We began another "adventure" bus trip — this time a week-long journey from Adelaide to Uluru (Ayer’s Rock) and Alice Springs, visiting many points in between. Our group was a range of ages and nationalities.
The first day, we saw the (fairly) green and fertile landscape of Adelaide change to scrubby desert. The soil near Adelaide supports vineyards and sheep. The land near Parachilna, our overnight stop, can barely support sheep. And with the desert came some warmth, as well as really annoying flies that persistently land on your lips and eyes.
We enjoyed seeing old European-style brick homes in the tiny desert towns. Most were built by immigrants imitating the architectural styles of their native lands. As a result, many were climatically inappropriate, and people had to add verandas to stay cool.
In a little town called Melrose, we walked to a park, and saw two smallish kangaroos grazing. We were able to pet them. They felt soft and downy.
After kangaroo-petting and really fab gelato, we concurred, Melrose did indeed have "much to offer."
At one point, we climbed a rock formation to see some Aboriginal cave paintings.
In Hawker, another little berg, we saw the "Wilpena Panorama," part of the Jeff Morgan Gallery, "undertaken to try and capture the glory of God’s wonderful Creation."
A panorama is usually a cylindrical room containing continuous, panoramic painting of a landscape. In this case it was a depiction of the beautiful local mountains. There was a viewing platform in the middle of the room, and the room echoed when we stood there.
I think most panoramas were painted in the 19th century. I them particularly interesting in the way they corresponded to (then) changing ideas of nature, God, people’s ability to "control" nature, manifest destiny etc.
The landscape got pretty flat after that.
Although, somehow, the kangaroos managed to ski.
We were shown the remains of the oldest homestead in the area, which was built in the 19th century. Although it was quite recent, life on the homestead was brutal. As evidenced by the "hut."
That evening, we had our first outback beer at Parachilna.
Watching the sunset with an Ozzie beer (or, in my case, a cocktail), the flies swarmed our faces with unexpected tenacity. They go for the protein in your eyes. This led to the donning of ridiculous-looking bush hats with attached nets (photos later).
That night, we stayed at the charming Parachilna hotel, built in the 19th century, and enjoyed the luxury of a bathtub.