9 – 10 September 2017
We arrived in Alice Springs early enough to walk about downtown and enjoy perfect evening temperatures with dinner at a local café. Alice Springs is massive compared to any town we saw since Adelaide but it is smaller than I realized. With a population around 28,000, it is almost the size of New Bern, North Carolina – the birthplace of Pepsi. Alice Springs is often referred to as the Capital of the Outback or the Red Center but it is actually not the capital of the Northern Territory, that title goes to Darwin.
When we checked in, I quickly realized I made a rookie mistake. The hotel is along the Todd River, which runs through town. I thought it would be nice to walk along the river in the evenings. One problem… there is no water in the river! I had read about the Henley-on-Todd Regatta race, where contestants race down the dry river bed, but somehow did not realize the Todd is dry most of the year.
The next day we spent more time in and around town, opting to skip a more adventurous day in the mountains, so we could relax before the next big push. We enjoyed walking along the Todd and views from ANZAC Hill.
Alice Springs is an oasis in the desert. It is a long way from everywhere. It is the only place in the Red Center you will find restaurants and stores common to most of Australia’s more populated areas. To put this in perspective, the closest McDonalds outside of town is a 13 hour drive.
Alice Springs has its positive aspects, but we will be happy to move along tomorrow morning. It is the first place in Australia where we did not feel completely comfortable and where the people were not particularly friendly. If you need a place to rest, recuperate, and restock on your great Outback adventure, Alice Springs checks all the boxes. If you are looking for more than that, I’m not sure you’ll find it here.
ANZAC Hill Lookout