|The scene behind the screen - this photo|
doesn't do it justice
|A captivating talk from this Park Ranger|
I was lucky enough to join a tour led by an Aboriginal park ranger and was completely spell bound by his tales of how Aborigines find water and track animals. It was truly fascinating . The park is an authentic desert landscape and contains more than 200 desert animals, including kangaroos, emus and dingoes, and 400 plants. There are also a number of walk through aviaries and a nocturnal house where I saw, for the first time, the cute, scurrying, desert bilby and mala. It was an absorbing place to while away the afternoon. Late in the day the Ghan passengers were special guests at a bird show. This was remarkable with birds perfectly trained to fly in and out of the arena on cue, swooping so low over our heads that we could feel the wind from their wings. And high above, wild eagles circled the MacDonnell Ranges.
|The bird show|
|The Outback Barbecue with tree stump seats|
That evening we were guests at a "genuine" Aussie barbecue held in an old quarry, 20 minutes from Alice Springs, now converted into a barbeque venue. It was like stepping onto the set of McLeod's Daughters with all the Australiana scattered around - a traditional outback windmill, stacks of fire wood, an old wagon and implements, blazing camp fires,and pretty staff in checked shirts and acubra hats. Nevertheless, it still maintained a natural, not overly commercialised feel. It was a beautiful evening and we enjoyed drinks and nibbles bathed in the rays of the setting sun.
Left: A perfect outback BBQ setting
Right: Riding a camel
Below: Barbeque time!
There were two camels available to ride so of course, you know me, I had to have a ride. Good fun! Dinner was served in a huge corrugated iron barn with a sand floor - man sized steaks, baked potatoes and salads followed by apple crumble and cream while we were entertained by a balladeer singing outback songs and by a very humorous presentation on how to make damper, or bush bread. Then it was time to head back outside to sit around the camp fires and be serenaded with well known Australian songs, including, of course, Waltzing Matilda.