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Alice Springs came to life in the 1870's as a telegraph station by a small spring. It was one of a series of repeater stations on the telegraph line linking Adelaide to Darwin to the rest of the world. Despite its isolated location it became an important part of the communication network for Australia and the northern terminus of the Ghan Railway line. Today it’s still a communications and service hub for central Australia with all the facilities you would expect in a modern town. Most of these are grouped in the blocks surrounding the Todd Mall. It’s also one of the main embarkation points for seeing Uluru, the famed red monolith 500km away, but most people find there’s more to see here than just the rock. There is a wealth of historical sights from the Old Ghan Railway to the Telegraph Station, parks with fascinating reptiles and birds such as the Desert Park, a host of fine dining cafés and restaurants and amazing rocky landscapes right on the doorstep including the spectacular MacDonnell Ranges. Alice also enjoys a warm climate without the humidity of the Top End, perfect for visiting at any time but particularly for a round of wacky festivals, bush sports and dusty regattas in the dry river bed. Alice also remains a great place to learn more about rich Aboriginal culture. Seeing the land through their eyes provides a deeper understanding and insight into the true spirit of the area.
Alice Springs is a great base for a holiday in the Centre. Allow at least a week to see the town and surrounding area and you’ll still barely scratch the surface of what there is to do and see. Here are some places not to miss:
Make sure you try some local cuisine in the centre of the kangaroo, emu or camel kind. You might even venture to try buffalo, crocodile or the varying flavours of bush tucker. However, if your tastes are more for contemporary Australian cuisine then there’s plenty of variety on offer in Alice with everything from beer to coffee, French bread to mouthwatering steaks and Asian curries to bush tucker in the cafés, pubs and restaurants around town. There’s something to suit every budget and most places are dotted around the centre allowing for easy access. The great thing about Centralian food is it matches the surroundings – hearty, wholesome and plenty of it.
The best place for your daily caffeine fix is the Todd Mall where you can watch a myriad of characters pass by in the form of local artists, buskers, tourists and indigenous folk. Alice has come of age with cappuccino, French bread and hearty breakfasts so you won’t have to forgo any pleasures out here in the Centre.
Despite its laid-back vibe, night life does happen in Alice’s pubs and taverns and there are even casinos and clubs if your bent for gaming or dancing. Sports fans can keep up with national and international events at several bars that broadcast live with Fox Sports. Do note that Alice is officially "dry" which means drinking is not allowed in public. You must drink at a private premises, bar or restaurant.
Most people come to Alice to pick up Aboriginal arts and crafts such as clapping sticks, didgeridoos, spears and paintings. There are a myriad of galleries and shops in which to buy them, which is handy as many artists come from communities many kilometres away.
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