Camping cost: $1536.73 Sites: 40 Average: $38.42

peteg's blog - travels - NT 2003 08 - 2003 08 17 AliceSprings

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The final day of the Darwin to Alice bus trip. Some distance on from where we spent the night the group went through a mine exhibition where an old hand explained the historically dodgy business of extracting gold from the ground.

From there we pushed on to the Ti Tree art gallery for lunch, and then onto the Devil's Marbles. These are pretty much a bunch of rocks sitting in the middle of nowhere, and while it's pretty weird it gets a bit tedious after a while — there's nothing in particular to do, apart from wandering around, and with a tour group it's a bit impolite to do this for the hours and hours it'd take to check the place out properly.

Alice was still a hellish few hours in the bus away at this point, which was when Jimmy decided to treat us to a few rounds of hyper-bingo.

It turns out that Adventure Tours has an all-too-familiar relationship with the backpacker elysium Melanka's ("Skanky Melanka's" according to Marty). After scrummaging for my bag and checking in I would've been my usual skeptical self and given it both barrels if I hadn't been hanging out for a shower. I shared the room with this pair of boys, barely out of school, who gave me the impression that the Danish rugby team would be world-beaters if only they had one.

The biggest anomaly at this place was that it had the backpacker bar in Alice, and somehow they'd managed to find some absolutely stunning girls to run it. Well, that's what I thought until the games started and one of them morphed into a dominatrix, egged on by the others. The prizes were alcoholic, of course, and it was at this point that I realised that the N.T. is somewhat less anal than N.S.W. when it comes to the gentle coercion of others into enjoying your inebriation with you.

The beer selection was a strange N.S.W. / Queensland hybrid, the like of which I've only seen in places catering to tourists on the north cost of N.S.W. — dare I call it the worst of all possible worlds (remember I'm thinking about before I came to Sweden.): Victoria Bitter and myriad XXXX variants. No Carlton Draught, even.

The verdict: don't bother doing the Darwin to Alice trip. Either go to Darwin or go to Alice. In my humble opinion there's nothing worth seeing that can't be done in a day trip from one or the other centre. Putting it another way, spend your time checking out Kakadu, Arnham Land or Darwin itself rather than in a vehicle on the Lasseter Highway.