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Kim’s Travel Diary

Monday, 04 Feb 2008

Location: Alice Springs, Australia

MapCaught the bus from Uluru yesterday with a visit to the Walpa Gorge on the way - very hot and as you can see from the picture, for some peple almost too much. The scenery here is just breath taking from the open skies to the rock formations, gorges and then the stories. It is called Dreamtime and covers the Aborginal life from start to finish. Each drawing has a meaning and each meaning relates to dreamtime. To these people, Uluru is the focal point of their existance, a little like a magnet pulling them in and protecting them. I found it fasinating to hear the stories and to see the drawings - there are more to be seen later in this trip and I gather better. One of the things I did see was the people climbing Uluru, a climb up a sheer face of ungiving rock with only the use of a chain - at some places this was almost impossible and to same the face, one side up and one side down - not for me!!

Alice Springs is famous for------ Flying Doctor, Neville Shute's book, A Town like Alice and the first aired school programme and it is in the middle of nowhere, nothing, zero. A town that swells in number during the winter months and drops away to nothing in the peak of summer when it is too hot to do anything but lie around listless and with the same energy as a wet sponge. The other thing that Alice has is a huge population of Aborginals that come and stay, 1 night, 2 and then go. Through the middle of the town runs or used to run a river and this river bed is free land - not owned by anyone or anything - neither one tribe or another can call it theirs, so it becomes a place to bunk down in. So easy to think of India and the shanty shacks built up in one night and then called home. It used to be said that there were two kinds of Aborginals, short and stocky that lived by the edges of the land, easy to hide and disguse themselves and then a different tribe that were very talk and lean that lived in the interior and colud run like the wind across the vast open areas of desert but nowadays, there is only one mixed culture, many of them still sporting the blonde hair that has been passed down generations from the first white men that came and a terrible feeling that eminates from them of a lack of sense, being ?? I am not sure what the words are that I want but it is almost a touchable thing. They hang around street corners and like any large group of people together, speaking a language that is not understandable appear to be threatening. Many of these now sell their art work to the various galleries around and the prices are huge, some of the paintings going for over 6,000 dollars!! .

My trip out of town this morning was yet again cancelled - not going too well so far and I spent the morning in Alice. The Flying Doctors was terribly interesting - did you know that at any point in the whole of Australia, you are never more than 1 hour away from a Flying Doctor and at Alice, the area they cover, just from that base is in excess of 600kms - larger than Britian!!!!!!!!!!!!! and yet most of this service is funded by ........ the people. Back to the hotel and a wait for my coach. The pool has been closed for cleaning, so I am going to arrive on the train a very smelly mess but in the cheap seats, so am sure there will be others like me!!!

The Ghan is a train and operates from Adelaide to Darwin twice a week - a long silver ghost train taking mainly people now but used to be freight and goods across this harsh area of Australia. I love train journeys and being able to watch the world pass me by in a steady blur of changing landscapes. My carriage is at the back of the train, a 20 minute walk from the platform but it is very comfortable, clean and not full - amazing. This means that we are able to change seats and move them around. I never understand why people take cabins for these trips as you never get to talk with anyone unless you go to the club car for dinner. This time, the carriage was full of a wonderful collection of people from two old boys, 87 and 89 going to Darwin for the first time to other people like me. Meet a lovely girl and passed the evening either watching the world go by or sharing a bottle of wine. Sleep and Darwin in the morning.