There is something about Alice; a living icon to the stoic pioneering spirit that prised open Australia's vast interior; a town that was hatched out of the urge to be connected with the wider world.
And as you arrive into Alice Springs today, you'll soon find yourself basking in admiration at her splendid sense of isolation. Principally a gateway to the sprawling Outback and Uluru National Park, this is a place of awe.
And it's best illustrated by paying a visit to the cradle of Alice Springs, the Telegraph Station. Located on the outskirts of the modern-day town, this historic reserve, abuzz with a blizzard of grasshoppers and its lovingly preserved colonial buildings, pays homage to the visionary development of the Overland Telegraph Line, which knitted Adelaide to Darwin and connected Australia to London, via Indonesia, with cable communications in 1871.
The Telegraph Station was the nerve centre of this epic infrastructural project which gave birth to the town we know today. I was shown around the Telegraph Station by a "product" of the Stolen Generation, a worldly and warm-hearted, part-Aboriginal tour guide, who was in his 80s.
Another enduring symbol of Alice's frontier-conquering character is the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Take a wander through its informative and enriching Operations Centre for a first-hand appreciation of just how much of a lifeline this service is to the Outback's widely scattered communities.
I highly recommend crossing the road and popping into the surprisingly good Reptile Centre - which looks decidedly bland from the outside. The centre is crawling with critters ranging from crocodiles and venomous snakes to bearded dragons and the achingly beautiful thorny devils.
Train buffs should make tracks to the Old Ghan Museum, which is the final resting place for a diverse array of geriatric locomotives who clattered their way up the line from Adelaide, over many decades.
The compact town centre, which is only five streets wide, is home to a booming Aboriginal art and culture scene, housing an ever-expanding number of authentic, indigenous art galleries and studios.
But the best sightseeing stop of the lot is to scale the lofty peak of Anzac Hill. Keeping a sentinel watch on Alice Springs, not only is the lookout the site of the Anzac war memorial, but it serves up a truly smashing panorama. Under expansive, sapphire skies and framed by the rusty reds of the craggy and grazed MacDonnell Ranges, lovely, leafy Alice Springs bustles below you. It is quite the setting, indeed.
If you're travelling through Central Australia on The Ghan, you can leave the train in Alice Springs for several days, and rejoin it on a later service. For full details go to Great Southern Rail's website. www.gsr.com.au
Freedom travellers planning a journey to Alice Springs and Uluru should make full use of the regional tourism website, which is packed with helpful tips and advice. www.centralaustraliantourism.com
All Seasons Oasis is just a few minutes' walk from the Alice Springs town centre. Standard rooms start from $100 a night and the spacious resort boasts two swimming pools, a tropical garden and a spa and wellness centre. Superb value for money. www.all-seasons-hotels.com/alicespings
Uluru, the shining jewel of the outback
If you're visiting Alice Springs - whether it be by road, rail or air, the mighty and monolithic poster-child of natural Australia, Uluru, is within easy reach.
Three hours by road, or less than an hour by sightseeing flight, to set eyes on the famous rock has become Australia's most popular pilgrimage.
Formerly known as Ayers Rock, and in deference to the national park's transfer of ownership to the local Aboriginal community, the landmark is now politely referred to as Uluru. The landscape is wreathed in ancient Aboriginal legend and, as I discovered, the local Anangu tribe believe Uluru was built by two boys who played in the mud after rain. That's quite an impressive mud-pie.
Whether you're visiting the national park on a fleeting tick-that-box foray, or a more leisurely wilderness retreat, the nearby tourist town of Yulara caters for every budget and every taste.
But nothing can quite prepare you for the irrepressible beauty and grandeur of Uluru, in the flesh. Standing 348m above the surrounding dunes, this majestic lump of sandstone dances daily through a kaleidoscope of colour changes. Arrive early to get the best vantage point in the official sunset viewing area, as Uluru trips the light fantastic from red to mauve to purple, and finally grey in the thickening twilight.
The only dilemma you will be confronted with, is whether to climb Australia's biggest loaf of bread. The Anangu would prefer you explore the great mound, without galumphing all over her. But the choice is yours.