Alice Springs Desert Park is located just outside Alice Springs in Red Centre of the Northern Territory features hundreds of species of plants and animals from the Central Australian deserts. The Park was opened to the public in 1997. It covers about 1,300 hectares and includes part of the Macdonnell Ranges. The main exhibits are within a forty hectare area on the plains, north of the range.
There is an easy walking trail through three recreated desert habitats – Sand Country, Woodland and Desert Rivers. These habitats are linked together by walking paths for easy access. The Park houses about 120 species of desert animals from around the Alice Springs desert area. These range from the large Red Kangaroos that you can walk amongst, to many much smaller animals such as Bilbies. There is a good collection of desert reptiles including the fascinating Thorny Devil. There are also many bird species.
During the day there are a number of activities to entertain and educate visitors. A range of interactive guided activities are held daily, with the day’s schedule is available on entry to the Park. Take some time out to sit down and watch the “Changing Heart” short film at the Exhibition Centre theatre. This film introduces you the desert life and educates you about the geological and cultural history of the region. It is not just another boring documentary – check it out.
The Birds of Prey presentation at the Nature Theatre is worth a look. The bird handlers demonstrate the agility and speed of some magnificent birds including Kites, Falcons, Owls and the Wedge-tailed Eagle.
The Nocturnal House is home to a large collection of reptiles and marsupials from the Central Australian desert. Day and night is reversed in the Nocturnal house giving you the opportunity to see these animals in action when they would normally be asleep.
There are several daily presentations on Aboriginal culture including bush food and medicine and hunting techniques. These presentations are given by Aboriginal Park staff.
On some nights, Nocturnal Tours are available. This is a great opportunity to explore the Desert Park free range area with guides to help you see species such as Brush-tailed Bettongs, Mala and Bilbies that might not be visible during the day.
The air-conditioned Coolamon Café is located in the courtyard and offers a variety of meals, hot and cold snacks, ice cream, coffee and alcoholic drinks. There are drink machines and water bubblers located at various positions around the park. The Gift Shop provides a wide range of quality souvenirs including toys, t-shirts, hats, books and jewelry. There is a Picnic Area with tables and barbecue facilities.
Alice Springs Desert Park is open from 7.30am to 6.00pm every day except Christmas Day. The Park is on Larapinta Drive just 10 minutes from the centre of Alice Springs. The Park is accessible by car or bus. The Larapinta bike track also leads directly to the entrance of the Park.
The habitats are so distinctive you can easily make them out on the Google satellite map below. The map marker points to the Nocturnal House. North of the Nocturnal House, the large orange oval area is the Sand Country; south of the Nocturnal House the green patch is the Woodland area; north west of the Sand Country is the dark green of the Desert Rivers habitat. The group of four buildings south west of the Desert Rivers area is the entrance complex, café and Exhibition Centre, with the car and coach park just above it on the map.
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