We had such a great time with Laurel's family over Christmas, it was bittersweet when they left. Bitter because they were leaving. Sweet because it meant that we were flying off with Olivia to the Outback! Olivia never got the chance to visit Ayer's Rock when she studied abroad in Queensland, and we hadn't been yet, so this was a perfect opportunity to go. We, of course, forgot to carry our camera in our carry-on bag, so we weren't able to take a picture out the airplane window, but below is why they call it the Red Centre. We grabbed this picture off Google images which in turn had it from some Thai webpage. At least I think it was Thai.
Alice Springs! We were pretty stoked to be there, and really weren't sure what to expect. We knew it was going to be hot, the weather forecast was saying consecutive days above 40 degrees Celsius, but past, that no clue. We did feel very welcomed, and the more Aboriginal Australian feel to the place was apparent as soon as we got off the plane.
Man, look how happy we are. You can't even tell from that picture that it felt like we were standing in an oven.
Alice Springs is the biggest city in Central Australia, which means that it's the only city in Central Australia. It's the second biggest city in the Northern Territories (after Darwin) with about 30,000 people. It's two and a half times the size of Texas, and almost all that land is desert. To give you an idea of how depopulated it is, Canberra has a bigger population than the entire Northern Territory. I guess the amazing thing, considering how barren it is, is that anyone lives here at all.
Alice Springs- not close to anything.
Upon arrival, the first order of business, as always, was food. Since Olivia is gluten free, we were a little concerned that this might be something of a challenge. Fortunately, we found Racer's. A sports bar crossed with Applebee's, it had a menu so broad it could make The Cheesecake Factory jealous. Unlike The Factory though, it seemed to make everything well. And with surprisingly contrasting styles. Here is Laurel's burrito, smothered in gloriously gooey cheese.
And here is Olivia's chicken salad. She made sure to keep her pinky pointed out at all times while eating. Greg had Vietnamese spring rolls (not pictured but surprisingly good). Good job Racer's.
After lunch, we went over to the Reptile House, which billed itself as "the largest reptile house in Central Australia." Again, this does not mean much. It's also the only one. It wasn't too much to write home about, but there was a gooana named Frank just wandering around the place, which was a little surprising at first.
We like Frank.
This is some other crazy lizard. Also, check out how red that ground is!
Outside the bar where we had dinner was this kitty enjoying the warm concrete in the cool night air. He was adorable, and we love kitties.
No one just goes to Alice Springs. In the space of half a day we had already exhausted most of the things to do there that don't involve taking a four wheeler into the desert. There's just not that much to do there. Whatever there was originally, was burned to a crisp along time ago. Alice's main claim to fame is the jumping off point to all of the natural wonders of the Outback. Olivia found a tour company that offered 3 day, 2 night camping trips out of Alice that took us to Ayer's Rock, the Olga's, and King's Canyon, the biggest tour attractions in the area. Spoiler Alert: It was the greatest camping trip ever. Come back over the next few days for some amazing pictures.