NT Writers Festival 2023

Mparntwe for Visitors


Mparntwe | Alice Springs

Thinking of heading to Mparntwe/Alice Springs for this year’s NT Writers Festival? We’ve put together some handy tips to help you make the most of your visit!

Situated on the land of the Arrernte People, Mparntwe (Alice Springs) is located in the heart of Australia and is surrounded by the breathtaking MacDonnell Ranges, known in Arrernte as Tjoritja. Arrernte stories describe how the landscape surrounding the Alice Springs township was shaped by the movements of ancestral caterpillars, Ayepe-arenye, Ntarlke and Utnerrengatye, and by wild dogs, Akngwelye. If you are visiting from interstate for the NT Writers Festival here is some basic information to help you pack and prepare, and a few ideas of what you can do to get the most out of your trip to Central Australia.

Visitor Information


June is a great time to visit the desert, with warm, sunny days, although the nights can be very cold. Average temperatures can range from just a few degrees in the middle of the night to around 20°C. We recommend that you pack warm clothing for the evenings and lightweight sun protection for daytime. Temperature can vary dramatically between night and day, so if you’re planning to come to outdoor evening events, remember that you’ll need to rug up!

While You’re Here

The NT Writers Festival will take place at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden.

Alongside the Festival there are a number of things to do in and around Mparntwe/Alice Springs that might entice you to extend your stay.

There are a number of galleries dotted throughout town, where you can come to know more of the art and stories of Central Australia. Some of our favourites are Watch This Space, the only Artist Run Initiative in Central Australia; RAFT, a commercial gallery with a focus on contemporary art from Central and Northern Australia – both Indigenous and non-Indigenous; Town Camp Designs, an Aboriginal owned Art Centre that provides Arts training and Workspace to artists living in Alice Springs’ Town Camps; and Bindi Mwerre Anthurre Artists, who provide a means for Aboriginal artists living with a disability in Central Australia to develop and receive recognition for their artistic practices.

We Also Love

The Alice Springs Desert Park which offers you the opportunity to experience the life and beauty of the Central Desert, and invites you to explore the relationships between Central Australia’s plants, animals and people.

Awemele itelaretyeke, or, Listen to understand. An app available on the App Store or Google Play. It offers the opportunity to see the town through the eyes of a group of Mparntwe’s custodians. The App contains audio content for engaging with Central/Eastern Arrernte language, the first language of Mparntwe/Alice Springs. It also has two audio walking tours and numerous words and phrases to listen to and learn. ICTV has a few videos in Arrernte and children’s stories as well.

Museum of Central Australia  Houses a beautiful natural history museum, as well as the Strehlow Research Centre, one of Australia’s most important collections of film, sound, archival records and objects relating to Indigenous ceremonial life.  Next door is the Araluen Arts Centre housing a world class art gallery.

Pixie the Camel, from Pyndan Camel Tracks

The Megafauna Museum Presents the story of the megafauna of Central Australia through displays of fossils from the Alcoota Scientific Reserve, (giant wombats and marsupial lions!) – alongside illustrations, life-size replicas,  Arrernte audio interpretations, and a range of immersive activities for children.

Telegraph Station Reserve: A historic museum precinct presenting the story of the connection of Telegraph communication to Mparntwe/Alice Springs in 1871. It also marks the start of the Alice Springs Mountain Bike Trail Network, and has a number of short bushwalks, and is a beautiful spot for a picnic!

Pyndan Camel Tracks: This Camel farm 15 minutes south of town offers one-hour small group camel tours each afternoon and evening. Every camel is exceptionally well-trained, and each has their own endearing individual personality.

For an amazing view into deep space and observe the incredible night skies, a tour at the Earth Sanctuary Astronomy is an expanding experience!

Morning Coffee and Early Lunch

The Night Markets A monthly family-friendly market in the Todd Mall, complete with food vendors and live music.

The Bakery A local family business baking sourdough breads and french pastries, 4/11 Todd St.

Page 27 A laid back cafe in the Todd Mall – good coffee, fresh juices, and hearty meals, 3 Fan Arcade.

House of Tallulah “Just a bunch of fun-loving feminists who love food and coffee”, 64 Hartley Street.

Base Cafe at the Royal Flying Doctors, 10 Simpson St, serves amazing carrot cake and lovely spaces to relax.

Yaye’s serves fresh empanadas, delicious quinoa bowls and strong coffee, next to Araluen Arts Centre.

Places to Stay

The NT Writers Festival’s recommended hotel is the Mercure Alice Springs Resort. It’s located within an easy walking distance from the main festival venue, Olive Pink Botanic Garden. There are a number of other excellent options available to suit a range of budgets.

Getting Around

While the town centre is compact, public transport infrastructure is limited, and it may be worth hiring a car.

Olive Pink Botanic Garden is within walking distance of the CBD. By foot or bike, the garden can be accessed via the back gate, from the newly-built path that follows the hill, opposite the Mercure Hotel. By car, follow Stott Terrace away from town and turn right onto South Terrace at the roundabout, just before crossing the Todd River. Take the first turn to your left (Tuncks Rd) and cross over the river causeway. Olive Pink Botanic Garden entrance is to your left, just opposite the intersection with Barrett Drive. Maps and more directions can be found on their website.

Start Planning your Visit!