I had my last day off just two days ago coming back from Uluru, but after a 124-mile (199 km) day yesterday (my longest of the ride), and because I'm now in the long-anticipated Alice Springs, a day off from riding is mandatory.
What else is mandatory? Pizza and beer.
Despite being nearly a thousand miles (1,600 km) from the nearest major urban center, Alice Springs boasts all the conveniences of the modern, non-middle-of-the-desert world. There's not one but two major grocery stores (Woolworths AND Coles), not one but three pizza places, and not one but six liquor stores. (or bottle shops as they're known here).
I might end up staying more than just a day here.
My hostel (the Alice Springs YHA) is what I've come to expect from the YHAs of Australia (quite nice, actually), and it has all the facilities I need: a bike rack (aka metal cemented into the ground), lockers (BYO lock), reliable (and not horribly slow) internet, laundry (insanely overpriced), and clean flushable toilets.
I may never leave this place.
As the rest of the guests spend their day out seeing the town, I spend mine at the hostel being as sedentary as possible. The actual town of Alice doesn't have much to offer in terms of “things to do” anyway. It's really more of the “gateway to the Outback”. Alice Springs is a place people come on their way to see Uluru, the Devil's Marbles (north of here), Kata Tjuta, or Kings Canyon.
If not for all these spectacular natural wonders spotting Australia's center, Alice Springs would not be what it is today (pure conjecture right here).
However, one thing Alice Springs does have is the Camel Cup.
Annually, on the second Saturday of July, around 5,000 men, women, and children get drunk (yes, even the children) and watch what the Camel Cup's own website describes as, “a nightmare for riders and handlers but fantastic viewing for spectators.”
I guess that's how they get their kicks in the desert.
However, if you're not into “belly dancers, rickshaw races, hobby camel races, rides, Camel Cup challenges, food stalls, bars, and a carnival atmosphere,” Alice Springs offers plenty of other attractions, including:
- The Alice Springs Desert Park (because there isn't enough desert around this place)
- The Alice Springs Reptile Center (because if you see something that can kill you, it's better to see it behind protective glass)
- Anzac Hill (because every town in Australia needs something named after the armed services)
- The Kangaroo Sanctuary (this is the equivalent of a “Deer Sanctuary” in the US)
- Alice Springs School of the Air Visitor Centre (this place might actually be interesting)
- Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve (because HISTORY!)
- The Todd River (a dry river that everyone goes nuts over when it flows above ground, “Did you hear the Todd is flowing!?”)
Yeah, better to just stock up on supplies and move along.
- DAY OFF IN ALICE SPRINGS
- DAY'S DISTANCE: 0 mi / 0 km
- TOTAL DISTANCE: 1,521.08 mi / 2,447.84 km