So it's our last morning in Alice Springs!
We've loved our time here - although Helen's family weren't overly keen on the YHA here - I think because it was quite basic with not very many facilities. I liked it there though and thought it was within character of the area - showing that in an environment as harsh and as barren as the central desert towns can sprout up, albiet very basic affairs! I'm suprised that Alice is where it is, let alone a full blown airport slap bang next to it...
People whinge about globalisation, but when you have a Subway, KFC and a Mc Donalds in a small town in Australia, where the nearest city to the south is Adelaide (1500km / about 800 miles), the job's done really isn't it? If you want to bang on about globalisation - then put down your placard and come to Alice for the week.
Another thing that hits you about Alice (or at least for us) is the sheer amount of Aboriginals kicking around in the town. It's wierd really, as you try to work out how you feel about this. Of course, they're dresses very plainly, don't wash, have wild matted hair and sit around on the street all day. When I was there I saw someone hand one of the white people in the street hand an aboriginal some cash - the Aboriginal looked almost confused - like "What did I do to get that?".
To understand the context of what was really going on we decided to go on a "cultural" visit. I say "cultural", because although we met the Aboriginals in the bush, the fella who we talked to made it quite clear that the Aboriginals lived in Alice in a house and drove here to work every day, where they would paint pictures for the tourists.
It was however, very interesting. The gentleman who told us a little bit about Aboriginal history and society in Alice helped us to put the situation into context. He explained that, of course, white man had only really turned up in this area in any great numbers in the last 100 years, so for a society that has lived off the land nomadically for the last 15,000, it is very difficult to adapt. When your family is roaming an area the size of the UK in search of water, when you are living off such a barren land, your priorites are different - you don't work for money, you don't consume alcohol and your number one constant goal is the search for water. With no written language, the aboriginals also paint a lot to tell their history, such as a map of where a waterhole is.
So when an aboriginal sits under a tree, they are just doing what they've done for 15,000 years. It's sometimes very hard to understand what on earth the previous Australian Governments were up to around 100 years ago - when they really were driving the Aboriginals out everywhere.
On the whole now, you see signs of reconcilliaion, and the current Government at least seems to be trying.
One of the things that we can do is be educated - so it was good to understand the context of at least this local situation.
There was also a more light hearted side to the morning, with us all being able to try "Witchetty Grubs", "Kangeroo Tail", and various seeds.
Mmm. Lovely. Also managed to have a great time throwing hunter's boomerangs around the outback. Geat! They're hunters boomerangs because they don't return! Wahoo!
Ok, gotta go, I'm being told to stop so I can pack to leave today - We're off in 10 minutes!
Lots of fun from Gareth and Helen x x x