|We've not been doing much here in Brisbane, at least partly because it has rained ever since we arrived! They tell us they were having a drought untill we got here, but we think they're fibbing. We've decided it always rains in the "sunshine state", and they lie about it to lure the tourists in!
Consequently we have seen little of the Brisbane area, and have mostly confined our explorations to indoor shopping malls! We've also done quite a bit of reading, talking, and other indoor persuits.
After I last posted we had a gentle evening with Kev, just staying in, eating takeout chinese and watching films, much like we used to back in London. Which was nice. The next day Kev and Victoria were busy with wedding things, so we occupied ourselves, mostly with more shopping (both Jon and I needed shoes). Yesterday evening we had a BBQ up at Victoria's parents house (our first Aussie Barbie, and it was great!), and today we've been trying, and failing, to make ourselves useful to Kev & Victoria. It seems they have everything under controll, or so they say!
This evening we're off out to dinner with everyone again, this time to a steak house of some sort - at this rate I'll have doubled in size by the end of the week!
However, we have a little time before the taxi arrives, so I shall use it to try and finish writing up what we did in the Red Centre.
Day 3 started a little later than the previous day. In the evening a wind had risen up, and it was still blowing when Mike woke up so he decided to let us sleep in since the wind would likely keep the heat away for a while. We broke camp in the dawn, which was spectacular, and then drove to Kings Canyon.
The canyon is basically a big lump of rock with valleys carved into it by water. We made our way up the very steep oustide, across the top (where we were treated to some spectacular views), and then down into the canyon itself. There is a creek running at the bottom of it (which is wierd, since there seems to be no other water around for miles), which leads to a pool, know as the "Garden of Eden" - so named by an explorer who came this way many years ago and was rather relieved, I imagine, to find water!
We walked down in to the canyon itself, along the creek, to the water hole at the end, and Jon and I went swimming. The others declined, becasue the water was chilly, and with the wind blowing none of us had got that hot. But having never been swimming in a water hole in a canyon in the middle of a desert before, Jon and I decided we didn't want to miss the opportunity. It was fairly chilly, but not bad once you got used to it, and nicer over the far side of the pool which was in the sun. The worst thing was that the water was murky, so if you were upright you couldn't see your legs. This lent itself to all sorts of imaginings of fresh water crocodiles, water snakes, and other nasties that could come and bite you.
After our swim we made our way back out of the canyon, and down the other side, being treated to many spectacular views in the process. By this time the wind had dropped and it really was getting hot, so we were glad the walk was nearly over.
After the walk we headed to a campsite for lunch. This included a toilet break (much needed!), and it was while I was minding my own business, sitting on the loo, that I spotted a spider.... It was on its web, behind the door of the cubicle, with its belly towards me, so I blew on it a bit to get it to turn over. Low and behold, it was a redback! Small, but highly venomous... So I went and told the others, who all duly trapised into the loos to see it... While Mike was giving it his expert opinion (and confirming that it was, indeed, a redback), I looked up and spotted above him on the wall the most monstrously huge spider, which I pointed out to him as calmly as I could. He looked up and said, very causally, "Oh, that's just a huntman. That won't do you any harm. It's this little thing you want to watch..."! Harmless the huntsman might be, but it was as big as my hand at least, and if I'd known something that big had been sitting on the wall above me while I was on the loo, I might not have been quite so calm!
Our encounters with the local wildlife, and our lunch, complete, we got back in the van and started the many hours drive back to Alice Springs. Much of it was on dirt roads, along the side of which were growing some big melon-like things. Mike informed us they were edible, went through much palava to find one that was "ripe", and split it open for us to eat. It was vile! Bitter is a total understatement, and we all had to wash our mouths out with water, sprite, and whatever else came to hand. Mike laughed. Git.
While we were stopped sorting that out, we spotted a fork tailed kite, who was hunting in the dried up river bed we were crossing at the time. He was beautiful, and we have some short movies of his flight, but they're too big for me to upload here at the moment. I'll have to show you all when we get home!
From there we headed back to Alice Springs, which is a pretty small town by anyone's standards, although the largest pace for miles in the outback. The Masters' Games (OAP olympics) were on, so the town was heaving. We all went to our separate hotels, but met up again in the evening for dinner in an "interesting" place called Bojangles, picked by Mike. I understand it was a little different to normal because of the influx of people for the games, so we forgave him for taking us there, but after dinner we vacated for an irish bar up the road. Much alcohol was had, and a variety of silliness ensued, before we all went off to bed.