Saturday, December 30, 2006

Alice Springs

I'd like to have something nice to say about Alice Springs, I really would. I came to this town wanting to like it. It was one of those places in the world that I had heard about since I was a kid. When I was a kid it sounded like one of the most remote places on the planet. An old town in the middle of Australia with nothing for hundreds of miles except Uluru. A town that was just on the road to somewhere else but which had itself had become a destination. I then read Bill Brysons Down Under where he talks about the city having lost all its old charm and having been turned into a tourist trap filled with American restaurant chains and hotels.

Even if it had been Bill Brysons Alice Springs I may have accepted it. If it had been Cairns II or even Surfers Paradise in the Desert I would have found something nice about the town itself. Instead it was unique in my Australian experience and thankfully so. It lacked anything resembling character, in fact it would appear that someone had systematically gone through the town and eradicated anything that could hold a tourists interest for more than a few minutes. Just be thankful Uluru is 300 Kms away or they would probably have blown it up and used the rubble in the foundations of a car park.

Ok thinking back I am being a little harsh, not much, just a little. There is a Flying Doctors station that I visited and did a tour. That was interesting and passed an hour or so if you count the time I spent drinking a coffee in the little café attached to the base. A couple of old buildings do seem to have survived the harsh glare of development but that's because they are hidden away and kept out of the view of tourists who can be put to better use spending money in one of the numerous souvenir shops. Another rare plus is the bar in Annies hostel which serves quite a nice camel lassagne. When I am reduced to remembering a plate of lassagne as something good from a town you know the town itself is in trouble.

Unfortunately I was staying in another hostel away from Annies and it was the worst kept hostel I stayed in during my travels, but I wont name it here. The room I was in was ok but that seems to have been the exception as several of my friends complained about dirty rooms, broken air-cons and door locks that didn't open. The shared toilets, sinks and showers were filthy and covered in excrement when I arrived and were not cleaned in the two nights I was there. The pool area looked like the janitor had died in a corner somewhere and the bar was deserted as the bouncers wouldn't let anyone in. Still the other backpackers were friendly and I was only there for two nights.

The best thing I can say about Alice Springs is that the bus I took to Uluru continued on to Adelaide and I didn't have to return to it.

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