Q48 Where can we find free or cheap camping in Alice Springs? I heard the showground has closed down.
A. The showground, Blatherskite Park, is no longer permitted to take casual campers, not even large rigs and those with pets, which it was originally permitted to do. With prices of up to $35 per site in the time leading up to the closure, it was not a low cost option.
The only options for free and low cost are really too far out of town to commute.
Free camping. Access to these is 4WD and conditions vary according to how rain and water flow has affected the riverbed sands.
The only two free camping places are along the river beds of the Hugh and Finke Rivers in the West Macdonnell Ranges. We drove in to the Hugh River site just for a look, but didn’t get far before our heavy rig was sinking in the sand. My husband walked in a little way, and said it was getting softer, so we left.
Free unserviced camping along the Finke River bed not far from Glen Helen is one we did not investigate, but looked across to campers there in the distance from the Mount Sonder Lookout. We chose the nearby low cost NT Parks campground at Redbank Ridge.
Some people stop overnight at rest areas such as Point Howard Lookout 77 kilometres west of Alice Springs, and The Neil Hargrave Lookout 106 kilometres west of Alice Springs along Namatjira Drive, but these are only picnic areas.
Staying in NT Parks campgrounds in both the East and the West Macdonnells are lovely locations and cheap camping for touring the sights near each of these, but too far to be a viable option for sightseeing in Alice Springs. See National Parks Campgrounds, and follow link at bottom of page to the slightly dearer Ormiston Gorge campground which has hot showers. Clicking on the year of visit dates will take you to our travelogues.
There is also low cost unserviced camping along the Hugh River bed at Owen Spring Reserve, but this is 4wd country and not suitable for taking a caravan, although the southernmost site can be accessed by off road camper trailers and caravans from the Stuart Highway via the southern entrance to the reserve, seasonal conditions dependent.
NT Parks charge $3.30 per person per night for their unserviced or basic campgrounds, and $6.60 per person for campgrounds with showers which are solar heated so it is first in first served with hot water.
Volunteer work option. Staying a few weeks? Work and tour with the National Road Transport Hall of Fame option.
Basic caravan parks services in return for, at minimum, 10 hours per week voluntary work across a variety of areas at the Hall of Fame and the Old Ghan Museum. See here for more details and contact.
We chose a low-key caravan park nine kilometres out along Ilparpa Road; Temple Bar Caravan Park. It is in a lovely setting against the range. Kangaroos grazed the grass and numerous birds visited. Peaceful, large green grassy sites, pay as you use power, and when we were there somewhat antiquated amenities, but the price matched the era, as did the delightful owner who came to the office around five each afternoon to collect the fees. Amenities have since been upgraded and the price has risen accordingly #. There were quite a few permanents and semi permanents there; friendly people so it was a good safe and secure environment.
There was another little old caravan park across the creek and closer to the road, closed at the time of our visit. This has since re-opened as Wanngardi Caravan Park. These both take pets, which most of the parks in town don’t.
On our second visit to Alice Springs, we were unable to get a place at Temple Bar Caravan Park due to it being fully booked for the Territory Day long weekend and Alice Springs show weekend, so we went to the Heritage Caravan Park in town, which is the only town park at the time allowed pets. We could only get into the unpowered and unserviced section due to the park being very overcrowded. At the time we paid $28 for this unserviced option, compared to $16 per night plus pay as you go power the previous year for fully serviced sites at Temple Bar. We do not travel with a dog, but favour parks that give travellers that do the opportunity. All caravan parks were under pressure due to peak season, and the showground not being open for casual campers due to the show.
Summary of Caravan Parks. Prices are for guidance only and some may not be up to date.
Just to the north of The Gap (CBD side).
Gap View Hotel Caravan Park, Alice Springs, $22 powered, $11 unpowered. This is a relatively small park behind the Hotel on Gap Road for caravans and campers, campground being at the corner of South Terrace and Walker Street.
The following three parks are in close proximity to each other, just south of The Gap.
Alice Springs Heritage Caravan Park, Alice Springs, from $36 powered, from $30 unpowered and from $25 in ‘bushland’ area.
G'day Mate Tourist Park, Alice Springs, from $36 powered
MacDonnell Range Holiday Park, Alice Springs, from $46. Big 4 chain member.
Heavitree Gap Outback Lodge, Alice Springs CARAVAN PARK AREA HAS BEEN CLOSED
Nearest to town centre
Alice Springs Tourist Park (formerly Stuart Caravan and Cabin Park), Alice Springs Closest caravan park to town centre, being near the start of Larapinta Drive, walking distance to the Alice Springs CBD. Pets permitted. $34 unpowered and $39 powered. Family Parks chain member.
Northern end of town
Wintersun Cabin and Caravan Park, Alice Springs $39. Top Tourist chain member.
Temple Bar Caravan Park, Alice Springs. No website. $23 per night #, plus metered power. Seven days for price of six. Pets permitted.
Wanngardi Caravan Park, Alice Springs. No website. $25 powered. Pets permitted.
Additional out of town caravan and camping options include
Glen Helen Homestead Lodge, $30 powered, $12 per adult unpowered. West Macdonnell Ranges
Ross River Resort , $33 powered, $25 unpowered. East Macdonnell Ranges