There’s nothing like a recommendation to get you started. Alice Springs looks like Shannon Town Centre would if it were 45 degrees Celsius outside. All the essentials are there, but it wasn’t designed to have pleasing architecture.
Except, when you have an insider’s eye, things start to look up. A guide at Uluru had worked in Alice Springs for a couple of years and said ‘Page 27’ – a cafe in an alleyway off the main mall – was the hip-hop-happening joint in Alice.
On my first day in Alice, I did one of my walkabouts and hotfooted it out of the sweltering heat into Page 27. The menu was unlike anything I’d seen up to this point in Oz. Lots of brown rice, quinoa and spicy meats or tofu.
I pulled up a 1970s armchair and wondered what my cajun chicken and brown rice combo would be like.
I was really surprised and delighted when it turned out to be quite so delicious. And with lots of courgette/zucchini – my fave!
Much of the rest of Alice looks like the picture above. The sky is blue and the sun is harsh, so there are few people around in the burning heat.
Still, the hat shop was open and off I went to try on an Akubra, one of Australia’s richest traditions… the Cattleman Hat!
I am not a hat person. I have what my brother calls ‘a large cranium’ (as he does himself) and either hats don’t fit and look like they’re sitting atop my skull like a fascinator, or they fail to add anything to the overall vista.
I tried on all the colours and all the sizes, took this picture and went away to think about it for 24 hours. I’m delighted to share (those of you who follow me on Facebook or Insta already are bored looking at it) that I bought it. The shop lady made me take one in the largest size she had (for Akubra you take one size too big as the built-in leather headstrap shrinks over the first 1-3 months of wear to your shape). And she was right, it has started to feel more like mine the more I wear it.
Alice had a tiny mall, with just a few shops, including a supermarket where I managed to stock up on lots of water and a few snacks for the room.
There are two taxi ranks in town and the majority of hotels are away from the centre on a strip about 20-25 minutes walk. Normally I would walk everywhere during the day, but the heat was sweltering and I was ready for a wee rest and 2 litres of water.
The taxi drivers in Alice (I only met 3, but I feel they are a good representation of the entire 7 – yes, I said 7 – taxis in the entire city)… the taxi drivers all had incredibly strong and unexpurgated BO.
Still on my journey, I did manage to track down a shop selling Aboriginal cottons, suitable for quilting. I’m hoping these will make it into a project for the coming year (I’ll write about that over on ManQuilt.net).
As I was walking to the taxi rank, I did go by an alcohol treatment unit at the hospital and noticed this sign. It says so much.