segunda-feira, 7 de dezembro de 2015

15 Things to Do in Alice Springs and Region

Today, Alice Springs is the main town in central Australia. There are heaps of things to do there and I couldn’t do everything I was planning to experience. Surrounded by a sea of red sand the size of Europe, Alice Springs attracted many famous pioneering characters. Alice Springs began its modern history as Stuart, a telegraph station on the Adelaide to Darwin line. Before that, the region was inhabited by Aboriginal people believing in an important figure there, the caterpillar (MacDonnell Ranges), amazing view from the airplane. I spent there only 2,5 days that wasn´t enough for me but and I can suggest some activities, such as:

Great for the nature lovers! It’s a huge area introducing to Central Australia - plants, animals, landscapes and people of the desert. There are more than 10 shows per day!  Every half hour you can learn more about the animals, aboriginal survival in the desert, kangaroo, dingo, etc. My favorite was the free flying bird show.

There are shows with the pet snakes, lizards, crocodile where you can give it a go to touch and work on your phobia. This park enables visitors to get up close and personal with these creatures. Due to the fact I am freaky about snakes, I could at least try to not die in front of one of them and it reduced my fear of them just a little bit.

Since I arrived in Northern Territory I was keen to eat bush food and I asked everyone how I could make it until I found Kungkas Can Cook cafe. OMG it makes me crazy!!! I tried fruits, bush honey, seed and heard the history how to get them, etc. It was so much new that I wrote in another post about bush tucker. I wish I could share this food with every friend I have.

4. The Didgeridoo Workshop
The workshop occurs every day in the city and explains how to play in one of the world’s oldest instruments. I’ve been playing wind instrument since I was a child and I confess that didgeridoo is not as easy to pick up as I was thinking.  Trying to make different sounds, vocalizing, harmony and taking in the tips on the rhythm, it is definitely something that you really need to practice much more.

It’s an amazing experience to learn about the stars over our heads. I had the opportunity to see the moon, Saturn, Antares in a stethoscope and ask as many questions as I could about our space.

20 minutes walking from the city, there’s a huge area to experience the Art & Culture of Central Australia. The Museum of Central Australia, Aviation Museum, Theatre, Expositions, Sculptures are held in this area that provides an integrated visitor experience. You can spend all day if you want, how many things you have in just one area.

7. West Macdonnel Ranger National Park
I didn’t go there but sounds like an amazing spot to see. The ranges stretch over 640km running east-west through Alice Springs. It is 250km west of town with many spots to climb and swim. In the desert there are not too many areas where you can find waterfalls, natural swimming holes and lakes so it is worth it.

8. Trail
It is a challenging 242km trek from Alice Springs towards the West, along the spine of the range, immerse in chasms and gorges. It is one of Australia’s most spectacular bushwalking and trekking experiences. No public transport runs to this area. I didn’t do it, maybe next time.

9. Olive Pink Botanic Garden
This itinerary you can do by yourself with a guided book showing you every wild plant from the desert (now boast over 600 plants). Don’t expect to see a huge rose garden but a lot of desert bush that maybe you’ve never paid attention to.

10. Anzac Hill Lookout
I don’t know what makes the sunset in the outback look like the moon so I wholeheartedly recommend you to see it in every opportunity you have there. One spot in Alice Springs is the Anzac Hill Lookout where you will have a great view of the town and the surrounding landscape.

11. Gem Cave Jewellery
This store in the city specialises in Australian Opal. It is so beautiful that I recommend 10 minutes to see the colourful and shiny Opal and the different types such as black opal, white opal, etc., which a little stone can cost more than AU$20,000 (Opal is one of the 10 most expensive stone in the World).
Apart from this, there are plenty of activities that I didn’t have time to do. Alice Springs is a modern town rich in history, attractions and offers different tourism. Each place has its own story to tell, for example, a doctor who had saved the lives of those living in remote areas with his airplane.  There is also an innovative project, which makes it possible for children living in remote central Australia to participate in school classes called the School of the Air.

What do do near Alice Springs

When people decide to go to the Red Centre, the most common place to visit is Uluru and the rest is plus, including the city Alice Springs. But there are too many things to do there that you can save more time to exploring the region. Ok, let’s start with the most famous icon of Central Australia.

12. Uluru
One of Australia’s most true blue Aussie icons of the outback is World Heritage-listed Uluru. You cannot miss seeing the sunrise and sunset on “the rock”.
Before the journey to Uluru, all visitors are invited to visit the Cultural Centre where you can understand about the importance of this region for the local environment and aborigines.
Uluru/Ayers Rock rises 348 metres from the desert (higher than The Eiffel Tower), 3,6km in length with a circumference of 9,4km and it is believed that Uluru extends for 5 km below the surface (Uluru is like an iceberg where most of it is under the soil).
At different times of the day the colours shift constantly, from pink to blood red to mauve, and the sky reflects also an indescribable colours composing with the rock. Looking how one big rock is in the middle of nothing make me astonished of the powerful God who put something so special there.
Uluru from the airplane
In Uluru you can find a hollow and the very scarce permanent water hole where animals and aboriginal people can survive in the desert and this is one reason that this location is so important. The rock also has plenty of symbology and signal; the aborigines don’t allow you to take picture to not “discover” their secrets. The rock count a big story about that woman should look after their children and have the right to defend them if necessary. Also there are sites with draws that means that is one area used to teach and spread their culture. You have some spots where only women are allowed or only men can visit (private area). Also you cannot climb the rock as well, in spite of this some companies continue to give tours to climb and people take their own risks.
Uluru is so far the World’s most famous monolith and this is the reason of thousands of people from all over the World go there every day. Everyone has a spot that is not in front of the others where you are be able to peacefully enjoy every moment.

13. Kata Tjuta – Valley of the Winds
Uluru and Kata Tjuta - separated by 30km
Kata Tjuta/The Olgas, literary means “many heads”. There are 36 rock domes of various sizes and the tallest dome is around 546 metres high. I don’t need to say there is a current of wind, do I? There are strong winds whip around the boulders and through the gorges. I spent there 4 hours doing the 7,4km hiking through creek beds, feeling the wind, domes and beautiful wilderness. I think walk between Kata Tjuta is more surprising than walk around the Uluru rock (both are separated by 30 km. In the middle and around them, nothing, ops, red sand.
Both of the complexes of rocks have water pool where animals come at night to drink it, which makes these areas sacred for aboriginals.

14. Kings Canyon
The Australia’s Grand Canyon in the Watarrka National Park reminds me again Chapada Diamantina – BA (Brazil). Walk around the rim of the canyon allows you to gaze down in awe at the sandstone chasm plunging 270 metres to the canyon floor. Into the depths of the chasm, there are luxuriant cycads around the permanent waterhole in the Garden of Eden with a tropical climate (only in this oasis, by the way). The Lost City is a breathtaking spot that looks like a huge beehive. The amphitheatre is also spectacular. Kings Canyon is my favourite track in Australia for sure.
I was impressed about the facilities in this remote area. You see stairs, bridge, signs, easy access into the valley of water holes and pool and smoking bins. The Garden of Eden is also a sacred place because of the pure water and people are not allowed to swim there.

15. Mount Connor/Atila
An imposing mesa located on a flat salt pan. The tourism bus stops there and I really wanted to walk in the salt dry lake but I couldn’t (no time for it). It’s look really nice and shiny in the distance. Some people commit mistake thinking that this pan is Uluru because is also something enormous in the middle of a big desert.

So, I described the famous spots and something I’ve learned there but if you know anything else, I’ll be glad if you share with me. I hope my purpose was achieved – share my experience in an inhospitable area in Northern Territory and learned a little about aborigines, history and ways to survive in the desert. I’m sure you will be surprised as I was after seeing it with my own eyes.

Ps: If you want to know 25 things to do in Darwin, see in this post.
And experiences in outback, click here. 

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