Alice Springs is a curious little town in the middle of absolutely nowhere. On a map of Australia it looks as if it’s right next to Ayer’s Rock, but in fact it’s about 300 miles away. If you drew a circle 600 miles across centred on Alice Springs, about 10,000 people would live within it. If you did the same thing in London, you’d encompass about 60 million people. We spent a couple of days in this outpost, and I enjoyed the frontier feeling.
We wandered up Anzac Hill and looked over the town to the Heavitree Gap. Beyond the Gap you could travel through empty desert all the way to Ceduna on the South Australian coast. At the other end of town from Anzac Hill was Billy Goat Hill. This was off-limits to all except aborigines, being a sacred place to them. The sad state of urban aborigines was clear to see near Billy Goat Hill, as there were always a number of miserable-looking people there clutching bottles.
It rained while we were in Alice Springs. This only happens once or twice a month, and after the shower had passed, the concrete paths near our hotel became covered in cockroaches. As quickly as they appeared, they disappeared, with only a few pieces of pulpy mess left behind where a careless foot had fallen at the wrong time.