Part 16: Alice Springs - November 15, 2016
This would be the first day of the New Zealand and Australia trip where I am on my own. With Phillip having to return home for work, my journey would continue to the almost dead center of Australia, with a visit to the town of Alice Springs. This was probably the worst planned portion of the trip as I did not put as much research into it as I had others, as I was going to try to rent a car from Alice and drive it down to see Ayers Rock, which is about five hours away. I was going to arrive at Ayers Rock around mid-late afternoon, stay at the lodge nearby, and then begin my drive back to Alice in the morning for a midday flight. What I had not realized until I booked the flights to get in and out of Alice was that there are quite a few restrictions on rental cars from Alice Springs as they are not permitted to be driven out of the city limits at night, which would have made the drive back problematic. Along with that, they also only included 100 km in the rental, so I would have been way over that amount by the time I returned, which would have added around $200 to the cost of the rental. So needless to say, I would have to scrap my plans to visit Ayers Rock this time (Add it to the growing list of reasons to return).
Even though my initial plans fell through, I still managed to make the most of the circumstance and have a pleasant time visiting the town of Alice Springs, with a nice hike through town, up Anzac Hill, and through the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Reserve. Upon arriving to the airport, I could get a really good sense of the fact that this place is really remote from the rest of the country. There were no ramps like at most larger airports, and you had to take a bit of a walk to get into the terminal. I will give them credit for making the walk enjoyable as they could have just as easily left it a paved lot, but rather they gave it a sort of natural feel as you pass by areas with the trees and bushes commonly found in this part of the country.
Once I gathered my belongings, I hopped onto a shuttle bus that serves all of the hotels and lodging locations in Alice for the drive North into the main part of town. It was about a 15 minute drive, and was actually a rather scenic drive. I had expected to see less grass in the Outback, but it turns out that there is quite a bit of dry grass in the area.
Since I didn't rent a car, I decided to take the camera for a walk through town after arriving to my hotel. Alice Springs is fairly easy to walk through because of its small size, and most of their buildings are on the smaller side, but there were few places of interest including the Adalaide House (which was the first medical facility to open in Central Australia), and the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory (which looked like the most modern building in town).
After the short distance through town, I arrived to the Northern end of the main development area, which is the location of Anzac Hill, named in honor of those who died while serving in the Australian and New Zealand Armed Forces, like the Anzac Bridge in Sydney. The hill has a trail that was built and maintained by members of the local Lions Club making for a fun walk to the top.
Upon arrival to the top of Anzac Hill, you'll find the memorial that is created in remembrance of the fallen soldiers, and within the memorial are walls with plaques listing the different conflicts that soldiers of Australia and New Zealand have served in.
The view from the top was interesting as well as you find the that town is surrounded by some fairly large hills, and has more plant life than I would have expected in the Outback, but it certainly made for some great views at the top of the hill.
For the walk down the other side, I followed the road that was built for disability access and maintenance, and found a rather interesting touch along the road. These signs had the name and years of different conflicts that the soldiers had served in on one side, and the other had an imagine that would have been from that particular conflict. Then at the bottom is a unique sculpture that represents several branches and roles of the Australian and New Zealand armed services.
Once I got to the bottom, I decided to walk down a trail North to go to the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Reserve. While walking this trail, I would be going into an undeveloped part of the Outback, present myself with the most dangerous thing I had done on this trip. If there was any point in which I was going to die, this was it! Okay, so I wasn't really in major danger as I had plenty of water with me, well covered in sun screen, and while walking up a trail to one of the main entrances to the reserve, I was close to the main highway with a decent amount of traffic, so if anything bad happened, I could have probably gotten help.
As for the walk itself, it was pleasant, even if it was a tad bit on the warm side (I missed a heatwave by a couple of days), and ended up going for a sort of loop around one of the larger hills, walking alongside the reserve when heading North, then inside the reserve when heading back South into town.
Eventually I made it to the road that led into the reserve. While walking along this road, it seemed like there was more of the red color I had originally expected to see, but there was still more vegetation and plant life than I had thought.
Into the reserve, there is a visitor center where you can see what life was like at the telegraph station that once was established in the area, which helped to send telegraphs across the Outback.
There was also several paved trails that you could walk throughout the reserve, including Riverside Walk, which led right back into town.
The trail takes you along the riverbed of the Todd River, which you can see below that it was bone dry at the time. Based on what I read about it, the river is dry about 95% of the year, and for the 5% that it has water running through it, there can be frequent flooding because of it, even in the city as much of it sits on a flood plain.
During this walk, there were many birds that I saw, and while there were signs warning of Dingos and Kangaroos in the area, I did not see any, however I did see some termite hills along the way as well
Upon making back into town, I decided to seek some refuge in air conditioning at the local movie theater to see Dr. Strange, then enjoying a relaxed evening back at the hotel. While it was a nice stop, I would definitely planned things differently had I been aware of the rental car restrictions in the area, but it was still an enjoyable short visit to Alice Springs.
Next, it's on to Perth, joining some of the locals in exploring the city!
See more of 2016 New Zealand & Australia Trip:
1: Arriving in New Zealand / 2: Walk to Mission Bay / 3 : Mount Eden / 4: Rainbow's End / 5: Arrival in Sydney /
6: Mrs. Macquarie's Point / 7: Sydney's Luna Park / 8: Sydney Habour Bridge & Rocks Tour /
9: Bondi Beach & Darling Harbour / 10: Walking Through Cairns / 11: Green Island & The Great Barrier Reef /
12: Warner Bros. Movie World / 13: Australia Zoo / 14: Aussie World / 15: Sea World & Wet'n'Wild / 16: Alice Springs /
17: Kings Park & Indian Ocean / 18: Fremantle / 19: Perth CBD & Elizabeth Quay / 20: Adventure World /
21: Walking Through Melbourne / 22: Luna Park Melbourne & St. Kilda / 23: Victoria Parliament / 24: Back to Auckland
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