Sometimes I feel like Dorothy looking down at her little dog and saying, ‘Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore’. Except I’m saying to my little black cat, ‘Kalua, we’re not on the East Coast anymore’. With this past week’s sunny days and warm dry winds I’ve several times thought myself to be near the beach. I don’t know what it is exactly, the smell of sunscreen, the fact that it’s miles away or the Buffle grass rustle like waves to the shore. Either way as pleasant as this has been it has also induced a sort of panic at the thought of what am I going to do when summer really does hit? I realised it was deadly necessary to try and scope out swimming spots in Alice Springs.
I know I am not the only coastal baby out here in the desert with nowhere in 2000 miles to the shore. But really what is to become of us? How will we make it through the summer? I guess for many it means stepping out for a month or two. And there’s always the aquatic centre and I guess there’s always the option of a cold bath. For me though the bath is for warm flickeringly lit lounging as your thoughts run all about the bathroom ceiling.
I wish those poor explorer types had been right and that an inland ocean was still a feature out here. Can you imagine? I bet Alice Springs tourism would look like a whole lot different, maybe more like the Red or Dead Sea. Anyway so some people have pools, some people have the gumption to drive 100 plus km to a water hole for a swim and as I found out over the weekend you’re quite likely to find lots of people at these spots on a nice day.
Over the weekend I checked out the swimming spots along the road out to Glen Helen. I camped at two mile and watched by an old bull swam for a minute or two before the sun went down in the skin tingling water. I must thank this horned bovine because without him I probably would have stayed on the warm sand. The next day sitting by the water I again mistook myself for being by the sea. The only reason I knew I wasn’t was that the birdcalls were all wrong, not a sea gull in ear shot but after a while I started mistaking crow caws for their distant gull cousins. I couldn’t help thinking what an amazing and pretty much untouched spot.
If those explorers had have been right, I could just imagine the beauty and health resorts touting the amazing qualities of 2 mile river mud exfoliating treatments. All along the shore of the great inland sea and its creeks and water holes, lifeguards, fake tan, topless sunbathing and ghetto blasters blasting. God it sounds just like Coogee and I already found Ormiston gorge and Ellery Creek Big Hole too well signposted and paved, busy and close to parking for a leisurely paddle. I’ve got to say that the weekend’s reconnaissance mission was a success and its been an age since I’ve slept so soundly with that blissed out delicious feel that watery fun in the sun gives.
And if I am really honest with myself, how often did I actually schlep it across the city on a bus or two from the inner west to the eastern beaches?
There is something about water though isn’t there. There’ s something about immersing your self in it that grounds and yet also sets sail wild dreams and imaginings. Its different in different places, the ocean (which may shortly become extinct in my vocabulary) is a frothing, spritzing invigorating expanse stretching all the way to the horizon. And differently a waterhole can reach to still and ancient depths.
Some people may get all Freudian and call all this urge to swim in natural places an irrepressible urge to get back in the womb, others though judge entire societies on the merits of their bathing systems alone. And I, I think I’m just a bit scared of summer here and I plan on using all the tools and resources available as well as my, my, my imagination (play: Brass in Pocket by The Pretenders) to stay well immersed this coming summer here in Alice Springs.