Wonderland in Alice Springs

Alice Springs captivated me with its harsh rugged landscape and stunning scenery. With a small population of around 25,000 residents, the town centre is fairly small. From my hotel, it was around a twenty minute walk to town, along the banks of the Todd River. This sounds very scenic and pretty, however at this time of year is completely dry, so it was like walking along the sand dunes.

The main shopping centre is over represented with touristy knick knack shops and tour guide operators, but it also has some lovely galleries with aboriginal art. I spent a happy afternoon at one gallery talking to the manager about the art and the artists.  It’s fascinating to learn more about the meaning of the artwork.

I really wanted to visit to the Royal Flying Doctors, however unfortunately it was closed, so instead I went across the road to the Reptile Centre.  Surprisingly it was a fascinating place, although I didn’t altogether enjoy viewing all those venomous snakes that live in Australia. It was heartening to read that usually these snakes aren’t aggressive and don’t attack first. There were some really interesting other reptiles, like the frill necked lizard, a salt water croc, and the thorny devil.

Across the road from the Reptile Centre is the National Pioneer Womens Hall of Fame, which was another surprise, as it was actually very interesting and I ran out of time to see it all properly.

With limited time, I was keen to get up in the air to get a better sense of the landscape and surrounding area around Alice. I was picked up by Carl, an Irish guy who arrived in Alice Springs with his backpack over a year ago, liked it so learnt to fly a helicopter and stayed. I do wish he hadn’t told me that! Getting into the tiny Robinson R22 (think of a couple of rickety chairs strapped together and wrapped in a giant plastic bubble) I couldn’t help but wonder if I was wise to put my life in the hands of an Irish backpacker! However it was all great, and I absolutely loved sweeping up the ranges and admiring the incredible scenery – an absolutely fantastic experience and a great way to see the magnificent scenery in Alice Springs.

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