Alice Springs

Saturday, Jun 25, 2011 at 07:54

Member-Heather MG NSW

Day 23
Thursday 23rd June (Alice Springs)
We are packed up and on the move before 9am while our Lutheran college camp mates are breakfasting. At the end of the dirt road, John pulls over and increases the tyre pressure for travel on the bitumen. By now Barb and Darrell have caught up and we travel together to Stanley Chasm, a short detour off the road to Alice, where we pay the $8 (pensioner) entry to do the short easy walk up the canyon to view the soaring red rock walls of this narrow gap in the landforms. There is water in pools at the base and I am a little disappointed with the light as it's too early to get the sunlight right to the base however take a few photos as mementos.
Back in the car, we continue to Simpsons Gap and have our lunch in the car park there. Its a short, gentle walk to the Gap and we are pleasantly surprised by the beauty of this place with its pools of still (reflected) blue water lined with tall reedy vegetation and green algae or maybe frogs eggs on the surface. There's even a sizeable patch of blonde sand in the river bed and the rock walls are glowing red where the sun strikes their surface. It is a much more photogenic place than Stanleys Chasm but then amybe that's because we are here later in the day.
Near the car park I stop to photograph the striking flowers of the dogwood tree...a large grevillea type pale 'sponge cake' creamy yellow. The tree is a wonderful example of black twisted limbs, mostly dead looking and its also a great subject.
We arrive in Alice early afternoon and check into the caravan park which is on the Stuart Highway to the north of the main shopping centre. The friendly manager directs us to our site and we set up next to Barb and Darrell but John is very unhappy about us being placed under a huge gum tree with dead limbs and after we are nearly set up I offer to go back to the office to see whether there is an alternative site.
We are lucky and shown a site up the back of the park, overhung by a white cedar tree dropping small leaves but John is happy to move there. We spend the next half hour packing up then getting settled in the new site. The remainder of the afternoon is occupied with grocery shopping, getting it packed away and then making phone calls to family for the first time since Yulara last week.
The van park has high fences topped with barbed wire and the front gates are locked at 8.30 and overnight to help with security.
Dinner is a simple stir fry and out of the way so I can watch Masterchef for the first time since leaving home. We have a good choice of TV channels and perfect 3G signal so I also spend hours online, catching up with friends and family...Because we are connected to water, I use the van shower and its a luxury to be able to stay there until the hot water runs out! We also make use of the heater and set it to come on during the night when the temperature drops below about 7 degrees.
Day 24
Friday 24th June Alice Springs
I am in the laundry early and find Barb also there with at least three of the machines at her disposal. I fit our clothes into the two remaining empty ones and we get it all hung on the lines before we go out for the morning. I also give the van a much needed sweep and dust and tidy up a little.
We take a drive to the Desert Park back along the Larapinta drive and pay our entry ($14 pensioners) which entitles us to all day entry. I am overjoyed to find a large patch of Sturts Desert Pea in bloom in the garden out the front and take photographs.We manage to take in a very entertaining 40 minute presentation on 'Survival in the desert' given by one of the local Aboriginal men.
By now we are hungry so we return to the van for lunch and then drive back to the Park where we pass an interesting afternoon wandering between the averies of birds which frequent the desert landscapes..the rivers, red sand dunes and the wooded areas. We see many species which are unusual to us.
We are fascinated by the variety and visibility of the nocturnal life on display too in the darkened Nocturnal House...reptiles, rodents, birds such as the bush stone curlew, also bilbies. Its a wonderful way to see these as we don't tend to be out and about too much at night after the campfire dies down.
The park replicates the typical landscapes of the arid areas and its a great way to view the desert in a few hours for those people who don't venture too much off the beaten track.We wander the pathways and arrive at the ampitheatre in time for the bird display at 3.30. Seated in the front row we watch the presenter as she feeds galahs, a magpie then a couple of different birds of prey which inhabit the area and talks about them. Its a bit disappointing to us, however a good introduction to many people I guess.
We return to the van, catch up with the Johnstons and then retreat for more phone calls and dinner. The Friday night Rugby Leage footy is on tonight and John settles in for four hours of entertainment and is a content man! I use the time to get online and catch up on blogs and more, edit photos etc.
Day 25
Saturday 25th June Alice Springs
Its another cool night, around 0 degrees. Our day begins with a walk along the Stuart Highway towards the town to Anzac Lookout and then return via Todd Mall and the supermarket. Its cool when we set out but on our way home, its hot and tiring.
After an early lunch we drive to the Araluen Cultural Precinct on Larapinta Drive, find a park in the very busy car park and pay an entry fee of $10 (pensioner concession) which entitles us to visit any of the galleries and Museums on the site. I am overwhelmed by the vibrant colourful contemporary Aboriginal artwork on display in the gallery and we also have a look at the Namatjira Family gallery where some of Albert Namatjiras original watercolours hang.
Then its into the exhibition of this years 'Festival of the Beanie' entries and they are just many incredibly creative and diverse designs, colours, materials many of which are the work of older women from all around the country. They are all for sale, many already displaying red dots. I am so very tempted to buy one of the local aboriginal womens entries but after my recent purchase of the painting at Wallace Rockhole I feel I shouldn't even mention it. Had I visited here by myself the outcome would definitely have been different!
Afterwards we visit the Museum of Central Australia and browse the displays of information about the geological formation of the area and its animal, reptile and bird life and its an interesting hour or so while we identlfy some of the ones we have seen.
Finally with tired eyes we pay a visit to the Aviation Museum and have a look at some of the aircraft on display. On our way back to the car, I am approached by a barefoot rather smelly aboriginal woman who shakes my hand and tries to persuade me to buy her painting. When I decline, a second one tries. Had either of the paintings impressed me I may have said yes however I am pretty certain they have been painted to try to gain a quick $. It makes me feel a little uncomfortable but I guess thats what is intended and many people would offer money to escape the situation.
Back in the caravan park we catch up with Barb and Darrell and find out that they have spent the day at the Desert Park and had a great time.

Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. John Muir
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