We sure had a great time on the Yorke Peninsula, but alas, we had to move on. Our hosts from the peninsula took us in to Adelaide for an overnight stay at a hotel plus a farewell dinner. Then we were off on a two hour Qantas flight to Alice Springs yesterday (Sunday Aussie time). We arrived to sunny skies and a warm day (some 80 plus degrees).
After a quick settle in, our local Rotarian hosts had a get together at one of their homes. Then it was bright and early for the sunrise breakfast meeting with the Rotary Club of Mbantua. Our host for today was Rotarian (and future RI District 9500 Governor) Peter Schaffer. After the meeting we headed out to Undoolya Station to visit Richie Hayes with his Rockyhill Table Grapes operation.
Yes, here in the searing heat of Alice Springs you can grow grapes: All it takes is water and the right care. As Richie pointed out, the red like clay/sandy soil can be quite productive, as evidenced by the healthy vines plus the other crops he grows including experimental plots of yams and peanuts. He also has a good amount of clover in production and had been cutting it when we arrived. Luckily he has invested in a well that is tapped into a regional aquifer that allows him to irrigate his fields. While learning about his agriculture adventures was fun, our afternoon tea and coffee allowed him to share his exploits as a young man traveling across American in the 1980s in a Cadillac he picked up in Bakersfield, California. His retelling of being pulled over in Tennessee by a good ‘ole boy sheriff and their adventures together that night had us all in stitches.
Next we ventured to the Alice Springs Reptile Centre. This small facility packs in some 100 reptiles of 60 species providing a great perspective of the critters that roam the Northern Territory and beyond. First up was a presentation with various reptiles and snakes plus a little education of how to deal (or basically stay away from) snakes in the wild. Then they gave willing participants a chance to hold a few of the reptiles in their collection including a boa and a couple of lizards. Finally we toured their grounds to see adders, tree frogs, goannas, skinks, turtles plus one stealthy looking crocodile that thankfully was well protected(or was it that we were well protected?)
Afterwards, we enjoyed a visit to the Royal Flying Doctors Service (RFDS), not because we needed help after handling the snakes but because they are renowned and conveniently across the street from the reptile centre. Started in 1928, this non-profit entity is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organizations in the world. RFDS provides emergency and health care services for folks living in remote areas of Australia.
Following that we had free time to stroll downtown and stop in at various galleries exhibiting Aboriginal art or to get some basic necessities (like flip flops!) I capped off the night with an outdoor dinner under the stars at the local casino with our local hosts. Had an Aussie burger which is basically like an American burger but also comes with with beetroot and a fried egg. They are great, try one sometime!
All in all, a great first day in Alice Springs.