Sunday, July 17, 2011

the alice

Alice Springs

One thing I always wish after I've been somewhere is that I had known about a festival I have just missed or which will happen just after I leave. So, here are three things to consider:

1. The Camel Cup in July

2. Henley on Todd Regatta in August
The regatta started in 1962 as a send up of the British Henley Royal Regatta. As the only dry river regatta in the world, it is the only regatta ever known to have been cancelled because there was actually water in the river, which happened as a result of flooding in 1993.
It is commonly said the Todd River runs "upside down", because in truth, although the riverbed is almost perpetually dry, there is groundwater underneath the dry bed, and at several points bores have been sunk to access it. 

3. The Beanie Festival in June
[This is a collection of prize-winners, I suspect only crafty people might want to watch the whole clip]

In my scuze i blogs, I aim to provide honest as well as helpful or interesting travel info. Anyone who reads The Gap, Gangs and Golliwogs blog [sometimes more a work in slow-mo than a work in progress] will know where I sit politically.

This next clip is presented by a serious journo named George Negus. He is not a racist, but a reconciliationist, and with him at the helm I'm inclined to trust the following is not a beat-up.

We were in Alice Springs in 2009 - two years after the federal government "intervention" designed to deal with some Aboriginal issues, but well before this report was filed.

I can keep all of the "issues" stuff til my next post.

The motel where we stayed already had razor wire around the perimeter, and although I did walk down the street one night to buy some milk I didn't notice anything like this happening. On the other hand, we did go to the casino one night for dinner and even though it was only a ten minute walk from where we were staying, we were careful to catch a cab back. 
Save yourself the cab fare though, and give the casino a miss. It's a dive, and on a scale of one to ten the food, decor and service were minus two.


While in Alice we stayed at the All Seasons Oasis, and the accommodation was fine.
Breakfast was included with our room, and it was jolly good as motel breakfasts go. The staff were always pleasant.
There is also a restaurant in the complex - the only night I ate there it was extremely busy because a private function was happening in an adjacent dining room. This created a little chaos and confusion when I ordered a meal and I waited forever to get what I ultimately ordered.
The Manager stepped in to help me as soon as he was aware of the problem, promptly delivered what I had originally hoped to order but had been told was not available, and, although it cost more than the second option I had paid for, he did not ask for the price difference. What I had originally chosen was a spinach and ricotta pasta with betroot jus and it was well worth the wait. 10/10 for service and taste after all!

The town is full of serviced apartments, so perhaps the sanest thing to do is stay in one of these, buy some groceries and cook your own meal.

I would recommend that if you are booking accommodation anywhere in Australia yourself [and not through an agent] you either book directly with the hotel/motel you want, or use as we have sometimes found discounts at that site, and have NEVER had any problems with our bookings.

Although wotif mainly offers specials at the last minute when hotels/motels are trying to fill empty rooms, it's also useful for giving you an idea of how much a place normally costs, what a place looks and gives you a chance to shop around before hand. 

There are some Aboriginal Art shops in Alice which are privately owned, and the merchandise ranges from tacky to good but hideously or even ludicrously expensive. If you want to buy Aboriginal Art, I would recommend you go to some of the Aboriginal Community Co-operatives you'll find as you make your way around the Outback.

One of the best things about visiting places far from home, for me, is finding a bookshop full of titles I can't find anywhere else. The Red Kangaroo Bookshop in Todd Mall was chock a block with books I wanted to take home, but I eventually settled for half a dozen.

So long as you are staying somewhere comfortable, take the time to shop around for tours located in and around the red centre.
Options include overnight camel camping trips, 'green' tours, indigenous tours, flights, or even homestays on stations so you can pretend you are a jackaroo or jillaroo for a few days.

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