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AUSTRALIA - DAY TWENTY TWO - Road to Alice Springs

Previous Blogs: Day 1 Portland & Honolulu | Day 2 Oahu | Day 3+4 Melbourne | Day 5 Williamstown | Day 6 Launceston | Day 7 Cradle Mountain | Day 8 Road to Hobart | Day 9 Port Arthur | Day 10 Apollo Beach | Day 11 Port Fairy | Day12+13 Southern Ports | Day 14 Kangaroo Island | Day 15 Kangaroo Island | Day 16 Kangaroo Island | Day 17 Adelaide | Day 18 Adelaide | Day 19 Adelaide Hills | Day 20+21 Uluru | Day 22+23 Alice Springs | Day 24 Darwin | Day 25 Darwin | Day 26+27 Port Douglas | Day 28 Daintree | Day 29+30 Gold Coast | Day 31+32 Brisbane | Day 33 Brisbane | Day 34-36 Hawaii

Click photos for a larger image...


After a really hectic day before, it was good to sleep in and relax for the morning, as our coach to Alice Springs only departed at 1 pm.

It's 300 miles and takes about 6 hours including two stops along the way. The coach was somewhat comfortable, I've been on better, but what sucks is the seat belt law even on coaches.

The coach did have free wifi but it only worked when the coach was in cell phone reception range, and this is the Outback... we lost signal within 5 minutes of leaving the resort area.

Coach drivers carry satellite phones in case of emergencies.

The speed limit is 130 kmp (81 mph) but anything carrying paying passengers (like us) is limited to 100kmp (62mph).

There is not a lot to see, this is what the entire 300 mile trip looked like (and apparently the entire outback looks like). Red sand, bushes and the occasional tree. No other roads, no fences no electricity wires. A whole lot of nothing.

We did get to see a flat topped mesa in the background. It's owned by a local cattle rancher. How many people do you know own their own private mountain! Apparently, the son got married last year and flew hundreds of people to the top of the mesa for the ceremony and reception.  That's cool!

There are no towns along the way, just cattle stations. This is Curtin Springs one of the smaller cattle stations. It is basically a cattle ranch and on their homestead they provide services for people passing through.

Gas, groceries, liquor, showers and rest rooms.

This SMALL cattle ranch is only a mere 1 million acres!!!

The largest station in the Outback is over 6 million acres! That would be a piece of land 800 miles long by 800 miles wide.

Pretty large farm I would say!

Nice, a 4x4 bus!!

One of the stations had emus. Very funny looking flightless birds.

We arrived in Alice Springs at about 7pm just in time to walk to the local liquor store for some drinks.

Liquor laws in this state (Northern Territory) are interesting. In most areas sales of booze is prohibited to Aborigines. This is at their leaders request!

In Alice Springs, booze sales before 2 PM (!!!) is prohibited on weekdays. Apparently weekends you can drink all you want, but not on week days.

Oh and there are no pennies or cents in Australia. Prices are round up to the closest 5 cents. Tax is included in the price so what you see is what you pay, but despite the lack of pennies you will still see items priced at say, $4.99 - that is $5.00 duh!



Alice Springs is a town of only 22,000 people, which makes it the second largest city in the state!! Only Darwin is bigger at 110,000.

Alice Springs is in fact the only city in the entire central Australia. The next closest city is Darwin which is 1000 miles North and Port Augusta to the South (15,000people) which is 800 miles away.

Alice springs is not a pretty town at all, it's very ordinary and quite dirty. Nothing really to see so we relaxed at the hotel paying for a late checkout as our ride to the airport was only at 3.15pm.

Our hotel is your basic motel, but they wanted to charge for internet. $20 a day! Then I saw this hotspot in range of my hotel room, signed up and it was only $7.50/day. Why on earth would the hotel charge 3 times what a local hotspot charges?

Strangely enough, water is plentiful in the Outback, but it is a mission to get. There is a huge underground lake, but you gotta drill 70 feet deep to get to it. Every cattle Station must have it's own well and pump it up from the aquifer - which is plentiful.  It was said they have enough reserves of water in the outback for 400 years - that's including IF people waste thousands of liters of water per day.

Alice Springs has the highest crime rate in the whole of Australia. Seems like the Aborigines have the same drinking problem as Native Americans.

The police actually post an officer outside every liquor store while it's open to prevent indigenous people from buying alcohol.

A local newspaper quoted a police officer, “They’ll throw down a one litre bottle in one sitting,’’ Constable Waters said. “There isn’t a shut off switch. They will just keep going and going and going.’’

There is also a black market where white people buy booze and sell it out of their back door at 4 times the price to the indigenous folk.

Pretty sad.

What is really interesting is that Alice Springs has a United States secret military base right outside the town. It's called Pine Gap and is manned by 1000 American military personnel and some Australian staff too. It's been here since the 1960's and it's officially "an intelligence gathering and early missile strike warning" installation.

Some believe it is a global drone control center. Either way it is top secret, everyone who works there has signed a non-disclosure and you can't get within a mile of the place without being arrested.

The US military shares the info it finds with the Australian military for letting them be based here. Location is because the skies are so clear in the outback from radio noise interference, light and air pollution so I guess the radio transmissions they are monitoring are much clearer.

Flying domestic in Australia is very different to the USA. Not one of the 5 domestic flights we have taken so far did any one ask for ID. No passport, no driver's license required to check in.

You don't even need to present a boarding pass to get through security - just to get on the plane. Which means your friends and family can come through to departures. When last did we have THAT in the USA?

Going through security you only have to remove your laptop, you can leave your shoes on.

Everything is electronic, even checking your bags, you use a bar code downloaded to your phone when you check in online, no human contact needed.

All the airports have free wifi.

Our flight was an hour late, so we only got into Darwin after 8 pm.

And finally...

...some interesting signs we saw along the way:

This is a very appropriate sculpture...'s in front of a second hand shop!