I'm just kidding, folks. Never will you find a more laid-back and accomodating bunch of people than the locals around Alice Springs.
Sometimes, I feel like "no worries" should be the official motto of Australia. Nowhere is "no worries" more the religious order of the day than in Alice Springs and the Northern Territories. Things just seem to work out, because nobody gets themselves overly worked up about anything.
In the accompanying picture, an Alice Springs eatery warns that guests should have neat, casual dress in order to enter. The alternative is to "bugger orf"...a bush term meaning, basically, to ..... yourself. Or more politely, meaning that you should go elsewhere.
FWIW, neat, casual dress would probably encompass about anything that left you wearing a shirt, shoes and pants..... and a smile.
1) Book high car seat numbers so that you're not near the toilets or doors
2) Take a thin blanket/extra clothes in transit..at night they keep the air con on cool for some bizarre reason..think of the young & aged especially
3) the buffet car shuts at 10pm (till 7am) so no coffees,food,pop or beers after that (take your own on for later on)
4) THE MAIN ISSUE FOR ME WAS THE KATHERINE STOP...ON A TIGHT SCHEDULE I BOOKED THE GHAN SO I COULD GET A KATHERINE STOP IN & SEE THE GORGE...AFTER ALLOWING THE CAR TO EMPTY & QUEUEING UP AT THE TICKET OFFICE AT KATHERINE,I WAS TOLD THE BUS WAS FULL,NO MORE TO THE GORGE!I CONSEQUENTLY I HAD THE CHOICE OF A 20MIN HELICOPTER FLIGHT($145) 0R A TOUR OF KATHERINE ON A BUS($?)(knowing the train jouney this isn't an option) OR GO INTO KATHERINE($6).IT IS DEAD,I WALKED THE HIGH ST,WENT INTO WOOLWORTHS FOR A HOUR TO GET PROVISIONS & WENT STRAIGHT BACK TO THE TRAIN..as a result I will be contacting them & advising them yes they do have a monopoly on the train track, but hey, they have a duty to fulfil the Customers requirements & in some cases (mine) "DREAMS".I may never get this opportunity again & Katherine Gorge was a "MUST SEE" item for me.Sorry about the whinge but I must represent my findings accurately to fellow VTers...TIP: get off the bloody train sharpish to book the gorge trip & to hell with the rest of them
If (and you should) decide to hot air balloon while in Alice Springs, pay attention to the balloon pilot when he or she teaches you the "landing brace position". Sometimes, the landing can include a few bounces and jolts. And if you've placed yourself in an incorrect setting, you could end up with a separated shoulder. And, that WOULD be a worry, wouldn't it?
Hot air ballooning is terrific, but pay attention and learn the correct way to prepare for landing. As you can see from the photo taken of our landing site, there's a fair chance of getting dumped out. BTW, my daughter loved our rough landing, as we bounced along the desert floor.
This is an immensely complicated and painful issue for everyone involved.
The background of the story is, the aboriginals in the area have for a very long time been, in my opinion, mistreated by the local people and the Australian government. Aboriginals were, until 1961, classed under the Flora and Fauna act. They had the same rights as a kangaroo or a parrot.
Then there is a whole mass of fallout from an older induction campaign known as "the stolen generation" (Research it if you enjoy reading depressive things). From the Western side it appears as though Aboriginals did not take well to new additions to their lives such as drugs and alcohol and in some cases there is evidence of strong drug abuse and child molestation going on in aboriginal communities.
The point that I am trying to get at is both sides of the fence are quite distrustful of the other, and tensions are high. Some gangs of aboriginals do seem to go around picking on white foreigners, and the same goes for gangs of white locals picking on aboriginals.
Even if you do not buy into the stereotypical view of violence-related danger in the streets, the fact that remains is the white locals very firmly told me the following:
1) If I need to go somewhere after dark, take a taxi. Even if it's just around the corner.
2) Under no circumstances am I to walk across the Todd River bed at night.
3) Try not to make direct eye contact with aboriginals as to their culture this is confrontational.
4) Avoid the Todd Tavern. Try the Rock or Bo's instead.
5) Avoid the Bundaberg Bar at night. During the day is okay.
6) Avoid any crowd of aboriginals. Do not walk into the middle of them.
I hope this helps you be safe.
It was 16 Aug 2010, our second day in Palm Valley. We were walking up Palm Creek doing the Mpulungkinya Walk. We had been making our way up the trail for about one hour and 15 minutes. I was on a rock in the creek bed and had just taken pictures upstream and downstream when I heard Deb scream. She had been leading the group up the trail, which ran on a sandy bank on the left side of the creek between the cliff and the water. I looked over to see her scrambling to get up and then run back down the bank. I noticed something moving in the water. It turned out to be a six foot eastern brown snake which is deadly poisonous. In fact, this species is considered to be the second most venomous land snake in the world! I took four pictures of the snake: two in the water and two as it slithered across the flat rock creek bed. This all happened in about 40 seconds by the time stamps on the pictures. It turned out that Deb was okay, but the snake had been really close. Evidently the snake had been sunning itself on the sand. Deb did not see it until it reared up threatening her. I went back and took pictures of her footprints in the sand. The snake trail was over one and under another! We hiked out and took Deb back to camp. She had scraped her elbow and twisted her knee, but otherwise was okay after the shock wore off. It was a close call, but all is well that ends well. Actually Deb was dressed properly in jeans and hiking boots. Brown snakes have short fangs and it may not have been able to bite her. It does show, however, that you never know what can happen in remote areas. The five pictures here are in chronological order. The first (upstream picture) and fourth (last snake picture) are separated by 48 seconds and the footprint picture is six minutes later. I had to leave out the second picture of the snake in the water to be able to include the footprint picture. The downstream picture was taken 8 seconds after the upstream picture.
It matters not whether it's winter or summer; if you are planning on walking in the bush then you should always take some liquid with you. Though it's fairly obvious in summer, even in winter you can get dehydrated very easily. The atmosphere is dry and you don't realise how quickly your exertions may put your body in a place it doesn't enjoy.
I usually take some fruit as well, bananas being an excellent energy source that provide readily digestible refuelling.
If you want to hike to somewhere like Mount Sonder then food is essential also and you should carry a basic medical kit.
Just a little suggestion that if you're backpacking round oz as many of us do, and you're emailing home to keep in touch, then send lots before you leave for Alice Springs! I travelled up from Alice Springs to Darwin and found the number of internet places got few and far between and got more and more expensive. In fact alot of things are more expensive. You're probaly better off sending one email before you leave saying 'don't expect to hear from me for a few weeks!' that way people won't worry when you can't get in touch.
We saw "paddy melons" almost everywhere we went during the 2010 VT Survivor Camp. I was told that they are poisonous. However, sometimes we would see half-eaten ones. I have tried to figure out exactly what we saw and the following is the best description of melons in Australia that I could find:
The "Afghan melon" or Citrullus lanatus (also called pie, wild or fodder melon) and another related species, C. colocynthis (Colycynth melon or "bitter apple") are both introduced weeds in semi-arid rangelands in Australia, and are especially common where water pools around rock outcrops or around stock watering holes. They are eaten but they taste bitter, and have been found to contain alkaloids that (in trials with extracts) cause lowering of blood sugar levels (hypoglyceamia) in mammals. Both fruits also have laxative effects. Both fruits have a long history of cultivation. The seeds of the "bitter apple" have been eaten for a long time. "Paddy melons" or Cucumis myriocarpus fruits also contain bitter alkaloids that make them relatively unpalatable, and they are toxic to stock.
Afghan melons are just regular watermelons, and they are not what we saw. So it seems that we may have seen two different kinds of melons. I'll include some pictures and where we saw them. It would be wonderful if an edible paddy melon could be genetically engineered. No one would go hungry in the dry areas that we visited. Paddy melons are an example of "convergent evolution." In New Mexico we have a plant called loco melon that looks similar and grows in the same habitat, but is a different genus species.
The tent campsites at Palm Valley were shaded by river gum trees. We were careful not to pitch our tents under them because they are known to drop limbs indiscrimately due to "summer branch drop." This dropping of branches is recognized in Australian literature through the fictional death of Judy in "Seven Little Australians."
when out and about in these wonderful national parks ALWAYS carry more than enough fresh bottled water...This is imperative as to get lost or seperated out here can mean disaster.. Although my visit was in the winter time the days were still very hot. There are not many places to obtain water once away from the built up areas.
IMPORTANT PLEASE REMEMBER:
Use the toilet ammenities before you set out..There are NO TOILETS once out in the National Parks. Most car parks have ammenities.
Do not stray off the marked tracks!
Wear a strong sunscreen ..don't underestimate the strong sun.
Wear a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses, comfortable walking/hiking boots.
Watch where you are walking ...a twisted ankle out here can be a major problem.
Take notice of safety signs.
Beware of snakes.. and wildlife.
If you're travelling by car through the outback, don't stray from the main roads (or road - often there is only one). If you should break down, it's vital that you don't leave your car and try to walk for help.
Many people in the past have tried this, set off unprepared, and met with disaster, running out of water in the middle of the desert and out of time to be found....
It really is much better if you stay with your vehicle and try to keep cool. A car is much easier to spot by air search party than people....
Hopefully though this will never happen.
There is a lot of crime happening in Alice Springs. Last night we stayed at the Big4 MacDonnell Ranges Tourist Park and had someone enter our camping trailer while we were sleeping and steal over 2000 worth of camera equipment, my bag which contained my wallet (yes with cash and all my id) mobile phone etc. The police came to the park a little before 5am to make a report. Before leaving the park we found out that atleast 4 other trailers/tents were entered and wallets and phones etc were taken from them too. It's not just this tourist park, but I'm really peeved that the Big4 is more concerned about not getting people to stay there than they are informing you of the dangers of the town and getting ripped off. even when taking the ensuite keys back and talking to the girl behind the desk, she didn't seem to really care about it, I made sure to inform as many people as possible before leaving, both those staying on in the park as well as those checking in at the office. The police said crime in Alice is out of control, we will never go back there
i was warned about danger of being attacked/mugged by aboriginals so many times by other australians before i went there that i was a bit anxious by the time i arrived. this all turned out to be highly overexagerated. i did not have any problems in 3 months. it is true that there is a high level of violence between the aboriginals themselves but generally they leave everyone else alone. you would be more likely to end up in trouble with other travellers. you do see alot of aboriginals walking around drunk (there is a huge problem with alcoholism amongst indigenous people here) but they never bothered me. they usually want to ask you the time or for a cigarette etc. obviously you need to take the usual precautions - eg dont walk around dark areas alone at night - especially women - but don't let all the scaremongering put you off.