After a not so quiet night in remote Hermannsburg (I wouldn’t have guessed I’d be woken by wild brumbies with the early morning munchies snacking near our van) and with no reason to linger we were back in Alice Springs by mid morning. We decided to try out a different van park which was closer to the attractions we were hoping to see over the next 5 nights. (J: another unadvertised benefit was free WiFi).
Unfortunately the ‘Welcome to Alice’ sign had been defaced so we had to make our own ‘A’ & ‘L’. It’s unfortunate that it spells a horrible truth about the drug issues here.
Firstly though and to the boys great delight we had an important job to do – pick up Grandpa Geoff and Grandma Sue from the airport! Yes, it was time for another visit. This time mum and dad were joining us for 12 nights and taking in Alice Springs, Kings Canyon and Uluru before flying home again. After they picked up their hire car and we checked out their flash studio apartment it was back to the caravan for us, much to the boys disappointment. The disappointment was short lived as mum and dad joined us for some late afternoon nibbles at the van as well as for some itinerary planning before heading out for a great (but spicy) meal, tapas style at Epilogue Bar in the middle of Alice. Before calling it a night we decided to head up to Anzac Hill to look out at the lights of Alice. It was a pretty popular pace for a stroll on Friday night and lovely in the warm night air.
BBQ at the caravan.
It has been gradually heating up since we arrived in the red centre with the tops of 33 and 34 of the MacDonnells now becoming 35 and 36 with 40 predicted for our stay at Uluru. Practicality wise, this equates to early mornings to sight see before it gets too hot and late dinners because lets face it – who wants to cook in a caravan at 5:30pm when it’s still 34 degrees. Luckily our CP had a pool to cool off in each afternoon. The other unanticipated thing about our stay was the noise at night. I don’t think the cars or trucks ever stop here, seriously. Where they were all coming and going from will no doubt remain a mystery to me and maybe the surrounding hills reflected the noise somewhat but for such a small town it is far from quiet.
The next four days were filled with visits to the various attractions around town. We checked out the cultural precinct (conveniently over the road) which housed an Art Gallery and Aviation Museum. Grandpa Geoff then took the boys to the Kenworth trucking museum which they described as “awesome” as you were allowed to climb up and get inside most of the trucks. We also enjoyed a rest day to do boring things like shop, cut the boy’s hair and swim in the pool.
Waiting for the bird show at the Desert Park.
We spent a day (with a break to escape the midday heat) wandering around the Desert Park Complex. This was a real highlight despite the heat. After watching the bird show with owls, kites, falcons and eagles swooping overhead we checked out the bilbies and other small marsupials in the Nocturnal house before learning about Bush Tucker at another “info session”. The boys also enjoyed an up close session with a wedge tail eagle.
It was much more pleasant later in the afternoon and we had a more relaxing stroll around the park checking out all the aviaries and animal exhibits.
Our coat of arms.
On our last full day we visited Alice Springs school of the air which we all really enjoyed – even the boys! This really is an amazing service for the 145 kids enrolled but clearly requires huge commitment from their parents to employ a full-time tutor or commit one parent to schooling from 8am to 3pm each day. Later we headed out to the Royal Flying Doctors Centre which we all decided didn’t live up to expectations.
Iconic of the red centre.
On our final morning we enjoyed a slow start and a late checkout before heading out to stock up again before travelling south (our aim was to arrive at our next bush camp late in the afternoon to avoid the heat). First stop was Millner’s Butcher, a great tip from our Swiss friends Oliver and Jeannine. We had already tried their Moroccan lamb sausages (delicious) earlier in the week and were keen for more. So after loading up with such treats as Camel and Date snags, thick cut beef steaks and Cattatori salami we were off to do more mundane shopping at woollies before heading out of town.