May is a wonderful time to visit Alice Springs and not just because of the NT Writers’ Festival! Here’s some basic information to help you get the most out of your time here.
Alice Springs is situated on the traditional lands of the Arrernte people in the arid heart of Australia. The Arrernte name for Alice Springs is Mparntwe. The town has a population of about 28,000 and straddles the usually dry Todd River on the northern side of the MacDonnell Ranges.
What’s on in Alice Springs
There’s plenty to do in Alice Springs in May, so there’s no need to cut your trip short!
Museums and Art Galleries Northern Territory are hosting the Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMGA) conference, 13-17 May, Araluen Arts Centre boasts a great range of exhibitions and shows, and Red Hot Arts have exciting events happening all the time.
Artists in Museums Project
This year the National Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame and ArtBack NT are launching an exciting project called Artists in Museums. The project partners Alice Springs based artists with local museums and heritage buildings to create a suite of site-specific pop-up exhibitions. It will be a curated project where artists create new work in response to specific collections or heritage spaces. The resulting exhibitions will be accompanied by an exhibition trail guide and launched to coincide with the AMGA conference, as well as celebrating International Museum Day on 18 May 2019.
Walking Tours and Trails
Guided tours of the Alice Springs Telegraph Station run daily throughout May. The Telegraph Station was the first building constructed by European settlers in Central Australia in 1871. These days it is an open air museum, featuring many layers of Australian history for visitors to explore.
If you’re wanting to venture further, go to the NT Tourism website to plan a hike on the Larapinta Trail or a spectacular camping trip to the McDonnell ranges, King’s Canyon and more.
In desert country, temperatures range dramatically between night and day, so it’s best to pack lightweight warm clothing for the evenings and sun protection for daytime.
Autumn is one of the best times to visit Alice Springs, with warm days and cool nights. Average temperatures range from 12 – 27°C (53.6 – 80.6°F). If you’re planning to come to outdoor night events, remember you’ll need to rug up!
Mercure Alice Springs Resort is a great mid-range option for accommodation during your visit, while the Jump Inn is a popular budget favourite. You can find further options and tips online, especially on the Tourism NT website.
If arriving by plane, you can take the shuttle bus or taxi into town to your accommodation. Public transport in town is limited but you can hire a car from the airport or in the CBD.
Most events are walkable from the CBD, including Olive Pink Botanic Garden, the main festival venue. By foot or bike, the gardens can be accessed via the back gate, from the newly-built path that follows the hill, opposite the Mercure Alice Springs Resort. By car, follow Stott Terrace away from town and turn right onto South Terrace at the roundabout just before crossing 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.
If you would prefer to hire a car, Thrifty Alice Springs are offering attendees a “10% Discount off the best rate of the day” for vehicle hire by quoting code NTCONVENTIONS when making a reservation on 1300 367 227.
Breakfast & Lunch
The Bean Tree Café (within Olive Pink Botanic Garden)
Tuncks Rd, Alice Springs 08 8952 0190
The Bean Tree Cafe is located in Olive Pink Botanic Garden where the festival program rolls out over the weekend. It is a gorgeous place to have breakfast, lunch, morning or afternoon tea and a short walk from the Mercure around the hill. The Bean Tree Cafe has a range of home-style vegetarian and meat savoury dishes, burgers, salads, tarts, cakes and slices.
3 Fan Arcade 08 8952 0191 7:30am – 2:30pm daily
Alice’s locals duck down this arcade for great coffee or fresh juice. There are wholesome home-style breakfasts (eggs any style, pancakes), pita wraps and fancy salads and an excellent vegetarian menu.
The Tea Shrine
Shop 6, 113 Todd Street Monday to Saturday 9am—4pm
The Tea Shrine stocks a wide range of teas and is a popular lunch spot for lovers of vegetarian Asian food.
The Goods Coffee Shop
11 Todd St
Alice Springs NT 0871
Excellent coffee, soups, toasties, juices. 7am-2pm Mon-Sat.
Great sourdough breads, pastries and pies.
Barra on Todd (within Mercure Alice Springs Resort)
34 Stott Terrace 08 8951 3523
Enjoy sumptuous Barramundi and an array of cuisines featuring both international and local bush flavours. With an outstanding selection of barramundi dishes complementing a creative and diverse menu, Barra on Todd remains a favourite for locals as well as visitors. All meals available.
Todd Tavern (close to Totem Theatre)
1 Todd Street 08 8952 1255 2pm – 9pm daily
Large corner pub with a relaxed vibe, plus a classic bistro for schnitzels, steaks and burgers. Close to the Totem Theatre if you need to grab something to eat on your way.
1/58 Todd St, Alice Springs 08 8953 4206 Hrs: Sun-Mon 8am-3pm; Tues Closed; Wed-Sat 8am-11.30pm
If you’re looking for a great place for breakfast, lunch or dinner check out Epilogue. Located on Todd Mall, it combines hipster coffee culture with a shabby chic cocktail bar, complete with chandeliers and a great tapas menu. Easy walk from the Mercure.
Confucius Palace Dumpling Restaurant
10/63 Todd St, Alice Springs
(08) 8952 3633
76 Todd Street 08 8953 0518
Mon—Thurs 11am—7pm| Fri—Sat 11am—8.30pm
Loco Burrito offers fresh and fast Mexican food – eat in or take away.
Montes Lounge (Festival venue!)
95 Todd Street 08 8952 4336
Wed – Sat – 11am – Late
Montes is a funky carnival themed bar and restaurant with a range of food choices.
Casa Nostra Pizza and Spaghetti House
1 Undoolya Road 08 8952 6749 Open Mon—Sat from 5pm.
Italian pizza and pasta. Casa Nostra is a family restaurant. Dine in or takeaway. BYO alcohol. Locals’ secret: Pre-order the Vanilla Slice for dessert before it runs out!
4 Traeger Av, Alice Springs NT 0871
Great craft beer and a range of food options available.
Red Ochre Grill
Todd Mall 08 8952 9614 Open from 6.30am—9pm daily
Red Ochre Grill specialises in Australian seafood, game meat, bush food and regional Australian cuisine.