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On Walkabout At: The Stuart Highway & Alice Springs – Part 5

The morning after finishing up our tour of Ayers Rock and the Olgas the wife and I had to get an early start to complete five hour drive back to Alice Springs on time to catch the 1630 Ghan train. As usual the sunrise in the great Australian Outback is just incredible to see as we drove down the highway:

Around the highway we could see the birds come to life looking for an early morning meal:

The mighty Olgas made for an incredible sight in the early morning sunrise:

 

Mt. Connor proved to be quite a sight as well in the early morning light:

Once the sun was fully up the ride back to Alice Springs was rather uneventful besides the 37 kangaroos, 1 camel, and even a ghoana that we counted dead on the side of the road. We did have to stop to get gas at a roadhouse that featured a giant ghoana lizard and echidna that were not dead because they were just giant models:

For whatever reason in Australia, roadhouse owners love having giant animals on display. I also stopped to check out a Japanese memorial that was on the side of the road of the Stuart Highway way in the middle of no where. The memorial was all in Japanese but I assume it was related to something from World War II:

Here is a picture that shows the typical scenery of the Stuart Highway south of Alice Springs:

As you can see below, the Stuart Highway is a one lane highway which is the only paved road running South to North in the center of the country between Adelaide in South Australia and Darwin in the Northern Territory. To put that in perspective just imagine the United States with one single lane paved road between South Texas and Minnesota:

The remoteness and the single lanes of the highway does make this road quite dangerous. As I mentioned before the highway is littered with road kill and another danger are the road trains. A road train is a semi truck like we have in the states, but pulling 5-8 trailers behind it. The trailers tend to float into the opposite lane of the road at a high rate of speed since the Northern Territory has no speed limits, which makes the road trains very dangerous. It is best to get off the shoulder of the road and let a large road train have the right away.

However, we safely made it back to Alice Springs with a few hours to kill before the Ghan Train left for Darwin. We decided to spend a couple of those hours checking out the Alice Springs Desert Park:

The park ended up being a really good educational experience; introducing visitors to the Outback environment surrounding Alice Springs:

As harsh as the Outback environment can be, the Outback is in fact filled with wildlife and plants and this park has a sampling of all of it. The park is filled with beautiful desert flowers as shown above along with a desert oasis that supports native desert ducks:

Of course just like any desert the Outback has plenty of ant hills as well:

Not to mention some large gum trees:

After finishing checking out the desert park we decided to go get a bite to eat in town before getting on the Ghan. The downtown area of Alice Springs is just like any other major tourist center in Australia. Alice Springs may be one of the world’s most isolated and remote cities, but you wouldn’t realize when you are there. Downtown is packed with tourists coming and going from the various hotels, restaurants, coffee shops, travel & tour agencies, stores, etc.:

This sign gives visitors an idea of how far in the middle of no where they are:

All in all a great time in the Red Center and Alice Springs and hope to come back some time in the future to see more of the sites. However, it was time to leave the desert Outback and we were then off to see tropics of Australia’s Top End and the Northern Territory’s Capitol city of Darwin.

Click to go to Northern Territory Holiday Journal Archive

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