Let’s face it folks. Alice Springs, smack in the middle of Australia’s vast Outback, is a long way from anywhere.
Driving there takes at least 18 hours from Adelaide or Darwin, and that’s not counting breaks and road conditions. It’s all just one straight road, the Stuart Highway or “The Track.”
And yet, Alice Springs strives, a welcome oasis surrounded by red land. Tourists flock there to get closer to Uluru, Kings Canyon and the West MacDonnell Ranges, to try bush tucker and experience the Outback and aboriginal life.
Alice Springs is the base of such iconic Australian institutions as the School of the Air and the Royal Flying Doctor Service, both of which provide essential services for those living in communities and homesteads in Australia’s interior. They both have visitor centres and are happy to share their history with everyone who comes inside for a chat.
On my first visit to Alice Springs in 2007 the town was a nice surprise. Not just because of the friendly locals, but after days on the road from Adelaide through an endless desert, the fact that Alice Springs exists at all and pops up out of nowhere makes for a welcome change.
When I visited, I was lucky enough to experience legendary Outback watering hole Bojangles Saloon in full swing, Unfortunately, this legendary Alice Springs bar has since run dry and closed down.
And speaking of running dry: I have it on good authority that the Todd River only very rarely carries water. It’s so rare, apparently, that the locals didn’t even bother building bridges. the road simply continues through the riverbed. Although, when it floods, it floods properly, as I had to find out as we tried to get our bus to the other side of the river. The Todd River carrying water is such a rare occurrence that even long-time residents don’t say they are from Alice Springs until they have seen the Todd flow on three separate occasions.
Luckily, there’s loads to see, do, explore and experience in and around this town called Alice while you wait for the rain to come.