History and Museums

Central Australia has a rich history that can still be seen and felt. Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and more remote places in between have many museums and other places of historical interest that should not be missed.


A Brief History of Alice Springs

Once an inland sea, Alice Springs has had its fair share of ancient and contemporary residents: ranging from dinosaurs and megafauna, the world’s oldest human civilisation – our First Nation’s Australians – to early European colonisers and Afghan cameleers. When the Australian Overland Telegraph Line connected Australia to the rest of the world, it travelled through Alice Springs, setting the stage for Alice to become a hub for essential services for those living in the Central Australian Outback. 

Central Australian Aviation Museum

Museums and Historical Attractions in Alice Springs

Planes, Trains, Trucks and Cars

Located within the original Connellan Airways Hangar, the Central Australia Aviation Museum has many exhibits featuring planes, engines, historical photographs and stories. Vital to the development of Alice Springs was the Ghan and those who built the railway line, their contribution recognised at The Ghan museum within the National Road Transport Museum. While you’re there, enjoy the extensive collection of vehicles and memorabilia.


Essential Services

Some fascinating and well looked after historical sites around Alice Springs include the Alice Springs Telegraph Station and Hartley Street School. Hartley Street School was the very first school opened in Central Australia. Schooling was quite different in the Outback for many families, who were students of the School of the Air. You can visit their tourist facility for a step back in time and a glimpse into early station life. 

National Road Transport Museum

School of the Air Tourist Facility

Fossils and Interesting Collections

The exciting prehistoric fossils and replicas of dinosaurs, and other creatures who roamed Central Australia, are on display at Megafauna Central and the Museum of Central Australia. There is also a comprehensive collection of plants, animals and insects that make up the ecosystem of Alice Springs and surrounds.


Women's Museum of Australia and Old Gaol

The Old Goal shares its own story while also housing the Women's Museum of Australia. The Frontier Women who bravely came and formed life in the Outback are recognised and their stories shared. The inner workings of the Old Goal can also be explored. Prison life, labour camps, prisoners and escapees all make for a fascinating visit.

Megafauna Central display

Megafauna Central

The Residency

Briefly, Central Australia was independent from North Australia and The Residency was home to important government figures. Although independence only lasted a few years, The Residency remained in use and even the Queen enjoyed a stay there.


Learn more about John Flynn OBE

John Flynn was a Presbyterian Minister who founded the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) so that residents of inland Australia could receive aero-medical services. Learn more about these early beginnings and modern growth at the Royal Flying Doctor Service Museum. Within the town, you can also visit Adelaide House, originally a hospital founded by John Flynn.


Adelaide House

Adelaide House

Other Historical Places in Central Australia

Arltunga Historical Reserve

Central Australia’s very first town, Arltunga was founded as part of the gold rush era, operating as a gold mine. Learn about this history and see the gold mining artefacts in the Arltunga Historical Reserve located in the East MacDonnell Ranges. 



Now a historic precinct, Hermannsburg Mission was founded by Lutheran Missionaries over 150 years ago. Today, the community of Ntaria/Hermannsburg lives not far from the ex-mission site but their histories will be entwined forever.


Tennant Creek

Further north at Tennant Creek, you can visit the Tennant Creek Telegraph Station. Another important outpost, once part of the same line as Alice Springs. There is also a chance to go underground at the Battery Hill Gold Mining & Heritage Centre.


Arltunga WAE Renae Saxby

Arltunga Historical Reserve

Battery Hill Mining Centre

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