Nice to meet you, Alice
Alice Springs Travel Blog› entry 17 of 34 › view all entries
August 20th, 2009 – by: Documama
Now that we've made it to Alice Springs, it's time to have a look around. After a great night's sleep at John's we drive downtown to return the rental car to Hertz and walk to the center of town.
The center of Alice is not huge, maybe 10 blocks, and it's centered on Todd Mall, a pedestrian zone that ends at the river and the regatta site. Alice has the feel of a small city / large town that's swollen with visitors for the regatta and the Bash. There are a few good bookstores, quite a few aboriginal art centers, a Target (!), and a Woolworth's.
Now, for those of you who remember Woolworth's as the 5-and-Dime of your youth, it's not that.
Alice also has a Royal Flying Doctor Service outpost. The RFDS is pretty damned cool. Australia has a lot of small towns and cattle stations with no access to doctors or hospitals. The distances are extreme and in the case of an emergency, death would be a lot more common without the RFDS. They maintain bases around the country and a fleet of planes, doctors, and nurses. They serve as a flying medical service. They also serve as the medivac in larger towns when someone needs to be moved to a larger medical center and needs to fly there.
The crews serve 12-hour shifts and you can't even apply till you are experienced in your field, whether pilot, nurse, or doctor.
Their station in Alice has a little visitors center and a 30-minute tour, which includes a video, a small museum (especially cool for older medical and communication equipment) and a working operation center that you can watch (which is pretty dull if nothing is happening; you're watching a person watch a communications bank).
We enjoyed it a lot and it is very inspirational. Their operating expenses are paid by the state but they need to do their own fundraising for their equipment. Their biggest equipment is, of course, airplanes so fundraising is a major consideration.
We passed a reptile center (which I somehow managed to resist the temptation to enter) and decided to walk home. It was a bright sunny day and it was perhaps a 20-minute walk. However, we soon had a chance to remember the Curse of Low Humidity. The humidity was running at about 10-20%, so we never did sweat. Being from DC, we tend to evaluate the heat based on the sweat, which means we consistently underestimate the heat. It was actually 95 degrees outside and we were hot and tired by the time we got back.
Naps and showers.
When John came home, we invited he and Martin out to dinner. John suggested his "club". They are common here. They are sports clubs supporting (supported by? never sure) a number of community sports teams. They can be really small or quite large. This one included slot machines, a playground for kids, a restaurant, and a bar. And lots of TVs showing national sporting events.
The food was surprisingly good. Kitty and Jeff had lamb shanks and they were huge! One of the events showing was a cricket match and John spent a long time trying to explain cricket to Kitty, who found it all somewhat absurd I think. John and I talked to Martin a long time about the travelling bug. We also had a nice conversation about Kitty's love life (or lack thereof) and decided what she *really* needs to look for is a nice engineer with lots of frequent flyer miles. :)
We had a great time and got to see the stars again on the way home.
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