Alice Springs, Northern Territory
IT’S NOT ONLY THE Red Centre capital, but Alice Springs is also the hub for all things adventure in the Central Australian outback (and, best of all, it’s well serviced by airlines). Two days here is not nearly enough; spend a day on one of the Larapinta Trail’s sections (the Ormiston Pound loop walk is a brilliant example of what the entire trail offers) and then rally your way around the myriad mountain bike trails surrounding town. And then wish you’d booked a week out here…
Of course, there’s also plenty of 4WD touring available, with one great day-drive loop that explores the East MacDonnell Ranges taking in a number of gorges, including N’Dhala Gorge, which has plenty of Aboriginal petroglyphs (rock carvings). Loop pass the old mining town of Arltunga on the way to Gemtree to fossick for precious stones before rejoining the Plenty Highway and heading back to town. It’s an easy, unrushed day behind the wheel.
You don’t need a 4WD to experience some of the best of the West MacDonnell Ranges; most of the West Macs highlights are accessible via sealed roads, including the best swimming hole in central Oz: Ellery Creek Big Hole.
To gain the full outback experience, make sure you opt for camping on your weekend in The Alice. The spectacle of a star-crowded outback night sky is something everyone should experience at least once in life. Finish off with a tour of the excellent Aboriginal art galleries and then reminisce on your Red Centre adventure back in the office on Monday morning.