After our adventure in Uluru, we drove back to Alice Springs, where we rented a house for 6 days. We were feeling more than happy once we arrived at the destination and finally had some space, ah! The property where we were staying was super nice and specious, with a wonderful swimming pool and a tennis court. The first two days we spent relaxing, catching up on sleep, getting back on a healthy diet and working out. We also had 1 week worth of laundry to do and while doing that, we almost flooded the whole house! The laundry room had a hose that needed to be left outside when the washing machine was in use. Leo was playing downstairs and riding on a skating board and needed some space. Naturally, the hose was in his way so he moved it back to the laundry room…we did not noticed it. When I went back to get the clothes out of the washing machine, I had water up to my ankles…of course Leo did not realize what he was doing and it was not his fault at all…however, we were super embarrassed and very grateful for wonderful hosts, who did not make a big deal out of it. That was not the end to our mishaps…that evening while Leo and Mila were taking a bath, without us seeing it, they put a ton of soap into the tub. We had no idea about it. Rick decided to also take a bath and wanted to run the jets…well, within a minute the whole bathroom was covered with bubbles!!!! The foam started to come not only from the tub but also from the pipes coming out of the bathroom floor. OMG, we did not know where to start the clean up, hahaha! People say small kids, small problems, big kids big problems and I seriously don't want to think what type of issues we are going to run into the future : )
After a few days of complete laziness, we decided to venture out and see what Alice Springs had to offer. We took the kids to a local playground, city center and the library where we were able to gather more info about this city. We went on a short hike to Standley Chasm, which is a part of West Macdonnell National Park. The MacDonnell ranges run 400 miles through Australia’s central outback and form many cool gaps and gorges. One of the most famous spots in effectively known as “The Gap”, where the ranges part ways as you enter the city of Alice Springs. At the end of our hike to Stanley Chasm, your greeted by a narrow gorge and 2 huge boulders. The sun only enters the gorge from 12pm-1pm and we timed it perfectly to catch the changing colors of the gorge with the sun beating down. The hike was pretty short, only 3 km and since we still had plenty of energy left, we decided to join up with the Larapinta Trail, a 224km hike along the mountain range. We hiked a small portion where we climbed to a summit of the mountain and could see a panoramic view of the whole range. It was pretty sweet view and we were glad we did it. It’s funny because we have read so many stories about the poisons snakes here and other lethal species, that now, we are constantly making sure that Leo and Mila don't touch any bushes and don’t pick up any rocks. We were even warned by our host of a King Brown Snake spotted on their property about a week ago, sometimes you wish you didn’t even know this stuff because it led us to constantly worrying about where Leo & Mila were and making sure they aren’t getting into anything. Something as simple as the shed where the tennis rackets were at, double checking to make sure no creatures are there to meet you. Normally, we’d just let Leo go to the shed and get a racket, but now you have to go with him and look out for him. It’s not an easy task with our two little wild rascals, they just want to play. It definitely exhausted us through out the week, but we are trying as hard as we can to let them play while looking over their safety.
During the hike, a couple from Melbourne informed us that the famous Ghan Train was stopping for the day at the Alice Spring train station and since Leo loves trains, we had to go and see it. It was the longest train we have ever seen. It had 38 wagons and was 902 meters long - crazy right! This train travels from Darwin to Adelaide (from north to south of Australia) and the whole journey takes about 4 days. The craziest things is that the tickets costs almost $2,000!!!! We’ve heard its a super comfortable way though to experience the Red Center and take in the spectacular scenery without having to drive. Leo was in heaven when he saw this massive locomotive and very upset when he learned we were not there to board. We told him the tickets were sold out : (
We ended the night by visiting a local night market in the center of Alice Springs. It happens once a month and was fairly small, about 35 vendors selling food, art work, jewelry, clothes and other goods. We grabbed our blanket and made a picnic - dinner out of it. We ordered pizza, hamburger (grass-fed beef -delicious!) and Korean pancake (fried dough stuffed with veggies - not so good). We also played a little ping pong game and just people watched. Alice Springs is a very small city with a population of 24,000 people. It’s a land of the Native Australians, where you can encounter many of Aborigines, however, you can easily see that even this part of the world has been overtaken by Western man.
For the last several nights, Mila has been waking up at 3 am staying up for a good two hours. She seems to be restless. Since we are all sleeping in the same room, none of us are getting a good night of sleep. We planned on going on a long toad trip - 130 km one way to hike and swim in Olmeston Gorge but since we woke up super tired, we decided to stay in town. Right after breakfast we went downtown and climbed to the highest point of Alice Springs - The Anzac Hill. It’s a site of traditional Aboriginal and European historic significance, a strategic point in times of natural disaster and a war memorial. Anzac Hill is a sacred site for the Aboriginal people. From the very top we enjoyed a panoramic view of Alice Springs, the MacDonnell ranges and everything around it. We sat down on the bench and enjoyed a nice breeze. We had to cut this experience short since Mila kept eating everything that she found on the ground - either she was super hungry or wanted to prove to us that you can consume tons of rocks and not get sick from it. The rest of the day we spent back at our cottage, napping, playing tennis, basketball and swimming. Rick and I definitely have taken a liking to tennis. The court is in pristine condition and it was easy to “lock” the kids in the court while we played. We actually carried out a full set, and well we won’t tell you who won but it fueled our competitive spirits : ) Its a great sport and one we both think we want to pursue whenever we “settle” down.
Another sleepless night for mom & dad, Mila had a difficult time sleeping. Hopefully it's just a phase that will go away soon. Since we have not visited a swimming spot yet, we decided to take a drive to Ellorey Creek (about 1 hour drive from our house). It was probably the longest drive ever since Mila cried pretty much the whole time. As soon as we made it to the destination she was completely fine. It was a very nice gorge, surrounded by red cliffs, trees, and dead quiet. I was terrified of going into the water...it was very murky and I’ve read enough about wild species in Australia : ) They say that most of the crocs live in the salty water but I wasn’t interested in taking any chance. There were a couple of people swimming but the spot wasn’t crowded at all. Surprisingly Leo and Mila were not interested either, we just skipped rocks into the water, played with sticks, and snapped our usual family photos. We did not stay there for a very long time as honestly, we were all kind of bored. Once we got home, Leo went to help the owner weed the garden, its awesome to see him garden and help out, grandpa would be proud of him! Rick, Mila and I went back to play tennis. Rick thinks he’s the second coming of Roger Federer now. His new name is Hermie Federer…I told him he needs his bank account to call himself that!!!
Our stay in Alice Springs was probably a bit long. Luckily, we had a great property and hosts and even took up a new sport! You can hike and see the city in 3 days and I guess after seeing Uluru and it's unreal surroundings it is hard to be impressed by something else. Honestly, the best way to explore the Outback in by RV. There are a ton of things to do, but we found the driving distances to be way to far for day trips. We missed out on King’s Canyon (Aussie’s Grand Canyon) and Devil’s Marbles - both 5+ hour drives from Alice Springs. It’s one of those things Rick & I would do but way too aggressive with the kids. I guess we’ll have to come back : ) Nevertheless, we explored this region quite well. It was a new experience for us, visiting the desert and its landscape. After a while we started to miss the freshness and the sounds of the ocean. Tomorrow, we are flying to South Australia and the city of Adelaide where we’ll spend a week and gear up for our road trip along the Great Ocean Road!