Hot and dusty - most of the time...

Trip Start Jun 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 30, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Friday, July 8, 2005

Well it's not now, it's pissing down. And it has been all day, so it's wet under foot and pretty dreary all round. Still, the rain is drumming on the hostel's tin roof which reminds me pleasantly of home. It's not all bad.

This is my first night in an actual hostel so a bit of a reminder of times gone by. I was upgraded on arrival to a 4 share dorm (as opposed to 8 or 10) but it's the little things that really take you back. Stinky pillow, party room noises filtering through the air vent from somewhere else in the complex, crazy (and drunk) German room-mate that looks like Dolph Lundgren, and a Japanese one that's already taken four photos of us roomies. I've made my bed so now I have to sleep in it. Cheers.

So what else has been happening? After leaving Adelaide hungover and in need of serious rest (thanks Carrie!), the first leg of the trip north on the 'legendary' (note: their marketing tagline) Ghan was a pleasant and comfortable experience. With a spare seat beside me and positioned in the middle of the carraige this time, the irritation of other passengers entering and leaving the car was a thing of the someone else's nightmare, so after watching a passable movie of unknown name I managed to successfully pass out for the entire night. I fully awoke at 8.30am or so and after a rejuvinating shower and breakfast, made it back to my seat to see the border marker between SA and NT fly by. This train travel is really growing on me!

Almost dead centre of Australia now. It was surprising to see the extent of plant life abounding in the martian red soil and undulating hills for miles in every direction. Mainly tufty grass but a variety of shrubs and low trees. My favourite was the donut grass - a strange yellow outgrowth that springs up in pretty symmetrical metre wide round shapes, often around a shrub so it looks like a landscaped feature. Hard to get a photo of but I tried.

No doubt recent rains helped all this growth along, and it had been raining outside ever since I'd first stirred in the early morning twilight, but as the amount of dead trees and shrubs amongst the new growth attest, this is one harsh part of the country. Not as bad as the moonscape beyond Broken Hill but in either place plants probably grow like a shot when they get the chance, then die off when fire or lack of water takes becomes too much.

If there was any wildlife about, it wasn't sticking around to see the train, so apart from the announcements that NSW won the State of Origin and London won the right to host the 2012 Olympics (tough luck Frenchies!), the rest of the journey was pretty uneventful. We made it into Alice after lunch and was thankfully met by a hostel guy who chauffered us to the establishment directly in a quite heavy rain.

I settled in quickly, made some mental notes for the hostel review I have to write later, and then decided to head into town and scope the place out despite the weather. After a moist 10 minute walk sans umbrella but I found the local shops and made it to Todd Mall. The place was dead, once again due to the unexpected downpour. Not looking good for the Outback Safari tomorrow. After poking around for a while a bank and internet facilities were sorted and I'd managed to tread on some aboriginal art hung unexpectedly on the floor in one of the mall galleries. Ooops. I retreted to Bo Jangles pub for a $4.50 schooner of VB and some quiet wonder at the decor.

Later I trekked to Melanka Bar (big backpacker place) and caught some of the cricket final we were destined to lose before getting lost/wet on the way home in order to prepare for the tour. Just now news has come through of the bombings in London. Get a life Mohammed. Not a great day all round.

Oh well, a new day brings new possibilities so bring the 5.30am start on!

Next --> more exciting stuff like Uluru and Kings Canyon
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