Having ruled out a second attempt on Kings Canyon, we might have been at a bit of a loss for things to do. But, in fact, there is plenty to see and do in “The Alice”.
Just out of town is the ‘Old Ghan’ train museum. (Click here for truly awful, irrelevant, Auzzie joke.) The Ghan train replaced the Afghan cameleers, after whom it was named, and provided the principal trans-continental route for mail and supplies. The original service was legendary for its unreliability. Its tracks were laid directly on sand, and therefore constantly buckled by heat or washed away by flood. It was not uncommon for a train to be delayed for several weeks – the crew were provided with hunting rifles with which to shoot goats to feed stranded passengers!
While the locomotives switched from steam to diesel some time ago, the tracks were only replaced in the last 25 years or so. But the role played by train travel in the population of Australia has won the Ghan train a particular affection.
Before the trains, the journey from Adelaide to Alice Springs took 6 weeks.
Afterwards, we headed back to Larapinta Drive to the Cultural Precinct. We toured the Museum of Central Australia, viewed the wreckage of the Kookaburra plane (lost in 1929 in the search for pioneer aviator, Charles Kingsley Smith – the infamous Coffee Royale affair), and strolled around the original Connellan hangar – formerly part of Alice Springs’ principal airport.
Alice Springs, by the way, takes its name from the telegraph repeating station sited near a spring, which itself was named in honour of Alice, the wife of the then Postmaster General, Charles Todd. The actual town was originally called Stuart, and only changed its name to Alice Springs in 1933.