Our fight to Darwin was on a full-sized plane with just 17 passengers so it didn’t take long for inflight service to be completed, then the crew took their seats for the rest of the flight! We arrived at about 21.00, went straight to the hotel and checked in. Next morning we were picked up at 06.00 for a three-day trip to Kakadu National Park and Katherine Gorge, it was still dark when we left the city, we hadn’t seen Darwin in daylight! Continue reading Darwin→
We spent the last few days in the centre of Australia in Alice Springs; we had no excursions booked and decided to visit some of the sites and services the town is famous for. On our first morning we walked, slowly, into town along the bank of the Todd River; it was very odd to see the bone-dry river bed flanked by flood markers showing depths up to 2 meters. We found the tourist information Office and asked for advice on key sites and local transport, it turned out that most of the things we wanted to see were outside of town and there was no public transport. The very helpful lady in the tourist office said some people ‘enjoy’ walking 4km out to the to The Telegraph station (it was 42⁰C) but she suggested we get a cab – good advice. We formulated a plan for the two days we had in town and went to find a cold drink to celebrate.
Although we had flown from Alice Springs to Ayres Rock we made the return journey by coach. The trip from Ayres Rock direct to Alice is over 500km, and takes about 6 hours with a couple of stops, however our itinerary included a 500km detour for a night at the Kings Canyon Resort and a ‘scenic climb’ at the canyon. We caught the bus and drove for 2 hours along the Lassiter Highway stopping for coffee at Curtain Springs Station, a cattle station which has a simple service station offering food drink, fuel and toilets for people travelling through the outback. Along the way we got a view of Mount Connor, another huge rock rising out of the desert, equally as impressive as Uluru, it is very curious that everyone knows about Uluru but the other rock features never get a mention. At the junction with Luritja Road we rendezvoused with two other coaches for a passenger swap; people heading direct to Alice Springs joined another bus leaving just four of us on the 58-seater heading to Kings Canyon. We moved up to take the seats immediately behind the driver, Tony, who proceeded to entertain us with stories and information about the roads and local characters. One person he told us about was a guy called Len Beadell a surveyor and road builder appointed by the Australian Government to set up a series of rocket testing sites in the 50’s. Tony played a recording of an after-dinner speech Beadell Made in the 80’s, he had an amazing story to tell and a great sense of humour, the journey to Kings Canyon flew past. Continue reading Red Centre – Kings Canyon→
We rose early on Wednesday and reported to our departure lounge ready for our 06.25 disembarkation. The port of Whittier was grey and foggy and the rain was pouring down, fortunately the Alaskans know how to deal with these conditions and we followed a covered walkway across the quayside to our waiting train. The trip to Mt McKinley Lodge took about 6 hours, the first five were in a glass domed railway carriage which gave us a great view of the Alaskan landscape as we headed inland and north. We were sharing a table with a couple from the Midwest who, like everybody else wanted to talk about Brexit, and after that to find out what we think about Donald Trump!!
Glacier Park Lodge is an historic hotel, it was built in the early C20th and is a log cabin construction; the main lobby is three stories high and supported by huge whole Douglas fir tree trunks. The Lodge is about an hour from the park entrance so we spent one night there before transferring to St Mary’s Lodge which is a five-minute walk from the entrance! We will have another night at Glacier Park Lodge before we leave for Seattle on Sunday evening. The ride from one hotel to the next took us through the Blackfeet Nation Reservation, Glacier Park is the traditional tribal land of the Blackfeet Nation and has great cultural and religious significance for them. Unfortunately, the treaty which took the land into Federal Government control pretty much excludes the Blackfeet from accessing the land; they now live outside the park in and around a town called Browning, where their main income is from beef cattle and lumber.