If you are ever in Alice Springs, make sure you visit Bojangles Saloon. This is a brilliant outback pub with fantastic food. Where else could you eat Emu sausage, crocodile rissoles or kangeroo steaks? The size of the portions are amazing, make sure you go hungry! The atmosphere is buzzing. If you just pop in for a drink, don't let the ancient coffin put you off - just open the door for a handful of peanuts! Thoroughly recommended for a fun evening.
80 Todd Street
While travelling around Australia last year, we stumbled upon Bojangles in Alice Springs and had a truly memorable evening. The pub is eccentrically decorated with bits of the old Ghan train line incorporated in the bar itself, a live eight-foot long python curls around a motorbike (its ok it’s in a glass cage!) and the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly guards the door.
There’s a great selection of Australian beers and Territory tucker, including ribs, steak, emu, kangaroo, camel and Barramundi.
But the best thing about Bojangles is its live webcast. There are cameras through out the pub that stream live to the web. Friends from anywhere in the world can view the pub on-line A quick text to my brother in the UK and we were soon waving manically every time the camera pointed at our table. Generous friends can order you a round of drinks by text or email. The famous two litre Darwin Stubby was a popular request. The highlight of my evening was the DJ dedicated a song to us from my brother. It was so nice to have contact from home when I couldn’t have been further from it.
The best way of seeing the desert around Alice Springs is by self-drive and bush-camping.
Camp n Drive in Alice hires out 4WD with all the equipment you need for camping.
We had no equipment of our own. Hired the car from Camp n Drive and drove out to Ruby Gap in the East McDonnell ranges. There was no one around. We set up camp by a ghost gum tree, lit a campfire, rolled our swag on the earth and spent a wonderful night in the desert under countless stars.
Camp n Drive is situated in Alice -48 Gap Road, Alice Springs, NT. 0870, Australia, 08 89520099. www.alicecampndrive.com/index.html
Ruby Gap is in the eastern MacDonnell ranges - easy to find. Follow the Ross highway from Alice, follow the signs to Arltunga and you will see signs for Ruby Gap. It's a 4WD road only after the Ross Highway.
Red Bank Gorge is like something out of a Bond movie. There is a series of narrow, winding, deep clear green pools, flanked by red stone that blazes gold when ignited by the sunlight.
The gorge continues for about 1km and the pools are separated by rocky banks to rest on. Make sure you take an inflatable raft or air mattress to navigate the pools as the water can be very cold. Even if you don't have a raft, you can easily explore the first two pools easily. The scenery is breath-taking.
I was there during peak season in the dry months and still was able to explore the pools by myself. One of the most beautiful places I have seen.
About 180km West of Alice Springs on the Larapinta drive just after Glen Helen resort. A 5km dirt track leads you from the main road - it says 4WD only, but I managed in a Getz no problem. A 20 min walk from the car park takes you to the gorge.
Google map: tinyurl.com/m6tgb3
As a single traveller, doing a tour of Uluru/Kata Tjuta/King's Canyon is the easiest way of seeing the three main sights without having to worry about transport, accommodation or companions. I did a tour with Wayoutback Safaris who were excellent - knowledgeable guides who did their best to keep us away from the hordes, camping in swags in the open air, and comfortable enough 4WD buses.
This tour company manage the cultural centre and run tours to various places with indigenous guides. If you want to see and hear about the aboriginal explanation for the creation of the rock, and hear about life in the outback from an indigenous point of view this is the tour for you. Informative and interesting.
OK....so you go to see Uluru...that's a given. But for me, far more atmostpheric was the Olgas - in particualar the Valley of the Winds walk. The Olgas (Kata Tjuta) lies about 50km from Uluru and the main walk is about 8km of an easy-moderate trail.
There are few tourists even in peak season, and it really gives you the feel of the desolation and beauty of the red centre.
I'm not saying don't go to Uluru...I'm saying instead of going there for both sunset AND sunrise, try the Olgas for one of them instead.
When in Alice drop into Bojangles for a drink or a bite to eat. Tell the folks back home to watch you on the live webcams. That's why all those other people are waving. And help yourself to the free peanuts (in their shells).
Uluru is a large sandstone rock formation located in Uluru-KataTjuta National Park, some 475km from Alice Springs. Uluru is sacred to the Aboriginal people of the area (Pitjantjatjara). The park also houses Kata Tjuta, or “The Olgas”, literally meaning 'many heads' owing to its peculiar formation - this is another rock formation about 25km from Uluru and they make for two must-see features of Australia's Red Centre.
The local Aborigines request that you do not climb the rock as it passes an important dreaming track and can also be very dangerous. A free coach is at hand to transfer you from the airport to the nearby Yulara resort, where there are three, four and five-star rated hotels and also a youth hostel that has a very relaxed feel and live music with bring-your-own BBQs in the evening.
Accommodation is extremely pricey, as is food and drink, although the supermarket is reasonable. One must-have for Uluru is insect repellent. The flies will have you performing several “bush salutes” a minute if you aren't able to ward them off in some way.
Uluru is an amazing landmark, once referred to as the “remarkable pebble” by the explorer Ernest Giles. The many tours are informative and provide breathtaking sights of Uluru, especially at sunrise and sunset when the rock puts on a magnificent display, changing colour with the sun’s position.
Uluru is 475km by road from Alice Springs. It takes around 50-60 minutes to fly, and around 4.5 – 5 hours to drive.
Google map: tinyurl.com/mpddkq
This is a central Australian must see. An award winning, well set-out park that offers a great insight into desert ecosystems (much richer than most realise), aboriginal land use and amazing animal displays. Entrance is not cheap, but it’s a sophisticated, full-day experience.
You can get there by shuttle bus from most hotels and guesthouses in town. You could hire a bike (20 minute ride from centre) or walk (about 40mins, 6kms); www.alicespringsdesertpark.com.au/
Google map: tinyurl.com/nznx8f
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