Coming out of hibernation, and hello Alice Springs!

The last month or two have been pretty full on for me. We’ve moved house, gone to Alice Springs (outback central Australia) on holiday, and I’ve increased my workload. Phew! Now that we’re beginning to settle back in to a new routine, I’m finally starting to feel sane enough to re-friend my blog. I’ve been missing it!

I have a relative who lives in Alice Springs, and I’ve been feeling like it was time that I went up there and paid her a visit. At the same time as spending a lovely week together, the trip turned out to be a great opportunity to experience the incredible landscape of central Australia.

 

Alice Springs from Anzac Hill. The town is surrounded by large rock forms, which are part of the Dreaming (creation story) to local Arrernte people

 

Here’s a snap of me at Ormiston Gorge, a permanent waterhole located west of Alice Springs. Look how much water there is! If you travel west out of Alice Springs, there’s 4 gorges with permanent waterholes, all along the same highway, that you can visit. You can also swim in most of them, but silly us left our bathers back in Alice Springs.

 

Ormiston Gorge

Ormiston Gorge

 

We were surprised to see the amount of plant and animal life around the small city, given that it’s smack bang in the middle of thousands of square kilometres of desert. We were expecting to see nothing but red sand, but in actual fact, Alice Springs is full of trees, and there are several permanent waterholes to the east and west of the city. Apparently there is a lot of underground water, which is replenished when it rains. To be fair, most of the land we saw out of our plane’s window seemed to be empty red sand, so our expectation wasn’t entirely baseless… The river that runs through Alice Springs is a dry riverbed for most of the year, and only flows when it rains.

 

Plant life at Alice Springs Desert Park. Far greener than we were expecting!

Plant life at Alice Springs Desert Park. Far greener than we were expecting!

 

For anyone considering a visit to Alice Springs, I would thoroughly recommend driving out of town to visit some of the gorges, as well as a visit to the Alice Springs Desert Park (an open-air wildlife park, although the plants there are equally interesting). The gorges are especially lovely in the heat- it was noticeably cooler when we were down by the water, compared to when we were walking back to the car. Even in mid-October (spring in southern Australia), the maximum temperature for the week we were there was 38 degrees Celsius (100 Fahrenheit) on most days! We had to chuckle each time a local told us “it’s a good thing you didn’t come in summer!”. In my book, 38 degrees is well and truly summer, no matter what the calendar says!

 

Thorny Devil at Alice Springs Desert Park. According to our guide, they live off ants.

Thorny Devil at Alice Springs Desert Park. According to our guide, they live off ants.

 

One thing that struck me throughout our trip was how much knowledge the first people from this region must have accumulated over the generations, to have been able to live a reasonably comfortable life in the harsh Australian desert for so many thousands of years. This comes off the back of reading two deeply thought-provoking books on pre-European Australian history recently, Dark Emu by Bruce Pascoe (Goodreads) and First Footprints by Scott Cane (Goodreads).

Unfortunately, the history we are taught at school only briefly touches on the first 70 000+ years of this land’s history, but then we spend years learning about the last couple of centuries. We are so fortunate, in Australia, to have the world’s oldest living culture here among us. I suppose that learning to turn to ancient accumulated knowledge, while still moving forward into a modern, global future, is a struggle that humanity as a whole is grappling with at the moment.

If you’re interested in a more holistic version of Australian history, I can’t recommend the two books above highly enough. Suffice to say, there is compelling evidence that the first Australians were far more technologically ‘advanced’, pre-European contact, than we are led to believe today.

 

Glen Helen Gorge, thick with rushes

Glen Helen Gorge, thick with rushes

 

I’ll be back in the next few days to post about my favourite food group. Any guesses? Stay tuned!

 

 

– Sonia

 

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