Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Alice Springs, Australia--Day 61

Today we were woken up at 4:30am again and Brendan seemed to be in a better mood, although we all weren’t sure if this was because it was the last day that he would have to put up with us or if he was feeling bad about how things went the night before with the whole shower fiasco.

We were off a little bit later this morning (6 o’clock!) and had a funny incident with our entire box of dishes falling off the back of the truck which seemed to lighten up everyone’s moods. There’s nothing like searching around into the dirt in the pitch black for forks and spoons! After collecting what we think was all of it, we got back into the car and headed over to Kings Canyon for a four hour hike (which starts off going up a hill called “Heart Attack Hill”). The hike was awesome and we were lucky to start the hike when we did because it was rapidly getting hotter and hotter. The hike wasn’t too strenuous though, except from Heart Attack Hill, and we stopped many times along the way to learn things about the Canyon and its surroundings from Brendan. For all of you who have seen “Priscilla--Queen of the Desert” this is apparently where a lot of it was filmed. Anyways, the hike was great and it led us down to the “Garden of Eden” which is basically this really big water hole that you can swim in. Since I didn’t have my swimsuit I figured that not too many people would be offended if I jumped in with my underwear on so I did just that and the water was a little green and murky but still really refreshing. It was only after we all jumped in and got out again that Brendan remarked that the last (and only) time he had gone into the Garden of Eden to swim he got a massive ear infection and was in the hospital for three weeks. Gee, thanks for telling us.

Anyways after swimming and hiking back up to the top we made our way down to the car park and I felt really bad for the people who were just starting to hike because it was already around 35 degrees Celsius and just not a good time to start out. We all met back up down at the car park and a few of us had Popsicles which was the best thing ever at that point.

We got back into the car and started making our way back to Alice Springs traveling on a dirt road and then doing some 4x4 driving on sand dunes and things. The funniest part was when we spotted this wild lizard thing in the middle of the road and stopped to pick it up (which apparently is like a $10,000 fine for picking up wildlife) as well as spotting a group of wild camels (did you know that Australia is the #1 exporter of camels?). Brendan zoomed off the road that we were on to drive right up to where the camels were and we took a bunch of pictures. Then Brendan asked if any of us had ever seen a camel run before? Hmm…one could only guess where this would go and as Brendan started up the car and started honking his horn, it wasn’t long before we all could say that we had seen a camel run. I felt terribly sorry for the poor camels, not only because we were chasing them and obviously scaring them in the car, but also because they do have quite a, well, unique way of running (for those who have seen it, you know what I mean--for those who haven’t, well I guess you will have to come out here to catch a glimpse!)

We stopped off for lunch near a dry riverbed where I managed to slip into quite a lot of mud and where there just so happened to be the most flies on the whole trip. It was almost impossible to hold your food, let alone eat with all the flies around and I just kept walking around and around trying to rid myself and my food of the horrible little things.

After driving for a bit longer on the dirt road we made it back to the main road and stopped off to see the Singing, Piano playing Dingo. Yes, it is true, there is actually a singing and piano playing Dingo (a dingo is a wild dog) which was saved by a family a couple years ago from being killed and they subsequently discovered that it would sing along to the daughters’ piano playing, then would jump up onto the piano and pound on the keys singing to itself. This dingo is now internationally acclaimed and is even part of the new Trivial Pursuit game that just came out in Australia. Pretty funny and well worth the two dollars that I donated to the local charity they were raising money for.

We got back in the landrover and soon were back in Alice Springs! Three days had passed quickly and despite the whole shower thing, we all had a good time and Brendan’s mood had seemed to lighten although it was really hard to tell what he thought about us. I picked up my stuff from where I had stayed before the trip then headed to Victoria and Emma’s place to stay with them for the night. I finally made it over to Quantas to sort out my tickets and after an hour of frustration I finally left with my tickets set for Dubbo and to Sydney tomorrow!

I came back to the hostel and we all took shower to get ready to go out on the town with our group at a place called Bojangles, which is this place in Alice Springs where just about every tour group goes to let loose after their tours. We had a great amount of fun and spent most of the night on the dance floor mixing with the locals who were quite entertaining in themselves.

(c) 2004 Sarah Galbraith. All Rights Reserved.