to Alice Springs

The track. Nothing showing there at all for 300 miles, a long ride for a hot day
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As you approach Alice Springs the terrain becomes hilly

And more vegetation, although it’s no cooler

Abrupt crags

A truck asleep in the shade

The Finke River. It’s one of the oldest rivers in the world and possibly, with the sister rivers here, the oldest, formed 350 million years ago, long before Australia broke off and formed a new continent. This is where you can look at the river banks here and imagine aquatic life make million generation millimetre-by-millimeter progress onto land for the first time, unless you’re a punctuated equilibria theorist, an incredible thought. A short article on the big-picture geology here

Late, beside the road, we passed camels under a shed, in the shade

So, some instruction before take-off. ATGATT

Into Alice Springs

Alice Springs (pop 28,000) somehow lodged itself in my mind as early as any city names, like New York, or Paris way back at an early single digit age. There was something about the image of this beautifully, almost perfectly named town in a vast outback that grabbed me as maybe the most fascinating place I’d heard of to date. Maybe everyone has that memory.

The facts are the same as the memory but the details have changed and it’s not what I imagined as a child but just as interesting. Crime is a serious problem here. The 18% aboriginal population is largely blamed. The town is a mess but a 1st world mess. Nothing like the shitholes (in rider-speak) we’ve seen elsewhere.

Alice Springs and the main street from Anzac Hill. The gap between the hills is the road we rode in on

The steam that runs through town. This is run off only from the surrounding hills and there’s some water in it from a storm a couple of days ago. Rain is infrequent here

We went to the Alice Springs Reptile Center. It’s awesome we hear because it has 10 of Australia’s most venomous snakes, the 5 biggest pythons, a croc and some lizards

A list of the reptiles there for the curious

There was like a school show-and-tell. A python

A skink

This small group of buildings, built in 1872, was the reason Alice Springs exists and why it’s one of the most famous towns in Australia. It was the telegraph station between Adelaide and Darwin and the result of an epic engineering feat of stringing a 3000K telegraph line ultimately to connect Australia with the outside world

Kangaroo in the shade with a bird on its back

There are many incredible stories about this accomplishment and a few specially interesting ones. For instance Alice Springs was named after the wife, Alice, of the main engineer/adventurer/mastermind Charles Todd, who pulled the project off. Nice. But the awkward part is that he didn’t name it that. One of his men William Whitfield Mills did.

Anyway here’s some of the original equipment. You can reach right over the guard rail and tap the morse tapper

The original telegraph station managers. Just a wild guess but that might be Todd second from left and Mills on the right, lol

And outside a crow-sized bird

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