome telegraph station along the 3,200 kilometre-long Overland Telegraph Line that connected Darwin with Port Augusta in South Australia. Completed in 1872, the line allowed swift communication between Australia and the rest of the world. Alice Springs is hands down one of Australia’s most iconic outback towns, surrounded by red sand desert stretching for hundreds of kilometres in all directions. The town is also the gateway to the must-see attraction Uluru and Kata Tjuta National Park.

Although still adored for its far-flung location, Alice Springs is no longer a frontier settlement, after having been ignited by the boom in adventure tourism. The buzz around contemporary Aboriginal art, along with increased accessibility to the region, has provoked a rapid modernisation of Alice.

The mesmerising MacDonnell Ranges stretch east and west from the town centre and, according to Aboriginal legend, the ranges were formed during the Dreamtime by giant caterpillars. Thankfully, you still don’t have to go very far to be confronted by red desert, stunning gorges, pastel-hued hills and ghostly white gum trees set against burnished ranges to reacquaint yourself with remoteness beyond the city limits.

Aboriginal culture and a tough pioneering past are celebrated in this rugged town. To the Arrernte people, the traditional owners of the Alice Springs area, this place is called Mparntwe. For many travellers, international and Australian, Alice Springs is their first encounter with contemporary indigenous Australia with its captivating art, fascinating culture and present-day struggles. Importantly Australia’s heritage is linked to Alice Springs from camels to gold diggers and outback pioneers.

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