Famil to Alice – APRIL 2021
DAY 1: Saturday 10 April 2021
Accommodation was provided by Crown Plaza Lasseters.
Following check in and a short rest we departed in the evening for Alice Springs Desert Park, an internationally renowned tourism and conservation facility. Located in the foothills of the West MacDonnell Ranges has a core area that covers 54 hectares. We were led through a small fraction of this expansive area then visited the Nocturnal House, the largest in Australia.
While we nibbled on canapes, enjoyed some background music we got to experience what delegates would see. A great option for a welcome reception of private dinner.
The Park has ten indoor and outdoor venues including the Courtyard which can hold up to 1500 guests in an outdoor space.
Following this we took a short trip down the road to the Merne Desert Dinner, taking place during Parrtjima - the only authentic Aboriginal festival of its kind.
Outdoor, beneath the vast NT night sky, we sampled a menu consisting of traditional bush foods with contemporary twists. Between each course we delighted in sky talks and a light show was projected on to the MacDonnell Ranges, synchronised to music. A truly remarkable experience! Throughout the festival there’s a program of performances, interactive workshops, music, films and talks.
Parrtjima – A festival in light
Alice Springs, NT 08070
DAY 2: Sunday 11 April
An early start on the second day. Being a night owl, this isn’t my preferred choice but if anything was worth waking up at 4.30am for, this was it! We drove out to a location (truth be told, who could tell as it was pretty dark.).
Our flight with Outback Ballooning took us over the Owen Springs Cattle Station with distant views of the MacDonnell Ranges and Pine Gap.
Balloons range in size – 2-4 people; up to 8, 12, 16 and 20 people in one balloon.
At the end of the flight, we were supplied with breakfast and informed about the fascinating tale of the first ever hot air balloon. A story that involves a sheep, duck, rooster, the King of France and some champagne.
We headed to Rungutjirpa Simpson’s Gap later in the morning. Located 18km from Alice Springs, Known as Rungutjirpa to the Arrente Aboriginal people, Simpsons Gap was the mythological home of a group of giant goanna ancestors.
Several dreaming trails and stories cross at this important spiritual site.
The gap has a permanent waterhole making it a perfect place to spot black wallabies. We didn’t on our visit,I suspect as we were quite loud and the constant ‘ooooh’ and ‘wow’s’ we elicited in response to the spectacular scenery probably scared them away.
For a completely unique Welcome Reception this would be a sensational option. They’ve also hosted corporate retreats. Any furniture and/or equipment would need to be brought in but the proximity to the town makes this a viable option.
Our Networking lunch was hosted at the Doubletree by Hilton. The spread was vast and overlooked the golf course, which we headed to later in the Famil.
Events spaces at the Hilton can accommodate both large and small groups. Grand Ballroom – 300 pax and offers a pre-function foyer that includes a purpose-built bar. Spinifex room – 80pax therefore more suitable for smaller gatherings. Boardroom and business centre also offer ideal breakout spaces for smaller groups of up to 10 guests.
Our next stop after lunch was to the Earth Sanctuary Experience. Located 15 minutes south of Alice, on 100 acres, it is a nature based, 100% carbon neutral business and conference venue. The Earth Sanctuary is family operated and their passion is infectious.
This venue is exceptional and really makes you feel a world away from city life. A great option for a unique offsite, team building experience or Board retreat.
We had the opportunity to make some traditional damper and shown told the best way to set up a snake-free swag (tip: don’t set it up hours in advance of bedtime otherwise you are more likely to have an unwanted bed buddy when you finally nestle in).
Capacity: 150-200 guests for outdoor entertainment/conference arena and 80-100 guests at Earth’s Sanctuary’s Quandong homestead.
Next stop - Telegraph station - The birthplace of Alice Springs so a must-see for anyone visiting this town.
Located 4km outside of Alice, it’s historical significance cannot be overlooked. Featuring heritage buidings dating back to 1870s.
Capacity: up to 500. Suitable for: Weddings, dinners and black-tie occasions Award ceremonies, Product launches and concerts.
The Quarry Gala Dinner - At the foot of the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges you feel a world away from anything at this stunning site, which can accommodate up to 1500 guests but has the versatility to suit a small group and private dinners too.
Not that we were ever hungry on the Famil but the menu at the Quarry really was a feast for the eyes. And yes, that is the chef using a blow torch to finish off the prawns. One word: delicious.
If the stunning setting weren’t enough to keep us entertained, we were also treated to a performance by Drum Atweme (meaning hit the drum in the Arrente Language). The Drum program first started in February 2004 and is taught to Town Camp residents in schools and includes a performance group who perform at community and corporate events. Age range of the performers is between 6-20 years old, 90% of whom are young girls. The young drummers develop songs and stories based on their own language and cultural identity. Truly an authentic and enriching performance to witness.
Later in the evening, when the sun had set, we were joined by the Earth Sanctuary again who took us on a guided tour of the milky way. No picture could ever do it justice – the NT night sky really is one of those things you have to experience for yourself.
DAY 3: Monday 12 April
Today started with a short journey form the hotel to the Convention Centre.
The Centre caters for small meetings up to conferences of 1200, and exhibitions of 3000 visitors. Situated at the foot of the MacDonnell Ranges, these provide an enviable backdrop guests would delight at the views of the red ranges from the outdoor areas.
After our tour of the centre we headed to Purple House. A remarkable organisation. Purple House is entirely Indigenous-run and owned, with an all- Indigenous Board of Directors.
They offer remote dialysis, social support, aged-care and NDIS services. Since the opening of the first dialysis clinic in 2004, they run 18 remote clinics and a mobile dialysis unit called the Purple Truck, which allows patients to head back home to visit family, for festivals, funerals and other cultural business.
They also run a bush medicine social enterprise and sell products to the public, Bush Balm. Sales from these products, which include moisturisers, rubs, soaps and lip balm enable Bush Balm to provide no cost medicine for dialysis patients. We were lucky enough to see Bush Balm being made. https://www.purplehouse.org.au/
Anzac Hill - At 608 metres high, it’s the ideal location to survey the town of Alice and the ranges that surround it.
Dedicated to all those members of the armed services who had paid the supreme sacrifice during World War I. It has now become a memorial to all those who have served in the defence of their country during all wars in which Australia has participated.
School of the Air - https://www.assoa.nt.edu.au/
Before covid and remote learning became a thing of the norm, there was School of the Air. Since 1951 they have provided education for families in remote location. A must see for anyone coming to Alice. The School operates for 40 weeks of the year and follows the same school calendar as other Government schools in the Northern Territory, sharing the same term and holiday schedule.
Alice Springs Golf Club Lunch Experience
Known as one of the best desert golf courses. The course caters for all levels - Our group had a bash at showing our swing. I’ll save the suspense: not sure Tiger has anything to worry about from me. Following an afternoon of golf swinging we were treated to lunch overlooking the course.
Brewing Company – a microbrewery.
A quick trip to the local brewery to sample some of their beers. A great spot to add to an event as an offsite/welcome reception if you have delegates keen on beer. There’s a great garden area at the back of the brewery, ideal to host small events with some relaxed entertainment. They even have garden games.
Ooraminna Station - Later that evening we ventured about 30 minutes out of Alice to the Ooraminna Station Homestead.
They’ve been used as a location for a variety of TV and film productions so the backdrop is really a photographer’s dream. They can cater for up to 500 people seated but have a variety of options.
We were treated to a private dinner, where we kicked off our shoes and delighted in the red sand under our feet and the crystal-clear night sky above. After a world-class steak, the Desert Diamonds appeared and entertained us. The owner’s dog, not wanting to be upstaged, also made an appearance.
DAY 4: Tuesday 13 April
Goodbye Alice! Our final day saw us out in style. We headed back to the airport but via Alice Springs Helicopters who whisked us over the MacDonnell ranges and landed on one of them. Any description doesn’t do justice to how special and spectacular an experience this was. Pretty hard to beat this breakfast.
Thank you Business Events Northern Terriority and all the suppliers that made the Famil so incredibly exceptional.