Alice Springs 4WD Hire Destinations
Self-Drive Recreational 4WD Hire | Off-Road 4×4 Rental | Bush Camper Hire Alice Springs, Kings Canyon, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, East and West McDonnell Ranges National Park, Larapinta Trail and Rainbow Valley
All Camping Equipment is Complimentary – Please Refer to 4WD’S & Campers and Gallery Pages
Equidistant from Darwin on Australia’s north coast and Adelaide on the south coast, Alice Springs is the de facto capital of the country’s “Red Centre”. This remote town of 25,000 or so is the gateway to exploring Australia’s fascinating interior deserts highlighted by a slew of world-renowned natural and cultural attractions.
Your outback adventure starts in “the Alice” itself, whose small town centre measures just five streets wide, bookended by the Todd River and the Stuart Highway. Stroll the lively outdoor Todd Mall market for a taste of the area’s local produce, arts and crafts, and delicious street food, held on select Sundays from mid-February to early December.
Originally a telegraph station on the Adelaide to Darwin line just under 150 years ago, Alice Springs had long before been settled by the Arrernte Aboriginal people, which is why the Alice is a true Central Australian hub for Aboriginal culture and art, both traditional and contemporary. From Alice Springs, follow one of several “art trails” and explore galleries, workshops and studios featuring Aboriginal artworks, jewellery, crafts and events.
The barren desert really comes alive at the Alice Springs Desert Park, just a 10-minute drive from the town centre. The 1,300 ha park features three diverse desert habitats along a 1.6 km-long trail: sand country, desert rivers, and woodland, populated with native plants and wildlife. Popular attractions within the park include the Nocturnal House, home to over 30 rare and endangered desert animals of the night; the Natural Theatre show featuring free-flying birds demonstrating their survival skills; and the Dingo Territory, where visitors can see Australia’s most famous wild dogs up close.
Also close to Alice Springs is Undoolya Station, the oldest working cattle station in the Northern Territory. Six generations of the Hayes family have run the property since the early 1900s and now visitors can enjoy the scenery from quadbikes over an area of 3,500 sq km.
For outdoor and 4WD enthusiasts, though, it’s what surrounds the Alice that really entices, starting with the majestic MacDonnell Ranges which fan out hundreds of kilometres on both the east and west sides of Alice Springs. Known for their awe-inspiring rocky gorges and sheer cliffs carved out by the elements over countless millennia, it’s easy to see why the Arrernte people say that the ranges were born from giant caterpillars called the Yeperenye. One of the most popular ways to experience the outback up close and personal is on the back of a camel. Introduced to the deserts of Australia more than a century ago as a means of transport and for heavy work, there are now more than 750,000 wild camels in the outback. Ride a friendly camel (with a guide) at sunrise or sunset across the Australian desert for a unique perspective on local flora and fauna including wallabies, kangaroos, lizards and native birds.
The less-visited but very beautiful rugged landscapes of the East MacDonnell Ranges stretch 150 km east of Alice Springs. Known for its scenic gaps and gorges, bush walks, sacred Aboriginal sites and fascinating ancient geological formations, the “East Macs” are accessible via 75 km of sealed road to Trephina Gorge with much beyond reachable by 4WD vehicle only.
On the way, you’ll first come across the Emily and Jesse Gaps Nature Park, sacred sites where the caterpillar beings are said to have originated in the dreamtime story of the Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal people. Notice the large rock painting illustrating the caterpillar dreaming as well as other striking red ochre and white lime drawings. The park also offers short walking tracks and recreational facilities including picnic tables and fire pits.
Next, you’ll come across Corroboree Rock, a dark rocky outcrop of dolomite said to be 800 million years old. While the name implies it was used as a sacred ceremonial site where Aboriginal people danced and sang as a way to interact with the Dreamtime, this waterless yet impressive location was more likely used as a storage site for ceremonial objects. Notice the light and dark grey streaks of Dalmatian rock towards the base.
At the Trephina Gorge Nature Park, enjoy short and long walking tracks taking in wide views of quartz cliffs, sandy creek beds and watercourses lined with Red River Gums and Aboriginal sites that are part of the Wallaby dreaming trail. Take your Alice Springs 4WD Hire on 4WD-only tracks to the John Hayes Rockhole and see the largest Ghost Gum in Central Australia, dramatically rising from a saltbush flat, or cool off in waterholes frequented by birds and wallabies. Three campsites are located in the park, ranging from extremely basic (bring your own water) to some with pit toilets, picnic tables and communal fire pits and barbeques.
Take your Alice Springs 4WD Hire to the end of the sealed road at the Ross River Resort, originally a cattle station in the 1890s and now a resort which includes powered and unpowered grassy camp sites for your Alice Springs 4WD Bush Camper with bonus swimming pool and dining facilities. From there, it’s 11 km of 4WD track crisscrossing the Ross River to the N’Dhala Gorge Nature Park, a cultural trove of nearly 6,000 petroglyphs, art sites and shelter areas. A 1.5-km walk leads to the rock engravings, either of the pounded or finely pecked type, and dating back some 2,000 – 10,000 years.
From here, pick up the epic Binns Track, a nearly 2,200 km off-road track stretching from Mount Dare in South Australia’s northern Simpson Desert to Timber Creek in the Tropical Savannah Rangelands, and see some of the diverse landscapes of the Northern Territory highlighted by native wildlife and intriguing rock formations. Expect some sections of challenging terrain with sharp creek crossings and rocky stretches, especially through Gregory National Park.
On the other side of Alice Springs, the rugged beauty of the West McDonnell Ranges draws visitors for its dramatic chasms and gorges, ancient landscapes and adventure opportunities, including hiking and swimming. It’s also a family-friendly and stress-free touring destination to take your Alice Springs 4WD Hire with several bush camping sites accessible by 4WD vehicles only.
Heading west from Alice Springs, you’ll first come across Simpsons Gap, a gorge carved out of the ranges. Take the walking track and wander past ancient Ghost Gums, admire a permanent waterhole and look out for resident wildlife, including rare black-footed wallabies.
Walkers can also pick up the Larapinta Trail from Simpsons Gap, an epic 223km-long track that follows the spine of the West Macs from the Alice Springs Telegraph Station to the top of Mount Sondor, taking in some of the most iconic sights of the West MacDonnell Ranges along the way. The trail is made up of 12 sections which vary in difficulty and length. Try individual sections or take a minimum of 14 days to walk and camp your way along the entire trail. Fit walkers will be rewarded with towering red rock formations, sweeping views of the ranges, refreshing waterholes and plenty of plant and animal life to keep you engaged, including nearly 600 species of rare flora.
The next attraction is Standley Chasm, a narrow gap carved out of the quartzite rock by rushing floodwaters over countless eons. Walking through the narrow alleyway bordered by 80m-high walls of red rock is truly an unforgettable experience, especially in bright sunlight when the colours and textures truly come alive. The area also has historical significance as a place where only Arrernte women were traditionally allowed to come to collect bush medicines and perform ancient rites.
One of the most scenic spots in all of the West Macs is the Ellery Creek Big Hole, a spectacular, permanent waterhole surrounded by cliffs and sandy banks and one of the most picturesque places you could ever hope for to picnic, swim or hike, including the 3km-long Dolomite Walk to explore the surrounding rock formations. There are free gas BBQs, picnic tables and a camping area here with shower and toilet block. Be forewarned that because of the size and depth of the waterhole, the water here can be very cold, especially in winter.
Other highlights include the Ochre Pits where desert Aboriginal people once mined the white, red and yellow pigments for use in medicine, ceremonies and trading. Continue on to Ormiston Gorge and bushwalk along the towering red rock walls to a permanent waterhole for a refreshing swim. To better explore the area, including a 7km-long trail to the Ormiston Pound, a natural amphitheatre created by a series of hills and ridges, consider camping overnight here in your Alice Springs 4WD Camper Hire. Facilities include shaded shelters, gas BBQs, and a hot water shower block. Other gorges in the West Macs include the Glen Helen Gorge with its permanent waterhole surrounded by red quartzite cliffs, and the Redbank Gorge at the base of Mount Sonder where visitors can often spot kangaroos, birds, and rock wallabies.
The area west and south of the West Macs is ideal for exploring with your Alice Springs 4WD Hire. Drive along unsealed roads to see attractions including: Rainbow Valley where sandstone bluffs glimmer and change colours in the early morning light or late afternoon sun; Tnorala (Gosse Bluff), a 5km crater believed to have been caused by a comet 140 million years ago as well as being a sacred site to the Western Arrernte Aboriginal people; Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff), a community of mainly Lurija and Pintupi people of the central western desert, and known for indigenous artists who draw inspiration from their striking environment including red sand hills and stands of desert oak trees; and Palm Valley, an outback oasis with 3,000 mature red cabbage palms surrounded by pinnacles, gorges and impressive red rock formations. Extend your stay by taking advantage of basic camp grounds at many of these sites with toilet facilities, gas BBQs and picnic areas.
From here, 4WD enthusiasts will want to pick up the 340km-long Mereenie Loop Road which winds its way past many must-see destinations in the Red Centre. Take your Alice Springs 4WD Hire along 200 km’s of rough, corrugated dirt road through some of the Northern Territory’s most scenic Aboriginal country with the occasional wild camel or horse for company. From the West Macs, you’ll first hit Kings Canyon within the Watarrka National Park, known for its 100m-high walls made up of alternating layers of red sandstone and hard shale. Gain different perspectives by walking along the canyon floor amongst dense forests of desert palms or along its rim to view the canyon in all its spectacular glory, particularly beautiful at sunset.
Most visitors to Australia’s Red Centre will continue driving another 320km to the immense monolith known as Uluru (formerly Ayers Rock) and the nearby domes of Kata Tjuta (formerly the Olgas). Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, this site is considered sacred by the Anangu Aboriginal people and there are ancient rock drawings dating back at least 5,000 years. For now at least, visitors can make the challenging climb up 347m-high Uluru, but that is set to change come October 26, 2019, when climbing will become off limits due to the site’s cultural importance. However, there are numerous walks around Uluru, including the 10km-long Uluru Base Walk along flat terrain featuring acacia woodlands and grassed claypans.
Approximately 30 kms from Uluru are the 36 ancient dome rock formations of Kata Tjuta, some rising as high as 546 m above the plains. Believed to be approximately 500 million years old, the area holds special significance for the Anangu Aboriginal people with many of the local legends known only to the Anangu men. Walk between the domes and up to scenic view points on the sometimes steep 7km-long Valley of the Winds trail that follows a dry creek bed through various desert habitats.
Alice Springs 4WD Hire is part of Australian 4WD Hire, a nationwide network of premium rental agencies strategically positioned in close proximity to all famous 4WD destinations and hotspots as well as major regional and capital cities throughout Australia, ensuring you’re never far from a pick-up point.
Australian 4WD Hire is renowned for our meticulously maintained vehicles and top-tier customer service. Our fleet is constantly being updated to ensure you enjoy your self-drive adventure in comfort and safety. 4WD Tourism is one of the best ways to see the broad range of amazing sights Australia has to offer, with the flexibility and freedom to discover the outdoors at your own pace. For your Alice Springs 4WD Hire adventure, please contact us at 1 300 360 339 or +617 5527 6191. Or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.australian4wdhire.com.au