Going to the Alice
Alice Springs Travel Blog› entry 16 of 34 › view all entries
Wednesday, August 19
It's time to bid farewell to Uluru and head to The Alice, Alice Springs. Alice Springs is pretty much smack dab in the middle of the country, half-way between Darwin at the top and Adelaide at the bottom. It started as just a telegraph station but is now a small city, if for no other reason than there's nothing else out there! It's also home to the Henley-on-Todd Regatta around which we have scheduled this whole trip.
You'll get more on that later.
After a quick stop at the grocers to make sure we are well-stocked with cookies, we take care of one final "must do" in Australia -- camel riding. Yes, Kitty has decreed that she will, by God, ride a camel! She decreed that I would too and then I discovered there was a weight limit and I was over it.
Her original thought was to do a 90-minute camel tour to the rock but she kinda chickened out on that. There is a 5-minute photo-op-on-a-camel-option and that's what we've got to do before we can get on the road.
Camels are not God's most adorable or attractive (or apparently friendly) creatures so Jeff and I definitely have our cameras ready for this. Kitty has to climb up on a platform to get herself even with the saddle on the camel and then climbs aboard. A 5 minute walk around the corral and she is done! Camel conquered! Without spitting or biting or tossing. By the camel either.
<snif><snif> We're so proud of our little girl! Kitty too. :)
It's a 4 hour drive or so to Alice.
Thanks to the GPS, Jeff is able to get is exactly to the home of our host, John. John is tall with a beautiful set of white whiskers and a gleam in his eye that suggests he'd either be a lot of fun to go drinking with or a lot of trouble to go drinking with. Probably both. He introduces us to Martin, a German guy driving around Australia for 8 months on a motorcycle. Martin is being ingloriously dumped from one of the bedrooms for us and into a tent in the backyard. He takes his demotion with grace.
Jeff and I will be in Martin's former bedroom and Kitty is in the office in a swag. A swag is a camping outfit -- sort of a hybrid of tent and sleeping bag. It's made from heavy-duty canvas that includes a mattress/pad, some netting so you can breathe, and a strong zipper. They are popular for outback camping. You can throw them down almost anywhere. They've been around a long time and are very utilitarian. They are bulky enough that you need a car (or Martin would have added one to his motorcycle) but they are practically indestructible apparently.
Kitty thinks this is pretty cool.
We're about to ask for directions for dinner when John produces a huge plate with a variety of meats on it. He's BBQ'ing tonight and we are his guests. We eat on the back veranda, enjoying a great meal, listening to the sound of his chickens clucking softly in the night, and have a good time getting acquainted with each other. John is very involved in the Henley-on-Todd regatta, so he gives us a little bit of a lowdown on how things work (though, it later turns out, he was intentionally vague on some details, the little s**t). :)
Martin has been living in Melbourne for 4 years, working with Ford as an automotive engineer. He's got an 8-month break because of the end of a project and is on the road to discover Australia. They are both great guys and we have a wonderful evening and sleep oh so happily that night.