Alice Springs is the second largest town in the Northern Territory of Australia. Popularly known as "the Alice" or simply "Alice", it had a population of 26,486 in 2005. Averaging 576 metres above sea level, the town is nearly equidistant from Adelaide and Darwin, close to the geographic centre of Australia. The site is known as Mparntwe to its traditional inhabitants, the Arrernte, who have lived in the Central Australian desert in and around what is now Alice Springs for more than 50,000 years.
In 1861-62, John McDouall Stuart led an expedition through Central Australia, to the west of what later became Alice Springs, thereby establishing a route from the south of the continent to the north. A settlement came into existence as a result of the construction of a repeater station on the Overland Telegraph Line, which linked Adelaide to Darwin and Great Britain. The OTL was completed in 1872. It traced Stuart's route and opened up the interior for permanent settlement. It wasn’t until alluvial gold was discovered at Arltunga, 100 km east of Alice Springs, in 1887 that any significant settlement occurred. Until the 1930s, however, the town was known as Stuart.
The telegraph station was sited near what was thought to be a permanent waterhole in the normally dry Todd River and was optimistically named Alice Springs after the wife of the former Postmaster General of South Australia, Sir Charles Todd. The Todd River was named after Sir Charles himself. The original mode of transportation in the outback were camel trains, operated by immigrants from Pathan tribes in the North-West frontier of the then British India and Pakistan who were misnamed ‘Afghan’ Camellers.
In 1929 the Palmerston and Pine Creek Railway was completed from Darwin as far as Birdum, while the Great Northern Railway had been completed in 1891 from Port Augusta as far as Oodnadatta, South Australia, 700 km south of Alice Springs. The lines wouldn’t meet until 2003. On February 4, 2004, the first passenger train arrived in Darwin from Adelaide.
During the 1960s it became an important defence location with the development of the U.S/Australian Pine Gap joint defence satellite monitoring base, home to about 700 workers from both countries, but by far the major industry in recent times is tourism. Almost in the exact center of the continent, Alice Springs is some 1200 km from the nearest ocean and 1500 km from the nearest major cities, Darwin and Adelaide. Alice Springs is now the midpoint of the Adelaide–Darwin Railway.
Three major groups Western, Eastern and Central Arrernte people live in Central Australia, their traditional land including the area of Alice Springs and East/West MacDonnell Ranges. They are also referred to as Aranda, Arrarnta, Arunta, and other similar spellings. Their neighbours are the Southern Arrernte, Luritja, Anmatyerr, Alyawarr and Western Arrernte peoples. There are five dialects of the Arrernte language: South-eastern, Central, Northern, Eastern and North-eastern.
Arrernte country is rich with mountain ranges, waterholes, and gorges; as a result the Arrernte people set aside 'conservation areas' in which various species are protected.
According to the Arrernte traditional stories, in the desert surrounding Alice Springs, the landscape was shaped by caterpillars, wild dogs, travelling boys, two sisters, euros, and other ancestral figures. There are many sites of traditional importance in and around Alice Springs, such as Anthwerrke (Emily Gap), Akeyulerre (Billy Goat Hill), Ntaripe (Heavitree Gap), Atnelkentyarliweke (Anzac Hill), and Alhekulyele (Mt. Gillen).
There are roughly 1,800 speakers of Eastern and Central Arrernte, making it the largest spoken language in the Arandic family, and one of the largest speaking populations of any Australian language. It is taught in schools, heard in local media and local government.
Many Arrernte people also live in communities outside of Alice Springs and on outstations..
In Alice Springs, temperatures can vary by up to 28°C and rainfall can vary quite dramatically from year to year. In summer, the average maximum temperature is in the high 30s, where as in winter the average minimum temperature can be 7.5C.
The annual average rainfall is 279.2 mm, but in 2001 741 mm fell and in 2002 only 198 mm fell.
|Notes: Temperatures are in degrees Celsius. Precipitation is in millimetres. Alice Springs Airport Latitude: 23.80° S Longitude: 133.89° E Elevation: 546 m ASL|
Alice Springs has many historic buildings, such as the Overland Telegraph Station, Adelaide House, the Old Courthouse and Residency and the Hartley Street School. Today the town is an important tourist hub and service centre for the surrounding area. It is a well-appointed town for its size with several large hotels, a world class convention centre and a good range of visitor attractions, restaurants and other services.
The MacDonnell Ranges run east and west of Alice Springs and contain a number of hiking trails and swimming holes such as Ormiston Gorge, Ormiston Gorge Creek, Red Bank Gorge and Glen Helen Gorge. The 223 km long Larapinta Trail follows the West MacDonnell Ranges and is considered among the world's great walking experiences.
Council Meetings are held on the last Monday of each month.
Alice Springs began as a service town to the pastoral industry that first came to the region. The introduction of the rail line increased its economy and productivity. Today the town services a region of 546,046 square kilometres and a regional population of 38,749. The region includes a number of mining and pastoral communities, the Joint Defence Space Research Facility at Pine Gap and tourist attractions at Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Watarrka National Park and the MacDonnell Ranges.
Whilst Alice started as a result of the Overland Telegraph line, it is now very much reliant on Domestic and International Tourism. It is home to the Northern Territory's largest Travel Wholesaler, Territory Discoveries, which employs over 50 full time local staff members.
As well as Territory Discoveries, all major tour companies have a base in Alice Springs, including AAT Kings & APT, as well as numerous local operators, including Emu Run Tours, Anganu Waai! tours, and Alice Wanderer.
Alice is home to numerous hotels, from the 5 star Lasseters Hotel & Casino, to the backpacker standard Toddies Resort. Also, there are several Caravan Parks for the driving visitor.
The traditional owners of the Alice Springs area are the Central Arrernte people. As it is the largest town in central Australia, there are also speakers of Warlpiri, Warumungu, Kaytetye, Alyawarre, Luritja, Pintupi, Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Ngaanyatjarra, Pertame, Eastern and Western Arrernte among others.
The American influence in Alice Springs comes primarily from the proximity to Pine Gap, a joint Australian and U.S. satellite tracking station, located 19 km south-west of Alice Springs. While Pine Gap employs 700 Americans and Australians, there are currently 2,000 people in the Alice Springs district who carry citizenship of the United States.
American influence can be seen throughout Alice Springs, with large left-hand-drive 4WDs (sports utility vehicles) and the American population still celebrating all major festivals, including Halloween, Independence Day and Thanksgiving, a portion of the Australian citizens engage in the festivities from time to time. There is also a large influence of American culture in sport, including baseball, basketball, and American football competitions, alongside more Australian sports of cricket, Australian rules football and rugby.
There are many festivals and events for entertainment such as the Alice Springs Beanie Festival, Camel Cup, Henley-on-Todd Regatta and the Finke Desert Race. It should be noted though that Finke is some 400 kilometres south of Alice Springs in the Simpson Desert. Other leisure and entertainment activities include hiking in the nearby MacDonnell Ranges, driving the four-wheel drive tracks at Finke Gorge National Park and visiting the many art galleries in Todd Mall.
Socrates in Love, also known as Crying Out Love, in the Center of the World, is a Japanese film that used Alice Springs as its filming location. The television series, Star Trek: Enterprise, used Alice Springs as the location of an astronaut survival training station.
Listed below are a further collection of TV series and movies that have been partially filmed in Alice Springs.
The annual Desert Mob Art Show sees art collectors and art lovers from all over the world travel to Alice Springs to see works from Aboriginal art centres in Central Australia, with works by artists from remote areas of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. This show is in conjunction with the Artist Association Desart and usually runs in September of each year at the Araluen Art Centre.
Australian rules football is a popular sport in Alice Springs. The Central Australian Football League has several teams and a high participation rate. The sport is particularly popular in Indigenous communities. The local stadium, Traeger Park, has a 10,000 seat capacity and was designed to host national AFL and cricket matches. Cricket is also a popular sport in Alice Springs. The Imparja Cup Cricket Carnival first was played in 1994 and attracts Indigenous teams from all across Australia.
In 2004, an AFL pre-season Regional Challenge match between Collingwood Football Club and Port Adelaide Football Club attracted a capacity sell-out crowd. Cricket is also popular in Alice Springs. A unique sporting event, held annually, is the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, also known as the Todd River Race. It is a sand river race with bottomless boats and it remains the only dry river regatta in the world. Another unusual sporting event is the Camel Cup. This is also held annually at the local racetrack, Blatherskite Park. It is a full day event featuring a series of races using camels instead of horses.
Soccer is also a large sport in Alice Springs, with A-League team Adelaide United making Alice Springs its second home.
Rugby League has been a part of the local sporting scene since 1963. The Australian Rugby League has held a number of pre-season games in Alice Springs, usually at the ANZAC Oval. The local competition is the Central Australian Rugby Football League, that has both junior and senior leagues.
The annual Camel Cup is held in July at Blatherskite Park, part of the Central Australian Show Society grounds.
Alice Springs is served by both local and national radio and television services. The Government-owned ABC provides 4 broadcast radio stations - local radio 783 ABC Alice Springs and the national networks Radio National, ABC Classic FM and Triple J.
Commercial radio stations are 8HA 900 kHz and SUN FM 96.9 MHz and community radio is provided by indigenous broadcaster 8KIN 100.5 MHz. Four broadcast television services operate in Alice Springs - commercial stations Imparja Television (callsign IMP9) and Seven Central (QQQ31), and Government-owned ABC (ABAD7) and SBS (SBS28). Imparja has a commercial agreement with the Nine network.
There are two local newspapers circulated in Alice Springs. The weekly publication, The Alice Springs News appears each Thursday with a circulation of 11,500, and the twice weekly The Centralian Advocate, which is published on Tuesdays ($1.10) and Fridays ($1.40)
Located on the Adelaide-Darwin railway, Alice Springs is accessible by train. Alice Springs railway station is visited by the The Ghan, operated by Great Southern Railway, on its journey between Adelaide and Darwin. The train arrives twice weekly in each direction.
The line first opened to Alice Springs in 1929, as the narrow gauge Central Australia Railway. It was not until 1980 that the current standard gauge line was opened, which was extended to Darwin in 2004.
|Tennant Creek||↔||Alice Springs||↔||Kulgera|
Alice Springs is a base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia.