ALICE SPRINGS- CENTRE OF THE OUTBACK DESERT
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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STUART PARK HOLIDAY PARK
JOURNEY: Erldunda, Stuarts Well, Alice Springs
MILEAGE: 19166 KM
WEATHER: 7 degrees at 8.30 am, clear blue sky.
OVERNIGHT: Stuart Park Tourist Park, $25pn no power.
We set off early and more than half of our fellow campers had already gone! We are back on the long straight Stuart Highway and we make a stop 90 kms south of Alice Springs at Stuarts Well. Dinky the famous singing dingo resides here with his protective owner, Jim Cotterrill whose family developed Kings Canyon many years before. We heard Dinky singing/howling but missed his performance treading the piano and Jim did not seem too friendly to request a repeat performance. Most of all we were spell bound by the eagles, goshawks and other raptors circling the waterhole on the property; these are impressive birds, so elegant as they cruise on the air draughts and suddenly swoop.
We also checked out Camels Australia founded by central Australia's camel king, Noel Fullerton. The camel has a long history in Australia and is now considered a pest since it was released into the central deserts when more sophisticated forms of transport developed. There are many places you can buy a ride on these tall animals with wobbly knees and this is one. We thought the camel going through tourist rides training seemed cranky with his lot.
Sheila was keen to park the van when we reached Alice Springs, so researching the van parks was abandoned when our first one Stuart Park was also the closest to town- 2 1/2 kms, had very friendly staff and had a neat unpowered site with plenty of sunshine and flat, dry grass ground., not to mention it was a lot cheaper than Big 4 at $40+.
After settling and checking out the facilities we strolled into town to do some business- glasses, dentist, etc.
Alice Springs "The Alice" began life 140 years ago as a lonely telegraph station but today it is a big town/city with a population of 26,000 people; you notice a lot of aboriginal people here and their lot is still not a happy one in many cases. There is a lot of aboriginal culture and art on display and the town is bordered by the nearly always dry Todd River and the magnificent MacDonnell Ranges; the Todd Mall has restaurants and shopping but we don’t spend a lot of time there.
The bicycles were taken down and we visited the lovely Olive Pink Botanic Gardens with clearly identified arid plants, had a very good coffee in the busy café and spent an hour strolling around the grounds. Then we pedalled to Anzac Hill with a good view over the whole of Alice and found our way around the town to the Information Centre. We were looking for guides and maps to the West MacDonnell Ranges in preparation for our trip there.
A highlight of our time in Alice Springs was a visit to the Araluen Arts Centre; it has 4 galleries and is Alice's performing arts centre. The huge Honey Ant Dreaming stained glass window makes a very powerful entrance point and we spent time delving into the galleries with their indigenous and local artworks. But our main interest today was the Beanie Festival exhibiting over 6000 beanies from all over Australia and there were some amazing pieces! most were for sale!