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Top 8 Spots to do Some Birdwatching in the Red Centre

Birdwatching around Alice Springs is a fantastic way to explore the natural wonders of Central Australia. Birdwatching, or birding, will not disappoint, with desert birds seemingly everywhere you go. We recommend dedicating a few hours or days to visiting these special locations, allowing you to enjoy the Central Australian birds you spot in their natural desert habitats. 

 

Best Birdwatching Areas in Alice Springs

1. Olive Pink Botanical Gardens

One of Australia’s only arid-zone specific botanical gardens, Olive Pink Botanical Gardens is a gorgeous desert oasis. Nestled just east of the Todd River, the gardens are made up of river plains, desert dunes, a waterhole and Tharrarletneme (Annie Meyers Hill). The network of extensive, well-kept paths is dotted with plenty of shelters that make excellent birdwatching stops.

2. Alice Springs Telegraph Station

At the northern end of town is the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. Birdwatching options abound here: choose to remain in the shady picnic grounds and observe Australian ringneck parrots, galahs and budgerigars, or head out onto the trails with a guided tour or at your own pace.

 

3. Ilparpa Claypans 

While you can visit anytime, the claypans lie dormant during the dry times and become a not-to-be-missed spectacle during and after rains. All types of desert bird species descend on the claypans and make the most of the collected water while they can. 

 

4. Ilparpa Ponds

Perhaps not your first pick as a birdwatching destination, the Ilparpa Ponds has become very popular. It attracts an ever increasing number of bird species, from across Central Australia and rare migratory species, who use the ponds. Aside from their original function as waste water treatment, the ponds now have specially built nesting islands and specially constructed screens and signs.

You must be part of a guided tour and complete a safety induction to access the Ilparpa Ponds. Be sure to plan ahead to avoid disappointment. Contact the Visitor Information Centre for more information.

Further out of Alice

Simpsons Gap

Simpsons Gap contains a permanent waterhole, providing the basis for many roosts and nests. A 20-minute drive from Alice Springs, this naturally carved gorge can also be reached by a paved cycle path from town. A sacred site for the Arrernte people since the Dreaming, Rungutjirpa is associated with eagles and goannas. Pack a picnic and enjoy birdwatching a wide variety of desert species, from migratory birds to local residents.  

 

Ellery Creek Big Hole

There are a number of different walks and trails, some taking a few hours and others a few days, providing many ways to delve into birdwatching along Ellery Creek. An overnight stay will really allow you to soak up the many sounds and begin to understand the number of species and their different ways of life. 

Trephina Gorge 

With its sheer cliffs bottoming out in a sandy creek bed spotted with waterholes, birdwatching here is excellent, particularly in the early morning or late afternoon. There is a steep hike along the ridge and into a second gorge, John Hayes Rockhole. The walk provides a sky-high vantage point to spot those birds who prefer the desert’s wide open spaces.

 

Rainbow Valley

The iconic sandstone bluffs of Rainbow Valley are home to a large community of fairy martins, who have made their nests along these steep walls. Rainbow Valley also has a number of claypans which fill with life shortly after rain.

What Types of Birds are There?

Depending on the season and if there has been recent rain, keen birders will be able to see many species unique to Central Australia during their visit. From tiny finches, honeyeaters and budgies to spinifex pigeons, whistling kites and the large wedge-tailed eagle, the more you look, the more you will see. You might even spot the elusive night parrot!

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