For a small outback town Alice Springs has a very active & diverse outdoor community, and more than its fair share of outdoor opportunity and willing participants. It’s what has brought many people to this part of the world – it’s not the nightlife & urban culture that makes this region special (though that is interesting!), it’s the bush that makes Central Australia so special.
The opportunities for bushwalking around Alice Springs are endless and offer remote walking experiences you will find difficult to replicate anywhere else in the world. The Alice Springs township sits like an island in a giant sea of remote wilderness. Within minutes on foot from the CBD of Alice Springs you enter that wilderness.
No suprise then that Alice Springs hosts a very active and well patronised bushwalking club: Central Australian Bushwalkers.
Central Australian Bushwalkers have a very full walks calender that includes bushwalks of varying difficulty. Walks are lead by experienced club members who depending on the circumstances carry a first aid kit, Satphone, PLB and other emergency equipment. Visitors a are welcomed on these walks. For the walks schedule and more information visit their website.
Alice Springs has a vibrant & burgeoning Mountain Bike Scene, locals have been enjoying it since the early history of Mountain Biking in Australia and today it is rapidly establishing itself as a premiere mountain biking destination in Australia.
What makes it so special? Three key things; the terrain, the accessibility, and the climate.
The rolling hills around the township are made for mountain biking; low friction hard pack surfaces for fast riding, short sharp climbs and descents, the open nature of the vegetation which provides excellent visibility of the track as it unwinds in front of you, and then of course there’s rocks – where there are rocks there is challenge, and fun. To cap it all off there are the expansive vistas at every turn and that superb winter weather.
The trails literally surround the township of Alice Springs; a short 5 minute ride from the CBD (and most accommodation houses) will have you in the bush on a sweet bit of single track heading north, east or west on a quick squirt or a several hour epic. Logistics for the visitor and local alike is simple, grab your bike and go – no vehicle support required.
There are three very good bike stores in the town, Ultimate Ride Bicycle Centre runs weekly ‘shop’ rides so be sure to get in touch if you are interested in joining in.
You can check out a map of the Alice Mountain Bike Trail network established by Parks and Wildlife Commission of the NT here; don’t worry, there’s way more trails than those on the map, but the map will get you started.
For MTB happenings around Alice Springs go to the Alice Springs Mountain Bike Trails Facebook page. Keep in touch with the mountain bike community and get involved in the numerous casual and social rides that go on every week as well as competitive events held by the Rough Riders Mountain Bike Club.
To see what riding in around the Alice looks like click here
Central Australian Rough Riders (CARR)
There’s a very active MTB club as well; the Central Australian Rough Riders (CARR). Rough Riders have a busy events schedule, there’s always something going on, competitive and social.
Easter in The Alice
A 3 day mountain bike stage race. Including a National Marathon stage (short option available) held over the Easter long weekend each year. Organised by the local mountain biking community. Come and ride some of the greatest mtb trails in the world whilst enjoying the greatest hospitality in the universe! Enjoy the legendary outback friendliness of Alice Springs. Race in the cool of the mornings and enjoy the rest of the day exploring with your family or mates.
Whether you are a world champion or a recreational selfie snapper Easter In The Alice caters for you.
‘The Redback’ formally known as the Ingkerreke MTB Enduro is as much an adventure as a race as a MTB race. Held in August each year and organised by Rapid Ascent. The event includes 6 stages run over 4 days of incredible mountain biking along the sweet single tracks and trails that explore the inspiring landscapes of the MacDonnell Ranges, near Alice Springs. There’s plenty of camaraderie and good times with mountain biking tales tall and true playing out daily in the Red Centre (and retold with poetic licence while recovering around the pool each afternoon). The event captures the spirit of the Red Centre by leading riders on a true off-road journey through the heart of Australia – complete with dust, sweat and tears along the sweet single tracks and dusty 4wd tracks of the mighty MacDonnell Ranges around Alice Springs, a place where the sun always shines.
Every keen outdoor enthusiast has paddling on their list of ‘things to do’, just because you live in the desert doesn’t mean kayaking can’t be on your list, not if you live in Alice Springs anyway.
For those who want to develop their paddling skill, and have a whole heap of fun, there is an active canoe polo competition hosted by the Central Desert Canoe Club. Games are held on Wednesday & Sunday evenings from September through to April.
Get to the pool at 5.30pm to sign on and get organised for a 6.00pm start.
All gear supplied, beginners welcome
The cost is $10/game (plus pool entry fee)
The games are played in a relaxed and fun atmosphere with beginner through to skilled players. Contact us by email at Lone Dingo for more information.
Experienced paddlers tackle flooding inland rivers that rarely flow, the Todd River close to town is one of them. These rivers have all the gnarly characteristics of a river in flood so it’s only recommended for experienced white water kayakers only. Taking the rapids on in anything other than a fully fitted out white water boat and kit is a recipe for disaster and has resulted in tragic loss of life in recent times. The Todd may not be one of the most known rivers in Australia for white water paddling but it would have to be among the most unique!
Watch a video of a bunch of locals kayak down the Todd River north of Alice Springs during a solid flow in Central Australia (see below).
There are some fantastic crags close to Alice Springs & usually a small but enthusiastic group of climbers exploring them. Part of the attraction is the remote and spectacular environments in which many of the crags lie. Climbing in Central Australia however, is not a well developed pursuit. There is a current facebook page where local climbers communicate so if you are keen to get involved take a look.
For a relatively unexplored and little climbed area, there are a couple of very good guides.
Go to http://www.redcentreclimbing.info for some great introductory information.
Want more, see Rock Climbing in Central Australia (Seewraj,2005), a published guide book to Central Australia (UPDATE: this publication is currently out of print). This 160 page A5 book has been written and updated over the last four years by local climbers and is packed with local knowledge and information, listing over 450 climbs.
Indoor Rock Climbing
The YMCA of Central Australia features an indoor rock climbing wall with nine ropes. All levels are welcome, ages 5 and up! Three sessions per week:
Wednesdays, and Thursdays
The YMCA is located on Sadadeen Road PH: 08 8952 5666
The trails around Alice are endless and endlessly diverse. Pretty much all single track, you may be working up a steep rocky incline or down technical terrain, enjoying long, flowy sections through the scrub or slogging your way across a sandy riverbed. Many of the trails used are shared with the very extensive network of Mountain Biking trails, specifically to the northern and western sides of the town and these are well documented in handy foldaway brochures you can get at the Tourism Information Centre or the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Kiosk, where many of the MTB trails originate.
But you needn’t feel restricted to designated tracks. Once your confidence is up you can pretty much head 5 mins out of town in any direction and come across a myriad of dirt tracks and roads that weave their way around the surrounding bushland.
There is a strong and dedicated group of trail runners in Alice Springs that train and run all year round, which means lots of early mornings and too many stunning sunrises to count. Operating as a sub-group of the Alice Springs Running & Walking Club, look out for the Red Centre Trail Runners on Facebook where all their organized events are listed and many like minded people are always up for an impromptu run off the calendar.
Furthermore there is another subgroup called the Alice Springs Dusty Divas which is a social trail running group dedicated to women, who meet early every Thursday morning with a view to building confidence and familiarization out on the trails.
All of these groups have a strong emphasis on safety out in the bush and will require a certain level of mandatory and suggested gear for when you head out. Some of the items you may be expected to carry are sufficient hydration, snake bandages and a decent map app downloaded on your phone such as Guru, Trailforks or Avenza maps.
Also starting at the Telegraph Station is Stage 1 of the iconic Larapinta Trail and this is a wonderful introduction to relatively non-technical trail running rewarded by some incredible views back over the township of Alice. It is also the location for the growing in popularity West Macs Monster Trail Running Festival which is run in late May each year and encompasses the entire 231km distance of the rugged, stunningly beautiful and ancient Larapinta Trail in a fully supported, non-stop international trail running event with various distances and team vs individual options. You can find more information on this challenging and most rewarding event at https://westmacsmonster.com.au/
Outdoor adventure comes in all shapes and forms and adventure motorcycling is big in the center. Of course it would be, the red centre of Australia is oceans of outback emptiness with winding ribbons of outback tracks and roads that lend themselves to exploration by motorcycle.
Guided & Supported Adventure Motorcycle Tours
Outback Motorcycle Adventures operate guided off road trail, desert & adventure bike tours in the ‘real’ outback. Experience the adventure of a lifetime on the best trails that Central Australia has to offer, get you off the beaten track to unique areas that are rarely visited.