Town of 28,000 people in Australia
's Northern Territory
. Alice Springs is the largest town in the geographical centre of Australia
, roughly midpoint between Adelaide
along either the Stuart Highway
or the AustralAsian
railway. 20% of the population are aboriginal
, and 7% are American.
The area was originally populated by the Arrernte aboriginal people. In 1862 the Scot explorer John McDouall Stuart was the first European to travel to the area, one of the last parts of the world not to have been seen with European eyes. Ten years later a telegraph line was constructed linking Adelaide with Darwin and the rest of the world, passing through Arrernte land. At the telegraph station gazetted as 'Alice Springs', the township called Stuart emerged (to be renamed in 1933). The telegraph facilitated the settlement of patoralists, and later prospectors when gold was discovered in 1887 100 kms east of Alice Springs. Until the centre was linked by rail in 1929, Stuart was provisioned by Afghan cameleers.
Alice Springs has had a strong American presence. In World War Two 8,000 American soldiers were based in Alice Springs, less the Japanese invaded Australia's north. Later in 1966 at nearby Pine Gap the Joint Defence Space Research Facility was established, a controversial satellite tracking and SIGINT station.
Alice Springs is on the Todd River, which is usually just a dry riverbed which occasionally floods. One famous annual event is the Henley-on-Todd regatta, where teams strap themselves to bottomless boats and race each other.
Alice Springs is also the start and end point for the Finke Desert Race, held each June. It's the southern hemisphere's longest (480kms) desert race for motorcycles and cars.
Despite its isolation, Alice Springs receives around half a million visitors a year, many of whom head to the nearby Uluru (Ayers Rock)