On this day back in 1985 I was travelling through the Northern Territory.
Australia is huge. The journey from Ayers Rock Lodge to Alice Springs took five hours. We had a new air conditioned bus from the Lodge to the Stuart Highway junction, but then got onto another old bus that had travelled up from Adelaide. It was a really hot day. A sticky soggy mass of people got off the bus in Alice.
Alice was nothing like I expected. There are hills around and it is a large town. Apparently, back in 1985, it was the fastest growing town in Australia. There were no buses or public transport in the town so it was difficult to get around. The only option was an explorer bus for the tourists. There were no road markings in the centre of town, no indications as to who should give way, which caused great confusion. Aborigines sat around town, sat in the dry river bed. I didn’t want to walk around town after dark.
I visited the Royal Flying Doctor Base and learned about the service, it’s history and saw exhibits of equipment used and general communications for the Outback.
The old Telegraph Station was an old stone buildings in the middle of bush. The station was located by the original “Alice Spring” which is a permanent waterhole in the usually dry Todd River. Here you got a feel of the remoteness of the early settlers. Further along the river I visited a camel farm and a date farm.
The next day I took a half day tour out to the McDonald Ranges. There was some beautiful scenery out in these hills. We stopped at Simpson’s Gap and Standley Chasm two narrow gaps in the hills, where dry river beds run through. Rock wallabies live amongst the fallen rocks. Standley Chasm is just five meters wide with tall red cliffs on either side. It was a pleasant ten minute bush walk up to the chasm from the road.
I got back on an overnight bus heading north, air-conditioned this time. Our first stop was at Ti Tree roadhouse at ten pm. The driver warned us about kangaroos, dingoes and eagles as we walked through the garden to the toilets. I thought he was joking, but no! A kangaroo came up to say hello and there were three dingo pups in a fenced area. An eagle sat on a table across the garden. We had another refreshment stop at three am.
I saw another lovely sunrise. When we stopped for breakfast we noticed the heat and humidity outside the bus. There were more trees up here and noise of budgies and parrots flying around in large flocks. There were also hundreds of huge termite mounds.