My visit to Alice Springs could be described in three words : excruciating, enchanting and awestriking.
It was excruciating because of the heat. As soon as we step foot in Alice Springs, the weight of the heat dropped on our shoulders like a ton of bricks. I know it will sound silly of me for mentioning it, but I never drank that much water without needing to go to the bathroom. Our guide recommended to drink at least one liter per hour. And you know when I had said I would most likely miss hot showers? Forget that, in Alice Springs, I missed cold showers. It seemed the coldest the showers could get were lukewarm.
Also, the heat meant that we had to be up at around 4 to 5 am every morning, because some sights got too warm during the day to be able to do them safely at any other time. Past 11 am, the conditions in King Canyon get dangerously close to those of an oven. On one occasion, the soles of a walker’s running shoes have melted while he was climbing Uluru (not when I was there) and some walkers have died abruptly of the heat in some of these spots. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, like any desert, the extreme temperature and conditions are a definitive issue.
It was enchanting because we were told so many aboriginals stories on the different rock formations. We learned a bit about the mythology of the residing tribes and their stories about gods traveling and creating the various rock formations as they went. Every boulder and crevice seemed to have a meaning. It was interesting to try to spot the rocks in the shape of a sleeping snake, a resting koala or an elephant trunk. Colors also had meanings, like grey streaks believed to be the ashes of a creature that caught on fire aeons ago.
It was awestricking, just, well… because. I would have difficulty describing the feeling you get when you stand in the middle of the Australian desert on top of a enormous rock formation which burned ocher color turns the color of amber as the sunrise strikes it. It’s just magical. Or the vastness of the empty plains surrounding you, which are the color of rust due to the high iron content of the soil.
We were there for a total of three days, touring the outback. Our guide had tons of information about survival in this arid region like how to hunt for wichetty grubs, which are eaten by aboriginals in Australia.
A tree partly dried up could be a good indicator of the presence of wichetty grubs in its roots.
Our guide found tons of things in the desert, including this thorny devil :
Our last stop was the camel farm before on our way back to Alice Springs to catch our flight to Melbourne :
Only one road leads in and out of the Outback, it’s long and hot and appears interminable. The good thing is you can’t take a wrong turn on it. I strongly encourage you to travel it! This was an incredible adventure.
Finally, this trip somehow ended with me having this python on my shoulder thanks to our awesome desert guide from Emu Run Tours (check them out here). As strange as it sounds, this snake was actually quite gentle and its skin was quite smooth, not rough at all!
Good address : Annie’s Place - the friendly backpacker.