Ah, Alice Springs, land of the red dust. We were here mainly because if you come to Australia, it seems remiss to not visit the Outback. By that I mean, Ed read on the internet you had to go there, so there we went.
Alice Springs Reptile Centre
Our first day we wandered around town, ate some roo burgers, and went to the Alice Springs Reptile Centre. The reptile park contains pretty much all the reptiles of the area, including everyone’s favourite, the thorny devil. They actually had several thorny devils which were all in an outdoor feeding enclosure when we visited. The feeding enclosure actually seems to be a planter with an ant hill in it that has been fenced off. Nevertheless, it was very exciting because we got to see the little devils walking around and devouring ants. Pretty sure Chris and Ky stared at them for like an hour. Pretty sure Maddie almost murdered them for being so slow. But they look like this!
Alice Springs Desert Park
The next day we visited the Alice Springs Desert Park, where we got to look at lots of little birdies and funny nocturnal critters. It was much less hot than the last time Chris and I were there in the summer, so it was actually nice to wander around. We went to an aboriginal presentation and learned about the skin color system that they used. Basically it is a method to make sure small groups didn’t interbreed too closely and get genetic anomalies I think. We also saw lots of different seeds and berries and stuff that they ate. Also the witchetty grub, a giant wormy larva thing that lives in the roots of the witchetty bush. Pretty icky. But anyways, we looked at a lot of animals until everyone was tired.
The Kangaroo Sanctuary
Really our main reason to go to Alice Springs was to go back to the Kangaroo Sanctuary. I rambled about it a lot back here, but basically it was started by a guy called Brolga and is now famous because of a BBC series made about him/it. The buses that he used to clean to make extra money are now the ones that take tons of paying tourists to look at the sanctuary, so I guess you can say he “made it”.
Anyways, when we got there he greeted us as we departed the bus and proceeded to chat about his property and basically to drive home the point that people should check dead kangaroos to find baby joeys in the pouches. Something that we were well aware of by now! It was after this talk on our first visit that we started checking any dead kangaroos we saw on the road.
Of course the best part of visiting is getting to hold one of the joeys that he is currently raising and take lots of photo. Rita was the first one chosen to hold little Patty and was delighted. She said she could basically leave Australia satisfied now. After Rita everyone in our group had a go and got lots of cute pictures.
We went and looked at the males that are in a separated area. They are kept away from the tourists as they are aggressive (and no one wants their balls kicked off). We also learned that the star of the Kangaroo Dundee show, Roger the big male, has actually been dethroned recently from being the king of the mob, much to our sadness. He is getting pretty old though, so it was only a matter of time.
Then we wandered around the sanctuary and enjoyed the sunset and the kangaroos in the distance. Pretty peaceful except at one point an old man on the tour teared up telling Brolga a story about some baby possums on his property he couldn’t save and it was pretty heartbreaking.
All in all I think everyone enjoyed the outing and gained a larger appreciation for the dangers of roads for (tiny adorable) Australian wildlife.
Uluru and Kata Tjuta
After Alice Springs, it was on to Uluru! We took a fancy bus, which was actually kind of a tour on it’s own, and stopped at a couple of quaint Outback stations on the way.
It was a bit of a cloudy day when we arrived in Yulara, so we opted for a short walk around Uluru, followed by a bit of a sunset. I say “a bit” because due to the clouds, the sun only hit the rock for like 20 seconds.
Ed was really excited for two reasons: a) driving on the left and b) because everyone got the wear the flynets he had bought and brought specifically for this part of the trip. He did pretty well at driving (but there are like four turns ever around there) except he pulled the typical tourist thing of using the windshield wipers instead of turn signal a bunch. I was mostly excited to see Ed in his flynet. We have differing opinions on whether wearing a flynet without a hat is a good look; my personal opinion is that it is mostly HILARIOUS.
We braved the sunrise platform again in the morning. Thankfully because it was winter, the sunrise wasn’t nearly as painfully early as it had been when Chris and I were here the first time. The crowds were still just as big though.
However, I did manage to get some pretty sweet shots over the crowd by sitting on Chris’s shoulders.
After sunrise we decided to do the Valley of the Winds walk around Kata Tjuta. Now, Chris and I had probably been in our peak physical fitness last time we visited, so we may have underestimated the difficulty of the walk (or overestimated certain people’s ability to cope with the Outback weather) and almost killed Ed. I think it was more the heat than anything else. He also didn’t drink enough water, according to Ky. Rita just powered on ahead and assumed her husband would make it to the end.
It did get pretty hot, but the views were nice!
Ed napped the rest of the afternoon (he said that was pretty much the hardest workout he’s had in like, the last six years), but managed to get up to see one last Uluru sunset.
Skies were clear so we got a really good one that time, complete with a full moon in the background!
We went out for one last sunrise on our final day, and were excited to find that we also got a rainbow! I thought maybe we would see a rare Uluru rainstorm, but alas, it was not to be.
After that we scarfed down lunch, and then it was back to Sydney!