ACEM Winter Symposium


Outback Ballooning provides a high quality, fun and totally safe ballooning experience. The reliable desert weather means they have one of the lowest cancellation rates in the world. Outback Ballooning is Australia’s only balloon company specialising in remote Outback operations and with over 25 years experience and around 250,000 satisfied customers it is one of the largest and longest established ballooning businesses in Australia.

Kings Canyon offers a grand experience which cannot be replicated anywhere else. Trace the scenic rim of this ancient canyon on your own, or join a guided tour to learn about the evolution of this remarkable place. At sunrise or sunset, climb to the rim of Kings Canyon and watch light spill across the gorge below, descend its depths into the lush Garden of Eden or explore the unusual weathered rock formations of The Lost City.

Set in the Watarraka National Park, Kings Canyon is 306km from Ayers Rock Resort and is located between Alice Springs and Uluru in Australia's Northern Territory. At the western end of the George Gill Range, these imposing cliffs formed as small cracks eroded over millions of years, and shelter a unique conservation area. Kings Canyon's soaring red sandstone walls can be explored by camel, from the air or by foot, with walking tracks for both adventurous hikers and leisure walkers.

In the space of a few hours discover the secrets of the desert. See and hear the stories of the plants, animals, and local Aboriginal culture at daily guide presentations. Witness free-flying birds of prey, see rare and endangered animals and enjoy a cinematic journey of the creation of these deserts.

The Parks and Wildlife Commission are delighted to announce the launch of the Alice Springs Mountain Bike Trails, which were opened on 14 April 2014 by the Minister for Parks and Wildlife, the Honourable Bess Price. Mountain bike enthusiasts can explore four interlinked loops, centred around the historic Telegraph Station.

Fancy having a go but don't have the gear? You can drop into the Visitor Centre on the Todd Mall in Alice Springs for more information on the trails and how to hire bikes and equipment, or contact the Kiosk at the Telegraph Station on (08) 8952 3993.

Alice Springs has 3 bike shops, fully equipped for your mountain bike needs:

The Penny Farthing Avanti Bike Shop, 1 Hearne Place, (08) 8952 4551

Ultimate Ride, Unit 2/20 Stuart Highway, (08) 8953 7297

Smith Street Velo, Unit 2/61 Smith Street, (08) 8955 5623 

The Larapinta Trail is without doubt one of Australia's most spectacular and exciting long distance overnight treks. The Trail runs over 223 kilometres along the backbone of the West MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs west to Mt Sonder. It is divided into twelve sections.

Walkers can join or leave the Trail at a number of points accessible to motor vehicles at regular intervals along its route. In effect, the Trail comprises a series of shorter sections, each a one or two day walk. In this way people can choose the length of time spent on the Trail.

The Larapinta Trail begins at the old Alice Springs Telegraph Station and meanders through many gaps and sheltered gorges, climbs steeply over the rugged ranges, and has numerous stunning views and opportunities to photograph or admire the spectacular landscape. The Trail takes in a variety of desert habitats before rewarding walkers with 360 degree vistas from Mt Sonder - the highest point and end of the Trail.

The Trail is primarily intended to appeal to trekkers: people who are not wilderness or "map and compass" bushwalkers but nevertheless are capable and prepared to carry reasonable loads and camp out. The entire Trail will be passable to this type of walker. However, some sections are designed to slightly higher standards with additional facilities, in order to be attractive to people with less bushwalking experience.

The Trail itself is made up of a range of grades catering for hikers of varying abilities. All walkers on the Trail need to have a good level of fitness and must be well prepared and equipped.

Camping out under a sea of stars in the outback is a highlight of the Trail experience. Although they vary, most camp sites offer picnic tables and hardened tent sites - all Trailheads have a water supply and some have free gas barbecues. The quality of the water supplies cannot be guaranteed along the trail and it is recommended walkers either boil the water or use a filter or sterilizing tablets such as Puritabs.

The trail is best travelled from April to October.

The East and West MacDonnell Ranges stretch out for hundreds of kilometres on both sides of Alice Springs. They are an adventure playground with hiking trails, four-wheel drive tracks, swimming holes, and camping spots.

Walk the West Macs: The waterholes, gorges and rocky ridges of the West MacDonnell Ranges are an easy drive from Alice Springs. Set out for a day trip or overnight stay. The Larapinta Trail is a great way to get amongst the scenery – walk an easy section or challenge yourself to hike the full 223 kilometres along the spine of the Wset MacDonnell Ranges from Alice Springs to Mount Sonder.

Jump on a bike and ride along the cycle path from Alice Springs to Simpsons Gap to see the permanent waterhole and the colony of rock wallabies. Standley Chasm is the next attraction west along the road – be sure to time your visit to see the rock at its fiery red best in the midday sun.

Cool swimming spots: Picturesque swimming holes are located at Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge, Glen Helen Gorge and Redbank Gorge in the West Macs. They are great places to cool off on a warm day and relax under a shady tree.

The East Macs: The East MacDonnell Ranges are popular for bush walking, camping and four-wheel driving. At Emily and Jessie Gaps you'll see a large rock painting that depicts the caterpillar dreaming of the Eastern Arrernte Aboriginal people, as well as flocks of native budgerigars drinking from waterholes. Further east is Trephina Gorge, most notable for its sheer quartz cliffs and rivers and creeks lined with River Red Gums. The shady N'Dhala Gorge contains over 6,000 prehistoric rock carvings, art and shelter sites, and rare plants. Make sure you stop and visit Arltunga, a ghost town that was the site of a gold rush in the 1930s.

Remote Finke Gorge National Park is home to ancient landscapes and Aboriginal cultural sites. Accessible only by four-wheel drive, it is a handy 140km day trip from Alice Springs, or a great place to break your four-wheel drive trip to Uluru.
The Finke Gorge National Park is an important wilderness reserve that protects The Finke River, which dates back 350 million years and is believed to be one of the oldest rivers in the world.

Ancient valley of the palms: The park is best known for Palm Valley, which shelters groves of rare red cabbage palms – botanic remnants from millions of years ago, when Central Australia was lush with tropical forests. Here you will see a diverse range of plant species, including tall palms and cycads, many of which are unique to the area. The main gorge features high red cliffs, stately river red gums, cool waterholes and a number of walks.

Four-wheel drive access: Access to the park is via rocky tracks that follow the sandy bed of the Finke River, terrain that should only be driven in a high-clearance four-wheel drive. If you don't have one, join a tour group in Alice Springs.
For experienced four-wheel drivers, the popular Finke four-wheel drive route is an adventurous drive down the Finke River to Illamurta Springs Conservation Reserve and on to Watarrka National Park (Kings Canyon).

Walk the trails: Lace up your hiking boots and explore the park on foot via the network of trails. Climb the sandstone staircase to Kalarranga Lookout for a magnificent panorama of the remarkable sculptured sandstone hills that encircle part of the old bed of Palm Creek. The Mpaara Walk introduces the mythology of the Western Arrernte Aboriginal culture. Walk in a clockwise direction to follow the Mpaara dreaming story and take in the beautiful views of the surrounding sandstone formations on the way.