Friday, July 23, 2010
Three-day-tour to the Red centre
Gavin, our tour guide/driver/cook was a long legged, big-eared man from New Zealand. In a former life he toured Japan performing slapstick comedy, so if he needed to, he could grab our attention by setting fire to his head. He possessed a black belt in karate, but practiced non-violence as far as possible, since he knew how to kill a man with one blow.
Gavin would let one or two of the group, in turn, sit up at front of the bus, to experience the front seat view, and when he did, he talked animatedly, looking often at his conversation partners as he drove, lifting his hands off the wheel to underline a point. Nevertheless, we had full trust in Gavin, all twenty-three of us seated in the back of the bus, as we sped along the Stuart Highway.
Gavin entertained us with stories of former tour participants, like the lady who came all the way to the desert, but did not dare leave the bus because she was so afraid of snakes and insects, and then she was the one to find an ants' nest in her sleeping bag. Or the wealthy Swiss gay couple with huge suitcases, that got so fed up with sleeping in a tent, they offered to put the whole group in a hotel for the night.
We all laughed along with Gavin, who sniggered more than he laughed, but secretly we were quite happy we were there in wintertime, when ten of the twelve deadliest species of snakes in the world, coincidentally all living in the Red Centre, were hibernating, or so Gavin assured us. Keeping all our clothes on against the cold at night seemed preferable to shaking our sleeping bags out for insects and reptiles.
Gavin made us get up at 5.30 in the morning to walk the Valley of the Winds or Heart Attack hill at Kings Canyon. He let us touch “the Rock” but would not make a detour for a cup of good coffee. We slept under the stars at Gavin’s insistence. Gavin told us he tried to set fire to his house when he was five.
Back in Alice Springs , one of the thirty-five taxi drivers in Alice Springs told us to make sure to ring on time if we wanted a taxi around two ‘clock in the afternoon, because that was when the liquor store – 'the Thirsty Camel drive-through' for example, – opened for the day, and it was then they were at their busiest.
Another taxi driver told us that there were only 47 people in Alice that had lived there for more than 20 years and he was one of them. This is not hard to understand.
The Alice Motor Inn, however, has been voted best accommodation so far by the children. We think it was has to do with jumping space.
Now just landed in Queensland. Will keep you posted, but the Rendez Vous resort in Port Douglas could be a new contender for the top spot, if it is up to Jip.