Free day today to explore Alice Springs, I had every intention of going to see the MacDonnell Ranges but the weather wasn’t great and after three days on the road I was more than okay with a lazy day in town.
I put a wash on and reorganised my bag ready for an early departure the following day. Domi arrived mid morning and we set off to explore. Having spent the previous three days together as the only two passengers on the first part of the tour we’d become good friends and with the ten year age gap I’d begun to think of her as a younger sister. Neither of us have any brothers or sisters so the position was open!
As the day progressed I would find out we had even more in common than I realised.
There was a gallery just around the corner so went in to take a look. The artwork was incredible, we commented on different pieces, got plenty of ideas and made up our own interpretations of what they each may have represented. We were way off with flying ducks and dinosaurs but it was fun to put our on spin on them!
After walking a couple of blocks in the wrong direction we headed back to the centre of town. As we walked Domi confided that she too had lost her Dad. She said that when I had told her earlier in the week how I had come to be writing a travel blog she was amazed that we came to be on the same tour together. Now I was too. We had been around the same age when our Dads had passed away and I got goosebumps mid conversation when we discovered they had both been aged just 56 when they died.
We wandered through town and then settled in for lunch at Page 27 Cafe. Tucked away in an arcade off the Todd St Mall this place was a little oasis with plenty of character. One table was even made from upturned skateboards, we wanted this one but the current occupants seemed to be quite settled so we found some armchairs inside. Good coffee, fresh juice and a great menu with lots of healthy options.
Ross had told us the previous day that Alice Springs began its modern history as Stuart, a telegraph station on the Adelaide to Darwin line, and the end of the Ghan railway. I Googled this to find out a little more: Until the early 1930s, Alice Springs was the name given to the waterhole that was discovered in 1871 and so named after Alice Todd, wife of the Superintendent of Telegraphs, Sir Charles Todd.
The Telegraph Station (called Stuart) was built adjacent to the waterhole. However, this dual naming created such confusion for administrators in Adelaide that on 31 August 1933 the township of Stuart was officially gazetted Alice Springs. Lucky because I was getting a bit confused just reading about it.
It was time to do some more washing so we set up camp on the lounge chairs by the pool with the box of laundry power while we waited for the cycle to finish and another load to dry. I almost fell asleep. By this stage the morning’s rain had gone and the sun was out, it was so warm and with the waft of the washing powder I was feeling pretty relaxed! Domi left the powder in the laundry so we could help others should they wish to wash their clothes and have a nap by the pool.
It was afternoon now and time to meet Bec and her husband Simon at Uncles Tavern for a beer in the sun. Bec works for Adventure Tours and I had been speaking with her most weeks via email in the lead up to the tour’s departure so it was nice to meet in person!
That evening we sat out on the balcony with an antipasto platter and a bottle of wine talking until it was 8.00pm and time to walk to catch a bus to the Parrtjima Festival.
This festival of light is the first authentic indigenous festival that features Australia’s longest light show installation. It stretches over 2.5 kilometres of the iconic MacDonnell Ranges. This breathtaking display focuses on sharing the culture and stories created by local artists and showcases both contemporary and traditional indigenous art.
We’d taken the free bus and joined the scores of people flooding in through the gates, it was something different and certainly a unique way to view the ranges.
Tip: Check you have the right bus, we’d lined up for one heading out of town and were about to board when I thought I’d better ask, just in time! The right bus made six or so stops on the way back and by the time we arrived I was half asleep again.
Track: True Tears of Joy - Hunters and Collectors.