10 Free Attractions in Alice Springs, Northern Territory

Alice Springs
is located on the Southern border of the Northern Territory in Central Australia. The Arrente Aboriginal people are the original inhabitants of the land which is known to them as 'Mparntwe'. The Arrente people have lived in this area for 30,000 years.

A European settlement began in 1871 when the Overland Telegraph Line required a repeater station to be built. The town is built around the Todd River, which is normally dry. 

There is a rich historical presence to explore in the town together with many interesting Indigenous art and cultural experiences on offer.

1. The Aboriginal Desert Art Gallery
The Aboriginal Desert Art Gallery located in Todd Mall, Alice Springs is one of Australia's largest Aboriginal art galleries and the art work on display is simply stunning. The gallery was established in 1985 and is now home to the work of more than 50 local Aboriginal Artists. Aboriginal Artists from this part of Australia are world renowned and produce some of the best unique and beautiful artworks of their genre. You are welcome to browse and/or purchase.

2. Adelaide House Museum – part of The Flynn Trail Self Guided Heritage Discovery Walk through Alice Springs.

Adelaide House, located in the heart of Todd Mall, was home to Rev John Flynn and is one of the earliest known buildings in Alice Springs which was built in 1820 by the Australian Inland Mission.

It is now a peaceful sanctuary offering home style historic food treats, tea and coffee, and many local products and produce promoting wellbeing and inspiration.

You will learn about the early days of bush nursing, and the importance of the introduction of the historical Traeger Pedal Radio which enabled health services to be relayed in the early days to the vast Outback farms and stations.

Phone +61 8 8952 1856 (from overseas) OR 08 8952 1856 (within Australia) 

3. RSL Military Museum
The War Museum is housed within the Alice Springs RSL Club in Schwartz Crescent, Alice Springs. The museum is recognized as the most significant regional collection of war memorabilia in Australia, and dates from around 1854.The prized centrepiece of the museum is the motorised and-or pedal power Quadricycle Gun Carriage of yesteryear and is the only replica known to exist anywhere in the world.
You will find the museum open seven days a week from 10am, except on Christmas Day and Good Friday.

4. The Alice Springs Telegraph Station
The Alice Springs telegraph station (on Herbert Heritage Drive, off the Sturt Highway 4 kilometres North of the new Alice Springs), was established in 1872 to enable messages to be sent between Darwin in the Northern Territory, to Adelaide in South Australia. The township of Alice Springs was named after the waterhole at this historic Telegraph Station and the reserve marks the original site of the first European settlement in Alice Springs. There are a total of 12 telegraph stations along the old overland Telegraph line, and Alice Springs is the best preserved of them all.
The Telegraph Station features the original stone buildings which have been restored and adored with features from the period. While visiting the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, you can also take advantage of may walking trails, picnic spots and wildlife observation points. Guided tours of the site are available it is open 8am-5pm daily except Christmas Day.

5. Anzac Hill Lookout
Anzac Hill is the most visited attraction in Alice Springs and is the ideal spot to take in the panoramic views of the town.

There is a Memorial at Anzac Hill which was unveiled on 25 April 1934 (Anzac Day). It is a memorial to all those who have served in the defence of Australia during all wars in which Australia has participated. Access is via Anzac Hill Road, Alice Springs.

Please note: Anzac Hill is significance for the local Aboriginal people, so please respect their culture and customs. You should stay in the designated car park and viewing areas at the lookout, and do not wander off into bushland.

If in doubt, ask the local Aboriginal people at the Desert Art Gallery (see No. 1 above), as there are some places that you should not go including spiritual places that are highly significant and sacred. If you want to experience an authentic Aboriginal guided tour, please ask at the visitors information centre in Alice Springs for recommendations.

6. Arltunga Historical Reserve
Arltunga is a gold rush town dating back to 1887 when alluvial gold was found in a dry river bed. The town is located 110 kilometres east of Alice Springs, via the East MacDonnell Ranges. Arltunga was officially Central Australia's first town and once supported up to 3000 people.

There is now a Historical Reserve, where the remains of old gold mines, miner's camps and historical stone buildings (some of which have been restored), are preserved for the public to explore and enjoy. There is a fossicking area located outside of the reserve; however it is recommended that you pan for gold in the visitor centre's courtyard display if you wish.

Important Note: Drivers should be aware that the road to Arltunga includes 33 kilometres of gravel road. It is sometimes only trafficable with a 4WD vehicle. If you are driving a 2 wheel drive vehicle, you should definitely ask the locals before setting out on this journey.

7. Arunta Art Gallery and Book Shop
The Arunta Art Gallery and Book Store is located at the southern end of Todd Mall in Alice Springs. You will find an exciting display of local Aboriginal art, craft and paintings. They also stock a range of beautiful Aboriginal books and CDs that make wonderful unique gifts for loved ones. 
8. Ellery Creek Big Hole
The West MacDonnell Ranges is home to Ellery Creek Big Hole located on Namatjira Drive, off Larapinta Drive, 90kms west of Alice Springs.

This large and inspiring water hole is surrounded by magnificent mature gum trees and imposing high red cliffs. It is a much loved attraction and is a stunningly picturesque picnic area for day visitors.

You can swim in the crystal waters of this internationally recognised geological site and take a 3 klm walk to explore the fascinating landscape and Dolomite formations. Camping is permitted here, but fees do apply. See the local ranger for payment.

Ellery Creek Big Hole forms part of the Larapinta Trail and is located 126 klms from the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. The Larapinta Trail is divided into sections and graded easy, medium and rough. It is vitally important to get information on each section before attempting any part of the trail. Details are available from the information centre in Alice Springs.

9. Emily and Jesse Gaps Nature Park
10 kilometres east of Alice Springs on the Ross Highway lies Emily and Jessie Gaps which are quite noticeable features of the East MacDonnell Ranges and are home to some very interesting Aboriginal paintings. They are also home to important spiritual sites belonging to the Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal people.

Many places in this landscape are associated with the same Aboriginal Dreamtime story, forming a dreaming trail that takes you to the heart of ancient Aboriginal culture.

The Dreamtime story tells of Emily Gap being where the caterpillar beings of Mparntwe originated from. These Dreamtime beings are said to have formed Emily Gap and many of the landscapes features around Alice Springs.

There is a large rock painting in the area which depicts the ‘caterpillar dreaming’.

10. Gallery Gondwana
Gondwana Gallery has been recognised as one of Australia’s leading Indigenous art galleries since 1990, and is located in Todd Mall, Alice Springs. It is unique in as much as Gallery Gondwana showcases fine art in the form of paintings, artworks on paper, and art created with fibre, glass, metal and wood.

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