Ever since reading “A Town like Alice” I’d wanted to go to Alice Springs. It is a small town and easily seen in a day. I visited the National Pioneer women’s Hall of Fame which is fascinating and I learned about the strength and sheer courage of the wives of missionaries, miners and telegraph masters. I was left in awe of how hard life must been like for those who first arrived in the outback. They truly must have been made of sterner stuff.
I remember when I was a teenager and I first heard of the Flying Doctors and the School of the Air. I was totally shocked that distances anywhere in the world could be so vast that children would have to do their schooling through a two way radio and I was determined to see it. Sadly though, in Katherine the tours had been suspended and when I was in Alice, I did not manage it. I did visit the Flying Doctors which was very inspiring. I felt like saying “good on ya”.
Of course, the real reason for visiting Alice is Uluru, possibly the most famous natural landmark in Australia. I have done several tours so far in Australia and they all have one common denominator: they are ridiculously expensive. The one at Uluru though felt like an excuse to make money which somewhat tinged an otherwise amazing experience. A word of advice to those not travelling solo from Alice is to compare prices as I am sure it would be much cheaper to hire a car, drive down and share a room. You can drive anywhere where the Alice tours take you as a free agent and spend there as long as you want. Because the thing is that once in the Uluru resort, the only two things to see are Uluru and The Olgas. And of course, the resort does not go out of its way to let you know that there are viewing points within the resort where you can see both. I only stumbled upon one about half an hour before I was due to leave.
Having said all that, there is something mystical and spiritual about Uluru. It is enormous and changes colour depending on the light. Our tour took us up close but it was not possible to climb it. For the Aborigines it is a sacred site and they ask you not to climb it out of respect. Not that I was going to anyway…it looks perilous!
I saw both the sunset and the sunrise and each was special in its own way. The combination of light, sky and rock was beautiful. I had to pinch myself a couple of times…”yes…I am here!”