It’s amazing how much the scenery can change in two hours. This was my view as I flew out of Cairns . . .
. . . and here’s what I saw before the plane landed in Alice Springs:
That might not look like much, but I was excited because my opportunity to experience the outback had finally arrived.
While waiting for my luggage in the Alice Springs airport, I took a peek at this:
Why? Because I’d just been informed that the bike tour I’d booked weeks in advance had been cancelled, and I needed to find something else to do. (The tour was supposed to be with a company called Experience Oz, so here’s some friendly advice: don’t book anything with them. They suck.)
As it turned out, there *was* nothing else to do that would fit into my limited time frame, but in a way that was good. It meant I could relax and check out the actual town of Alice Springs.
On the way to my hotel, I took a bunch of photos of the landscape, including this dried-up riverbed:
In case you can’t tell, it was HOT. And I was glad. This winter in New York City had been brutal.
At the hotel, I got a map of Alice Springs and headed out on foot for the afternoon:
I had to walk about a mile to get into town. Here’s a residential side street I passed along the way:
Here’s what the town itself looked like . . .
. . . and OH, look — there was a mall:
I headed inside (because what else was there to do?) and bought a few snacks, including this:
That’s a dessert called a lamington. My friend Ray Burton had recommended that I try one, and I have to say it was disappointing, although I don’t blame him. Some lamingtons are filled with cream, but as you can see, the one I got had nothing but generic sponge cake in the middle.
Several people (and websites) had warned me about Alice Springs after sundown. They said it gets pretty sketchy and that the whole town basically shuts down, and I could see what they meant, even in the mid-afternoon. Some of the “main” streets were desolate . . .
. . . but whatever. It was only 4pm, and c’mon, if I can deal with 1,000 sketchy New Yorkers per day back at home, I could certainly handle whatever Alice Springs had to offer.
I kept wandering and eventually found myself standing here:
I didn’t realize it until I walked closer, but that hill had a path toward the top. I headed up and took the following photo (of myself!) on the way:
Nothing sketchy about THAT.
At the top of the hill (which is called Anzac Hill), there was a memorial . . .
. . . but I was more interested in the natural beauty.
In the late afternoon, I headed back into the middle of Alice Springs:
The shadows were getting long, and suddenly everywhere I went, the locals were glaring at me:
Yup, it was definitely time to get moving.
I found a Thai restaurant, got some food to go, and took a taxi back to my hotel.