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Central Australia - Cities, Towns and Localities
Alice Springs
Anmatjere Country
Barkly Region
Chambers Pillar
Devils Marbles CR
Ellery Creek Big Hole
Finke Gorge NP
Glen Helen Gorge
John Flynn Historic R
Larapinta Trail
Kings Canyon
MacDonnell Ranges
Mount Sonder
Ormiston Gorge
Owen Springs Reserve
Palm Valley
Rainbow Valley
Red Centre Way
Redbank Gorge
Simpsons Gap
Standley Chasm
Tennant Creek
Trephina Gorge
Uluru-Kata Tjuta NP
Watarrka National Park
West MacDonnell NP

Check your August Diary... for the single longest running event in the Northern Territory
— the iconic Henley-On-Todd

Welcome to Central Australia...Central Australia encompasses a breadth of lands that is immense in size and ancient in origins. Occupying about one sixth of Australia’s total land mass, it’s boundaries hold not only some of Australia’s unique and significant icons, but is home to a variety of contrasting landscapes, providing a unique experiences for visitors to the region.

When travelling through Central Australia, you pass through land that is traditionally associated with different Aboriginal language groups. As the original custodians of Central Australia, they have a unique relationship with the land, that is communicated through their art and Dreamtime stories, weaving a connection between spirit and country.

Standley Chasm, Central Australia, Northern Territory, AustraliaCentered on the Alice Springs and MacDonnell tourism regions, the vast Central Australia region describes an area that stretches north to encompass both the Barkly region, across the border into Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. Sometimes referred to as the ‘heart’ of Australia, this immense semi-arid region is full of life and has many attractions. With it’s rich Aboriginal culture and the more modern European history, the region encapsulates the true Australian outback spirit.

Whilst here, take the time to visit many of the significant areas including Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Kings Canyon, East and West MacDonnell Range, Simpson Desert Region, Tennant Creek and Barkly Region and Alice Springs.

For a look at some approximate kilometres between destinations, check our Alice Springs Distance. Those planning to attempt any of the walking tracks, especially the extended and overnight walks are strongly advised to register with the Walker Registration Scheme.

Check out our listing of Central Australia accommodation. In addition to our listed online travel guide information, contact the local tourism visitor centre for your destination for more attractions, tours, local maps and other information.

Information Centre

Central Australian Visitor Information Centre

Visit the Central Australian Tourism site for great maps of Alice Springs CBD, township and Central Australia

For approximate kilometres between destinations, see our Alice Springs Distance.

Walker Registration Scheme
Walkers planning extended and overnight walks are strongly advised to register with the Walker Registration Scheme.

Ph: 1300 650 730

Click here for the Overnight Walker Registration Scheme Information Sheet (PDF 195 Kb)

Central Australia Attractions

Central Australia Attractions
There are many things to see and do for those planning a visit to Central Australia. One of the great places to make your base, and where many tour providers operate from, is Alice Springs.

For those new to the area, a visit to many of the regions attractions can entail anywhere from half a day to a couple of days, depending where you start from and if you stay overnight. The vastness of the region may involve travelling distances of 500 km or more.

Finke Gorge National ParkIf doing a self-drive tour, it is important that you are prepared, with enough food, water, fuel, maps, and letting someone know your route, and when to expect you back. Some of the things to see in the region include:

Alice Springs Desert ParkAlice Springs Desert Park
• Larapinta Drive, ALICE SPRINGS NT 0870 • Ph: +61 8 8951 8788 • Email
• Web:

The park introduces visitors to the incredible but subtle richness of Australia’s arid zone. Designed to move well beyond the boundaries of traditional zoos, botanic gardens and museums, the park has adopted a holistic “habitat-based and story driven” approach. Discover the desert in its entirety, the landscapes, animals and plants, and their traditional use and management by Aboriginal people.

Nestled in the foothills of the West MacDonnell Range, just ten minutes from the centre of town you will experience diverse and spectacular landscapes and learn about the adaptations of hundreds of species of desert flora and fauna. There are:

  • Free-flying birds of prey display.
  • Desert Rivers, Sand Country, and the Woodland habitats to explore.
  • Close encounters with rare and elusive wildlife in the Nocturnal House.
  • A theatre where four and a half billion years of desert evolution will flash before you in a 20 minute cinematic journey called ‘The Changing Heart’.
  • Interactive interpretive exhibits.

Bird watching, ornithology, ornithologist, twitcher...
Central Australia is a bird watching paradise following rainfall periods that turn the normally dry arid season into a lush green habitat. Yet even during the dry times, there are plenty of bird species to be seen. For those visitors with little time, there are some great places to see the local bird life in Alice Springs, such as the Alice Springs Desert Park, Olive Pink Botanic Garden and the Alice Springs Treatment Plant (Alice Springs Sewerage Ponds).
Gemtree — Gateway to the Gemfields
• ALICE SPRINGS / PLENTY HIGHWAY • Ph: 08 8956 9855 • Fax: 08 8956 9860 • Email
Gemtree is located 140 km north-east of Alice Springs, with bitumen road to the front gate!. Nestled amongst the native bush of the Plenty Highway, it is set on 250 acres park offering nature walks and fossickers tag-along tours. There is a Gem Room, activities, events, camping, caravan and cabin style accommodation. Check their site for details.
Rock Wallabies
Although Rock Wallabies are elusive creatures in the wild, they can sometimes be spotted at some of the popular tourist attractions such as Simpsons Gap, Palm Valley, Ormiston Gorge, and Standley Chasm. People are usually asked not to feed wild animals.

If you are not fortunate to see Rock Wallabies, there is one place in Alice Springs at the Heavitree Gap Lodge, where not only can you see them, but you can also get up close to them as they come down from the range to feed and drink. Special pellet food is available for purchase from the Reception.
Territory Parks Alive
Each year between May and October, the Territory, as part of their Territory Parks Alive program, runs a series of free guided walks, talks and slide shows in the parks and reserves across the Territory.

Whether you are a local or a tourist, here is your chance to find out more about the nature of this wonderful Territory. Contact the local visitors centre or check the NT Parks & Wildlife website for further information.
Tropic of Capricorn
Located on the Stuart Highway just 30 km north of Alice Springs, setback some 15 metres back from the road, is the distinctive marker for the Tropic of Capricorn.
Rainfall and Water in Central Australia
Rainfall is a rare occurrence in Central Australia compared to other parts of the continent. Yet when it does rain and depending on the storm severity and the amount of the rainfall, the rain can bring flash floods and torrents, with the deluge sweeping through formerly dry channels and dry riverbeds. These swollen rivers carry such force that whole trees, boulders, pebbles, sand and other debris can be swept along the river. Many roads get cut off, and unwary or foolhardy driver have had their vehicles swept along the river whilst attempting to transverse roads that are in the path of the swollen rivers. After such torrents, the river seem to simply disappear, as the water passes, leaving dry river beds, with the most obvious evidence being trees and debris left caught wrap around trees that follow the tracks of the river. Many of the better known transient river flows include the Finke River and the Todd River.

As well as these transient rivers, there are some permanent waterholes, including the Boggy Hole, Ellery Creek Big Hole, Glen Helen, Ormiston Gorge, and the spring water that support the fauna in Palm Valley.

Another unique habitat in Central Australia are the claypans, that can fill with water after periods of significant rain. There are some claypans at the base of Rainbow Valley, with another great example of claypans in the Lake Armadeus system, that can be viewed by travellers from the Mount Connor Lookout on the Lasseter Highway. When dry the beds are white from the salt deposits. A wonderful example of claypans are the 12 located in the Ilparpa Valley, known as the Ilparpa Claypans. After significant rain the claypans here fill with water, waist deep in some areas. If there is considerable rain, the claypans join up forming a magical lake, as was witnessed in late February, early March 2010.

Feeding - Black-footed Rock Wallabies at Heavitree Gap Outback Lodge © AusEmade PL, April 2008

Feeding - Black-footed Rock Wallabies at Heavitree Gap Outback Lodge.

• Central Australia Pet-Friendly Destinations
Central Australia Pet Friendly Accommodation
Pet Friendly Off Leash Areas
• Ph: 08 8950 0500 (contact Alice Springs Town Council's for dog off leash exercise areas)
Alice Springs Town Council has a number of off leash exercise areas for dogs. Contact them for location details.

Whilst dogs are not permitted in the national parks, there is one place that is popular with dog owners and that is Redbank Waterhole, just south of Alice Springs.

Redbank Waterhole - one of a number of waterholes in the Owen Springs Reserve, that is the last to dry out, the Redbank Waterhole is popular with locals, especially for those wanting an outing with the pet dogs. There is also the opportunity for overnight camping here and within Lawrence Gorge (there are no facilities and visitors should bring their own drinking water and other requirements). Dogs are only permitted south of Waterhouse Range.
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