We just seem to fluke stuff everywhere we go. We had no idea that Territory Day was held on 1 July and here we were in Alice Springs. Territory Day is a big deal in Alice and is the one day of the year when it is legal to let off your own fireworks. We’d noticed a few places in town with large Fireworks For Sale signs. It’s been such a long time since we were able to buy fireworks in NSW.
Our third day in Alice day began with a visit to Alice Springs Desert Park. We wanted to get there in time for the 10.00am Free Flight Bird Show as we’d heard from other travelers that it was worth going to. We arrived at the park around 9.30 and, after paying our entry and picking up a park map, we set off to find the Ampitheatre. On the way we passed the Dingo enclosure. A lone Dingo was sunning himself looking back at us as we looked at him.
The Ampitheatre is a concrete structure with tiered seats set facing the spectacular West McDonell Ranges. On the way to our seats the eagle-eyed amongst the visitors spotted a bird sitting on one of the support arms of the overhead shade shelter. Ben thought it might be a fake one until it moved.
The bird show was presented very professionally by keeper Erin, who kept up an interesting commentary throughout. The birds on show were kites, a magpie, a Blue Heron, a Barn Owl, and the final star of the show a huge Wedge-tailed Eagle. We found out that the bird sitting on the strut as we arrived was a Tawny Frogmouth. Erin was helped in her presentation by a tiny Willy Wagtail named Bruce who almost stole the show.
We all really enjoyed the bird show and recommend visitors make sure you time it right to see it. The bird show is on at 10am and 3pm every day.
The park is divided into three areas, the Desert Rivers, Sand Country, Woodland as well as the Nocturnal House.
Following the Bird Show we headed through the Desert Rivers section of the park. I was amazed at the variety of fish found in the Finke River system on display in an aquarium.
Awaye Flat is an large shade shelter area with wooden seats for visitors. Here we spent an hour listening to Rueben, anAboriginal guide, talk about the Aboriginal way of life, their tools and weapons, how to light fires, Aboriginal history of Australia and the many different clans and skin groups and how that works. The hour passed by very quickly as Reuben was a good public speaker and passionate about his subject. He was happy to answer questions.
Interestingly he talked about what to call an Aboriginal person. Do we call them Aboriginal, Indigenous or the newer term, First Nations. Reuben’s answer was simple. He said to ‘ask them’.
Next up we went through the Sand Country section to get to the Nocturnal House. The Nocturnal House is a large building with excellent displays of rare and endangered nocturnal animals of The Red Centre. We finally had a name for the little mice that we had running around our camp in the desert on the way to Alice. They are called Spinifex Hopping Mice.
We spent quite a long time in the Nocturnal House as there was so much to see.
We then walked through the Woodland section of the park that included a couple of fabulous bird aviaries and a red kangaroo enclosure before making our way back to where we started.
Sadly the Cafe at the Desert Park is not currently operational. They have no one willing to take it on at this time and as our tummies were rumbling by this time we decided to head back to camp for a late lunch.
In the late afternoon Pa took Ben & Maddie to the pool, while Katie and I did the groceries for our trip out to the West McDonell Ranges. Riley was reading his book!
In the evening Rich stayed back at camp while the rest of us piled in the car for the short journey to Blatherskite Park to go to the Alice Springs Show and watch the Territory Day Fireworks.
What a fabulous time we had. The kids all wanted to go on the rides so they went on the Dodgem Cars, we all went on the Ferris Wheel together, Ben & Maddie had a go at four-wheeler motorbikes and the Big Bungy while Riley had a go at shooting hoops and throwing darts. What fun!
We made sure to buy something to eat then made our way to the grandstand to set up to watch the fireworks at 8pm. We found a position on the grass in front of the grandstand and sat on our picnic rug eating our gourmet dinners of dim sims, hot chips, spiral potato on a stick, Dagwood dog with sauce and a stuffed baked potato.
The fireworks started right on time after a countdown by the MC. The crowd helped call out the countdown. The display ran for about 20 minutes and was set to music. It was an awesome fireworks display and there was lots of cheering and clapping by the crowd when it finally finished.
Of course then all the crowd had to leave to go home so we walked, along with the thousands of others, back to the carpark. People had been encouraged to use public transport to get to Blatherskite Park however there were still a lot of cars. We thought it might take quite a long time to get out however we were out of there in no time at all.
The kids declared on the way home ‘this is the best holiday ever and we’re not even half way through’.
As we drove into our caravan park who should we find sitting on a ledge with another old bloke, Pa. Pa had made a friend and they were both out the front of the park watching fireworks. They reckoned it had been amazingly dangerous. The bloke across the road nearly set his house and fence on fire, a grass fire was started in the other direction. In a word, mayhem. They were having a great time watching it all.
Another great day was over on this fabulous adventure to The Red Centre. We have learnt so much already and there’s still so much to see.