Alice Springs has been dealing with a spate of crime as of late and as a traveler it has been tough getting legitimate information about what is really going on. Many other travelers have only rumors or pieces of a story. It's no surprise that the community doesn't want this information to be be common knowledge, as that will affect its estimated 400BN per year tourism industry.
Here is my take. It is by no means complete, but the links speak for themselves. This is also not to say that Alice Springs isn't safe or you shouldn't go, you just should know what you're walking into and to be able to make an informed decision.
Ultimately, the problem stems from alcohol and youths who have nothing better to do with their time but terrorize neighborhoods. Even putting restrictions on the sale and purchase created an underground bootleg alcohol industry. From there it branches off into an array of violence, robbery and assault in Alice Springs.
They have also found problems with the Africans who migrated to Australia and set up shop in Alice Springs and cases of Aboriginal women prostituting their kids to Sudanese men. Then they can go to the store and buy more booze.
Who are the victims? You name it. How about the German tourist who got stabbed in the armpit. The 50 year old woman beaten with rocks and sticks outside her home. Don't forget the kids who get exposed to this and continue the trend.
Then there are the local business owners who are just waiting for the other shoe to drop and the tourism dollars that go with it. Businesses that get broken into on a regular basis for thieves to steal something worth only $20 and the damage to the store owner which costs $2000. According to the motel owner I spoke to, businesses have closed because they can't afford to keep fixing the damage. Each morning you wake up more windows are broken.
If you are heading to Uluru or Kings Canyon, you likely have to stop here, so be aware of what your walking into. Get a hostel or motel near the better areas of town and know where not to walk at night. Specifically the corner of Stott and Todd have been prime for crime. Trouble also sleeps around the dry Todd River, as is evidenced by the empty casks of wine and VB cases.
It really is an unfortunate state of affairs going on in Alice Springs. While I understand the reasoning for not wanting to make this information common knowledge, I don't agree with the way they have made this so little known to people going there.
Even for example the Lonely Planet 2010. Under Dangers and Annoyances in Alice Springs they say Avoid walking alone late at night. Take a taxi back to your accommodation. Gosh, those stab wounds are annoying, aren't they? Talk about beating around the bush.
Now it appears things have come to a head, in that we arrived only a few weeks after dozens more patrol officers. There does appear to be a heightened police presence, but that doesn't make a place feel more welcoming either.
For a truly eye opening insight into the state of Alice Springs as of February 2011,
read this article titled Destroyed in Alice
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