Oliver is…

He that hath a beard is more than a youth, and he that hath no beard is less than a man

…done with Alice


There’s not much to Alice Springs, a town with a population little more than Elgin which has grown to prominence because of its proximity to Uluru (or Ayer’s Rock, to all you aborigine haters). Saying it’s close to Uluru it like saying it’s sensible to book a hotel in Elgin because you want to see the Angel of the North. And you know where the Angel of the North is when you make this statement.


All I’d read about Alice Springs before going there was Bill Bryson’s description of it being absolutely awful. He balanced this by saying at least Uluru was completely fantastic. I don’t agree with him about either of those things, at least I wouldn’t go to the same degree of hate/love. I’d certainly say that he was in the right area with his judgements.

There’s not much to Alice, spare a nice hill that they’ve put an ANZAC memorial on and a river that is marked in most maps with the words “usually dry” nearby. When colonialists first discovered this river, at a rare time of year when it actually had water in it, guess what they did. Guess what these people who had been trudging through the desert for days, who hadn’t seen water for a long, long time and were presumably absolutely parched, did when they saw this river. Correct! They made coffee!


The most disappointing thing about Uluru was probably the clouds. Most people seem to say that it’s most impressive when you can see the light changing as the sun sets/rises. We arrived about an hour after sunset and it was too dark to see much. We got up early to see the sun rise, but the clouds stopped anything magnificent happening.

After that we wandered around the rock, around 10km in all, which was quite a pleasant thing to do. Pretty much every photo I’ve seen of it has been from a distance and they all look the same, don’t they? A bit like this one.

And from somewhere else

Up close it isn’t how I expected at all. Rather than just being smooth like zoomed out images suggest, it’s full of countours and caves, nooks and crannies, undulations and colour changes.


With a deadline to get our auto up to Alice, we couldn’t stick around for sunset and made out way up to King’s Canyon. It’s not something I can remember hearing much about before coming to Australia, but I think everyone’s in agreement that it’s far more spectacular. We got to see it at sunset which made it even more special.


Prior to this we’d seen an underground town (which wasn’t as amazing as it sounded, unless we just missed all the good bits) and the world’s largest rocking horse (although no one seems to agree with me that this was incredible). Definitely go see that rather than Uluru, though.


And that, missing out the time we got bogged down in sand, is pretty much the story of how we drove around 1000 miles from Adelaide to Alice Springs. We drove, because when in you’re in the middle of nowhere, no one really cares if you’ve got a licence or not.

Driving a moving vehicle

What did I learn? That even without hours of practise every week, I’m just as bad as everyone else on the road. And that you have to say “brrr” before you drive over a cattle grid. Apart from the guys who drive road trains, they’re incredible.

Filed under: australia, , , , ,

7 Responses

  1. Dave says:

    I have nightmares about being in control of a vehicle. I have nightmares about being back in the UK too. How do the millions of UK drivers do it???

    That canyon looks ace. And I’m still impressed by the Uluru photo, natural wonders are definitely more impressive than man-built ones (women can’t build).

  2. Dave says:

    P.S. You said ‘is’ twice.

    • Oliver says:

      PS I did not and you can’t prove otherwise!

      I’ve been worried about doing it since I started this thing and so far I think I’ve been okay. I’ve just had a look through all my other titles and I think that’s the only one. Next duff heading due in post 126. Keep your eyes peeled!

  3. Oliver says:

    It’s definitely something to do if you’re in the area (what else is there to do in the area?) and up close it was fascinating. I think going at sunset would really make it magical, but we didn’t so we lose.

    The funny thing is that not long before Uluru is Mount Connor. Both of the people in our campervan got out and took photos of it thinking it was Uluru. Looking back at the photos, it looks nothing like it. It’s just a big rock thing in the middle of nowhere and that’ll do.

    I had fun driving. I’m not sure how much fun I’d have with things like other cars on the road, but if you ever find yourself in the middle of nowhere and access to a vehicle for some reason, go for it!

  4. James says:

    What would your mother say if she saw you driving that car without a licence! Naughty, naughty.

  5. Oh wow, that sounds and looks interesting trip hey. Good to read your updates again, although the whole Australia is not that too interesting for me I would skip that hassle and just go to the places I want to be in OZ.

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