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– Alice Springs –

Alice Springs is the second largest town (sometimes incorrectly referred to as a city) in the Northern Territory of Australia. Popularly known as “the Alice” or simply “Alice”, Alice Springs is situated in the geographic centre of Australia near the southern border of the Northern Territory. The site is known as Mparntwe to its original inhabitants, the Arrernte, who have lived in the Central Australian desert in and around what is now Alice Springs for thousands of years. Alice Springs has a population of 27,481 people, which makes up 12 percent of the territory’s population.

The town of Alice Springs straddles the usually dry Todd River on the northern side of the MacDonnell Ranges. The region where Alice Springs is located is known as Central Australia, or the Red Centre, and is an arid environment consisting of several different deserts. In Alice Springs, temperatures can vary dramatically with an average maximum temperature in summer of 35.6 °C (96.1 °F), and an average minimum temperature in winter of 5.1 °C (41.2 °F).

Events and festivals

The town’s focal point, the Todd Mall, hosts a number of Aboriginal art galleries and community events. Alice Springs’ desert lifestyle has inspired several unique events, such as the Alice Desert Festival Camel Cup, the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, Beanie Festival and the Finke Desert Race. The Finke Desert Race is some 400 kilometres (250 mi) south of Alice Springs in the Simpson Desert. The American population celebrates most of the major American festivals, including Halloween, Independence Day and Thanksgiving. A portion of the Australian citizens engage in the festivities as well.

Arts and entertainment

Aborigini Art, Alice Springs, Northern Territory AustraliaAlice Springs is renowned as the Aboriginal Art capital of Central Australia, home to many local and Aboriginal art galleries. Indigenous Australian art is the more dominant, and galleries showcase the rich culture and native traditions that abound in Central Australia. Trade in Aboriginal art soared after the painting movement began at Papunya, a Central Australian Aboriginal settlement, and swept other indigenous communities. Central Australia is the home of some of the most prominent names in Aboriginal art, including Emily Kngwarreye, Minnie Pwerle, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Albert Namatjira and Wenten Rubuntja. Each year since 11 July 2003, the music festival, Bass in the Dust has been hosted at Alice Springs. The Araluen Centre for Arts and Entertainment presents world-class ballets and orchestras, as well as local performances. Locals also enjoy meeting up in Konjo Park for BBQ’s every Sunday at 11am. This is an excellent time to meet and greet the locals who can quite often undertake games of Football and Frisbee. The annual Desert Mob Art Show sees art collectors and art lovers from all over the world travel to Alice Springs to see works from Aboriginal art centres in Central Australia, with works by artists from remote areas of the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. This show is in conjunction with the Artist Association Desart and usually runs in September of each year at the Araluen Art Centre.

Alice Springs Reptile Centre

770px-Perentie_Lizard_Perth_Zoo_SMC_Spet_2005The Alice Springs Reptile Centre is a privately operated reptile centre and environmental education facility in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia. It has the largest collection of reptiles in the Northern Territory. Animals at the centre include the Perentie Goanna, Frill-necked Lizards, Thorny Devils, large and small pythons and venomous snakes including Inland Taipans, Brown Snakes, Death Adders and Mulga Snakes. The centre is a popular tourist destination, particularly for children.

The center is devoted to indigenous reptiles. Many are collected from local homes, yards, or from areas about to be burned under the controlled burning program to keep summer grass fires from threatening the local homes. Most of the reptiles end up being relocated to uninhabited areas. The Alice Springs centre also doubles as a snake call centre, with the owner and staff going out to homes to remove venomous snakes from places where they might inconvenience people.

Founded by Rex Neindorf, a former reptile handler, the centre opened in January 2000, and features over 100 reptiles of 30 different species. Reptiles from the centre have featured in National Geographic Magazine, Wild Relations – Natural Born Cheats on ABC, an American Visa television commercial, New Zealand’s The Bounty Hunters television show on TV2, Steve Irwin’s Great Escapes on Discovery’s Travel Channel and Animal Emergency on Channel 9 Australia. Directors includingFrederic Lepage have filmed nature documentaries there. The centre added a large Saltwater Crocodile exhibit in 2002, and in 2006 an extension funded by the Australian Tourism Development Program opened, featuring fossils which trace the evolution of reptiles from 200 million years ago to the present.

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