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Alice on a Budget
Howdy! Thought perhaps I'd never get back to you, but here I am. I hope you've been making the most of the time like I told you because I wasn't kidding about sleeping in the street at Alice...
I hope you've got all your stuff packed and ready to go - we'll have to make tracks because the day is half over already and we still have quite a few miles to travel before nightfall. I don't know about you but I am really looking forward to a nice hot shower when we get there. Nothing like it after the heat and dust of a few days has had its way with your skin, hair, fingernails and ears!! Civilisation has some points in its favour, don't you think?
While we drive along I'll tell you a few things about Alice Springs, but not too much - I'm saving that for later, when we get back from Ayers Rock, before we catch the plane back to Adelaide...
The weather is
mostly fine, it rains infrequently and the temperatures vary from stinking hot in summer
to freezing in winter, getting colder than most other Australian cities and towns.
I must warn you now, Alice Springs is an amazing place - it has sometimes acted as a snare for unsuspecting visitors. People have been known to travel through on a holiday, or just drift through, checking out places along the way, and, only after much effort and a lengthy period of time, have they managed to hit the road again. I would say that Alice has it's fair share of people like that. It seems that the further away from the major cities you get, the more the lifestyle and attitude is the " She'll be right " or " No Worries Mate! " Australian attitude rather than the busy 'Let's get on with it! ' lifestyle of the city dwellers. It is one of those places that some people fall in love with, but there are others who almost hate it, seeing nothing to it but a small town in a remote and desolate area. I wonder what you'll think of it?
guesses what the person who defaced this
We're nearly there now, but you won't see much tonight - it's too dark! I put the picture in below (showing the MacDonnell Ranges in the background) as a bonus, but we didn't have the advantages of technology then and we drove into town wondering where we should spend the night. Sounds silly, but we hadn't thought of that til now... must have something to do with the pace of life and wide open spaces, but planning ahead seems an alien concept.
Instinct led us straight to the public ablutions facility and oh what luxury!! Right on the edge of town, situated near the Todd River (which is usually dry), it seems to be used mainly by the Aboriginal people who camp out in the river bed. Beautiful, steaming hot water free for the taking, clean, spacious shower cubicles... why bother hunting all over town for a van park when we can avail ourselves of this? Aaaah... oooh... yes, this'll do me! It reminds me of eating when you're really hungry... a hot shower after days of sweat and grime is like a feast! Cleaning out the ears feels positively delicious... washing the hair seems like a privilege instead of a chore like it can be at home.
What now? Some of you young energetic types might be looking for a bit of night life at this stage... sorry to disappoint you - it's dead as a door nail by the looks of it... and anyway I need a sleep... a good, long, restful, refreshing sleep will do me just fine. This spot seems nice and quiet - why don't we just close the curtains and crash here - who will know or even care? Well that was just the problem - no-one did know or care, and just as we drop off to sleep the locals decide to go walkabout... Have you heard that term? It is something the Aboriginal people are renowned for... it is in their blood to just up and leave for destinations unknown at the most unexpected moment... and the urge seems to hit fully half the Aboriginal population of Alice Springs about half an hour after we've fallen into a deep and blissful sleep. Comings and goings all night... temporary lulls, relentlessly followed by further waves of human exodus as more people seem to be leaving the town for an impromptu corroboree!
In the interests of accuracy I suppose I'd better admit that I indulged in some poetic licence then, and not a little exaggeration... It was nowhere near half the Aboriginal population and the likelihood that there was a corroboree is remote... but apart from that it is a fairly apt description of the night. You've all had them I expect so you know the feeling of desperation that overtakes you at 6am when you realise that all hope is lost of getting any sleep that night, but your body acts as if it is about to begin its 8 hours anyway. So you feel like a zombie for the first half of the day, if not all of it! The best remedy I know of is a nice hot shower and a yummy breakfast, so it's over to the showers again - not quite the exquisite experience of the previous night, but pretty good! Then a trek down the track in search of some bush tucker. Oops - too much time in the outback... we go for a leisurely stroll down the street seeking a scrumptious snack... Hey, what's this? A parade!
Do you remember that it's December now? Oh... I was hoping you wouldn't... Well, how's your imagination? Can you pretend for a minute that it's April 25th, because if you try hard to do that we can watch the Anzac Day parade... it's just getting started...
ANZAC PARADE THIS WAY
We're back from the parade now - I hope you didn't miss it - sometimes it's hard keeping a large tour group together. It's still pretty early - these parades start out at the crack of dawn with what's called a dawn service - we have them all over Australia in cities and towns... I love the poem that is recited at these services...
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old...
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them.
There's probably more to it, and someone with a better general knowledge than me might say, no, that's what we say on November 11 at 11 am... (easy to remember that... the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month... Remembrance Day... ) but I still like it and it suits Anzac Day, don't ya reckon? Do you have Remembrance Day, too? Here we have a minute's silence to remember the fallen.. no matter where we are or what we're doing - it's not a holiday, and strangely enough that seems to give it more meaning. Over here we seem to have holidays at the drop of a hat and quite often I can't even remember what the day off is supposed to be for. Just recently we had Adelaide Cup Day here... a holiday Monday for a horse race... and the day was nearly over before my sister told me what it was all about! You have a few famous horse races in America too, she told me, and named about three, but I forget them now. No doubt there'll be a flurry of email following the sending of this edition, giving me all the details... yawn... sorry, horse races aren't really my thing, but don't worry I was only joking :) - tell me all about it - I love to hear anything you Yanks want to tell me about your country, OK... no hard feelings?
Speaking of horse races, Alice has her own version of a horse racing carnival... ever heard of their Camel Cup? Or the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, a boat race of international fame in which competitors must carry their vessels across the river because there is normally no water in the Todd? You get the impression that people here like to do things a little differently!
Hey, how did we get here??? I wasn't supposed to be telling you much about Alice yet and here I am spoiling the surprise... Well, seeing as I've let the cat out of the bag, I may as well give you some pictures to look at.... so get ready for a visual description of those Alice events I accidentally told you about just then....
Welcome to Alice Springs
...through the gap in the MacDonnell Ranges
(Haven't we met somewhere before? Aaachoo!)
The Camel Cup
and Henley-on-Todd Regatta
( not enough water to spare for that! )
ozEkoala has been called away briefly.
(she shouldn't be more than a few days)
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