Stepping off the plane onto the tarmac at Alice Springs, the heat hit us like a blast furnace, seeming to make the air around us thick and difficult to breath. And to our surprise flies hovered around our faces. They were everywhere in the Outback and a constant irritation. 450 bushmaster ammo

From the airport we drove into the little town of Alice Springs for lunch. And I do mean little; it was mostly one main street although they do have a fairly new modern mall. Most of us didn’t walk around too much, instead finding an air conditioned spot to have our lunch and waiting until it was time to get back onto the air conditioned bus again.

From there we went to visit the first telegraph station in the Outback, built in 1860. It was named after the station master’s wife. No doubt it was an effort to help her forget her rather deplorable living conditions and surroundings. Another story goes that the kitchen staff had to constantly whistle so the station master would know they were not eating any food they shouldn’t be because supplies could only be brought in on the backs of camels from Darwin once a year. It was a hard life for those living at the telegraph station what with the heat, flies, lack of water and the constant fear of being attacked by the Aboriginals.

From there we checked into our hotel, surprisingly luxurious with a lovely pool. We hadn’t expected it in the middle of such desolate surroundings. A dip in the pool was heaven before we headed out to a dinner in the bush with a stop first to see some rock wallabies. They were small, friendly creatures with front paws not much bigger than my thumb nail. They ate out of our hands and held tight if they thought we might take their food away from them.

We met some Aboriginal children and teenagers from the Ulpma, Wongkatjeri and Urrundie tribes who played drums and danced. A few were training to be medicine people and several said their tribes drank warm kangaroo blood. One group of Aboriginals, the Walpiri, said they didn’t become Australian citizens until 1967. On our visit into the bush, they cooked a kangaroo tail over an open fire and we were given an opportunity to try this delicacy, as well as other types of bush food. I found the kangaroo tail to be very grisly and greasy, however, in other meal situations, those who tried the meat said it was really quite good. We were also given the opportunity to try and throw a non-returnable boomerang which is the type used for wounding and not killing.

Our actual dinner in the bush was a choice of either beef or chicken and spotted dog (not of the real dog variety but a loaf/cake filled with raisins). This was cooked in a heavy pot under a thick layer of hot embers. It was served warm with butter and honey which would have been delicious if we didn’t have to wrestle it away from the swarms of flies. After dinner, lights were switched off and we turned our attention to the sky overhead. It was a beauty that most of us surrounded by pollution and city lights don’t usually get to see. The stars were like diamonds twinkling on a black cloth of velvet and the milky way floated across the heavens. Later we were entertained with Australian songs to the accompaniment of a guitar.