Popularly referred to as "The Alice" – the city of Alice Springs is the third largest town in Australia's Northern Territory.
Its location is known as the Red Centre, an arid environment with vast desert landscapes and dramatically changing temperatures, averaging a steamy 97 degrees in the summer months. Annual precipitation is erratic, and in winter the temperatures can drop to 45 degrees but only a dozen or less nights per year hit temperatures below freezing.
Alice Springs reflects both European and Aboriginal influences. Today the town is a popular tourist hub, with well-appointed large hotels and a world-class convention center, plus many visitor attractions and a nice selection of good restaurants.
Aboriginal Australians make up nearly 20% of the population here. The traditional owners of the area are the Central Arrernte people. The Arrernte have set aside conservation areas nearby for the protection of native species of plants and animals, and numerous sites of traditional importance to their culture are in and around the town, which is dotted with Aboriginal art galleries and hosts community events mindful of this rich cultural heritage. Besides being renowned as the Aboriginal art capital of Australia, Alice Springs also boasts the Araluen Centre for Arts and Entertainment, presenting ballets and orchestral performances from around the globe as well as showcasing the local talent. Locals are friendly, and enjoy meeting up with visitors every Sunday lunch when they host a barbeque in Konjo Park. The annual Desert Mob Art Show runs the month of September, and art lovers and collectors from all over the world travel to Alice Springs to see the best Aboriginal art. Other fun local events include the Alice Desert Festival Camel Cup, the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, the Beanie Festival, and the Finke Desert Race – a grueling 310 mile off-road race that runs from Alice Springs to Finke and back over a 2 day period. 500 competitors in buggies and on bikes are cheered on by spectators who line the road – camping along the entire length of track to watch all of the action.
As in all of Australia, sport is popular in Alice Springs. The Traeger Park sporting complex hosts tennis, basketball, boxing, canoe polo, hockey, baseball, badminton, squash, gymnastics and skateboarding. Soccer and cricket are popular with the younger community, and there are amateur adult leagues for these sports as well as for baseball and basketball. Other leisure and recreational activities include hiking in the nearby MacDonnell Ranges, driving 4-wheelers on the tracks at Finke Gorge National Park, sand enjoying nature in the parks and gardens, including the unique Olivia Pink Botanic Garden, an arid plant display that fascinates all.