Things to do in Alice Springs

Alice Springs stands proud as the local go-to spot in the heart of the Aussie Outback, with its endless deserts and striking red ranges.

Alice Springs to Uluru

With a population of around 30,000, Alice Springs is by far the biggest town in the heart of Australia. It's the central hub for the mob living in the more isolated parts of the Northern Territory, flocking here for the big services and events.

This means Alice Springs sort of splits into two vibes – the local yarns spun by those who call it home and the footloose threads woven by those passing through, making it a gathering place for all of Central Australia (and everything that entails).

You'll find a mix that reflects these dual roles among the top spots to check out in Alice Springs. The tale of the Telegraph Station and the ongoing mission of the School of the Air are nods to the vast land beyond, for instance.

Meanwhile, the Araluen Arts Centre, Indigenous art workshops, and the Parrtjima festival highlight folks' deep connection with the country and the spark of creativity it fires up.

At a quick quiz, the core of Alice Springs might not knock your socks off, consisting of just a few blocks dominated by grocers and budget stores.

Even the main drag, the Todd Mall, looks a bit bare and might not feel like the cosiest corner of the world.

But if you know where to sniff around, you'll uncover some true blue beauties – Page 27 Cafe is a personal fave, and Red Kangaroo Books offers a solid collection of local lore and cultures.

Most of the must-dos in Alice Springs lie beyond the town's centre, so don't let a rough first look put you off.

The best bits are just a hop, skip, and a jump away – some within an easy stroll. Others are a brief drive to a different part of town. And then there are those a tad further out, where getting amongst the natural scenery is all part of the adventure.

For heaps of travellers, Alice Springs might not be the end goal but rather a chapter in a larger journey – like cruising the Red Centre Way or as the starting block for a trip to Uluṟu.

But don't give Alice Springs a miss – it's worth parking up here for at least a few days to dip your toe into a fair dinkum selection of local experiences.

If you want to enjoy the scenery of the Red Centre, we recommend the Alice Springs to Uluru Tour.



First up, let's yarn about something real beaut in Alice Springs – the local art scene.

Art in the heart of Australia is a top way to share the yarns of this part of the country, and the mix of styles is fairly impressive (it's not all about dot paintings, you know).

Having a squiz at the art world in Alice Springs is a ripper way to learn more about the region.

Araluen Arts Centre

Opened in 1984, the Araluen Arts Centre was set up to be the central spot for all the region's art centres, so it's one of the top spots to check out in Alice Springs for an art fix. The collection here spans a range of styles, showcasing both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists, and the display is always getting a shake-up.

There are four gallery spaces – one usually for a touring show, one for a solo exhibition, and two for bits of the permanent collection. The real standout artworks at the Araluen Arts Centre are those by Albert Namatjira, the famous Aboriginal watercolour painter living nearby Hermannsburg. This is the only gallery where you can eyeball his paintings and then, within a blink, be out in the landscapes that fired up his imagination.

Every year, in September and October, the Araluen Arts Centre holds the Desert Mob art festival, where you can see works from most of Central Australia's art centres.

Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre

Some of Central Australia's art centres are a fair hike away and tricky. But some are right here in Alice Springs, so you can check out their work even when Desert Mob isn't on.

One of my top picks is the Iltja Ntjarra (Many Hands) Art Centre. The watercolour style of Albert Namatjira fires up the artists here, and a lot of them have direct ties to the painter. What's really interesting, though, is how some have mixed his style with modern techniques. You can pop into the Iltja Ntjarra Art Centre to look at some of the works and even meet the artists, who are usually around from 10:00 – 15:00, Monday to Thursday.

Tjanpi Desert Weavers

In Alice Springs, another group making waves in the art scene is the Tjanpi Desert Weavers, who've got a truly unique style of craftsmanship.

These talented weavers use native grass to create sculptural forms, then bind them together with vibrant yarn. They also craft baskets from the grass, drawing on traditional methods.

The sculptures have a modern twist – often depicting animals that hold significant meaning in the region's cultural heritage.

Sadly, the Tjanpi Desert Weavers' headquarters isn't a workspace open to the public, so you usually can't meet the artists – many of whom work in remote communities or from their homes in Alice Springs. However, the local gallery showcases an impressive collection of their works, available for viewing and purchase.

Street Art

The artistic flair of Alice Springs isn't confined to galleries – you'll spot it just strolling around town.

Alice Springs to Uluru tour

Street art has gained momentum here, with a push to get both established and up-and-coming artists to add their touch to parts of Alice Springs, including through a street art festival.

You'll find many of the standout pieces in Todd Mall and the surrounding streets, particularly near the library. But keep an eye out elsewhere – there's a diverse range of styles around the Araluen Cultural Precinct and the skate park, for example.


And for a truly jaw-dropping art experience, don't miss the Parrtjima festival, held annually around April.

Parrtjima showcases an incredible array of light-based artworks, from neon installations to massive projections on the MacDonnell Ranges. Set in the Alice Springs Desert Park, it's a mesmerizing display of how modern technology brings Aboriginal cultures and ancient stories to life.

Alongside the stunning artworks, there's a packed program of performances and workshops. Timing your visit to coincide with Parrtjima is a must – it's undoubtedly one of Alice Springs' highlights.