As a gateway, doesn’t Alice Springs have more going for it than a Voyages resort village?
“It’s so bright and colourful!” and this was just at Alice Springs airport! My mum couldn’t help but snap a few pictures on the drive into town and I soaked up her fresh gaze on this place and I too marveled at the light and colours and shapes of the ranges and country. Then what more perfect introduction on her first night than the opening of Beyond Conversation, a joint show of paintings by Pamela Lofts and Jenny Taylor and poetry by Sue Fielding.
And the desert put on a fine show, climbing the mercury, enveloping us in its swelter during long evenings talking on the verandah. A couple of these were sound-tracked by people fighting and screaming and conversations quickly turned to the complexities and nuances of living in Alice.
Mum’s ‘outback’ experience was almost completed by a stranding on the side of the road with an over heated land cruiser; luckily it did not come to that. We had an amazing time where even though it was hot, the weather accommodated our walks around Uluru and through Kata Tjuta with big rain clouds blocking out the intensity of the sun.
Out the window on the drive back the sky was full and bursting with lightning and rumbling cloud shows. We seemed to be chasing storms that seemed to be showering on the road just up ahead. We were always just a second or two too late I’m sure. The steamy smell of grasses and red dirt country. It was truly stunning and amazing stuff.
This was to be a holiday edition of Itchy Feet, detailing all the pleasure I got from scratching that itch to see Uluru and Kata Tjuta but on my return to Alice I couldn’t help but think about Yulara as a gateway to the World Heritage listed Uluru and surrounds. What has Yulara got that Alice does not? And as a town doesn’t Alice Springs have more going for it than a Voyages resort village? Sure there are pools and it has proximity and an easy resort atmosphere, but really what’s another 450 kms when you’re already so far away from wherever you’ve come from? Perhaps competition between the two airlines that service Yulara is a point of difference.
Over Easter from my vantage point behind a coffee machine in a rather quiet Todd Mall I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears! At first I thought cowboy dirt bike riders were playing out dares. Whilst people were eating their breakfast in the dappled sunlight under a thinning canopy of autumn grape vines, police were riding motorbikes through the mall! Along with aromas of coffee, bacon and eggs and a little Paul Simon to accompany their meals also came the stench of motorbike exhaust and engines rumbling. I know it’s not new but it was my first encounter and from the expressions of many visitors I could tell it was theirs too.
Back out at Yulara I saw a poster that resonated with me. It illuminates the nature of conservation that is characterized by a constant work effort and certain dedication to a place in order to maintain and protect it. Mike Gillam’s beautiful photographic poster of a Red River Gum dating back to 1988 unstitched the seams of time even further with its quote from Constable W. G. South who wrote to the Minister for the Northern Territory in 1888, ‘… the Young Gum trees along the Todd Creek … will require protection or they will all be cut down by the residents for building and fencing purposes… The trees are a great ornament to the place & it would be a great pity to destroy them.”
My mum’s fresh gaze reminded me of the things I love here and our visit to Uluru reinforced in me a desire to enhance and protect this place. She summed up her trip for me in a few words, ‘The beautiful blue sky and diamond-like stars by night, the ever changing landscape, the community garden, the great art and most of all sharing special time with special people.”
Photo of Uluru by Kim Hopper.