The Unique Culture and History of Alice Springs

Posted on 07. Aug, 2014 by in News

Henley on Todd regatta

A kind of foot “boat” race in the dry bed of the Todd River

Alice Springs is a popular starting point for an Australian Red Centre tour, but it also offers natural beauty, culture and history that makes it destination in itself. Alice Springs has a unique mix of culture that has influences from both European settlers and Aboriginal People.

The Aboriginal people, called the Arrernte, have settled in the desert of Alice Springs region for over thirty thousand years. Prior to the European settlers arriving, the Arrernte actually called Alice Springs ‘Mparntwe’. Evidence of their settlement in the region includes ancient rock art that you can still see in Alice Springs today. During your visit in Alice Springs, you should also take the opportunity to learn the origin stories and legends of the Arrernte people. For example, according to these legends, the mountainous desert surroundings of Alice Springs were formed by caterpillars and wild dogs.

European settlement began around 1870, but it really flourished with the discovery alluvia gold 100 kilometres east of Alice Springs in 1887. Still, Alice Springs remained a small, remote settlement until World War II. It was during this time that it became a strategic base and eventually, after World War II, a defense location.

Most recently, the town has developed as a tourist hub, as its location close to many natural wonders, such as the West Macdonnell Mountain Range (which you can see from the town), and of course the Great Red Rock that draws thousands of visitors each year. The unique blend of culture and history between the Arrernte Aboriginal people and the European settlers has also formed a unique culture, highlighted through events such as the camel cup or the, which is a kind of foot “boat” race in the dry bed of the Todd River. This event in particular pokes fun at the town’s cultural history and is a huge attraction for both tourists and locals.

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