Home to Yulara

12th July, 2003
13th July, 2003
14th July, 2003
15th July, 2003

Saturday, 12th July, 2003

Drop Cap ell, here we are on board the Indian Pacific once more. I hope this will be legible. We left home (and Carrot) early, catching the 10:12 train to Central. Booking the luggage through to Alice Springs seemed easy and when we finally boarded the train there was an option to have the cabin luggage portered on to the Ghan at Adelaide, so we did.

Drop Cap e have also booked a tour of Broken Hill early tomorrow morning before breakfast. We are on late meal sittings as the train is very full and needs two sittings.

Drop Cap t was a lovely trip through the Mountains, clear and scenic. As it got dark the sunset coloured the sky in bands of pink and blue with a full moon over all. Really magic.

Drop Cap e have been given a "Welcome" pack with all sorts of documents and two Indian Pacific commemorative badges, also a toilet pack with all sorts of toiletries and a little hydration spray bottle. We are going to a reception in the lounge before dinner. I think I will leave this as the writing is getting worse and worse.


Drop Cap ot a very comfortable night, very rough, and too warm in the cabin, everyone said so next morning. Also the bed was a bit hard and made my back ache.

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Sunday, 13th July, 2003

aircraft photograph

Some Royal Flying Doctor Aircraft, Broken Hill

Drop Cap ot up at 06:00, before dawn! to dress and have early morning coffee, fruit and sweet breads before our short off-train tour of Broken Hill. Got in about 07:10, half an hour late, so the tour was very quick but it gave us a good overview of Broken Hill.

We visited the Royal Flying Doctor Base and viewed their planes and medical equipment, old and new.

radio photograph

Old Pedal Operated Radio, RFDS Broken Hill

Drop Cap hey displayed an old pedal radio from the earliest days, communications and exercise in one unit. Hope nobody had a broken leg and needed assistance!

Drop Cap hen we drove around and looked at some of the heritage listed buildings. Broken Hill is rather spectacular really and has a lot to be proud of. We visited an art and craft gallery which had some lovely work; typically outback style but some lovely silver, glass, turquoise and amber and examples of coloured stones, minerals and thunder eggs. I bought a badge at the RFDS Base, but resisted the gallery.

Broken Hill photograph

New Visitor Centre atop a slag heap, Broken Hill

Drop Cap e got back on the train, raring for breakfast but we don't get it until 09:30 as we are second sitting. The train started its pull out of the station but crawled along. The train manager who is next door to us said they were having problems resetting the computer (hope they don't use Windows!) But by 08:45 we were rolling.

Drop Cap his was just the start. There was a signalling problem which caused us to sit in a siding for over an hour waiting for a freight to cross the other way. After it finally came through we had to crawl at 25 kph for another 25 ks. In the end we were 2 hours late into Adelaide with just time to cross the platform and board the Ghan.

Drop Cap he meals on the Indian Pacific were not as good as I remember from last time, but not bad. The reception (before dinner last night) was quite nice with complimentary bright blue curacao and champagne cocktails plus nibbles, then dinner. I had pate, duck with bok choy and pavlova, Mac had pate, roast lamb and mocha tart. Breakfast this morning after our excursion was OJ, scrambled egg, bacon and tomato, toast and coffee. OK. But lunch was the star turn. I had feta cheese, onion and tomato tart (like a quiche) and honeycomb ice cream cake. Yummy! Then the Gold Kangaroo Manager (their name for 1st Class) introduced the chefs and they gave us lovely chocolate truffles.

Later - 17:55

Ghan photograph

Mac about to Board the Ghan, Adelaide

Drop Cap he Ghan is ready to leave and things seem fairly similar except the attendants don't seem to have the time to chat like they did on the I.P. We are once again on 2nd sitting and will report later on the meal there.


Drop Cap he meal was good, I had trout and beef, Mac had mushroom pate and chicken and we had the company of a very pleasant couple from Connecticut, U.S.A. Came back to the cabin, had a hot shower and will now try to sleep.

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Monday 14th July, 2003

Drop Cap lept quite a lot better last night and feel reasonable today. We woke to sunrise over the desert, quite spectacular, although desert a la Sahara, it isn't, at least not around here. There is a lot of vegetation, scrubby saltbush and spinifex mainly. But the earth has turned the characteristic red of the pictures. There is not much sign of wildlife, but I did see a small mob of kangaroos just before we were called for a rather late breakfast. This was good, better than the I.P., more choice.

Desert photograph

Crossing the Finke River (from the train)

Drop Cap t the end of breakfast came the wild excitement of crossing the Finke River. I took a photo from the train door but there is no water, just a little dampness covered in animal tracks. It is a very wide riverbed and must be a raging torrent in the rare aftermath of rain. I think the reason for our late breakfast was a medical emergency because they made an appeal for a doctor or nursing sister. Don't know any details.

Alice in one and a half hours.

Rosemary photograph

Arriving in Alice Springs

Drop Cap ell, here we are in the Alice Springs Resort, just across the (dry) Todd River Bridge from the main Todd Mall Shopping Centre. We are not hungry enough for lunch but may eat at the Palms Restaurant tonight so will content ourselves with coffee later. It is quite a nice hotel, with a pool and our room is in the Palm Court, having its own little shady palm garden outside (complete with a bank of airconditioning units) Oh well.

Bridge photograph

Todd River Bridge, Alice Springs

Drop Cap he Alice seems like almost any country town, quite warm in the sun in July but should be cold at night. All the usual American style shops, fast food places etc, but where isn't, these days? We went out to have a look around. We crossed the Todd River, a torrent of dust that looked as though it had never seen water. It does, though, about once a year! It is, of course, where the famous "Henley on Todd" Regatta takes place every year, with foot powered boats.

Drop Cap e continued to the Todd Mall, a pedestrianised area devoted to milking the tourist, full of aboriginal art galleries and craft and souvenir shops and cafes. We bought some groceries at Woolworths and had iced coffees at a café. Then went to a T-shirtery and bought a couple of cut-price T-shirts (hope they fit Geoff), a painted bark box and a hat badge. Then came home to the resort, had a nap and a shower before dinner at the Palms Restaurant.


Drop Cap ave just come back from dinner in the Palms Restaurant in the Resort. Quite nice - we shared a serve of Turkish bread with dips of bush tomato chutney, hummous and olive tapenade. Then had the chef's special of chargrilled lamb cutlets on a pile of ratatouille, potato roesti and red wine jus. None of the desserts appealed - deep fried Mars Bars!! So finished with coffee.

Drop Cap t is quite cold out - apparently it gets down to zero in the early hours. We have to get up at 05:15 for early breakfast and shuttle to Uluru, leaving at 06:35. Breakfast starts at 06:00 so hopefully we will have time for some.

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Tuesday 15th July, 2003

Drop Cap rose in the freezing pre-dawn air for breakfast at 06:00 and out to meet our shuttle tour at 06:35. We had quite a full bus by the time we had picked up from half a dozen hotels. Some of the same people we had met on the Ghan, including Robyn and Noreen to whom I had given a camera battery at Broken Hill. They ended up giving me $10-00 for it at the Station at Alice and I replaced it for $12-50 which was nearly right.

Camel photograph

Mac attempts to Outstare a Camel, Stuart's Well

Drop Cap ur first stop was at the camel farm at Stuart's Well, which used to be owned by Territorian character Noel Fullerton. He introduced camel racing to the Territory and even overseas. Anyway he has now retired and the farm is run by others, who really seem to love the camels who rubbed up against them like cats!

Camelride photograph

Robyn and Noreen go for a ride

Drop Cap hey had some llamas and alpacas and a young dingo as well. Some of the busload took short jaunts down the paddock on camelback, including Robyn and Noreen, so I took a picture of them with their camera, and one with mine.

Mesa photograph

Distant View of Mount Connor

Drop Cap e stopped for morning tea at Mt. Ebenezer Roadhouse, then turned off at Erldunda for the run to the Rock. The earth is that characteristic rusty red. Our driver, Gordon, said the red sand had blown in during a sandstorm 20,000 years ago and the red colour was indeed rust (iron oxide). Probably came from Western Australia.

Drop Cap oving right along, we had a photo stop to see the flat topped mesa of Mount Conner. This rises sheer from the desert flats, slightly lower but much wider than Uluru. But it is not a monolith.

Drop Cap fter that it was a straight run to Yulara, arriving about 13:00. We caught a tantalising glimpse of Uluru and the Olgas on the way in.

Hotel photograph

Our Room, Sails in the Desert Hotel

Drop Cap ails in the Desert, our hotel for three nights, is five star and the room is great. Two double beds, bathroom with bath as well as shower, two wash basins. Mac said, "Hey, we got double woks!" We have a private balcony with lounger, two outdoor chairs and table and tubs of bougainvillea. The restaurants cost a fortune, but there is a small shopping centre, with a nice café, Geckos, a takeaway, small IGA supermarket, bank, post office and various craft shops. We had lunch there, at Geckos, sharing a large and delicious pizza, then we bought some soft drinks and nibbles to cheat our mini-bar, some postcards and a hat badge. Then came back for a rest. We have a free day tomorrow but we may squander it in relaxation. It will be our last chance for a while.


Drop Cap e rang Geoff tonight and found that he and Carrot were relaxing in front of the fire. Mac complains that he has not seen a cat since leaving Sydney. We made reservations for the Winkiku Restaurant, buffet meal at $55-00 per person! Talk about charging like wounded camels! Especially since the reservation had not been registered and the buffet, though loaded with oysters, prawns, sushi and sashimi did not appeal much to us. We thought it was a ripoff and the service was non-existent. Still, we are fairly captive. We will go back to Geckos café in the shopping centre tomorrow night. After that we are on tour and most of our meals are included.

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