Mparntwe, known as Alice Springs
Mparntwe belongs to Central and Eastern Arrernte people who have lived in the area for at least forty thousand years. There are many things to do in Alice Springs. You can learn 50 Arrernte words that everyone who lives and visits Mparntwe should know. So let’s start by using the combination Mptarntwe / Alice Springs. Try saying mm-BARN-doo-uh…that’s it, Mparntwe.
We’ll assume that you’ve already done research about our little outback town, its location, weather and history of settlement. And we won’t waste your time or reading eyes by offering you any more!
Locals always know the best secrets and we want to share ours: what we like to do in our region because we think that there’s so many things to do in Alice Springs. And sometimes, it’s the little local secrets that can really make a holiday special. So here’s our list!
- Take an Arrenrte language learning walking tour around Mparntwe
- Learn about Aboriginal languages
- Download the Red Centre Art Trails digital mobile app for a guide to local art galleries
- Our favourite galleries include the Araleun Arts Centre, Many Hands Art Centre, Central Craft, Bindi Mwerre Anthurre Artists. Tjanpi Desert Weavers, Tangentyere Artists
- Week day visit to artisan precinct in Hele Crescent including Elbow Workshop, with James B. Young Shoemaker & Outfitter and Elliat Rich Design, Raft Art Space and The Coffee Horse for when you need that really good coffee.
- Simpsons Gap, Western MacDonnell National Park is 15 minutes drive from the CBD and only 10 minutes drive from Pyndan Camel Tracks. It’s our local park, so beautiful at any time of day. The permanent water hole attracts animals and a special experiences is to sit very quietly to watch; I like sitting under the huge fig trees near the waterhole. Please don’t swim though.
- All the Simpson Gap walking trails are superb: our favourite is to walk to Hat Hill saddle, heading east towards town on the Larapinta Trail. Over the years we’ve enjoyed this walk with babies in backpacks, progressed to a toddler’s pace, built fairy houses with pre-schoolers, bush walked with primary kids, and raced with high schoolers. If you are walking at an adult’s pace, allow approximately 45 minutes each way. Superb views.
- The East Macs are more subtle and introverted than the dramatic extrovert of Tjoritja, the West Macs. Trephina Gorge is less than one hour’s drive from Alice on the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges. We recommend one of the numerous walks of different duration and difficulty or a picnic in the dry riverbed. Lunch can be bought from the nearby Ross River Resort between 12 and 2pm.
- Laucke Mills, want to visit a real outback farm shop? Need hay, chook food, horse stuff, dog coats, and more. This is where we get some hay for our camels.
Where to buy fresh food in the desert
We prefer to shop and support local. Food miles are a serious consideration when you live in the centre.
- Food for Alice is a food project that connects local people with local produce as a social enterprise working toward food security for our community. Every Saturday from 9-11 visit the market at the Alice Springs Community Garden selling fresh, quality produce from local, ethical suppliers including farmers, the ASCG, bakeries, honey producers, coffee roasters and backyard growers.Alice Springs Community Garden, 105 Burke St, East Side
- Happy Farmer NT offers home grown seasonal produce available either through the farm gate, weekly food boxes or at Food for Alice. An Alice Springs market garden permaculture designed and serving the local community. Food security and good nutrition is of importance for all in Alice Springs, especially when you consider the majority of our food travels at a minimum 1600km to get to us.
- Premium Petes the vegie shop that trucks market produce from Adelaide is located at, of all places, a dance school. It’s usually open Wednesday 5-7pm and Saturday 8-12noon; check the times though. It started with a vision that everyone should have access to premium quality, fresh and great value produce. Premium Pete stocks Fleurieu Milk Company, Steiny’s Traditional Mettwurst, Mountain Fresh Fruit Juices, Hardings Fine Foods and Rio Coffee. The Bakery treats are usually available.
- The Bakery Alice Springs is sensational: sourdoughs, artisan breads, donuts, savoury pastries, croissant, viennoiserie and more. The queue extends out the door. The ingredients are high quality and everything is made from scratch. The farmhouse rye available only on Thursday and Sunday are Swedish locals’ favourites; our Francophiles inhale the pasteries. Seriously good.
- Milner Meats stock Alice Springs premier range of meat, seafood, cheeses, continental small-goods and condiments.
- The Tea Shrine stocks vegan produce, and is also Alice’s premier vegan and vegetarian restaurant. A local’s favourite.
- Local coffee roasters of Alice Springs – beans or ground, visit Duyu Coffee Roasters, check opening hours, usually weekday afternoons and Saturday morning. Visit their Roastery Cafe and cellar door for coffee to drink in, delicious treats, retail unique blends and distinctive single origins as well as brewing gear.
Festivals to catch if your itinerary match
- Desert Mob [Aboriginal Art show]
- Wide Open Spaces [music festival out bush under the stars … music all night]
- Beanie Festival [think beanies, the woollen hat type, and multiply by 4000 for sale plus textile workshops]
- Desert Smart EcoFair [inspirational science meets sustainability]
- Finke Desert Race [outback version of Dakar car rally
Where to swim in the desert
Click here for the a list of waterholes, best swimmable between September and April. Please take note, they can be cold all year round and submerged rocks make diving and jumping into water completely not the done thing. We recommend you take a swimming aide such as a foam ‘noodle’ available from KMart.
Many of the walks at Trephina Gorge are only an hour or so, which gives you lots of time for nature watching along the way. A more challenging walk is chain of ponds at John Hayes Rockhole.
Trephina Bluff campground not far from Trephina Gorge is a good place to base yourself for a couple of nights if you’d like a mix of some serious relaxing in the riverbed plus some shorter walks.
Ross River Resort nearby-ish serves food in case you want to drive to civilisation.
Finke Gorge National Park
One of my favourite spots is to camp on the way into Bogey Hole. Unless you have a couple of cars I don’t recommend going there alone unless you are very well experienced in 4Wdriving … and it’s a bit tricky to find the road in. It’s my absolute favourite place to visit; can hardly bare to share it. Please be incredibly responsible. You do not want to get stuck alone … traffic, rangers and all the rest may be in short supply.
Camp ground is good; walks are lovely. Completely serene.
Any day walks for the Larapinta Trail are divine. Pay attention to their level of difficulty. Some of my favourites include:
Ormiston Gorge – Pound Walk – half day walk
Climb Mount Sonder – full day walk
Ochre Pits for the amazing colours of nature, easy walk.
Walk into Glen Helen Gorge, sit there and watch the birds. Afterwards, order lunch at the Resort and a cool drink.
Visiting Katherine NT?
Our family holidayed in the Katherine NT region during the NT lockdowns of 2020. And so glad that we did! Our favourites include:
Exploring Jawoyn country with Nitmuluk Tours both canoeing and touring the Gorge,
Meeting Katherine Outback Experience
A family cabin at Knotts Crossing Resort enjoying the pool and restarurant
Some fab creative arts shopping at