There's one thing we're doing exceptionally well: Having a great time with mates. Time to apply that fabulous gift to our tourism industry, in our country of sunsets and wide open spaces, recommends ERWIN CHLANDA, from a trip half way around Oz. PHOTO: Sunset on the Barkly Tableland, ahead of big storms.
Half the Alice Springs population, some 13,000 people, will be watching tomorrow when 440 bikes and 99 cars set off on their first leg in Australia's biggest and toughest off-road race, the Tatts Finke Desert Race.
Some spectators will be at the start line, but most will be camped along the track in what's the town's biggest social event, sleeping in swags, tents and caravans, cooking on camp fires and downing the odd beer and rum.
It's the 38th annual Finke, founded by locals, and despite its now national and international profile, entirely run by local volunteers.
What's more, some of the racing machines are built or modified by local professional and amateur mechanics.
Many competitors come from right across the diverse population of The Centre.
Today's prologue (pictured) determined tomorrow's starting positions.
The fastest competitor, likely to be driving a buggy, will do the 226 kilometers from Alice Springs south to the tiny Aboriginal community of Finke in less than two hours.
The second leg – back to Alice – will be on the holiday Monday.
If you can't be there, follow the race online.
When it comes to repeat business, Viennese optometrist Alfred Pruckner must be a dream come true for the local tourist industry. Since 1995 he has toured Central Australia 16 times, every time staying for a few weeks, cruising around the bush in big hired 4WDs, taking in the well known attractions, and many not so well known. His experiences over nearly two decades make him more qualified than most to judge the region, from the standpoint of a paying tourist. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PICTURED: Alfred and his partner, Erika, at Chambers Pillar and this week.
Fees for camping in the most popular locations of the West MacDonnell Ranges, one of several parks in Central Australia being transferred from public to Aboriginal ownership by the NT Government, have been increased sharply at very short notice.
Meanwhile today (Wednesday) Shadow Environment Minister Kezia Purick says Minister for Central Australia, Karl Hampton, is refusing to confirm Territory Labor’s policy on the co-existence of mines in Territory national parks.
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.