Some facts

  • The first nations’ people are Arrernte who have lived on their country for many tens of thousands of years. 
  • According to written records it was in the early 1860s that people from England travelled to  central Australia. 
  • The first explorer from the settler colonial society to Mparntwe Alice Springs was John McDougall Stuart in 1862; Stuart Highway shares his name because his expedition, looking for places suitable for settlement, went from Adelaide to Darwin just like the Stuart highway. 
  • Mparntwe Alice Springs began its modern history as the township of Stuart.
  • Between 1871 and 1933, Alice Springs was the name of a waterhole adjacent to the telegraph station. It was named after Alice Todd, wife of Sir Charles Todd. Mparntwe Alice Springs has no permanent spring, and Alice Todd never visited. 
  • The area’s population did not grow significantly until the discovery of alluvial gold in 1887 at Arltunga, 110km to the east. 
  • Round the corner from the train station is the Old Stuart Town cemetery where the headstones speak of the challenges experienced by the colonial settlers. 
  • Current population of Mparntwe Alice Springs is an urban population of about 26,000. 
  • Temperatures in Mparntwe Alice Springs can vary dramatically, with an average maximum in summer of 35.6 °C (96.1 °F) and an average minimum in winter of 5.1 °C (41.2 °F).
Summer rain makes for stunning rainbows between the MacDonnell Ranges

Tjoritja MacDonnell Ranges

  • Mparntwe Alice Springs is nestled between the East and West MacDonnell Ranges.
  • The Ranges extend approx 500kms east-west direction
  • Formed by folding at least 1000 million years ago
  • Originally about 4500m high (half the height of current Mt Everest 8,848m); now 450m high due to weathering and erosion
  • Flat plains are 600m above sea level and the Ranges are 1000m above sea level
  • The predominant rock of the ranges is red iron oxide-stained quartz. There are also strata composed of dolomite, limestone, sandstone, conglomerate, siltstone and shale.
  • One striking feature is the coloration of the stone, which constantly varies as the direction of the sun changes.
  • Rivers such as Roe Creek near our camel farm cut gorges through the ridges during wetter periods than the present. We look down at one of these gorges when we stop half way on our tour. We can take photos for you there. 
  • These spectacular gorges contain lush vegetation, such as Simpson Gap, Standley Chasm.
  • Heavitree Gap was named after a school in Devon! Not for heavy trees. 
  • Arrernte Law determined that only Arrernte men were allowed to pass through the Gap and visiting men had to await a chaperone to lead them through. Arrentre women came through other gaps in the ranges.
A ephemeral waterhole in the eastern MacDonnell Ranges