A Town Called Alice

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August 3rd 2013
Published: August 13th 2013
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Ok, so we know this probably has been used as a blog title a million times before, but we just couldn't resist.

Saturday 3 August

Waking up at Old Andado Station, I had thought that perhaps today we would make Alice Springs, eager to stock up on groceries and get into civilisation, but that said, we should just take our time travelling up the Binns Track and enjoy the environment, another day before getting into Alice won't make a difference.

Andy finished off fixing the trailer lights, we left the caution sign on anyway, just in case they failed again before reaching Alice Springs.

I went to put our $20 in the pot for our overnight stay but I am fairly low on cash, I only have a $50 note and there is no change available, the next best thing to do would be to take down the details of the lady in charge of Old Andado Station and contact her when we get to Alice, so off we set taking the details with us, we really want to pay our way as we strongly believe in paying it forwards.

We do feel strongly about the good karma thing and did not want to take advantage.

The sun is up and the day is heating up, we enjoy our drive once again through the remaining sand dunes, a couple of vehicles come past us on the track as they head towards Old Andado, we didn't think we would see many vehicles today but we were wrong, there were quite a few heading this way.

Andy pulled over to let one vehicle come through, they stopped to chat to us and we find out that it is a Public Holiday weekend in the Northern Territory, how typical we are heading into town to get a load of chores done, haircut, truck service/repairs etc. but still that will have to wait until Tuesday, we have plenty of time. The couple we met assure us that supermarkets will be open so we can get some fresh food when we get there, thankfully because I am really looking forward to getting some fresh vegetables back into our diet.

The lady let out the dog from the back of their car, it is a Border Collie/Kelpie cross, it is a fairly young looking dog, very energetic, called Flynn I jumped out to give Flynn a fuss, he immediately reciprocated by dropping a stick in front of me and giving me "that" look, the one that says, "don't waste time here, just throw the stick so that I can play fetch!"

I engaged for a while, but it was soon time for them to be on their way, so we said our goodbyes and we each go our separate ways.

Just driving through the Rodinga and Arookara Ranges near Steele Gap, there was a large expanse of land, no scrub just those large hexagon shapes of dried dirt, where it had once been very wet, it was now rock solid, we pulled up here to have lunch, there was no shade and it was a very hot day.

The sand ridges in this area have an average height of 9 metres, this mornings drive had taken us around sand ridges with an average height of 15 metres, fortunately there is a distinct track through the sand and we are not having to
Rodinga RangeRodinga RangeRodinga Range

Stopped for some lunch, baking hot though.
drive over the top of them.

We still have a fair way to go before reaching Alice and we did not want to get caught by trying to find a suitable camp right on the edge of town, so with even more of a reason not to rush, we keep an eye out for likely places to bush camp and fortunately in the middle of the afternoon we find a nice spot where we turned up a track and could hide behind the scrub.

We were able to test this when a vehicle went past, you could barely see them, so chances are they would not be able to see us unless they were looking hard into the scrub.

We have collected some wood, Andy has prepared the fire pit and we relax for the rest of the afternoon enjoying the environment, the sun his hot, we have all the windows open in Gypsy, the cool breeze wafts through, this is just bliss.

I cooked dinner which consisted of pork medallions with a medley of vegetables (tinned I hasten to add as we had run out of fresh vegetable a while ago) and rice, with a covering of gravy, it was delicious.

The camp fire was ablaze and we laid back and watched the stars in the hope of seeing a shooting star, but we did see several satellites and a plane.

The bats were squeaking and if you look hard enough you can see them flying around overhead. We could hear the distant howls of the Dingo's, there were 3 of them with very distinctive howls. I am not sure if we have mentioned before but we are told that Dingo's do not bark, and can only howl.

Since we had parked up for the night we had seen only 3 vehicles come past. I also half expected someone else to appear looking for a suitable camp for the night, but no.

The temperature tonight was cool, but ok we did not feel the need for a hot water bottle, so we retired comfortably with our location in the bush hoping for a peaceful night.

Sunday 4 August

We had a lovely nights sleep, we did not hear any
Bush CampBush CampBush Camp

Train Hills
traffic and neither could we hear the Dingo’s howling!

The day was warming up fairly quickly, but it did not deter us from having a walk after breakfast.

We camped just by the Train Hills, I think more so we were just at the foothills, so we wanted to have a quick peek, grabbing our hats off we set, the terrain was very rocky and you had to be careful where you put your foot, we were also mindful of snakes, although this is technically winter, the warm days may bring them out to bask.

I guess we could have walked for a long time, just wanting to see what was over the next ridge, we did have a good view of the hills, but it was time to leave, we wanted to get into Alice in good time so at 9.58am we recommenced our journey.

The Binns Track was beautiful to drive on in this section, it got wider as well, the scenery was stunning, the dirt was very red. Our journey takes us through Allambi Station and toward Santa Teresa.

My mind turned to when Andy found himself in Alice Springs after getting a flight to Darwin, which could not land because of a cyclone, they diverted the flight to Alice Springs where he spent the remainder of a long night in a hotel before flying back to Canberra, I mentioned that we would be driving past the airport and asked if he remembered where he stayed. Sadly he does not remember, he arrived at 3am, after a few hours sleep called Qantas to arrange his flight back to Canberra, abandoning all thoughts of getting to Darwin at all, and so his time in Alice was very brief.

Fortunately we did not need to get any diesel, though you could get some in Santa Teresa it was closed on a Sunday and you would have had to pay an additional fee if you needed them to open, I guess if you were desperate enough then paying a fee would not be an issue.

We could tell that we were getting closer to a community, the litter was becoming more frequent along with the broken glass bottles, beer bottles, cans etc. which looked awful on this wonderful landscape.

Eventually we find ourselves driving through the gap in the MacDonnell Ranges and there is Alice Springs, finally we are in a town, it has been a while since we have been in a town like this. Much smaller than I expected it to be though, Alice has a population of 29,000.

I had thought it would be nice to go to Tourist Information before we found a camp site, but getting into town we realised that it was right in the centre of town and therefore not that easy to park, so we did the next best thing.

Using the trusty iPad and internet I found some caravan parks and called to find out costs. They were all much the same, in the region of $40-$45, we knew we would stay a few days and the Big 4 MacDonnell Ranges was offering an ensuite if we stayed for 4 days or more.

I did try for a discount but no, ensuite or nothing, so we took an ensuite site and this caravan park is just on the edge of town, so easy to get our chores done from here.

Once we were set up and now free of towing, we headed into town to get our first important job done and that was Woolworths to stock up on groceries, things are a little more expensive here, but not too bad considering the location.

Alright I admit it we did go into MacDonalds first and grabbed a salad and a skinny chai latte for our lunch, we have not seen one of these since we were in Broken Hill, around Mid June, it was great to get some green food!

We familiarised ourselves on the layout of town and where we wanted to be when everything opened on Tuesday morning and then headed back to camp. On our way out of town and back to camp, we see the Ghan following the tracks very slowly, we realised that we would beat it going through the Gap so parked on the other side where we found lots of people with camera's, obviously one of the main attractions for Alice Springs is to watch the Ghan come through.

The last time we saw the Ghan was in Darwin when we went to
Our fire pitOur fire pitOur fire pit

Ready to light, as soon as the sun had gone down.
the train station to see her arrive. We do want to take a journey on the Ghan and wondered if this was a good opportunity to buy a ticket to Adelaide (or Darwin), then come back a day or so later on the next train, but it is high season and the tickets are quite expensive, even the cheap seats.

We settled into camp and for some reason I felt fidgety, as if I was meant to be doing something, it was a little bit weird, perhaps we were missing a camp fire?

For the first time in weeks we are comfortably wearing shorts, I only put my jeans on when it got dark as the evening had become quite cool, we did a hot water bottle but in all honesty, that was pushed out of bed as it turned out to be quite a warm night.

Additional photos below
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Playing Chicken

14th August 2013

Beautiful, and I think its appropriate to title the blog a Town Called Alice :)

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