After leaving majestic Uluru, Suzi and I drove 4 hrs north to the legendary town of Alice Springs, passing desert and scrubland, and along the way visited a cool truck stop and wild bird aviary near Mt. Conner which is frequently mistaken for Uluru.
My favourite feature at the Curtin Springs “comfort station” was the loo! Out in the middle of nowhere, a clean flush toilet fit for a princess…and no lizards or snakes. Whew! Always lift the seat just in case. And there are great showers, too, for the dusty traveler. As we were pulling out of the carpark, I spied this huge cattle truck but there were no cattle inside…instead, dozens of camels were out for a ride. Hopefully up to one of the camel ride outfits or perhaps another farm and not to the slaughterhouse. Camel meat is very popular in the outback – I’d like to think they were going somewhere nice.
So off we went, on to the next truck stop – a couple of hours later we were in Erldunda, a pretty spot with a petrol station, convenience store and snack shop (yes, I had a meat pie and a Lamington…yummmmm). Erldunda was also home to a family of emus and my little friend, Eduardo, couldn’t wait to get acquainted! An hour later we were driving into Alice Springs, home to legends and myths and the subject of novels and films. Suddenly the roads were smoother and small homes could be seen just off the highway. And there was the old ‘Ghan engine, named for the Afghan traders who traveled the outback with camels loaded with goods, food and other household needs for the settlers and indigenous inhabitants of this remote outpost of humanity.We checked into our accoms and settled in for the night. But I was woken up by the most unique “alarm”….
We grabbed a morning coffee at Gloria Jean’s, a fab coffee house chain – Suzi’s favourite and she couldn’t believe there was a café in an Alice mall close by.Then off to the market to browse the local artisans’ wares and maybe pick up a souvenir or two. I picked up some lovely handcrafted earrings (above) while Suzi picked up a twirly potato thingy. Looked delicious!We found this amazing fabric store that specialized in aboriginal prints and both purchased fabric pieces to have framed upon return home. Easier to carry in a suitcase and get thru customs than a large canvas art piece. And less expensive, too. Can’t wait to get mine to my framers here in Toronto. We then popped up to ANZAC Hill to see the beautiful military memorial from all the wars in which Australia fought. What a great view…
The following day, I was to meet up with one of my favourite Australian indigenous filmmakers and actors, Trisha Penangke, for an interview however she was unwell and didn’t want to share germs with me so we had a nice phone chat instead – an online interview is pending. Suzi and I were to meet her at Telegraph Hill, the location of the first continental telegraph station and now a beautiful park. I had fun hugging giant trees and talking to the pigeons – Aussie pigeons are extremely beautiful with little tufts on their heads. As we drove down the hill, we noticed street signs pointing to the Alice Springs Botanical Gardens – what? Without much water how could this be? We got a lovely surprise when entering the gardens, finding all the native plants, flowers, trees, and some interesting sculptures and mosaic benches along the trails. Next morning, my Galah alarm clock woke me up nice and early as we were flying off to Darwin, way up north, filled with history from WWII bombings to deadly tornadoes….can’t wait for more adventures Down Under. As we headed to the airport, Suzi pointed out the amazing “parking lot” of planes that had been grounded during Covid – they’re still there, hundreds of jets of all sizes. WOW! Suzi took the next 3 photos. But now, it’s up, up and away to Darwin in the top end.