Home > Uncategorized > Where to live in Alice Springs

Where to live in Alice Springs

Alice Springs has suburbs, quite a few of them for such a small town. A few years ago the NT government decided to change the names of these suburbs. The people in power reside north of the Berrimah line. They said they’d “consult” and listen to the people of Alice Springs on this issue but they didn’t. They just said they did and chose the names they liked. Typical.

So now we have “Desert Springs” instead of the Golf Course Estate. Like many locals I refuse to use the name Desert Springs. It has always been the Golf Course Estate. Only the real estate agents use the new name, probably because they have to.

We can tell if you’re new to town if you say “Desert Springs” instead of Golf Course Estate.

“Araluen” the suburb is nowhere near the Araluen Cultural Centre. (That’s in “Gillen”.) The suburb of Araluen encompasses the area most locals called “off Tmara Mara” or “near Diarama” or even the old “Carmichael Estate”.

The empty land alongside Stephens Road (near the Golf Course itself) is now known “Mount Johns” or “Mount Johns Valley”. The property developers have moved in & we even have a new road, “Road 1” so it’s not going to be vacant land for much longer.  So they say.

Thankfully the Darwin boffins kept old “East Side”.

My first two years in Alice Springs were spent residing in a most delightful & peaceful area off Tmara Mara. Magnificent house & easy walking distance to the shopping village at Diarama. The town council’s bus route also ran past the main road, Larapinta Drive. Convenient if you’re without a vehicle.

These days I live in the old part of the Golf Course Estate. My lounge room window provides me with a vista of the eastern MacDonnell Ranges – step over the back fence and after a short stroll I can begin climbing. We get a lot of kangaroos & wallabies throughout the year. In fact, my fence has been damaged by the constant thumping of a hefty kangaroo tail against the iron sheets.

We’re close to the Golf Course (funny that) & the Olive Pink Botanical Garden.

The Estate is an incredibly quiet part of town and I adore living here. Our rents are going up each year but as yet, it’s not enough to make us look for a new residence.

I have to say, there’s nowhere in Alice that isn’t nice to live. Some areas are older, some are further out of the main part of town, some are near the university, but all areas seem to be very pleasant and safe. There are pockets here and there that see problems with noise & occasional burglaries, but compared to a major capital city, we’re very quiet and sedate.

If you’re after the now-traditional Australian 4-bed + 2-bath home with family/rumpus room then you’ll need to focus your search on the new areas. Like the Golf Course Estate (from older 4-bed homes, to new & luxurious but only 3 bed homes through to the 4 & 5 bed McMansions of which there are plenty), Braitling, Araluen and out to Larapinta’s new sections.

If you like rural and quirky, then the Ilparpa & White Gums rural area is for you. There’s a low mountain range here from which the area gets its name, the Ilparpas.

Rural but classy (err, we’re talking classy NT outback style) then off Colonel Rose Drive (near the airport) or along the Ross Hwy is a better choice.

I love the idea of rural but am put off by the distances & remoteness when home alone.

  1. janet brown
    May 2, 2010 at 5:40 am

    In reply to this blog I would like to say that in the first part I agree that the suburbs naming should have had more consultation. Locals always refered to area’s by most used definition of area’s to which some idiot decided against without allowing full communication with residents. But the rest excuse me in what hole do you keep your head. Yes Alice is beautiful and we would never leave but nearly all our kids have due to high crime, high rents, lack of venues for young people and combine this with poor policing we have major. Not minor issues in our town with out of control criminal behaviour. Being abused on the streets at any time of the day or night. I do not feel comfortable with nor do the other residents or tourist. Please do all of us a favour and get your head out of the hole you have dug and if you must say anything then how about the truth that would be a good place to start.

    • May 2, 2010 at 8:48 am

      I’m going to approve your comment in the interest of showing the other view point on this issue. I am writing from the stance of someone who has no school-aged children. Personally, in my 6+ years here I have never experienced any physical violence nor has my home been burgaled, nor my car stolen (haven’t even had petrol drained from the tank). I have witnessed loud arguments amongst Indigenous peoples (many of whom are drunk), I have also seen the results of petrol sniffing (but not recently). Yes, I have been called “white c**t” etc, but it doesn’t happen too often and I can ignore it. There are occasions when I get fed up with the broken glass in the CBD area of a morning (awaiting council to clean it up). But having spent a reasonable amount of time in a few of our nation’s capital cities over the past couple of years, I prefer the lower level of violence & public drunkenness I see here in Alice.

      Tourists are frightened by some of what they see, but really, how much of that is also a fear of the blackfella & his culture? It is disconcerting to hear a language you don’t understand, more so if it’s being yelled & alcohol is involved.

      Can more be done to make our town safer & “nicer”? Yes. The almost permanent mounted police patrols are a good start.

  2. Anne
    May 2, 2010 at 11:00 am

    Hi! Found this blog by accident. Interesting!

    First, the names: It was a thoughtless act and no-one local uses them. Not even the post office enforces them, mostly because if they did, nobody in town would get their mail – it’s all still addressed to “Alice Springs”. Fifty years from now I bet most mail will still be addressed to “Alice Springs”. It’s not like town is going to explode outwards in a building frenzy which will make mail delivery an impossible task; that would require land to be released for development at more than a a few square kilometers per year. (It would also be rather rough on the water table, considering current household levels of useage.)

    Second: About that crime…

    I think I fall somewhere between the two of you. Alice is so beautiful, and most of the residential areas are decently safe; I’d feel generally safe walking my neighborhood at night (I’m fairly large and cary a small, heavy-case metal flashlight), but not some of the others – some are vastly less safe. The general safety rating for an area seems to be how much foot traffic it gets, with an increase in foot traffic correlating fairly exactly to an increase in opportunistic crime.

    Something to consider when looking at the relative safety of neighborhoods in this town are the safety measures people take as a standard. People apply safety using a pretty simple economic model: cost of safety versus risk of damage. In my neighborhood, there are few fences and gates; in the more central neighborhoods, almost everyone has a fence with a locking gate. Some places, people don’t bother owning a dog unless they really want one; other neighborhoods, many people have purchased dogs not only for the companionship but for protection. Automatic exterior lighting is common throughout town, and crim-safe window screens seem to be a fairly standard investment in some neighborhoods.

    It’s neither a safe paradise nor a war zone, and crime rates rise and fall with the seasons and the population.

    Full disclosure: Over 10 years’ time I’ve been the victim of fairly impersonal crime twice in this town. Once I had a truck window smashed up with a stick; another time I had my car opened and some money taken, but I’d been stupid and hadn’t locked it. I’ve seen crimes committed against others many times, though, and it’s prompted me to ensure I am rigorous in avoiding high-risk areas and timeframes, like the Coles parking lot late at night or the area around Bo’s.

    • May 3, 2010 at 1:16 am

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment Anne. I do so agree with what you’ve written about the Post Office and the place names. (And to think originally the Post Office was going to enforce the issue …).

      Having chatted to a few people about this issue, I think I’ll write a post just on the safety aspect of living here.

  3. May 3, 2010 at 3:32 am

    Oh good old Alice, everyone’s got an opinion don’t they. Janet you’re a real charmer.

    Didn’t realize they had renamed the Golf Course estate. I do have a giggle when I finished uni and came back to town and the real estate agent tried to sell us something in the Gap “Estate”.

    Me, I lived in Alice from 1978 till 1994 and then again from 1999 till 2009. I grew up in the Gap and the old racecourse area and did my final stint in Gillen. I too couldn’t imagine living out in the rural area too far from town :).

    Funny thing is that now I live about the airports distance from the nearest town.

    Neither myself or my parents had security screens, they have never been broken into but have had money stolen out of an unlocked car. My mum had an unchained bike stolen in 1980. There are places I wouldn’t go in Alice at certain times, but that’s the same for lots of places.

    • May 3, 2010 at 4:46 am

      Thanks for that lengthy comment Sean. I figure if I haven’t yet left town it must be reasonably safe. Having seen some of the binge drinking aftermath (I suspect there were drugs also involved) in the cities in recent weeks, makes Alice look so much more desirable. There may be problems here, but they ain’t that bad overall, and governments are trying where they can to improve safety.

  4. Anne
    May 3, 2010 at 2:12 pm


    It’s interesting to see what people think here. I tend to think most of the crime in this town is opportunistic, not targeted; this makes a big difference in a personal risk assessment. Leave something lying unsecured and you’re almost bound to get it stolen; walk in the wrong place at the wrong time and you’re almost bound to get into trouble. But if you apply even basic security measures, you’re pretty well covered here. It’s not like anyone’s out to get you, like there are roving gangs of London pickpockets or terrifying herds of Sydney bikies out there. Here it’s mostly “look, someone left their front door open and there’s booze! Drink it!”

    What disturbs me are some of the recent reports about the local police policies. A friend had their home broken into a few weeks ago. Some electronics were stolen, and the police did nothing except give him a report number – no attempt to lift prints, no checking the neighborhood. He was shocked. On the other hand, some cops came over to our house one afternoon a couple months ago, canvasing the neighborhood for witnesses to a crime several houses down the street. So – some crimes get attention and others don’t.

    That some get attention is promising, but that others don’t indicates an alarming inconsistency in applying basic investigative techniques. I’ve heard they’re chronically short-handed and that the different departments are not cooperating to take up the slack when one department gets overwhelmed. It’s all hearsay but could explain why some crimes get more attention than others.

    On an amusing tangent, the NT police are on twitter.

    • May 7, 2010 at 1:01 pm

      I’m not sure what determines which crimes get investigated fully and which don’t. Certainly crimes against the person will be investigated (i.e. assault etc). I know that in the event of a burglary, I would not expect police to investigate – and my insurance company doesn’t either (unless the value of goods stolen is very high). It’s long been like this in Australia, I don’t think it’s just the Alice. Does seem to be different if you/someone else witnesses the break-in. Allocation of resources goes to those crimes with high chance of being solved?? (Exception of course are assaults etc).

      The police came door-knocking in my area some weeks ago, looking for witnesses who might have heard or seen some alleged perpetrators. The crime was damage to a vehicle but the police had determined it was a personal attack aimed at the owners hence the investigation I guess.

      Frustrating for victims, this inconsistency, but given the shortages of both money & officers …

  5. Local copper
    February 2, 2011 at 3:37 am

    Hey there. Not sure if this post is still going. From a crime perspective, this town is rampant. As you can tell by the name… i am indead, in the job. We are chronically under staffed and do the best we can. We all live here too and most have families with children. Unfortunatly the stats don’t lie. Politicians do.

    Murder capital per capita. Within not wanting to seem crass or racist, one race does dominate this and hide behind the “it’s traditional” excuse. There is nothing traditional about getting so drunk that walking and thinking just can’t occur. But the only thought process that happens is find a weapon and smash the hell out of the person closest to you.

    Property crime or volume crime as it is known is a high priority. It is just that without a witness and hard evidence not a lot can be done. The finger printing that you see on the ole chestnut “CSI” is rubbish. Love to have that tech avalable… It in most parts does not exist. We band together and do the Aussie “watch a mates back” we can have an effect.

    Police have recently lost on of our best tools. the abilty to remove those so intoxicated that they can’t look after themslves. The sober up shelter is a revolving door… taking them home where other highly intoxicated and usually aggressive people are is a joke.. The last option, the watch house is no longer available for the drunks.

    The worst place at the moment is except for sunday night the area around teh 24hr store and old Melankas site // RFDS lawns. Want to see large scale violence… take a chair and a metal cage.. You’ll need it.

    Sorry for high jacking this blog and making it all about the poice and crime. I know that is not what it was stated for. Funny how things end up.

    Still love this place….. stay safe.

    • February 10, 2011 at 5:56 am

      Thanks for your input! I’ve only got back to posting here this week & I’d like to raise this issue again because I do believe, from my own observations, that crime has worsened over the past year. You raise some excellent points. It must be very difficult trying to police effectively when the various levels of government put barriers in the way. I hope you do encounter occasionally those uplifting moments where an older, sober elder (admittedly generally scruffy from sleeping in the river bed but sober) smiles and/or offers a pleasant conversation. I find they lift the heart and reassure & remind me that it’s not all Indigenous with alcohol/violence problems. Cheers, DG 🙂

  6. Anne
    February 10, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Hello Local Copper. 🙂

    I’d posted that a while ago, and circumstances and information have changed. The recent number of break-ins and assaults has increased dramatically, and I *know* you guys are chronically understaffed and underfunded. The problem could be fixed by increasing the number of police in the area (frankly, I think you need to get double your current numbers, but I’m not sure that would ever happen) and actually enforcing the laws and statutes already on the books, by keeping offenders in jail for their full term.

    Let me know how it turns out? The damage done to the town by the crime wave has been immense already.

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