Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Red Centre - Our Top Ten Things To Do In Alice Springs

It's been a year since we had our epic road trip down to the red centre. Which makes me now officially the world's slackest blogger! I have had a lot of fun, however, sorting through all of our photos and reliving the wonderful memories we made.

We were in Alice Springs for about three weeks (hubby had a trial to run down there), so we had lots of time to explore and got the chance to revisit some of our favourite places. And then some days we just stayed in our pjs till noon and spent the afternoon at a park or kicking a soccer ball! We also loved the cold weather and getting the opportunity to rug up in jeans and jumpers - Bliss!

Here are our top ten, in no particular order... 

1. West MacDonnell Ranges
The top recommendation from all the local we spoke to was to explore the 'West Macs'. We decided to drive out to the furthest gorge we wanted to see first and then hop our way back. That way, if we missed any, we could just pop back out to the closest one later in the week! (Which we actually ended up doing.)

The boys had the most fun climbing and exploring. We did Glen Helen Gorge first...
Nice place for morning tea, huh?
The view of Mt. Sonder is just like it is in the paintings of Albert Namatjira. Those colours are so beautiful and totally unique to this part of the world...
Ormiston Gorge and Standley Chasm were magnificent too... 

2. Alice Springs Desert Park
The fauna (and flora) of central Australia are so unique and absolutely fascinating. The Alice Springs Desert Park has an amazing collection of birds, bats, bilbys, bettongs, bandicoots and endangered mala. We were lucky enough to get a Territorian pass and visited the park a few times. 

Highlights for us were seeing Thorny Devils (Rohan calls them Porny Devils - lol), the dingo sitting on Liam's feet and the bird show.

We even went on the nocturnal tour and got to see all those cute marsupials - and an echidna! - hopping around and/or having a snack. Lots of fun! 

3. Olive Pink Botanical Gardens
As well as having some pretty tasty food at the Bean Tree Cafe, the Olive Pink Botanical Gardens has some lovely walking trails. Our favourite was the big climb up the hill (which I somehow managed in high heeled boots!)
There are some stunning views of the town from the top...
More climbing fun for my little explorers.

4. Hermannsburg
Hermannsburg is the site of a Lutheran Mission that was established in 1877 and the birth place of Albert Namatjira. A lot of the original buildings have been preserved and it's fascinating to imagine what live would have been like back then. Such extreme conditions. Well worth the drive to see the collection of Namatjira family art and the watercolour paintings available for purchase too.

5. Royal Flying Doctor Service
The Royal Flying Doctor Service is an important part of Australia's history and continues to do amazing work for the people who live in the remote regions of this county. This tourist facility has a museum, cafe (with awesome gluten free cakes), an informative movie/hologram and a plane that you can climb through for a gold coin donation.

6. Museum and Art Gallery of Central Australia 
We had so much fun exploring the museum that I didn't take any photos! The highlights for us were the mega fauna and the super crocs display and movie.

We also loved the art gallery with more stunning Namatjira works, a great gift shop and the display from the annual beanie festival was incredible. So creative!
Also in this precinct is the Central Australian Aviation Museum and a cute little shop featuring artworks and craft from local artisans.

Could not get enough of the stunning wild flowers we saw everywhere around town, either. All the heart eyes for Sturt's Desert Peas...

7. Community Fun
When you're staying in a town for longer than two weeks I think it's essential to get involved in some of the local community events to really get a feel for the place. 

July in Alice features the Camel Cup and the Show. We also celebrated Territory Day with food, music and fireworks in the mall. 

You can see what's on in the Alice throughout the year here.

8. Cafe scene
Lots of time means lots of opportunities to explore the local cafes and restaurants. Our favourite was The Watertank Cafe. Quirky decor, awesome light fittings, great gluten free options and the best Chai Lattes in town.

9. Uncle Edy's Ice Cream
This is the only pic I could find (and it's a terribly unflattering and blurry shot) but we hit Uncle Edy's ice creamery a couple of times - even though the weather was freezing! Yummo!
The sweet shop two stores down was a favourite too!

10. Reptile Centre
Like the Desert Park, the Reptile Centre is home to some of the red centre's endemic species. They have a collection of some of the world's deadliest snakes and the massive Perentie. Rohan's fave? The Top End Saltwater Crocodile which are found here at home and not in central Australia and which he's seen SO many already! Ha! I love him waving to Terry in this pic. Didn't so much enjoy the massive tantrum when it was time for this tired three year old to say goodbye to Terry (they were closing and we had to drag him out!)

There are so many more things I could write about but I'm sticking to ten! We just loved Alice in winter and can't wait to go back!

Please note that Uluru, King's Canyon and the Devil's Marbles are located well out of Alice Springs and all deserve their own post because they were so incredibly amazing. Promise it won't be a year before I blog about them! ; )

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