The amount of things to see and do in Alice Springs is only limited by the time you have to stay. If you’ve never been, then plan to spend a lot of time discovering the East and West MacDonnell Ranges. The East Macs stretch for 150 kilometres and the West Macs 160 kilometres and in both directions you have gorges, waterholes and chasms that need to be seen and experienced.
There are walking tracks, ancient indigenous art sites, wildlife and birdlife and the best way to really enjoy these areas is to stay amongst it all in a campground out there. The next best thing is to base yourself in Alice Springs at one of the caravan parks, and make day trips to the landmarks.
We have stayed in two different caravan parks in Alice Springs and both were good for different reasons. The Big4 MacDonnell Range Holiday Park has what a lot of Big4 parks has, all the bells and whistles and things to entertain the children especially with pools, water play park, games room, jumping pillow, go karts etc… You get the idea. This is great if you have a young family and need the entertainment, however, we found another park, just as good when it came to amenities, service and location but without all that we don’t find necessary these days. It was very clean, quiet and had all the services you want, including a pool.
The G’day Mate Tourist Park is a comfortable shady park, full of large gum trees and grassy sites. The staff were really friendly and helpful, guiding us to our site and they will help you to negotiate parking if it’s needed too. You can’t complain about the location either. As with a couple of other caravan parks, it’s on the south side of Heavitree Gap, the prominent rock formation you have to pass through to get to the town centre.
Alice Springs Brewing Co.
The other fortunate thing about its location is that it is situated right next door to the Alice Springs Brewing Co. The brewery was established in 2018 and had 10 varieties of their own brews on tap when we visited, as well as a variety of wines, cocktails and gins to please everyone. The head brewer is Jum Ryan who was leading the brewing for Little Creatures in Singapore and Hong Kong, but after being stranded back home in Australia due to COVID, he took up the role at Alice Springs Brewing Co.
The building has a rustic feel inside, basic but comfortable, and you can choose some simple food options from the menu too which comes with a hefty dose of humour. Take for instance the Pear & Prosciutto Pizza, which after it lists the toppings, finishes with ‘One for the weirdos’, or the BBQ chicken pizza which states ‘Probably the worst combination of ingredients ever put on a pizza but it’s the boss ladies favourite’. Very funny, but I beg to differ!
A word of warning though, if you order the chicken wings, make sure you get the BBQ variety and aren’t mistakenly given the Hot Wing experience as we unfortunately were. They weren’t kidding when they say that it’s a challenge to get through the spicy morsels which range from a little spicy to melt you taste buds. Unfortunately we didn’t know of the mistake until two of our party were breaking out into a sweat and having palpitations almost!
If you have any musical talent you’re also welcome to borrow one of the brewery gee-tars’ and strum away. Take it on notice though, as the sign says, ‘play a good song and you might get a beer from the boss. Play Englebert Humperdink or Nickleback and get banned for life’. Can’t argue with that.
The place to start your visit really, where you can get your bearings of the layout of Alice Springs. The Arrernte Aboriginal people associate the hill as a site of dreaming stories and over the years it has had a number of names to European settlers, until in 1934 it was named Anzac Hill in memory of the ANZAC soldiers killed in WWI.
The view from this landmark is spectacular and you can easily see ‘The Gap’ which marks the entrance to town.
Emily Gap and Jessie Gap
If you are short on time you can still experience some of the natural features of the red centre by visiting these two gaps in the ranges which are only around 14 kilometres from town. They are both found in the East MacDonnell Ranges and are easily accessible, needing only a short walk to be able to see the soaring rock formations and indigenous art found there. Very peaceful and breath taking spots for a dose of nature.
For something a little unexpected, visit the Watertank Café set in an industrial shed in Alice Springs. Our travelling companions and coffee connoisseurs recommended this little gem where the coffee was great, the food delicious and the décor very 50s to 70s funky. There’s a lovely mural of local flora inside too by talented local artist Melanie Gunner.
Enjoy the Red Centre