Alice Springs, or just simply “Alice” as its more popularly known, is a town that is the third largest in the Australian state of the Northern Territory. Alice Springs is unique in that it’s situated in the geographic centre of Australia at the southern end of the state and straddles the Todd river, which is usually dry. The northern end of the MacDonell Ranges border the town and the surrounding area is known as the Red desert or Central Australia.
Several deserts converge in the region to create a hot, arid environment that is harsh during the seasons with temperatures varying between the extreme ends of the scale. In the dead of summer, Temperatures have been known to peak at 45 degrees centigrade, which is 113 degrees Fahrenheit, the record low is minus 7 degrees centigrade, which is about 18 degrees Fahrenheit. Rainfall varies throughout the year but with it being a desert climate, don’t expect much rain to fall.
The original inhabitants of Alice Springs, the Arrernte, know the area as “Mparntwe”. They have lived in the area for thousands of years. Long before Europeans came to settle there in the early 1870s. Prior to the Second World War, Alice Springs was an extremely isolated settlement with fewer than 500 people in its population. When the war broke out and the Australian military took over the town and it was an important staging base for war time operations.
At it’s peak, there were around eight thousand soldiers stationed in Alice Springs and the town was visited by thousands more people, including US Army General Douglas MacArthur. This attention brought Alice Springs much international fame and gone were the days when it was a backwater out of the way town with a paltry population. The war changed Alice Springs like it did many places.
In the post war years, Alice Springs became the home of the joint United States/Australian satellite defence station known as Pine Gap, which employs around 700 people from both countries. There are around two thousand United States Citizens living in Alice Springs today due to the work that goes on at Pine Gap. These days, however, the city of Alice Springs has a major tourism market, especially domestic tourism.
The airport has flights to all of the major destinations within Australia and the most travelled route is between Alice Springs to Melbourne, Victoria. Qantas and Tiger Airways operate the major destination routes, with Qantas operating a service to the smaller towns and cities within Australia. Why do people come to Alice Springs? Well, its outstanding natural desert beauty of course. The Alice is unique in that the city and its surrounding regions are the convergence of several deserts in Australia, which create hot and arid temperatures.
Alice Springs also has a train station. It’s a stop on the Adelaide to Darwin railway and is served by the famous “Ghan” passenger train. The name is shortened from ‘The Afghan Express’ which was an unofficial nickname given to the train by one of the crew in the early 1920s. The name is given because of the early mode of transport offered by Afghan camel drivers who explored the interior of Australia in the 19th century.
The 54 hour journey from Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north is punctuated by a four hour stopover in Alice Springs, which allows passengers the opportunity to take a tour. One of the tours offered by the train company is the Alice Springs Desert Park, which gives people the opportunity to experience the real Australian Outback and sample the indigenous flavours.
Alice Springs is most definitely an exciting place to be and with the vast Australian outback surrounding you, you’ll have plenty of chances to experience the interior and geographic centre of Australia so all you have left to do, is book your trip there and check it out or, if you happen to live in Alice Springs, enjoy it all the more.