Satisfaction is holding a joey at sunset in the Australian outback, no hurry, kangaroos everywhere and a happy mother.
Today’s Planned Schedule
- 4:10 a.m. Depart for hot air balloon ride over the outback, optional. You’ll be brought directly to the Dreamtime Tour to meet the rest of the group.
- 6:00 a.m. Breakfast opens at the Ballons Restaurant
- 8:10 a.m. Depart for Dreamtime Tour, Aboriginal Cultural Talk. Bring cash to purchase Aboriginal art. Paintings range from $5 AUD to $300 AUD, 2 1/2 hours.
- 11:00 a.m. Royal Flying Doctor Service
- Noon: Anzac Hill
- 1:00 p.m. Free Time!! All night long!
- 5:45 p.m. Pick up for the Kangaroo Sunset Tour, a tour we scheduled on our own. Return, 8:15 p.m.
The English influence was particularly evident in the morning.
The day started with many options, but always a full English breakfast: bacon, fried or scrambled eggs, fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms, toast with butter, sausages aka bangers and baked beans.
Aboriginal Culture: Dreamtime Tour
We headed out to learn about Aboriginal culture.
This outcroping has a dreamtime or creation story associated with a caterpillar who made its way through the landscape.
It was an absolutely beautiful morning, not yet too hot. Blue sky and green grass.
We started off with more spotted dog bread and tea made in these buckets over a fire. Tea and tea grounds. It was strong and good.
Tom got boomerang lessons from Andrew, an Aboriginal elder. Boomerangs are used to hunt kangaroos.
This woman worked on her artwork, one of many artisans with his or her work for sale.
Lifestyle and Aboriginal Law
There were strict laws in the Aboriginal culture and it was all about sharing, respecting elders, and minding the order of society. If one broke one of these laws, a male may have a punishing spear driven through his leg. A woman may have her arm broken. They were shunned and ostracized from society.
They traveled in small groups. There were laws about marriage. People were categorized in “skin groups.” No one could marry closer than their 4th cousin. Marriage was for life. A girl was given in marriage by her mother, a 14 or 15 year old girl would be married to a 20 year old man. A son-in-law would have nothing to do with his mother-in-law.
When someone died, they would do “sorry business.” A man might perform a sorry cut on themselves. This would relieve the grief. They would make amends with the person. They believe they are born of the Earth. When they die, they go back to the Earth. Once someone dies, their name cannot be mentioned again.
Men’s “business” and women’s “business” are kept strictly separated. This was seen in their artwork. A man would not explain his artwork to a woman because it pertains to men’s business which is no business of a woman and visa versa.
Predominant in the culture is a deep sense of humility.
What’s to eat? Nuts and seeds are gathered by the women.
The Witchetty grub is a common source of protein when kangaroos cannot be caught. They thrive in the Whichetty bush, a bush the kangaroos like to sleep under during the heat of the day. This one is still alive and moving. They can be as big as your index finger.
Men hunt the kangaroos. This is a favorite, kangaroo tail. This one was caught for us just this morning and roasted on the fire. If you look closely, you can see all of the Australian Bush flies swarming around. We didn’t eat it. The man carving it said the kangaroo was not very healthy.
A second favorite of the Aborigines is warm kangaroo blood just after a kill.
This was the men’s artwork. Most of these pieces went for $200 AUD. The orange one was a story of creation. The artwork available ranged from a $5 AUD book marker to $300 paintings.
This one was painted by Beatrice, a popular artist. It’s the story of women gathering nuts and seeds, women sitting around and the tools that they used to process that food. This painting was $50 AUD.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service
I really thought this was going to be boring. It was far from it.
We watched a 15 minute video of how health care is provided in the remote areas of Australia. It was fascinating.
Each home has a “medical cabinet.” This one is from 1958. Parts of the body are divided up by number. When a person is sick or injured they call the physician and give a number of the corresponding body area.
The medications or treatments are labeled with those same numbers so a non-medical person can give details of their issue and receive the right treatment over the phone.
In cases of emergency they have free flights. You would be given a time to be at the airport for the plane to pick you up to take you to the hospital. Free flights are even provided to tourists.
This is the terrain of Anzac Hill from the bottom up. It’s one of the highest points in Alice Springs and a good place to get a look at the city.
This is the view from on top of the hill looking down at the town.
This is the Australian Flag. A British flag with the five stars of the Southern Cross constellation.
It was the 7th day of the tour. We were so excited about the free time! We got back to the hotel around 1 pm. We walked down the way to the casino to have lunch.
The name of the restaurant made us laugh.
My mom ordered kangaroo for the first and last time ever. It was an eating adventure. We all shared some. It was chewy. I didn’t hate it.
This is the funniest picture of my mom. She doesn’t make faces like this, but we were having such an adventurous and fun time. You can see it in her expression.
On our way back to the hotel we saw this bird. My mom loves birds and any animal. Is this a Magpie Lark?
And the resident hotel peacock was strutting around.
Off to the Piggly Wiggly
Tom and I left my mom at the hotel while we walked to the grocery store. It was well over 100 degrees. It would have been shorter to cut across the riverbed, but we were told not to do it so we walked 20 minutes each way on the sidewalk.
This is what the walk looked like on this end of the town.
The riverbed is Aboriginal territory. The women gathered under a shade tree. The men walked.
It was a walk through “the hood” to get to the Piggly Wiggly. There were bars on the windows and a police officer inside. I bought milk and we bought something to eat for dinner. Mom and I were going off on an adventure tonight and there would be no other time to eat.
We nearly died on the way back. It was so hot! Tom and I drank all of the milk I bought. I was so thirsty. I can see why a taxi is recommended. You have to be really stout to make it.
The Sunset Kangaroo Tour
Mom and I waited anxiously wondering if the van would show up. I booked this tour after finding it on the Internet at home. There were only two seats left when I booked it yesterday. It felt like the world opened up for us, such fortune. I knew this would bring my mom such joy.
It was a tiny little tour. Everyone fit in this van. It was so much more than I expected.
When we arrived, we were greeted by Brolga holding a joey, a baby kangaroo in a pillow case. Brolga is the star of a National Geographic documentary shown in over 90 countries, but I didn’t know him from a hill of beans.
I knew he sponsored this, but I didn’t expect he would be the one who gave the tours.
The second thing we saw was this kangaroo jetting by. Holy cow!
He showed us inside. This is where he used to live – in this simple tin shed – until he recently moved into town.
This was his bed and dresser. He lived a really simple life.
We walked out back to see another joey hanging in a different sack on the back of a chair. He explained they hop into and out of these sacks just like they would their mother’s pouches.
These joeys are orphaned. Their mom’s were killed on the roadside. They were found in their pouches still alive.
Again we are amazed by these parrots. They were everywhere.
At home they would be in a cage.
What Kangaroos Like
They’re a little lazy in the heat of the day. This one was just beginning to stretch and think about waking up.
They like mixed horse food. We got to feed some of them that came around.
This mom had a joey in her pouch. You can see the foot sticking out if you look closely.
The Deadly Back Claw
Their claw is the reason a kangaroo kick is so deadly.
One swift kick from a kangaroo’s back leg and you could be eviscerated or lose a part of your body you wanted to keep.
Then there’s Roger. He’s the other star of the documentary series. He’s the alpha male in the sanctuary.
Roger seems to be in a continually poor mood. He hisses.
The problem is standing on one’s hind legs for a kangaroo is an act of aggression. Roger has to deal habitually with these aggressive humans on their two back legs. It must be exhausting.
He likes to box.
Brolga got in the pen with him. There were a few kangaroos in this pen. The rest were out roaming in the wide open, but within the protected sanctuary area.
Brolga kept his eye on Roger the entire time. Being in the pen with Roger was dangerous.
As the sun set, there were kangaroos everywhere.
Their tails are huge.
We were walking right next to them.
They were amazing to watch.
This is my favorite photo of me and my mom. We each got to hold the joey as long as we wanted, over 15 minutes. We got the smaller of the two and she was heavy!
My mom was in her element.
I didn’t expect the tour would be so small and intimate. Brolga was not rushed as some “important” people are hurrying to get done with you so they can get on to their more important business.
It was an absolutely fantastic experience! If you’ll be in Alice Springs you can experience this Sunset Tour, too.
If you find a dead kangaroo along the roadside, check it’s pouch. There might be a joey inside. If you find one, put it in a pillow case. Go to the local bar and ask who takes care of the orphaned joeys. They’ll know who to bring it to.
The Icing of an Excellent Day
Tom washed all of our clothes while we were gone. They were folded neatly on the bed when we got back.
The washing machine cost $4 AUD and went for 30 minutes. The dryer cost $3 AUD and went for 45 minutes, long enough to dry the entire load. This was a good place to do the laundry on this free day.
What has been your favorite experience on vacation and what made it your favorite?