Ice Cold In Alice

Trip Start Jan 27, 2008
Trip End May 12, 2008

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Flag of Australia  ,
Saturday, February 16, 2008

All good things must come to and end. And so begins the last day of the tour . A dash across the West Macdonnell to Alice Springs. To cheer us up there is a special treat from Macka in the shape of a full English breakfast. I helped prepare the eggs for the griddle. The method is genius - take a slice of bread, cut a round hole with a jar top and discard the middle (or make a Noddy sized Nutella sandwich). Butter both sides, and place on the griddle - crack the egg into the hole and sprinked with cheese. Et voila!

After breakfast, which was accompanied by a 7am lay in, I had to take the sleeping bag from the swag before rolling it up. It wouldn't be needed again by me.

We left camp and set off E towards Glen Helen Gorge - a small chink in the armour of the MacDonnell Range. A short walk lead us a an idyllic water hole bounded by reed beds. We had coffee at the nearby Glen Helen Resort where they offer scenic helicopter flights for $50. 

Continued on to Ellory Creek Big Hole, a narrow gorge containing an idyllic water hole with a sandy beach at each end. Everyone swam through the gorge to the other beach except me. the distance and depth too much for me and my fear of water is still heightened by last year's near drowning in Bulgaria. I compensated by making my way about half way around - sticking close to the sides. Macka stayed close to ensure I was OK. When the others came back Hartmut offered to take me to the beach across open water. "It's ok, you hold my shoulders".
We made it across and I stayed calm throughout. I must get on with some regular swimming when I return to England.  We also met some residents from Alice who were camping in swags at the Gorge for the weekend and working hard on filling a large carrier bag with empty cans. They were: Andy, Nick (born with a peanut in his head if you know what I mean), Kiwi (the missus) and Big Trev. They all had impressive tattoos -except for Kiwi, I think? We all spoke for a while under the park shelter. As we left Macka remided them to keep hydrated. "We will" replied Andy, raising his can of scotch and coke.

And then as we made our way towards Alice something amazing happened...
As we crossed a floodway we were intercepted directly by a dust devil! We were travelling at 70kmh and the twister that crossed our path must have been doing 40. What are the chances of that happening? So Steven finally had his wish fulfilled (to be caught in the midst of a dust devil) with just 50km of the 10 day journey to go.

After stopping at the city limits to view the grave of John Flynn, founder of the Flying Doctor service, and a drive up Anzac Hill to orientate us with the town Macka dropped us at our respective hostels. After 10 days with 10 other people 24/7 I was alone. Weird.

Alice's Secret, the hostel is just E of town, Along Stott Terrace and across the Todd River. I should have paid more attention to its precise location but more of that later. I have my own small room with a bunk bed and air conditioning. Luxury. There is a quiet courtyard outside, flanked by small dorms. It has the air of an American motel but in minature. There is a pool, grass areas and scorching hot paths patrolled by pesky ants. I love it.  Alice Springs is an oasis in the desert and the hostel an oasis within the town.

We are picked up by Macka at 6.30 and all reconvened for dinner at Toddy's Hostel. Everyone is here but Matthias seems quite down. He has bought a big painting he tells us, doesn't drink or eat and leaves early.  My meal, sweet and sour pork, is excellent.  The evening progresses and detiriorates into the inevitable silly pictures being taken. We are then dropped into town, to the bars along Todd Street where we stay until around 3am. And bizarrely people can smoke in some of the bars here, I didn't expect that.. But this the Northern Territory - they do things differently here.

We went to Bojangles, a saloon type bar and then moved along to Melankas Party Bar, with an attached, and I guess, very noisy hostel. At 3.30am it was time to hit the sack.  Anyway, I walked off on the right direction. To the lights, turned right onto Stott Terrace, straight on at the roundabout, cross the Todd River bridge, talk to random drunk people. All fine but I'm walking wide roads through scrub and I cannot for the life of me think where the hostel is. I ask a passing couple after I've recrossed the Todd - Was it the right bridge - everything here after all bears the name of Todd.  The couple direct me back where I just came from and then she says "should we tell him..." or something but then she stops herself. Perhaps the area is mugging central but anyhow I cross the bridge, take another long open road. Eventually I flag a car down. Its a security guy. He points me to Khallick Street and after 5 minutes I find it. I had been within 30 metres of the place after only 10 minutes walking - could have got there in 12. Took me 90 minutes - what a tool.    



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