Nine Exhilarating Experiences Every Adventure Lover Should Have in Alice Springs and Beyond

Soar over the Red Centre in a glider, captain a buggy over desert terrains, or camp out under a million stars
Anastasia Medvedskaya
Published on February 08, 2022

Nine Exhilarating Experiences Every Adventure Lover Should Have in Alice Springs and Beyond

in partnership with

Soar over the Red Centre in a glider, captain a buggy over desert terrains, or camp out under a million stars

Itching to take a break from working from home by plunging yourself into the great outdoors? Love the idea of turning on your OOO message and hitting a six-day nature hike, getting a rush of adrenaline as you speed down a mountain on a bike, or gliding over expansive desert sands at exhilarating heights? Then it might be time to put Central Australia on your travel map.

Home to some of the most epic activities the country has to offer, taking the plunge and visiting the Red Centre might be the little pick-me-up you need. So, we've partnered with Tourism Central Australia to bring you some of Central Australia's most thrilling activities.

  • 9

    Whether you’re a bonafide biker, an adventure addict or a lover of the great outdoors, heli-mountain biking with Alice Springs Helicopters is the perfect opportunity to get in touch with nature, have a workout or simply get out of your head and into the zone.

    Enjoy staggering views of Alice Springs and the MacDonnell Ranges from the sky, before taking your pick of three unique landing sites — one on the east side of town and two on the west. Wherever you land, you’ll have direct access to a scenic biking trail to charge down the mountain and satisfy your inner thrill-seeker. This one-of-a-kind experience will let you experience all that Alice Springs has to offer while getting your heartrate up.

    Image: Tourism Australia

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  • 8

    Off-road adventure lovers, this one’s for you — and it’s easily accessible from Alice Springs. Captain your own ATV buggy in a 4WD adventure through desert terrains surrounded by the West MacDonnell, Waterhouse and James Ranges. Along the way, you’ll glimpse ancient landscapes, waterholes and beauty across the Owen Springs Reserve.

    You’ll spend the night at a secluded camping location, playfully dubbed the ‘million star hotel of the outback’. The group will enjoy a hearty meal and a drink or two around the campfire, before you snuggle into your swag under the stars. The next morning, down a freshly brewed cup of joe and a tasty breakfast before zooming home.

    Image: Tourism Australia

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  • 7
    NT Soaring Two-Hour Gliding Adventure

    NT Soaring’s two-hour flight lets you learn the ropes as a glider pilot, attempting three launches into the sky with ample hand-on-stick time. You’ll get the breathtaking, weightless experience of soaring over the desert at exhilarating heights with a trusty and experienced pilot by your side.

    Enjoy panoramic views through the transparent roof and windows as you glide among the clouds. You’ll catch sight of the Tanami Desert from the air, and, if you’re lucky, may even get the chance to fly alongside some wedge tail eagles. This experience takes off from Bond Springs Airport, just 15 kilometres north of Alice Springs.

    Image: Flow Mountain Bike, Tourism NT

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  • 6

    Want to get off your phone and right amongst nature? The Larapinta Trail is calling your name. Across six adventure-filled days, you’ll traverse this legendary trail which passes through the iconic Serpentine Gorge and includes a challenging ascent to the peak of Mt Sonder, replete with panoramic views.

    You’ll spend five to eight hours a day on stimulating walks, after which you’ll be taken back to a boutique bush camp in the Ormiston Gorge region. Your home for five nights, the camp is tucked away in secluded, pristine nature. Your accommodation includes a top-of-the-range tent and creature comforts like toilets, a washing area and gourmet catering for every meal.

    Image: Tourism Australia

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  • 5
    Serpentine Gorge

    Teeming with stunning geological formations, Serpentine Gorge is a hidden gem for budding landscape photographers. A narrow gap in the West MacDonnell Ranges, this picture-perfect destination is a little off the beaten track, and it has paths for two types of walkers. One is well-marked and leads you to a waterhole for a refreshing dip. The second, slightly trickier path takes you to a lookout over the cliffs, where you’ll be rewarded with some photo-worthy views.

    Serpentine Gorge is also a place of great significance to the local Indigenous community and, as such, has protected sections that cannot be entered. The gorge also happens to be one of many stops on the 223-kilometre Larapinta Trail through the West MacDonnell Ranges. So, if you’ve got time to spare, you can explore the rest of the region from here, too.

    Image: Andy Maguire, Flickr

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  • 4
    Mt Sonder

    Whether you’re a hiker on the hunt for a challenging climb, or someone who loves wildlife spotting, you might want to add Mt Sonder to your map. The third-highest peak in the Northern Territory, Mt Sonder marks the west end of the Larapinta Trail, a 223-kilometre walking trail from Alice Springs. You can access it directly from Alice Springs, too — it’s 130 kilometres west of the city centre.

    The top of Mt Sonder stands a whopping 1380 metres above sea level and offers some of the most gorgeous views the Red Centre. It’s home to a diversity of wildlife including the grey-headed honeyeater, the desert mouse and long-nosed dragon. You’ll also likely spy wedge-tailed eagles and the peregrine falcons soaring at mountain level. If you want to stay the night, you can pitch your tent at Redbank Gorge, and experience nature at its finest.

    Image: The Salty Travellers, Tourism NT

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  • 3
    The Giles Track

    Beautiful valleys, beehive-shaped sandstones and a plethora of native wildlife: the Giles Track has it all. This 22-kilometre walking track through Watarrka National Park, along the southern rim between Kings Canyon and Kathleen Springs, is best conquered in two days. Along the way, you’ll trek through rocky watercourses, under tall rocky cliffs and past shady waterholes.

    You can also expect to spy plenty of local fauna — think rock wallabies, goannas, ring-tailed dragons and peregrine falcons — as well as evidence of First Nations groups via grinding stones, stencilled art and rock carvings.

    Image: Jason Van Miert, Tourism NT

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  • 2
    Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve

    An easy day trip from Alice Springs, the Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve is famous for its astonishingly beautiful 350 million-year-old sandstone bluffs. The best way to get there is via 4WD — it’s about 75 kilometres south of Alice Springs. 

    What makes the bluffs particularly fascinating is that they feature bands made of different coloured rock that change depending on the time of day you go. If you visit during the early morning or afternoon, the rocks will transform from red to orange and purple before your eyes. If you camp, you’ll get to see the whole show.

    Paths around the reserve are lined with majestic desert oak, scattered wild flowers and large chunks of fallen rock that resemble coral. You can also take a short walk to Mushroom Rock, a formation featuring a natural tunnel formed by millions of years of weathering.

    Image: Steve Strike, Tourism NT

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  • 1
    Ellery Creek Big Hole

    If you’re dreaming of a refreshing dip, or peaceful picnic by the water, then you’ll definitely want to see the Ellery Creek Big Hole. Just a one-hour drive from Alice Springs, this serene and sandy area is one of the region’s most impressive and popular waterholes. Giant red cliffs encompass the waterhole carved from thousands of years of massive floods.

    Located in Tjoritja (West MacDonnell National Park), Ellery Creek holds special meaning for the Arrernte people as a part of the fish and honey ant Dreaming trails. From barbecues and birdwatching to picnics and photo-taking, there’s plenty to do at this postcard worthy spot. There’s a handful of nearby walks to check out, including the three-kilometre Dolomite Walk and the 32.3-kilometre Ellery Creek Loop Walk, plus access to sections of the Larapinta Trail. And if you’re just not ready to part ways just yet, you can always camp a night or two at this gem of a place. 

    Image: Laura Bell, Tourism NT

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Get out there in the Red Centre. To discover more things to eat, see and do, visit the website.

Top image: Tourism Australia

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