Why fly to Alice Springs? – Cairns to Alice Springs, Australia

Why fly to Alice Springs?
Cairns to Alice Springs, Australia

After spending a week in Cairns, Australia and exploring the lush rainforest that kissed the coastal beaches of Cape Tribulation, I chose to venture towards the middle of the country. With expectations of intense heat and arid desert land, I boarded the “Desert Venturer” bus at 6:00 a.m. This bus would be my home for the next three days. Thankfully the bus came equipped with air conditioning. With every mile towards the center of Australia, the heat increased. I expected to find the land covered in dry parched desert terrain but it sprang forth with vibrant colors of reds and greens. The Outback during the wet season was more than I expected.

The bus driver began to explain the difference between the wet and dry seasons. From the isle seat, I watched the desert landscape bounce through the front window. The nicely paved two-way road had become a narrow rusty, red, one-lane path. Stretched into the distance, the road promised nothing but rugged charm as it disappeared into the sun-drenched horizon. Fields and trees rolled out and into a peaceful blue sky. Suddenly the mood began to shift. First one thud and then two and then all at once the rain pounded the front windshield and the landscape disappeared into a blur of liquid bullets. The dirt below the tires of the bus became soft and muddy forcing the bus into an uncontrollable swaying motion as it leapt side to side. As the bus slid, I laughed hysterically and the passengers gripped for their armrests. When the bus driver gained control and continued, I couldn’t help but shout, “can we do that again, that was fantastic!” At which point, the bus exhaled into laughter.

After stopping at Millstream Falls and Porcupine Gorge to see the rushing waters that meander through the wetlands of the outback, we stopped to see the massive termite mounds-some reaching at least ten feet high and five feet in circumference. As I stood next to one for a photo, I was amazed at this dinosaur size ‘dropping’. As we continued towards our much-awaited Grand Hotel, we even spotted a few kangaroos prancing off into the distance. The journey towards the Grand Hotel took countless hours. When we finally arrived, we were hungry and tired. Unfortunately, except for the air conditioning, there was nothing “grand” about the Grand Hotel. We arrived in the tiny town of Hughenden around 8:00 p.m.; the only thing opened was the hotel. After dinner, I went to bed in order to prepare for yet another long day crammed in the seat of a bus.

The second day was another lengthy journey. We stopped for lunch at the Walkabout Hotel, where the famous Crocodile Dundee movie was filmed. We continued on our way, and stopped in a small town for a quick late afternoon pee break where we stopped at the pub to talk to a few locals. As we finally boarded the bus we saw two very tall, very elegant birds (Brolga Cranes) walking along the center of the road. They stood approximately 6 feet high. Six feet � and so amazingly elegant in their form. They were simply gorgeous and it was the only time I ever saw this bird.

We spent a good amount of time on the bus conversing and listening to music randomly. The driver decided to teach us the words to “Waltzing Mathilda” and “Home Among the Gum Trees”. Everyone was also taught the hand signs for the chorus to “Home Among the Gum Trees”. So for those of you who understand the art of learning new songs, you will be aware of the fact that the song is played over and over and over again! With long hours to kill on the bus, I became friends with Lisa and Darren. Lisa and Darren had a great sense of humour, a much needed characteristic when crammed on a bus for 3 days. The large trucks that carried lumber and other goods across the Outback fascinated Darren. These trucks, commonly called “road trains”, were huge. But I did not truly understand his fascination until he mentioned that he was a truck driver in England and that the trucks are not as large. When we were stopped at a cattle ranch for a break, trucks would pass by and he would gawk in fascination. His face would light up like a child at the circus. Eventually we stopped at the town of Mt. Isa, where we found a hotel with air-conditioning and a swimming pool – what relief!

The third and last day of this adventure to the center of the outback was expected to take approximately 14 hours! Talk about an exhausting day that did not require a single ounce of exercise! The most exciting stop of the day was Red Devils Park – a lovely formation of red rocks piled high for climbing and perfect for taking pictures. It was hot-dry and at least a hundred and fifteen degrees! I think my skin was cracking.

After a total of three days we finally reached Alice Springs. Even though it was a long and exhausting three days of heat-filled, random, small, town hopping stops, I will forever remember the brolga cranes, the hand signs to “Home Among the Gum Trees”, the look on Darren’s face when we would see the “road trains”, the kangaroos in the wild, and the crisp, blue sky with the amazing, puffy, white cloud formations breathing down upon the brilliant redness of the Outback! The journey into the Outback is probably one of the most fantastic parts of Australia! Some may say there is nothing for miles, but I say, “why fly?”

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Older comments on Why fly to Alice Springs? – Cairns to Alice Springs, Australia

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05 March 2010

nothing beats the outback