Surrounded by ochre sands and hauntingly beautiful mountain ranges is Alice Springs, a city full of surprises. It has well-developed arts, events and culture, despite its remoteness. Known to locals as “Alice”, it’s the heart of Australia’s Red Centre and one of the largest towns in the Northern Territory. Alice is also a fascinating spot to explore Australia’s Aboriginal culture and unique wildlife.
The town was known as Stuart until 31 August 1933. The name Alice Springs was given by surveyor William Whitfield Mills after Alice, Lady Todd (née Alice Gillam Bell). She was the wife of the telegraph pioneer Sir Charles Todd. Now colloquially known as The Alice or simply Alice, the town is situated roughly in Australia’s geographic centre. It is nearly equidistant from Adelaide and Darwin.
The area is known as Mparntwe to its original inhabitants. The Arrernte have lived in the Central Australian desert around what is now Alice Springs, for tens of thousands of years.
Alice Springs had an urban population of 26,534 in June 2018. This has reduced at an average annual rate of -1.16% year-on-year over the preceding five years. The town’s population accounts for approximately 10 per cent of the population of the Northern Territory.
The town straddles the usually dry Todd River on the northern side of the MacDonnell Ranges. The surrounding region is known as Central Australia, or the Red Centre. This area has an arid environment consisting of several different deserts. Temperatures in Alice Springs can vary. From 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).
While there is plenty to do in the town itself, Alice Springs is also a great base for exploring the natural wonders of the outback, including Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Kings Canyon, the West MacDonnell Ranges.