Coming on the heels of a couple of days of immersing myself in the glorious greenness of the area around Cairns, Alice Springs was a bit of a shock. Not a surprise, mind you, as I’d been expecting an arid place, and not an unpleasant shock, but a shock nonetheless. I had traded green for red. As Neville Shute noted in his novel A Town Like Alice (aka The Legacy), “It’s red. Red around Alice and where I come from, red earth and then, the mountains are all red… great red ranges of bare hills against the blue sky.”
But red isn’t the only thing that can be said about the land around Alice Springs. It’s also ancient, with worn-down mountains that look like those illustrations in the Time-Life books about our planet, where you can see the rock plates pushing up through the earth. Wonderful stuff. And it’s dry. Everything that isn’t red is brown or gold. But it works. For me, it was the next big step away from what I had always known. I’d been to Florida, California, and Hawaii, so Queensland wasn’t a huge stretch—well, except for that part about quitting my job to come. But the Outback—that was going to be the place where things really changed.
My first day, I wandered around town, getting my bearings, figuring out what there was to see, exploring. At one point, I strode out into the middle of the Todd River. No worries about getting wet, however, as the Todd rarely contains water. The photo below was taken while I stood close to the center of the river. As the bridge in the photo suggests, water appears at times, but not often. The real water reserves in this region lie far underground.