Alice, Alice, who the @#$% is Alice?
Alice Springs Travel Blog› entry 101 of 113 › view all entries
March 29th, 2009 – by: afredrix
The second day of driving between Coober Pedy and Alice was shorter than the first, but surrounded by the same red terrain. We started the day with a short detour to the Breakaways. A "site of significance to the Antakirinja Matuntjara Yankunytjatjara people." (Yeah...try saying that five times quickly. Or once, for that matter.) Then continued the northerly route into the Northern Territory.
Very little changed with the scenery as we entered the NT, save an increase in three things: roadkill, flies and the length of road trains.
The flies in the Territory are like none I've ever seen before or want to see again. At home, you encounter the occasional brave, or perhaps just retarded, fly that won't move when you swat at it. This is an entire territory off mutant flies that, when swatted, only become more determined to walk over every inch and orifice of anyone silly enough to step outside.
As the sun was debating its nightly descent, we drove through The Gap of the McDonnell Ranges and entered the oasis of Alice. To call it a city is a slight exaggeration of its actual size and personality. But Todd Mall, a pedestrian zone running through Alice Springs' center, does offer tourists options for eating, drinking and souvenir shopping. The hostels are scattered on both sides of the dried up Todd River (which I was warned never to walk through alone at night), and Aboriginal art galleries, like Mbantua, give travelers something to do in between Outback tours.
They can also learn to play the didgeridoo. I stumbled upon a group lesson in a local shop and thought there was no better time than the present to cast shyness aside and pick up a didge of my own. Traditionally aboriginal women don't play the instrument, for fear of the effects playing from the depths of the belly might have on bearing children. Considering my half-hour attempt at playing probably didn't go deeper than my esophagus, I doubt my future offspring have anything to worry about. It took all I had just to reach a post-pubescent note. But I eventually did and could leave the lesson, lips numb and vibrating, with the satisfaction of progress. However small it may have been.
I spent one night at Alice Lodge Backpackers hostel, but quickly realized its pointlessness, when all of my free time was more or less spent with Ruddy and his crew on the other side of the river.
For the months they'd be living in Alice, the students were all placed in dorm-style rooms in the hospital's nurses quarters. Since the rotation was just beginning and neighbors were still strangers to one another, no one suspected a thing when Alice Springs Hospital's newest student moved in with a backpack and camped out for two days on the floor of one of those rooms.
With Ruddy's access card, I could come and go as I pleased; even make use of the hospital's pool. While they were all away at work, I would wander into town and be back in time for lunch at the hospital cafeteria. At night, a few of us would hit up the Todd Mall for dinner and drinks or a picnic table in the courtyard for home-cooked food and a didgeridoo show by Joey. Not a bad way to save some money, make new friends and spend a week in Alice.
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