Wednesday, 15 October 2014
I wasn't looking forward to the long drive down from Darwin to Alice Springs. I was still annoyed our time in Darwin was cut short and even though I was looking forward to cooler nights, the thought of being in the middle of nowhere again was unsettling me, I was longing for people around, beautiful beaches and palm trees, not more harsh desert and red dirt.
We left Mataranka and I braced myself for what I though would be the most boring drive of our trip, but again I was mistaken. As we drove down the long highway and I looked out at this great expanse I really felt I was embracing just how magical this land we live on is. Australia has such a diverse landscape, that changes so dramatically depending on what state and even what part of the state you are in.
On the way to Alice I really was just thinking 'I'll just do this bit of central Aus really quickly and and then we will make our way across to Far North Queensland'. Instead, I watched the passing landscape of Central Australia refresh me, the amazing desert flowers all just coming into bloom, the constant red dirt and rocky hills, the dry spinifex, the burnt bark of the tree trunk contrasting against the lush lime green leaves of the new growth was intoxicating........so much so that all the beautiful scenery got my creative juices flowing and for a brief moment I had images of me setting up an easel in the middle of the dry bush and painting the visions in my head.....that was until I remembered just what a shit painter I am and that Lola could paint a better picture than me!!!!
So putting all these creative scenarios behind me I concerned myself with what Alice had to offer the wandering Watsons, and boy it did not disappoint! Alice was a little surprise package that I had so much fun exploring. We arrived for the last day of the desert festival and wandered through the Todd mall, the kids were excited to take part in the 24 hr dance-a-thon, but decided that dancing through the window was enough. We spent time looking through the art galleries in the mall, we went to the desert mob exhibition at the cultural precinct and was blown away by the colours of the artwork in the exhibition. We visited the school of the air, looked out at the amazing landscape from Anzac Hill. From the East Mac Donnell ranges walking through Tryphena Gorge to the West Mac Donnel ranges and swimming in Ormiston Gorge the beauty of the landscape was amazing.
The dry heat of the day and the cool air at night was so refreshing. We set up camp at the showgrounds and within a few days we had some of our own travelling family around us. We revelled in having the Cookson family with us for our central Aus time, so many enjoyable nights together hanging out, sharing meals and many many laughs (mostly at poor Steve's expense), we forged friendships with lots of new friends too and enjoyed some great morning and afternoon teas together.
The highlight of my time in Alice was catching up with my dear school friend, Hayley. After 20 years, we chatted as if we had seen each other only yesterday, we ate till our stomachs burst, the generosity and warm spirit of my friend was still at the core of her being, that and her dry sense of humour. We had a brilliant night, the kids lounged like sloths on Hayley's couch watching as much TV as they could possibly squeeze in! Oscar was so excited to feel carpet under his feet and have a remote in his hand!!!
Hayley generously cooked up a feast fit for a king and when we thought we could fit no more in she generously filled our freezers with more delights! We were the champions of morning tea the following day when we produced rocky road, chocolates and macaroons, all thanks to Hayley!
After exploring Alice we made the track across to Uluru. Let's not even talk about the joys of our car breaking down again.... as it was my birthday I completely ignored what had happened, grateful again to be travelling with our new friend Steve (who is a diesel mechanic, but don't tell anyone camping near him that!!) and let Mike sort out the lemon that is our car. I remained focused on where we were and how special it truly was to be in the centre of Austrlalia.....and what a majestic spot it is!!! The walk around the base is just stunning, the many changing facets of Uluru leave such an impression with you, and watching the sunset on the rock was so very beautiful.
I ticked another item of my trip list when the Cookson and Watson family rode our bikes around the base, what an adventure that proved to be as we conjoled the kids to keep riding (ie bribed with lollies). Again we were grateful to Steve for his careful planning for the 'what if' scenarios, as our bike proved to be made by Nissan just like our car and the pedal kept falling of! Lucky for us Boy Scout Steve had a spanner in his bag and kept our bikes going all the way to the end!!
We were enamoured by Uluru and the Olgas, their size, stunning colour and the amazing scenery is just beautiful. We have been privileged to see so many of the exceptional natural wonders in Australia like the Bungle Bungles and Karijini, and the rock is another iconic spot in Australia that you find hard to leave without being grateful to have been there.
This trip is reminding that we r just a blip in the radar, that I am so very grateful for this time with my family. All the grumbling about distance ed, being hot, being bored in the car, being hungry are so insignificant against the amazing opportunities are family are experiencing. The most significant, is that I hope my children are getting a crude, basic glimpse into the oldest living culture in the world. When you see the land, hear the stories and watch your children make connections I am grateful that they are getting a greater understanding than any classroom lesson will ever skim over. They will be the next politicians, engineers, social workers etc in the future and I hope this trip and what they are learning and seeing and living will assist them and shape the decisions they make in their future careers. I love that Oscar makes connections to Uluru when he is engrossed in minecraft, that the gorges, rock formations and geology are relevant to his gaming addiction!
So from Central Australia to Far North Queensland the adventure continues!