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Published: January 25th 2010
After packing up our swags for the last time we set off. Our first stop of the day was at Glen Helen Gorge where we sat in a cafe overlooking the dry creek bed and the sheer rock face towering above it. We stopped for about an hour, just about enough time to explore the area and do a short bush walk but once we saw the comfortable sofas we decided to sit in the cafe and enjoy some iced coffees and the view instead. After nine days in the bush we were so overawed with the sofas that it was difficult to prise us away from them when it was time to leave!
Next we drove to Serpentine Gorge where we did actually go for a bush walk. We hiked up the steep cliff face for around 100 metres and looked out over the gorgeous flat plains and bush below us. Then we followed the trail across the top of the mountain to a lookout point in the opposite direction that gave us a beautiful view of Serpentine Gorge. The day wasn't quite a hot as some of the previous scorchers but the intensity of the previous nine days
was starting to take its toll and a couple of members of the group looked very relieved when Ian told us that the next stop would be another water hole, Ellery Creek Big Hole.
We drove for a while until we reached the car park where we all sunscreened up and changed into our swimming gear. I wasn't too sure whether I would swim as we only had an hour or so and the thought of sitting in the bruck damp and uncomfortable didn't seem too appealing but when I got down to the water's edge and saw how beautiful the water hole was I dived straight in. Although it wasn't quite as hot as previous days it's all relative when you're in the outback. Instead of 42 degrees and still, it was perhaps 35 with a light breeze. Not exactly chilly and the water was so lovely and refreshing that we all splashed around enjoying the sensation of being clean almost as much as the coolness of the water! We swam all the way across to the other side of the creek where we lazed in the sun for a while before reluctantly swimming back and changing back
Outside Bojangles in Alice Springs
From L-R: Amy, Gisela, Judith, Ian, Marc & Cyril
into our dry clothes. The water was so lovely that nobody wanted to leave and we almost had to drag Britta out of the creek where she was happily floating like a satisfied duck.
We then continued on our way to Alice Springs, our final destination. On the way we briefly stopped off at Standley Chasm where there was another water hole. Unfortunately it was almost completely dried up so we couldn't go swimming but watched the huge wasps and mosquitos buzzing around the last remaining dregs of murky green water before jumping back in the bruck and heading to Alice. When we arrived Ian dropped us all off at our respective hostels for a well needed few hours of relaxing and scrubbing.
Later that evening we all met up for a few beers in Toddy's, the hostel that most of us were staying in, for a few beers and some food. They had big hearty portions of tradition Aussie tucker like emu, camel and kangaroo so Amy opted for the delicious kangaroo chili con carne while I got a camel steak. I seemed like I had done something to upset the chef because while everybody else who
ordered camel was raving about how good it was I had something that was virtually all gristle. The little bits of meat I did get were tasty so I think I simply got unlucky with the cut of meat which was a shame. After a few beers, and then a few more, we decided to heat to the infamous Bojangles, an Alice Springs club that has become something of a backpacker institution. We got a free bus transfer from Toddy's to Bojanges and had an early insight into what the night ahead would hold when a bogan (Australian version of chav) Aussie guy tried to start a fight with Ian because he had committed the ultimate sin of being friendly with the gay bus driver. To his credit, Ian managed to diffuse the situation and we jumped off the bus a few minutes later at the club. Bojangles is well know for being a little boisterous and is staffed by dozens of enormous Maori bouncers to whom we pointed out the trouble maker on the bus. They checked our ID and ushered us inside where we got a table and drank the night away. The club was actually great fun,
despite it being a little dodgy. Some would say all the trouble comes from the drunken Aboriginals who give women hassle (we saw plenty of this) but I think it was just as much the backpackers and Australians who get too drunk and end up in fights. Thankfully, the huge Maori bouncers were excellent and stepped in every time something threatened to go off and we ended up having a brilliant night playing drinking games and dancing on the absolutely packed dance floor.
The next couple of days we spend wandering around Alice Springs and relaxing at the hostel after a very busy and exhausting 10 days heading bush. The tour was brilliant and I would recommend it to anybody who wants to see the real outback. We both agreed that we really fell in love with the bush, the bizarre humour and welcoming locals and the spectacular landscapes. It's not all desert out there.
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