Around - Go Further
There are some wonderful natural sites to explore around Alice and beyond. You'll need a 4WD vehicle to access many of them, but your efforts will be rewarded with interesting historical sites, towering gorges and quirky outback towns. Have fun!
Around Alice Springs
- The MacDonnell Ranges A 644 km (400 mi) long series of mountain ranges, consisting of parallel ridges running to the east and west of Alice Springs. They contain many spectacular gaps and gorges, as well as areas of aboriginal significance, and were often depicted in the paintings of Albert Namatjira. The West MacDonnell National Park was established in 1984 to protect the attractions of the range, such as Simpson's Gap and Glen Helen Gorge, and also facilitated the development of the famous 223 km walking track, the Larapinta Trail. Just drive west out of the city on Larapinta Drive and you'll be amongst it. To the east of Alice Springs, within an hours drive, are sites important to the local Arrernte people, many of which contain examples of Aboriginal rock art. These include Emily Gap, Jessie Gap, Trephina Gorge and N’Dhala Gorge.
- Henbury Meteorites Conservation Reserve Explore the twelve craters formed when the Henbury Meteor hit the Earth’s surface 4,700 years ago. Weighing several tonnes and accelerating to over 40,000km/h, it disintegrated before impact and the resulting fragments formed the craters. It's on Ernest Giles Rd, 145 km south-west of Alice.
- Ewaninga Rock Carvings Conservation Reserve A small six hectare reserve protecting rock engravings (petroglyphs) by the early Arrernte Aboriginal people. It's 35 km south of Alice on the unpaved Old South Road, just south of the airport.
- Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve A scenic natural reserve consisting of various colourful formations of sandstones and rocks. It's south of Alice on the Stuart Hwy.
- Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve A spectacular solitary column towering 40 metres above the Simpson Desert plain. It's located 160km south of Alice Springs, along the Old South Road on a turnoff to the west of Maryvale Station.
- Watarrka National Park Home to Kings Canyon; a mighty chasm reaching a depth of 270 metres. Get there via the Red Centre Way, 330 km south-west of Alice.
- Mount Conner A plateau frequently mistaken for Ayers Rock by travellers 400 km south of Alice. It's pretty impressive, but due to conservation reasons, you can only visit it by tour.
- Coober Pedy If you feel like a lazy 600 km drive through stark red desert, the home of opal mining and underground hotels is due south on the Stuart Hwy. For more information on this quirky location check out the Appy Travels Coober Pedy app.
- Gemtree A few hours north (140 km) are these gem fields in which you can fossick for shiny stones, such as garnet, zircon, tourmaline, apatite and various kinds of quartz. Garnet is the easiest to go for on your first try, as the red chips can be spotted without difficulty on the surface, and require no digging or special equipment. You do need a permit though, which you can get online here. There is a caravan park and cabins onsite.
- Tennant Creek A small former gold mining town 500 km north of Alice. It makes a great base for seeing the Devil's Marbles and the Pebbles.