Leaving the lush green wetlands behind, we then headed for the Red Centre, which is
right smack in the middle of Australia.
Home to a number of deserts as well as the iconic landmark, Uluru, the Red Centre is commonly described as the heart of Outback Australia. If you are wondering, it is named after reddish soil found in the area and in the varying orange-red hues of Uluru. This reddish colour comes from the oxidized iron in the soil.
Our journey took us from Darwin to Alice Springs and then on to Uluru. The flight time wasn’t very long. I didn’t even manage to finish watching a full episode of Suits on the flight there.
Once we arrived in Alice Springs, we were whisked away by bus for a short city tour and shopping and then back to catch our flight. Although our time there wasn’t very long, this little desert town managed to leave a lasting impression on me.
In fact, the idea of a desert normally conjures up images like dehydration and heat exhaustion. Yet my experience was nothing like that and so I thought I would share with you a few of my favourite things from the Desert.
Here goes ...
1. Condiments in the Desert
While I was killing time at the airport, I spotted these little jars with unusual names that I didn’t recognize. I love picking up spices and condiments that we can’t find back home and am always on the look out for new tastes to add to our meals so I was really pleased to find these.
Rosella is a native flower that is commonly served with champagne. I tried the
jam while in Uluru and enjoyed it so I bought a few jars home for my family to
try. I thought these were wonderful souvenirs. I only wished I had purchased a larger jar.
2. Schooling in the Desert
Given the vast size of the desert, some families are typically situated in very secluded areas where the nearest family to them could be extremely far away. Kids would have to travel incredibly long distances just to get to school. Fortunately, the School of the Air was set up and kids could now receive an education without having to leave home.
With the help of a satellite dish and a computer, kids are able to access their lessons online and are supervised by a home tutor. Library books are sent to their homes along with art and math materials which would be difficult for them to source.
The best part about this idea is that it enables kids to continue to live with their families instead of having to head off to boarding school. I really enjoyed my visit to the school in Alice Springs which is open daily to the public for tours.
If you would like to read more about our visit to this unique school, do hop over to Ai Sakura’s blog to check out her post about the Alice Springs School of the Air.
3. Aboriginal Art in the Desert
Ooh art, my favourite topic and this reason almost makes Alice Springs my favourite spot in the NT. Did you know that Alice Springs is actually renowned as the Aboriginal Art capital of Central Australia and is also home to many local and Aboriginal art galleries?
Although I didn't manage to browse the art galleries, you might remember that I shopped at the Aboriginal Fabric Gallery while in Alice Springs. The scarf pictured above is from the shop and each scarf comes specially packed with the legend that you see explaining the symbols which I thought was really meaningful.
The Aboriginal Fabric Gallery had a really extensive range of aboriginal fabric which I was told was the largest in Australia. I really felt like I was in the right place.
My favourite fabric designs were designed by A Napanangka and June Smith and I ended up bringing some home. It wasn’t until I returned to Singapore that I discovered that June Smith had also designed the patterns for the carpet at the Alice Springs airport. She is a talented lady.
4. Camel Riding
You can choose to see Uluru from the back of a motorcycle or on a scenic helicopter flight. We got to experience it from the back of a camel which I thought fit really well with the whole desert experience.
It was my first time riding on a camel and it was a ride I will remember fondly for a while yet. Camels are quite large majestic creatures but they move gently and steadily.
All our camels were tied together so the camels had to follow the one in front
of him quite closely. I was a bit worried about them bumping into each other but they obviously had the routine down pat.
While walking us to the Sounds of Silence dinner venue, mine actually took a bite of some leaves from some bushes and chomped as she walked. It was rather fun to watch.
Arriving to the Sounds of Silence dinner on camel back was definitely a show stopping way to make an entrance. When we arrived, the crowd who were enjoying their champagne and canapés immediately turned their attention to the camels, some even snapped shots of us on the camels. At that moment, I remember thinking that we were so blessed to have had all these amazing experiences planned for us. So thankful!
5. Star Gazing
Viewing stars from a city is never an easy task due to the light from the city streets and buildings. But imagine viewing the night sky in a desert. Doesn’t it sound perfect?
Well, that is just what we did at the Sounds of Silence dinner where we dined on a bush tucker inspired buffet while sitting under a canopy of stars, listening to a storyteller decode the southern night sky for us.
He pointed out the Southern cross, Scorpio and the Milky way with a humongous torchlight that shone on the stars like a laser pointer. Honestly, I sat there in awestruck of his torchlight for a while.
The other highlight for me was trying to capture the photo that you see here. I
had brought along my tripod and read up a little on capturing stars in a photo.
It was my first time attempting to do so and I didn’t know what to expect.
After much fiddling, I managed to capture this shot early in the evening just as it turned dark but then struggled to get any better shots later. I did capture them in raw format but haven’t had the chance to play with them yet. If I do find any better shots, I promise to post them later.
* This post is one in a series of posts called NT Travel Memoirs that seeks to record my most memorable moments during my recent trip to the Northern Territory, Australia lest I forget. A big thanks to Tourism NT and OMY for sponsoring this amazing trip as a prize for winning the Best Lifestyle Blog at the Singapore Blog Awards 2013.
For more information about the places that we visited, head over to the Australia Outback Adventure blog to read my posts or click on the links belowNT Travel Memoirs : Northern Territory, Australia
NT Travel Memoirs 1 : The Memorable Wildlife
NT Travel Memoirs 2 : The Memorable People
NT Travel Memoirs 3 : The Memorable Waterholes
NT Travel Memoirs 4 : The Memorable Desert
NT Travel Memoirs 5 : The Memorable Rock
NT Travel Memoirs 6 : The Memorable Markets
Now that you've read my Travel Memoirs, would you like to visit the Northern Territory for yourself? Check out the other posts written by my fellow travel mates and vote for your favourite.VOTE DAILY and increase your chances of winning a travel voucher worth $2000! (Voting period : 7 Oct 2013 - 28 Oct 2013)