"His work abides; his memory is forever eloquent. For across the lonely places of the land he planted kindness, and from the hearts of those who call those places home, he gathered love."
Thus spake Reverend "Skipper" Partridge, ex patrol padre, at Flynn's funeral service. It's hard to overestimate just what a legacy inland Australia owes to the drive of this one man who was sent into it in 1912 to see what was required. He was appalled to see that services that city folk take for granted were manifestly absent in this wilderness and he spent a great deal of his life seeking to redress the imbalance.
That he had much success is testimony to his drive and ambition and Australia and other parts of the world with similar problems owe this one man a great debt.
Alfred Traeger's pedal powered radio, invented in 1928, was also instrumental (literally) in helping to bridge the great distances between people.
The monument of a special rock at the site also has a history. There's a famous site called the Devil's Marbles further north from which a rock was taken. Unfortunately it's a sacred site for indigenous women and, after 20 years of controversy, it was replaced with a similar one from another site. I just happened to be in town when there was a memorial bike race that started from the memorial and I took part in it. Sadly, for me, I didn't last long and, instead of the full 74kms, I turned short and only did about 68kms. It was all a bit much but the winners did well and it's such a nice place to ride I might do it again one day and get an even worse result.
View from Chicken Rock
This photo is taken from what is commonly known as Chicken Rock (ie, when you are too scared = chicken to climb any higher, to the part where the climbing chain starts).
This is as high as I got! There are no certificates for making the climb to Chicken Rock as far as I know! :-(
The Heavitree Range
This is something I'd never heard of and, when you're here for any length of time, you can understand that the McDonnells have priority as far as names are concerned but Chewings and Heavitree are where most of the interest lies.
However, when you come in from the south, the first range you bisect is the Heavitree Range.
I took a liberty and climbed the eastern peak first thing in the morning just to get an overview of where I was.
I'm so pleased I did, the views are wonderful from up there and give you a great idea of the layout of the geology of the area. It's not recommended for the unfit but, if you have a sense of adventure you might want to slip up there. However, be careful if you do as it's a scree slope and the ground is mostly unstable.
Hot Air Ballooning.....worth getting up early
For many, many years, we've wanted to try hot air ballooning. Each time we got close to actually doing it, something would always go awry. Back in 2003, we were scuttled in Namibia by high winds.
Australia was the magic point for us. We finally had the opportunity to soar with the winds, and it was a blast! There's nothing like hot air ballooning. Gentle peace and intense excitement at the same time. BTW, see my warning tip about "the landing position for ballooners". : )
First of all, I assumed that it would be very, very windy. NOT TRUE. As you are sailing along in the wind, you don't notice any wind yourself. It's so very peaceful.
In Alice Springs, there are several operators who do hot air ballooning. And, there are many different packages. We did a champagne breakfast flight with Outback Ballooning. It consisted of a sunrise balloon flight, lasting approximately 45 minutes, and a wonderfully-prepared breakfast out in the bush, which featured champagne, fresh fruit, eggs, home baked breads, coffee, tea, juice and all sort of other good things. All in all, a most civilized way to start the day.
Also, you'll have the opportunity to "help" get the balloon ready for flight before dawn. If you go in winter, expect sub-freezing temperatures. And after the flight comes the hard part.....getting the darned balloon back into its little bag. It's kind of like overfilling a kitchen garbage bag on a much larger scale.
So, I'll end this tip before I break into a rendition of "Up, Up and Away".... If you've ever wanted to hot air balloon, Alice Springs will offer you the opportunity. Do it. DO IT. ; )
A note...we traveled with Outback Ballooning. But, we launched with and spent time talking to people who worked for Spinflex Ballooning, another outfit. They were very very nice and professional as well. So, I'd say that dealing with Spinflex would be just as rewarding, should you need to look to a provider other than Outback.
The cost?? Our breakfast tour was A$290 per person.
Simpsons Gap cycle path
Pedal the Park enables you to experience the arid Central Australian landscape in an enjoyable and different way along the Simpsons Gap Bicycle Path.
This sealed path meanders for 17km through attractive bushland between Flynns Grave and Simpsons Gap. The path winds cross-country with generally easy grades, making it a relaxing and scenic ride for visitors of all ages.
I did it with a friend of mine and it's the best bicycle path we've been on. The surface is wonderfully smooth and it meanders its way through picturesque countryside with the spectacular gorge at the finish.
Along the way there are interpretive signs explaining the terrain and landscape in general as well as picnic spots those there appear to be virtually unused.
A highly recommended activity.
To get out of town there is a bike path on the side as well so you never have to go on the road.