Monday, 09 December 2019 Sydney

Visit, Live, Study & Invest in Alice Springs::

About Alice Springs

Alice Springs lies in the physical and spiritual heart of Australia’s arid zone, about halfway between Darwin to the north and Adelaide to the south.


The Municipality of Alice Springs covers an area of 328 sq kms and has a population estimated at 28,605 (ABS 2012).


It is however the service hub for a much wider region - the southern half of the Northern Territory, an area of 551,000 sq kms, and parts of South Australia and Western Australia.


The town itself is made up of a vibrant mix of cultures from around the globe.


Alice Springs is on Australian Central Standard Time, UTC/GMT +9:30 hours.


The municipality of Alice Springs covers an area of 328 sq km and 74% of that is Crown Land, and therefore not rateable.


Water for Alice Springs is drawn largely from groundwater, either from alluvial sediments or rock aquifers in the Amadeus Basin.


The town is divided by the Todd River, which, due to the boom-or-bust arid zone climate, is a dry riverbed until enough rain falls in the catchment area north of the town.


Alice Springs averages 9.6 hours sunshine per day


The economy is based on government services, tourism, pastoralism and mining. It is also a major service centre for about 260 remote communities across 551,403 sq km.


The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap (Pine Gap) is an Australia – United States Joint Facility, employing about 800 personnel - approximately 50% are American and 50% Australian.


Pine Gap provides a significant number of employment and contract opportunities for the local economy.


Australian and US employees at the Facility and their family members play an active part in the Alice Springs community, participating in and contributing to local festivals, sporting teams, and community organisations.


Alice Springs History

Alice Springs history


Alice Springs began its modern history as Stuart, a telegraph station on the Adelaide to Darwin line, and the end of the Ghan railway.


Until the early 1930s, Alice Springs was the name given to the waterhole that was discovered and named by Government Surveyor WW Mills in March 1871, while exploring the MacDonnell Ranges during the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line.


Alice Springs is named after Alice Todd, wife of the Superintendent of Telegraphs, Sir Charles Todd.


The Telegraph Station was built adjacent to the waterhole.


However, this dual naming created such confusion for administrators in Adelaide that on 31 August 1933 the township of Stuart was officially gazetted Alice Springs.


Aboriginal History


Before white settlement Alice Springs was inhabited by the Arrernte Aboriginal people.


Mparntwe (pronounced mbarn-twa) is the Arrernte word for Alice Springs and was created by the actions of several ancestral figures including the caterpillar beings Ayepe-arenye, Ntyarlke and Utnerrengatye, the MacDonnell Ranges being but one of their creations.


Creation stories also describe traditional links with areas as far afield as Urlatherrke (Mt Zeil) in the West MacDonnell Ranges and Port Augusta in South Australia.


Arrernte people continue to live in Mparntwe, observe traditional law, look after the country and teach children the Arrernte language and the importance of their culture.


The Pioneers


In 1862 explorer John McDouall Stuart led an expedition (his third and final attempt) through the Centre, to the north coast, navigating and mapping the country for white settlement.


As arguably Australia’s pre-eminent explorer, the Stuart Highway honours his remarkable feats of exploration and leadership.


Following in Stuart’s footsteps, the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line from Adelaide to Darwin was completed in 1872 and made it viable for pastoralists to take up leases in the Centre.


However, it was the discovery of alluvial gold at Arltunga, about 100 km east of Alice Springs, in 1887 that provided a population boom for the Centre.


The Cameleers


Afghan Cameleers forged their place in Central Australian history, driving their camel trains 600 km across the desert to deliver essential provisions from the railhead at Oodnadatta to Alice Springs.


“Their contribution to the opening up and accessibility of the great mass of inland Australia was enormous and vital. The very backbone of Australia’s economy, the traditional spheres of pastoralism and mining, owe an immense historical debt to the cameleers and their camels.”


Tin Mosques and Ghantowns – Christine Stevens 1989


Their legacy can be seen throughout Alice Springs and Central Australia, opening transport routes to the arid zones, taking part in exploration and contributing to the local population as a whole.


Many families in Alice Springs today are direct descendants of those early pioneers.




In 1929 the railway line linking Alice Springs with Adelaide was completed and mechanised trains replaced camel trains.


Motor and air transport to the Centre grew more frequent and reliable, as Alice Springs overcame its isolation.


It was not till February 2004 that the train line was extended right through to Darwin.


The completion of this long awaited line extension meant that this line would become the only great north-south transcontinental journey by train in Australia.


Climate, weather and ecology

Climate, weather and ecology

Climate and weather


Central Australia is a land of extremes – from scorching summer days of over 40 degrees to winter nights where

temperatures can fall well below zero and frost covers the ground.


It is a boom or bust environment with long dry periods of no rain at all, to spectacular thunderstorms and flash floods in the

summer that send frothing torrents along ordinarily dry river beds.


Over winter (May to September) clouds are a rare sight. Warm clothing is essential at this time of the year.


A hat and sunscreen is essential outdoors in summer.


Most locals avoid going outside when it’s really hot and tend to congregate at shopping centres, the pool and the library

when they aren't at work.


Visitors to the area should guard against dehydration by drinking lots of water - no matter what the season.

The local tap water is safe to drink.


For further information about the climate of Central Australia and current Alice Springs weather conditions go to the Australian

Bureau of Meteorology website by clicking here.




Central Australia has abundant plant and animal life.


The area supports more than 50 species of native mammals (including bats and native mice, kangaroos and euros), numerous

reptiles and abundant bird life (over 230 species).


Years with good rainfall produce dense carpets of wildflowers and grasses, swirling flocks of budgies and zebra finches, and

surges in numbers of insects and small mammals.


Drier times cause animal populations to decline, occasionally to the point where only a few individuals of a species survive.


For more information on Central Australia’s ecology, environment and local culture go to the Alice Springs Desert Park.


For a extensive list of Central Austalian plants, take a look at our online plant database.





Alice Springs Town Council plays a key role in encouraging the community to think about its environment, natural resources

and preservation and enhancement of a landscape which attracts visitors from around the world.


There are 85 parks and open spaces in the municipality under strategic open space management.


Aesthetics and cleanliness are important to the town, and Council has a strong focus on ensuring effective litter management

as well as an emphasis on greening the environment.


There is ongoing work to improve water efficiency, working on a safe and reliable water drainage system; running the

WaterSmart program; harnessing renewable energy sources such as the Solar Cities program, and reducing the amount of

waste going to landfill.


Council’s Regional Waste Management Facility focuses on sorting waste rather than dumping it.


This leads to more recycling which will extend the life of the landfill.


Alice Springs is recognised as a Desert Smart Town – a town aiming for sustainably in the arid zone of Australia.


Environment Advisory Committee (EAC)


Council’s EAC includes representatives of Elected Members/Councillors, Council Officers, Northern Territory Government

departments, local business and members of general community.


It plays a key role in ensuring the community is aware of environmental issues and that new initiatives to improve

Council’s environmental performance can be developed.


EAC agendas, minutes and reports can be viewed here.


Alice Solar City

Solar City


Alice Solar City was one of seven projects funded through the Australian Government Solar Cities programme,

a $97million national strategy launched in 2004.


It was unique in that it was the only project to be led and delivered by a local government authority on behalf of a consortium

of local and government organisations. It was launched in March 2008 to explore how solar power, energy efficient

technologies and new approaches to energy supply and pricing could encourage the development of a sustainable energy future.


Alice Solar City came to an end in June 2013 after five years with a long list of outcomes.


It engaged all sectors of the community through three key programme areas:




2,711 free home energy surveys completed – 30% of the whole community and 47% of owner occupied homes

Over 800 residential smart meters installed

908 residential hot water systems installed with funding support




199 energy audits completed

411kw of commercial PV installed on 39 business premises

A dedicated project at the Alice Springs Hospital which resulted in energy savings of 625,000kwh per annum


Large Scale Iconic projects


Solar installations at five high profile public locations generate significant power for the town and serve as visible icons of Alice

Springs Solar City status. One of the large scale projects, the Uterne Power

Station, is supported by Power & Water Corporation which will purchase electricity from the system for 20 years.


At the end of the Alice Solar City project, a total of 700 solar photovoltaic (PV) systems had been installed on homes and

businesses, 317 of these with funding support.


Solar power installations represented nearly one half of the total Alice Solar City project expenditure and 46% of its total

estimated greenhouse gas savings.


Solar hot water systems accounted for a further 28% of greenhouse gas emission savings.


As well as investing in and leading delivery of the programme, Council has led by example and has invested in its own facilities,

including large solar PV installations on the civic centre and the works depot, and the rooftop water heating system that is

effectively reducing the gas bill for the heated pools at the Aquatic & Leisure Centre.


Council is immensely proud to have led the success story that is Alice Solar City.


To find out more, visit the Alice Solar City website.


Alice WaterSmart

Sustainable garden


The project aimed to educate the community about water use, reduce water use and contribute to improved water usage in the town.


Over the 2-year period Council reduced its irrigation water consumption on ovals, parks etc by over 100MgL as part of the Alice WaterSmart project.


To find out more about the project, which ended in June 2001, go to the Alice WaterSmart website.


Roadmap to a desertSMART town



The Roadmap to a desertSMART Town 2013-18, is a visionary document that seeks to lay out a blueprint for a more sustainable Alice Springs by 2033, with measurable targets over the next 5 years.


Twelve months in the making and with contributions from 114 experts, industry stakeholders and members of the public in Alice Springs, the Roadmap to a desertSMART town 2013-18 is a truly collaborative effort that will set the agenda for building a more sustainable and resilient Alice Springs in the coming years.


Alice Springs Town Council is proud to be an ongoing supporter of the project.


For more information, visit the desertSMART coolmob website.


Living Alice Springs



If you've just moved to Alice Springs or you're thinking about moving to the Red Centre, it can be daunting trying to find out things locals may take for granted.


If you're looking to rent a house, for example, and the Real Estate agent talks to you about swampies and shadecloth, you may find yourself wishing you had an interpreter.


Here is some information about living in an arid zone, from housing and childcare to public transport - and a full list of community organisations in our community directory.





Alice Springs - a tourist mecca


Alice Springs is the heart and soul of Central Australia, made famous by the novel “A Town Like Alice” by Nevil Shute.


This iconic outback town, rich in history and culture, has much to offer visitors.


Alice Springs has many of the facilities you would expect in any Australian capital city including shops, attractions and entertainment.


Check out our popular regularly updated community calendar for a comprehensive list of Alice Springs exciting events.



Travel NT is Northern Territory Government's official tourism website for visitors to the Territory. The Alice Springs section of the Travel NT website contains maps, itineraries, travel advice and lots of other information.


Tourism Central Australia is the Regional Tourism Association has listings for accommodation, car hire and other services for visitors to Alice Springs. They also run the local information centre located in the middle of the Todd Mall.


The Parks and Wildlife NT's website has information for those intending to walk the Larapinta Trail or visit the many National Parks in the region.


The official Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park website has up to date information on visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.


Information about road conditions is available from the Central Australian Tourism Visitor Information Centre on (08) 8952 5800 in Alice Springs, by phoning 1800 246 199 or by visiting