Alice Springs Surrounds- a Central Australia Journey

Entering the Centre of Australia is like entering a whole new world. The landscapes are alien, the animal unusual, the flies relentless, the stars stunning and the visitors surprisingly few. When people think of the centre of Australia, they often only think of Uluru, regarded as the spiritual heart of the continent. I have had the privilege of visiting “The Rock” five times in my life. It is a is mind blowingly wonderful place.

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Uluru at Sunset

The town of Alice Springs, 500 kilometers from Uluru, is home to a number of impressive sights which I am exploring today.

Mount Gillen

About seven kiomtres (five miles) from the centre of Alice Springs is  Desert Park and the 300 metre tall Mount Gllen. Be warned. This is a far from easy walk – and  people have died on it- so be careful. The eroded track climbs steeply up to saddle and then on until you reach the rock face where you’ll need to do some rock climbing/scrambling to find your way on to the top of the Heavitree Range. Go late in the day or early morning when it is cool, do not walk alone and ensure that you have sufficient water. The 360 degree view of the area from the top is impressive.

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Views on the climb up

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Standley Chasm -Angkerle Atwatye

Car Park at Standley. There is a community owned cafe there

In the midst of the the West MacDonnell Ranges National Park, is this beautiful spot, a dramatic 80 metre tall chasm. It is in a park owned, maintained and operated by the traditional landowners,  the Western Arrernte Aboriginal people.

Check out the size of the chasm vs the people

Easy walk into the chasm

Hermeensberg. Northern Territory

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Ninety five kilometres (55 miles) further along Larapinta Dr/State Route 6, is Hermannsburg. The community was established in June 1877 by German missionaries who had trained in Hermannsburg, Germany .

It operated as a missionary cetnre until 1962. The Mission land was handed over to traditional ownership in 1982 under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. There is a Hermannsburg Historic Precinct which preserves the original mission buildings, and has a cafe – with free WiFi.

Original Lutheran Church building

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Original missionary house-the trees are 150 years old at least

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This caught my eye-being sold in the main town centre

 

Ormiston Gorge –Kwartatuma

Ormiston is a sacred site the Western Arrernte people. The Dreaming story for the waterhole tells of the adventures of a group of Emus who came to the waterhole from the East, and the man who hunted them whilst they were there.

The gorge is 135km west of Alice Springs, and is in the West MacDonnell National Park.

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It can be a very busy place as it is immensely popular with tourists but is still absolutely beautiful- and peaceful. I found it hard to choose a single photo that gives it justice so start scrolling!

McDonell Ranges

What can be said about this stunning part of Australia?

Alice Springs

The town started life as a stop called Alice Spring, on a telegraph line which ran through the centre of Australia connecting the southern part of the country to Europe.

The origina telegraph station still exists and is well wirth a visit. The “spring” turned out to be a temporary waterfall on a river that is usually dry.

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Alice Spring, the Todd River and the site of the original bathhouse

Many people use Alice as a jumping off point to other parts of the Outback but its well worth a couple of days to explore.

walk along the side of tehbnusually dry river (it has never been flowiong in yhe half a diozen times I have visted), explore the many musuems the town has (Old Timers Traeger Museum. Central Australian Aviation Museum. National Road Transport Hall of Fame. Old Ghan Heritage Museum, Royal Flying Doctor Service A. Megafauna Central). There are a great collection of art galleries and a diverse range of interesting community events

When to Go:

The Centre is a place that you can go anytime of the year, but if you want to swim I suggest the warmer months. For camping and walking, it’s best to visit from April-October, when it’s a bit cooler. Be warned: the flies will follow you everywhere

Getting there and away

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Coming into land at ASP airport. The runway can accommodate a 747 Jumbo Jet!

Jetstar, Qantas and Virgin Australia connect Alice springs (air code: ASP) to Adelaide, Darwin, Sydney and Melbourne. For a town it’s size, the airschedules are good. Flights are more limited to and from Uluru (AYQ). Airfares to and from the Centre are usually very high, however. Book well in advance in “off season” to get better fares. I have successfully used Qantas and Virgin frequent flyer points for almost every trip to Uluru and Alice Springs.

The Ghan train service is very good for a tourist trip through the centre of australia but us not a cheap way of getting to Alice with one way rail fares from Adelaide sitting ast $A1000.

Flying over the Ghan train line.

You will need a motor vehicle to cover the vast distances. Many people collect a car in Alice Springs or Adelaide ib Darwin or Uluru and drop it off at another one of those spots. You  can ride between the places I visited  but you will need lots of time and water and ride on roads with very large trucks travel ling at high speeds .

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