Top Ten Things to do in Alice Springs with a Campervan

Wondering where to go on your Red Centre campervan adventure?

We’re covering the region’s ten most unmissable outback attractions.

Kata Tjuta

Also known as the Olgas, some travellers find these dramatic dome-shaped formations more impressive than Uluru. The biblical Valley of the Winds trail snakes through the 36 ochre-hued rocks, passing vibrant fields of wildflowers and narrow canyons en route.

Ellery Creek Big Hole

Ellery Creek Big Hole is the most picture-perfect swimming spot in the entire MacDonell Ranges. Many millennia of massive floods have carved out the spellbinding geological site, which remains an important meeting place for the Aranda people. Don’t want to leave? Camping is available on-site.

Kings Canyon

This cragged, deep red canyon has spectacular scenery fit for a king. As one of the Red Centre’s most remarkable sites, the spellbinding detour is well worth the drive. Tackle the Rim Walk to admire its lush sheltered gardens and course, wind-eroded domes on an otherworldly 6km hike.

Mount Sonder

The challenging yet rewarding ascent up Mount Sonder is a must for any keen bushwalker. From the Redbank Gorge Day Use Area, a 16km return trail winds up the Northern Territory’s fourth highest mountain, from where sweeping West MacDonnell landscapes await. Trudge up before sunrise for the best views.

Ormiston Gorge

The most gorgeous gorge of the West McDonnell Ranges wows visitors with its rugged outback scenes. The moderately strenuous 8.5km Ormiston Pound loop soaks up the staggering terrain. You can also enjoy a taster on the more accessible Ghost Gum route or the wheelchair-friendly Waterhole Walk. Sweaty? Cool off with an ice-cold dip.

Redbank Gorge

A rocky 1.5-hour return walk leads to this deep red stunner by the base of Mount Sonder in the West MacDonnell Ranges. Treat yourself to a refreshing swim in the near-permanent waterhole as a reward for your legwork. Low-cost accommodation comes courtesy of the Woodland Campground.

Serpentine Gorge

Another West Macs classic, Serpentine is a spindly, snake-like gorge where red gums shade a semi-permanent swimming hole. A moderate yet rocky 3km return walk is all it takes to reach its famous narrow gap.

Standley Chasm

There’s no swimming hole at the privately-owned Standley Chasm, but this spectacular spot is well worth a look. A well-maintained 30-minute return trail leads to a dramatic 80-metre chasm carved out of rock. Go it alone or immerse yourself in indigenous culture during an aboriginal-led walking or bushtucker tour.

Trephina Gorge Nature Park

As the highlight of the East MacDonnell Ranges, Trephina Gorge enchants visitors with its refreshing waterholes and scenic canyon hikes. 4WD explorers should take a side trip to John Hayes Rock Hole—or get there via the adventurous Trephina Ridgetop Walk.


Even the most jaded traveller will feel enchanted by the magic of Uluru. So much more than “just a big rock,” this iconic monolith exudes an indescribable spiritual presence. Wander around the Base Walk to admire Uluru from multiple angles, then head towards the Sunset Lookout for an unforgettable photo op.

The Alice Springs Experience

Despite its intense isolation, Alice Springs offers all the trappings of a miniature modern city, plus a slew of exciting attractions.

You don’t have to be an art enthusiast to appreciate the colourful creations of indigenous painters.

The government-run Araluen Cultural Precinct is Alice’s premiere arts space with galleries, a 500-seat theatre, and rotating exhibits. A vibrant ensemble of privately-run art centres, including the famous Yubu Napa Art Gallery, operates around town. The Todd Mall Markets is a top spot to purchase indigenous works straight from the creators.

To get up to speed on Red Centre geology, pop into the Museum of Central Australia. Alternatively, the Royal Flying Doctor Service Tourist Facility explains how this aeronautical ambulance operates in remote regions. If you’d rather gawk at life-sized models of enormous, long-extinct animals, check out Megafauna Central instead.

Straddling the Todd River lies the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, a charming parkland showcasing the region’s drought-resistant flora and birdlife. Pay a visit to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve to learn more about the town’s foundation. Next, drive up to the top of ANZAC Hill for a layout of the land.

Plane spotters will love the Central Australian Aviation Museum, while the National Road Transport Hall of Fame explains the challenges of moving freight in this far-flung locale.

There’s no need to conquer sweltering hot hikes to meet the outback’s hardy wildlife. The Alice Springs Desert Park houses an eclectic collection of nocturnal mammals and fierce birds of prey. Alternatively, check out the Alice Springs Reptile Centre for scaly, slithering critters.

Exploring the Red Centre

Alice Springs serves as a convenient base to explore the ochre-red wonders of outback Australia.

The MacDonnell Ranges

Spanning 644km, the rugged MacDonnell Ranges slice through the centre of Alice Springs. The western end boasts the best roads and most iconic sites—albeit with thicker crowds.

Start your West Macs adventure with a wander down Standley Chasm, a striking ochre-hued gorge near a popular outback café. Heading west, Ellery Creek Big Hole is a top spot to cool off with a dip. Serpentine Gorge has a panoramic lookout accessible via a steep 30-minute walk. Next, stop by the Ochre Pits to see how the First Nations People once mined for art supplies.

Heading further west leads you to the iconic Ormiston Gorge. Treat yourself to a refreshing swim after the long, rugged hike through a dramatic ravine. Nearby, Glen Helen Gorge is another scenic spot to hike, swim, and soak up the views.

Energetic bushwalkers can conquer the summit at Mount Sonder—it looks especially spectacular at sunrise. Hit the lesser-visited Redbank Gorge to rock hop through a dry creek bed before reaching a deep red ravine with a pristine swimming hole.

To the south, on Larapinta Drive, Hermannsburg is an atmospheric aboriginal community with historic sites and art museums. Nearby, Finke Gorge National Park hosts the striking landscapes of Palm Valley (you’ll need a 4WD drive here).

Fit, well-prepared long-distance hikers can explore the West MacDonnell Ranges via the world-famous Larapinta Trail. The 230 km route showcases Central Australia’s unique arid landscapes and attracts adventurers from all over the world.

The East MacDonnell Ranges host a smaller yet entirely worthwhile selection of sites.

First up is Emily and Jessie Gaps, an impressive nature park with indigenous rock art and a short hiking trail. Next, Corroboree Rock is a geological oddity and a traditional indigenous meeting place. The big-ticket East Macs attraction is Trephina Gorge, where you’ll find fabulous campsites, rugged 4WD routes, and scenic hiking trails.

History buffs could venture further east towards the dilapidated old gold mines at Arltunga. Nearby, the Ross River Resort offers scenic campsites by a characterful historic homestead.

Kings Canyon

More often than not, you’ll need a capable 4WD to tackle the rugged and worn-out Meerine Loop (Larapinta Drive) towards Kings Canyon. If the road is open to 2WDs, check whether your hire company is happy with you heading that way and pre-purchase the compulsory $5 permit.

Most travellers double back to Alice, then head south down the Stuart Highway and turn onto the Lasseter Hwy at Ghan. The 3.5-hour outback drive will be well worth it upon arriving at Kings Canyon, a striking red rock ravine with 300-metre-high sandstone walls.

Explore the canyon via the 6km Rim Walk, which meanders through the paradisical Garden of Eden and weathered Lost City domes. The initial ascent is tough—especially in the outback heat—but the spectacular 360-degree panoramas make it entirely worthwhile.

Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park,

No trip to the Red Centre would be complete without marvelling at the majestic Uluru(Ayer’s Rock). As the world’s largest single-rock monolith, this recognisable sandstone slab is the poster child of the Australian outback. And upon gazing at its golden, sunlit glow, it’s easy to see why Uluru is so sacred to indigenous Australians.

Hiking over the top is no longer permitted. Instead, stroll the 10km Base Walk (or jump on a Segway tour) to see the monolith from multiple angles. Numerous lookouts lie peppered around the region, including sunrise and sunset viewing areas.

A quick drive west leads you to Kata Tjuta (or The Olgas), a string of steep domes with wildflowers and narrow shady ravines. The 7.4 km Valley of the Winds trail snakes through the spectacular sandstone terrain—it’s one of the Red Centre’s most scenic short walks.