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Alice Springs family guide

Thursday, April 9, 2009
When Dermott Brereton visited the gateway to Central Australia, the drought broke. Undeterred, he relished the chance to see some of the more unusual things to be seen in and around Alice Springs.

Jungala — Painted Mountain Bike Tours

Dermott found a wonderful way to get the feel of the area was with Jungala Kriss. He runs half-day cycle tours from the CBD visiting cultural sites around Alice Springs on his dot-painted mountain bikes.

The tour travels along the Todd River towards the Gap, following the MacDonnell Ranges. You hear stories of the creation time along the way and as you head back towards town you stop at the cultural precinct, grave sites, see art and visit Albert Namatjirra's resting place. Lunch is taken at the telegraph station where Europeans gathered in 1871 to make the first settlement and telegraph station.

MacDonnell Ranges Family Park

Just 4.5km south of Alice Springs, this extremely popular park has won 16 state and two national awards. It is surrounded by the MacDonnell Ranges and what a place for a holiday.

The park has unpowered and powered sites, and sites with ensuite facilities and a range of budget rooms and deluxe villas which accommodate up to six people. Have fun in the recreation room with pool and tennis tables and video games. There are two swimming pools, a wading pool and a half-court for basketball. There are mountain bikes and single, two- and four-seater go-carts for hire, as well as and a park with a BMX track.

On Wednesdays the free Red Centre Show has live entertainment, and between April and October is Star Talk with a resident astronomer.

A great idea on a Monday, if you are heading for unknown territory in a four-wheel drive, is to attend a presentation by Joel Fleming of Direct Four WD. The knowledge he passes on could be invaluable.

On Thursdays you are treated to an hour with Mick, a local didgeridoo player and on Friday afternoons, Tammy gives a bush tucker talk. Everyone loves the free Sunday pancake breakfast where, apart from enjoying yummy food, it's a good chance to meet other travellers and staff.

There is a mini mart selling groceries, ice and souvenirs and you might fancy walking or cycling the path into town.

Alice Springs Desert Park

Another good place to visit, the park is on the outskirts of Alice. It's on 1300 hectares with the main core spread over 52 hectares. The Larapinta Path leads directly to its entrance and has fantastic desert plant and animal life representative of the centre of Australia. Its three habitats are desert rivers, sand country and woodland habitat.

The nature theatre has twice daily shows of birds of prey and a nocturnal exhibition where you can see desert mammals you wouldn't normally see in the wild.

It's a wonderful way to experience and understand life in the desert and to appreciate many of the creatures on the brink of extinction. Growing numbers of feral cats are responsible for threatening the existence of animals such as mala wallabies and much is being done to ensure they stay with us.

Central Australia has more species of reptile than any other single environment — hence the numbers of birds of prey who find it a good place to shop for dinner.


Alice Springs, 1500km south of Darwin in the Northern Territory.


Jungala Enterprises' Jukurrpa Bikes tours from Alice Springs cost $110 for a half-day. Visits to cultural centres, sacred sites, Aboriginal art centres and light supper are included. They are for people from 12 years of age upwards and they conducted during the week between Wednesday and Sunday.

MacDonnell Range Holiday Park budget rooms start at $69 a night, with cabins at $92 and villas at $163. Ensuite powered sites start at $46, powered sites at $36 and unpowered at $31.

Alice Springs Desert Park entry costs $20 for adults and $10 for children. Birds of Prey show is included at 10am and 3.30pm each day. It is open from 7.30am to 6pm every day.

Prices correct at April 9, 2009.

For further information

MacDonnell Range Holiday Park
Palm Place
Alice Springs 0870
Phone: 1800 808 373
Ph: (08) 8952 6111
Fax: (08) 8952 5236

Alice Springs Desert Park
Larapinta Drive
Alice Springs 0870
Ph: (08) 8951 8788
Fax: (08) 8951 8720

Simpsons Gap Bike Path

Check out our full Insider's Guide to Alice Springs

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