So I’ve been meaning to get this updated for a while as is always the way. But the longer I have left it the less I feel like trying to summarise near on a year in one post. I decided the best way forward was to put fingers to keyboard, draw a proverbial line and at least get something done.
This part of my travels has been completely about getting the required regional work completed, so that I have the option to apply for my second year visa. This should have been quite straight forward as I had a job as a deckhand on a prawn trawler lined up. Unfortunately my appendix would not play ball, so that was that out the window. After being ambulance-d and flown about Queensland I got that sorted thankfully.
Following an awesome break in Indonesia with Mummy dearest it was off to Darwin, Northern Territory to find somewhere I could complete the last 46/88 days I had to do. Work in Darwin was intermittent however, so when I found a position in Alice Springs which promised 10 weeks work, I jumped at the opportunity.
The position sounded simple enough. It was as a labourer helping a plumber to undertake maintenance work at the local hospital. I was advised it would be very tough and would just be digging holes. I thought to myself “Hey, it can’t just be digging holes right?” Wrong. Tedious does not describe the work. Luckily I work with a good group of guys, bar the boss and Alice Springs has a LOT to offer.
So after a couple of weeks finding my feet, I have now moved in to a room near the centre of Alice Springs and am getting in to a bit of a routine which doesn’t completely revolve around drinking. I like this.
As I mentioned I really do feel that Alice Springs has so much to offer. For starters, I was so shocked at the temperature upon arrival. I remember getting off the plane to what was a very pleasant temperature as opposed to the constant ‘you’re-gonna-sweat-and-have-no-choice’ kind of climate that is Darwin. This was most unusual, especially as I thought I was travelling to a desert. There was a lot of green around and the centre of Alice Springs is actually pretty built up. I have heard it described as a ’10 minute town’ as everything within is reachable in 10 minutes any time of the day. When you go out there are seldom any queues to get in places, it has a couple of supermarkets so food isn’t ridiculously expensive and due to the size and density there is very little traffic.
Landscape wise there are lots of rocky ridges and ranges, all different shapes and textures either from their former life as rivers or erosion over the years. However all of them look very climbable and it’s incredibly fun to do just that. Just have a look –
The first range I went up was the Heavitee range, the summit on the range is known as Mt Gillen and is approximately 300m high – not much of a mountain right?! I had such an awesome time and went up by myself, the end was quite daunting as it has a near vertical climb of maybe 3-5m, it doesn’t sound like a lot but my head was going. When I got to the top the feeling of elation was unbelievable.
After this I was just looking for opportunities to hike or be out doors. Last weekend was a particularly hectic one. As it was the Queens birthday they have a public holiday on the Monday for everyone to celebrate. Whilst the queen is pointless, as long as she keeps the holidays coming, I can deal with it. So on the Saturday of my long weekend I got up early and decided to try and catch a sun rise. I headed up Anzac hill nice and early but as is my luck it was cloudy. Still it was cool to seize the day and it made for a pretty picture with an ominous glow.
After this I headed towards the desert park and joined the Simpsons Gap bike track. From the town to the track it is 7km and the track itself was 17km. It was a pretty interesting ride surrounded by lots of different terrain and desert plants, however it didn’t blow me away. The gap itself was amazing. It was just so surreal in its shear size and presence.
I then had a little walk around and headed back along the track, making the whole ride about 50km. The following day I’d arranged ot go for a hike with the local bushwalking club. We met in a car park nice and early. I’d spoken to my recently acquainted pal Shai, (pronounced Shy(insert unique “you’re not shy!” joke)) who was also keen to come along so both of us turned up not quite sure what to expect. The trek of the day was to be around Wallace Rockhole which is southwest of Alice Springs by approximately 100km. It was led by a chap called Steve who had planned it all and been up to check out the area.
Everyone from the club was super friendly and interesting. These factors coupled with the scenery made for a very easy 8km hike, that was thoroughly enjoyable. Wallace Rockhole is an Aboriginal community so access can be an issue. Not only did I go on a cool hike but I learnt a new word. Petroglyph. There were several petroglyphs (cave drawings or carvings) around, some caves and some extremely old looking pestle and mortar.
One of the gentle hills of the creek that we went up:
The vast expanse of nothingness surrounding-
A short video looking out at the landscape around:
During the hike we got talking to one of the girls and decided on the next days activity. A hike around Mount Gillen. Whilst I had already been Shai was really interested and we had weighed up another option, Section 1 of the Larapinta trail, however it is much longer and we didn’t want to go too crazy.
We set off fairly early. after a slight hiccup – Shai oversleeping. However coffees in hand we headed up at about half 9 at a much quicker pace than my previous ascent. The end was nowhere near as intimidating as the first time and we made it up in about 30 minutes, compared to the near hour it took first time round. So on the whole it went really well.
It’s activities, scenery and alcohol-freeness like this that are getting me so hooked on the Centralian lifestyle.