We made it about 100km away from Uluru after watching the sunset before settling for the night in the relative luxury of a rest stop that had 1) a water tank (non-potable) and 2) bathrooms! Whoo! We had the place to ourselves for the evening, a seemingly unusual event even in the middle of nowhere, but woke in the morning to a parade of silver-haired citizens stopping their oversized campervans at the rest area to take pictures of “our” spectacular scenery (thinking it was Uluru). We talked with a good amount of them as they coursed through the rest stop while we drank our coffee, chatting about hometowns and the ups and downs of touring Australia. I also took the liberty of washing my hair with water from the tank – removing the better part of the grease. I feel (and look) much better now. Fortunately we were gone by the time the tour bus arrived to disgorge its troops, however.
Our lovely scenery in the morning (not Uluru):
Luxury! Look at that tank of water! Isn’t she a beaut?
We bird watched for a while since it was only 300km to Alice Springs, a relatively short drive. The pigeons would wait for you to turn on the water, then when you departed would race to the drink from the drops that spilled down the tap and unto the concrete. It was hilarious to watch when about 8 of them were lined up with tails in the air.
We stopped in Erldunda (really just a large hotel/roadhouse complex and not a town) to fill up on expensive petrol and were treated to the sight of both an Emu farm and a giant Echidna on wheels. The echidna actually had a door on the side and a go-kart inside. I don’t know if they used it in parades or what but it looked like you could just drive the whole giant thing around in the streets – the eyeballs were clear windows to see out of. Oh, awesome.
The terrain started to get greener and a bit more mountainous (hello Macdonnell range) as we approached Alice Springs but that didn’t stop the Finke river (at 350 million years old it is one of the oldest surviving rivers on the planet) from being bone dry. We took a picture anyways because how often do you see something 350 million years old that still works, even if it is just part of the time?
We arrived in Alice Springs at 2:00 in the full force of the blistering sun. I don’t even want to know what this place is like in summer but I am sure it requires air conditioning. I think we will likely press on North to Darwin and the shade of occasional trees very soon.