I live in Florida, so I'm used to seeing tourists with sacks of oranges and Mickey Mouse ears in their possession. I suppose the Australian Outback equivalent is the didgery-doo.
These huge bass-heavy tubes are a mainstay of aboriginal culture and music since time began. And, a number of modern musical acts have incorporated the timeless din of the "didg" into their songs. See my Australia tip concerning the multi-talented Xavier Rudd.
There are numerous places in and around Alice Springs for one to purchase a didgery-doo. Now, the good ones are not cheap, not by a long shot. I'd say the price for a large, well-made and beautifully decorated pipe will run you some A$300, which will include shipping and insurance to sent it home.
If you DO buy a large didgery-doo, please let me beg you, as a fellow passenger..... DO let them ship it home. Don't drag in onto 15 hour plane rides home. Please. ; ) You'll only be saving yourself about A$30 or so anyway. You don't want to carry it, mate.
Don't worry, there'll be plenty of time to master it when you get back home. You might want to get some downers for your dog or cat before you cut loose with the beast back home. The eery sound IS an acquired taste, and based on my Xavier Rudd album, domestic animals take a long time to acquire said taste. : )
What to buy: They come in all sizes pretty much. But if you're gonna buy one, bite the bullet. Get a great big one and have it shipped home.
If you want to be sure you get a genuine aboriginally-decorated instrument, ask for information on the artist, which should be attached to or readily available for your examination. Make sure some aborigine artist carved the thing, mate.... You'd hate to get home with something stamped "Product of Sri Lanka". No offense to Sri Lanka, but it's not prime didgery-doo territory.
What to pay: Depending on size and quality, A$150 - A$400 or so. The cheaper ones might just have little worms in the wood. Like anything anywhere else, you get what you pay for. ; )
Maruku Gallery and Walkatjara Art Centre are located in the Cultural Central in Uluru - Kata Tjuta National Park. Just browse around and enjoy the the original crafts and artefacts of the Anangu Aboriginals from the south east and west of Central Australia.
You will find something you like and it will always remember you to this very special place on earth. You will find a range of carved crafts like desert animals, wooden bowls, music sticks, boomerangs and hunting spears. Or the ceramic arts, paintings or other crafts.
See for more info:
If you intend to buy an Aboriginal 'souvenir', don’t wait till the departure hall of the airport, it does have only the average touristy stuff.
What to buy: We loved specially the Aboriginal paintings; because we had to travel still a lot, we had to decide to buy just a small one.
What to pay: We paid only AUD 14,-
You can find artefacts and crafts from a couple of dollars to a huge amount of money.
There are several authentic aboriginal art studios around the center of the Alice Springs area. While it is highly disrespectful to take pictures of the art, I have made a quick list of the places that you'll see just walking around that were confirmed by my local friend as authentic sellers as opposed to factory-made dot paintings. I visited each of these and all of them are pretty amazing. In order, you'd want to go to:
1. Gallery Gondwana
2. Muk Muk
4. Gallery Kuruwarri
5. Leaping Lizards Gallery
You can also buy art made right on the street in front of you - but as always you have to weigh up the ethical merits of doing so and just have a quick think about what the aboriginees you are buying from on the streets are most likely to spend their money on. No judgement, just saying.
You don't need address for any of these because they're all (with the exception of Muk Muk is could take some walking around) right in the middle of town.
What to buy: the dot paintings are the biggest draw for Indigenous artwork, and the sheer size and complexity of the painting should show you exactly how much work goes into any one of these.
What to pay: Prices range from $30 for a smaller paper to several thousand for an epic canvas.
The store is conveniently located and has a wide variety of items ranging from beautiful art and paintings (both local and indigenous) to normal-type souvenirs.
There are paintings and artwork, various sculpted pieces, and then the full gamut of souvenirs from license plates and post cards to coins and books.
Friendly staff will help you locate that special item for you or someone special.
A must-stop when in Alice Springs.
What to buy: The store's specialty is:
Namatjira water colors
Local and indigenous artists with paintings & scultpures and various other artwork
All types of unusual souvenirs.
What to pay: There are reasonable prices throughout the store for all items and expect one or more items for sale. Just ask the friendly staff what is available.
The Gem Cave is near the south end of the Todd Mall. It has unakite jewelry that they make in the store. Unakite is a semiprecious stone that occurs in a few places worldwide, one of which is the Harts Range near Alice Springs. It is said to have healing properties.
I had looked at the Aboriginal artwork in the Mbantua Gallery and other places on the Alice Springs tour. It was quite expensive. After lunch we were all walking on the Todd Mall before going back to the Henley-on-Todd Regatta. Deb talked to an elderly Aboriginal artist, Pamela Ryan, sitting on the lawn about a painting she had for sale. When Deb decided not to add it to her collection, I bought it for 45 AUD. I really like it, since I know it is authentic and I was able to help an Aboriginal artist directly. It's title is "Two Womens Collecting Bush Berries and Bush Bananas." The symmetry and traditional Aboriginal symbols form interesting patterns.
Every major city in Australia has one street devoted to the art of shopping.
In Alice Springs, it's Todd Mall.
Here, you will find your departmental stores, boutiques, cafes, restaurants, post offices, airline offices, shoe shops, pharmacies, music shops, bookstores, discount shops and in this case, plenty of shops selling aboriginal artefacts/art.
Essentially, the main shopping artery of Alice Springs.
What to buy: Everything....as long as you have money (Vitamin M)
Coles is a supermarket chain in Australia. We all met at the Alice Springs' Coles on 9 Aug 2010 and got our supplies for the nine-day 2010 VT Survivor Camp. There were four carts of "stuff" for seven people! BTW, I highly recommend the Coles' brand trail mix. It is delicious. They are open Monday - Sunday from 06:00 - Midnight.
What to buy: There are many shops in Alice Springs selling didjeridoos. If you are travelling around Australia and plan to buy one, I would recommend you buy one in Darwin - the ones I looked at in Darwin are cheaper. And spend the extra cash to send it home! Don't get stuck carrying it around for your entire trip.
Alice Springs should have plenty of range of Aboriginal shops, but shop around for prices. If there are Aboriginal co-operatives where the local artisans run the business, I'd go for those rather than any other.
The Second Hand Shop in Alice Springs is located on Gap Road about three blocks south of the Todd Mall. Not only does it have a clever sculpture outside, it is a great place to find bargain, used goods. There are books, furniture, clothes, camping gear, videos, souvenirs, and other "Australiana and collectables." It is open from 10 AM to 6 PM on weekdays, and 10 AM to 2 PM on Saturday. There is plenty of parking too.
I got a unique cap from one of the souvenir stalls at the Henley-on-Todd Regatta. Besides saying Henley-on-Todd Regatta, it had a bottle opener in the bill! It cost 15 AUD and would later help me meet Battle Boat Buccaneer, Michael Romeo, in Barrow Creek.
Plenty of shops in the Todd Mall, but after lunch time Saturday you'd be hard pressed to find anything open....
What to buy: Aboriginal art, clothes, plenty of other stuff.