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The Alice - Heart of the Centre

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Alice Springs, the capital of the Centre, is a town of 26,000 people set in the protective folds of the MacDonnell Ranges. Every year tens of thousands of tourists pass through on their explorations of the Territory and Ayers Rock. The town sprawls along the banks of the usually dry Todd River and the southern entrance is between the rocky walls of Heavitree Gap, which carries the river bed, road and railway through its dramatic narrow opening. Almost hidden by pepper trees is the first police station, prudently built here so the law would know who was entering and leaving the town.

The Alice has always been important to the Territory, ever since the solid stone complex of the Overlander Telegraph Station was built in 1871 next to the waterhole named in honour of the wife of the South Australia Postmaster General who planned and supervised building the telegraph line. The township which grew up 4km away, now known as Alice Springs, was called Stuart until 1933. Then the Telegraph Station closed and its name was transferred to the town. All buildings at the Telegraph Station have since been restored.


Alice Springs Events

Alice Springs has a string of colourful activities, particularly during the cool tourist months from May to August. The Camel Cup, a series of extraordinary camel races that gives rise to a frenetic, antipodean Arabia, takes place in mid-July.

The Alice Springs Agricultural Show (Alice Springs Show) takes place in early July, and the highlight is a fireworks display.

In August there's the Alice Springs Rodeo, when for one week the town is full of bow-legged stockmen, swaggering around in 10-gallon hats, cowboy shirts, moleskin jeans and RM Williams Cuban-heeled boots.

Finally in late September there's the event which probably draws the biggest crowd of all - the Henley-On-Todd Regatta. Having a series of boat races in the Todd River is slightly complicated by the fact that there is hardly ever any water in the river. Nevertheless, a whole series of races is held for sailing boats, doubles, racing eights and every other boat race class you could think of. The boats are all bottomless, the crews' legs stick out and they simply run down the course!

The Octoberfest held early in October, at the end of the regatta, is held at the Memorial Club on Gap Road with many frivolous activities including spit the dummy, tug of war, and stein-lifting competitions. For the beer enthusiast there's a range of local and overseas beers and a range of cuisines.

Also, through the cooler months there is a string of country horse races at Alice Springs and surrounding settlements like Finke, Barrow Creek, Aileron and Harts Range. They're colourful events and for the communities involved they're the big turnouts of the year.



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