Archive for June 13th, 2009

Alice Springs

I’m back from Alice Springs!

My journey started with Jo driving me to the domestic airport using her trusty Tom Tom which we have named ‘Ozzie’ because of his Aussie accent. Ozzie is not overly repetitive or loud, just gives you a gentle reminder every now and then. Jo and Ozzie are getting along well.

On the way we picked up some Subway cookies for brunch since as a rule I detest and never eat aeroplane food. I usually don’t like biscuits but Subway soft cookies are an exception.

Except I didn’t end up eating the cookies, instead, I entered into unknown territory and actually attempted to eat my inflight meal ! AND it was actually not too bad! I decided to mark this momentous occasion by taking a picture of the chicken and corn pasta meal. My father would be so proud.

The captain told us to look to the right window to see Ayers Rock. But the idiot who sat next to me in the window seat had the window closed and everyone else either shut the windows or just took up the window seats and SLEPT. So I missed taking a photo of the famous Uluru. (-______-)The Alice Springs airport was small but friendly. I felt like I was entering a resort town because everything felt casual and laidback.

I got into my taxi and country music was piping out from the radio, immediately, I felt like I was in a country town. There were fantastic rock formations along the road which I’m sad that I didn’t manage to capture on my camera. But in less than 10 minutes, I was at the 4.5 stars Lasserters Hotel and Casino.

My nice hotel room. I was thinking ‘should have smuggled Jo in my luggage’ because there was a double bed and single bed. had to prepare for the big dinner almost immediately and look for my colleague.

The warm sun disappeared and it was suddenly very very cold. Dinner was held at the Alice Springs Desert Park which even in the pitch darkness I could sense was probably a wonderful place to get a snapshot of the desert flora and fauna.

Dinner went wonderfully well and I learned so much in the space of a few hours. Exhilarating stuff. The foodie in me wanted to whip out the camera to take photos of the camel chiplotas (quite yummy) and kangaroo steak but I resisted. The night ended with a spot of gambling at the casino and me crashing into bed totally exhausted.

It’s 1 and a half hours in front in Alice Springs, so I found myself waking up around 5am Perth time to get ready for the conference. The sun was already up and it promised to be a beautiful day. The Alice Springs Convention Center is conveniently linked to the hotel and right next to the red mountain ranges. Nice view to wake up to.

Stressful morning and it was all over. We wanted to go into town and explore but somehow ended up soaking up the afternoon sun and having drinks at the hotel bar. My colleague introduced me to her favourite Coopers Pale Ale on tap which she described as ‘just beautiful… beeeauuutiful’. I think she was quite disappointed when I didn’t manage to finish my pint, which was way too big for me. I am not a beer lover. How will I survive in Australia?

Around 4pm, we took a cab into the town center or Todd Mall (where apparently everything happens in Alice Springs), really we could have walked there and I’m sure it would probably take about 20 minutes. That’s my pretty colleague at the corner of the photo. Even though it was a Friday, the town center was rather empty with a slow sleepy feel to it. I felt like I was going back in time and in a wild wild west setting.

We decided to climb up the Anzac Hill to take in the Alice Springs landscape.

One of the most visited landmark in Alice Springs, Anzac Hill is an ideal spot for an overview of the town. The lookout affords a panoramic view of Alice Springs and the  East and West MacDonnell Ranges. But it is a brief but steep walk up the hill, some people prefer to drive up.

The view of the town center from the top of Anzac Hill.

Besides the amazing rock formations and ranges, a lot of Alice Springs is flat red desert landscape. The Todd River is also constantly dry. The taxi driver said ‘we’re passing the Todd river now’ and I said ‘but where’s the river?’Aiyah, so stupid.

The ranges are spectacular and it’s a pity my camera couldn’t capture the colours or the stunning natural formations. It was as if there was some sort of art to it, and I began to understand what my Aboriginal colleague was talking about when she promised that  I would feel an emotional connection to the land.

The sun was going down and we decided to stay to capture the changing colours of the ranges.

As the sun went down, the ranges started growing redder till it was almost glowing with a fiery red hue. But we were started to get cold so headed down back to the town centre.

A couple of Cooper beers later, we had dinner at the historical Bojangles Saloon. The interior had a really ‘outback feel’, in fact, working boots were stuck on the ceiling and peanut shells were thrown on the floor.

I had the stteamed Barramundi lightly coated in a bush tucker nut crumble and layered on spinach and paperbark. Served with crispy potato wedges, seasonal house salad and lemon myrtle dressing. Taste wise it was quite average, the nut crumble was quite interesting, but the paperback really felt like I was eating paper.

My colleague had the Northern Territory Camel and Stout Pie. The pie had diced camel marinated in stout and fresh herbs and came with garden vegetables and topped with gravy. She said it was good and finished everything.

We shared dessert whichwas the chocolate indulgence plate with chocolate mud cake, chocolate kahlua mousse and a dark chocolate cup filled with chocolate ice cream, with a cup of chocolate fudge sauce. Chocolate overload and it was a good thing the plate came with kiwi fruit and grapes.

Another night in my comfy double bed and I was at the airport bright and early. When I saw these souvenir tubes of Vegemite I thought of Jan.  Buy one get one free ah!

I ate some of this on the plane as well! Does this mean I will be eating future in flight meals?

I specially requested a window seat and was armed with my camera to take a picture of Ayers Rock. But just when we were passing it, this huge mass of cauliflower clouds covered the entire rock and I didn’t see it!! I tell you, Ayers Rock and I are unfated.The ever changing wild desert landscape was arresting and captivating , and I understood why Alice Springs is also called the Red Centre.

When the red gradually turned brown, and the wild unscructured mass became neat little square parcels, I knew we were leaving Central Australia and the Northern Territory.

I managed to read James Herriot on the flight, after so much re-reading, I still had to suppress laughing out loud. I guess I should expand my reading material, but I love the classics.

Even though I’m a little miffed I didn’t get to see Ayers Rock, I still bought a fridge magnet with pictures of the rock, haha, so that will have to do. I also bought these kangaroo Alice Springs bookmarks for my sisters, so if you’re reading this Jan, one is for you!

So I’m back in Perth and I’m glad.  I really enjoyed my brief stint in Alice Springs and liked the country town, I was constantly awed by the gorgeous rock formations and the romance of the wild desert landscape,  but I do love Perth.

June 2009