O is for the Olgas ( Kata Tjuta) and Open Gardens

O is for the OLGAS

The Olgas or Kata Tjuta, as this rock formation is now known, is part of the Uluru- Kata Tjuta National Park. Kata Tjuta’s more famous big sister tends to take the highest profile but if you’re heading for the Red Centre you should allow time to do both parts of the park. This national park is truly Australia’s red heart and is smack bang in the middle of the country and probably encapsulates the sense of the Outback more than anywhere else.

The Olgas from a distance. ©Pauleen Cass 1994

The Olgas from a distance. ©Pauleen Cass 1994

Kata Tjuta is all curves as each rocky dune looms against the vivid blue of the desert sky. The contrasting colours are magnificent with the green of the Spinifex looking almost lime-coloured on film and in some light. It provides its own dot-painting effect against the vivid ochre red of the rock formation. Tucked among the rocks are hidden spots where the desert animals can live, survive and even thrive. A quiet bushwalker has the benefit of hearing the birds and may even see some creatures as well.

On the Valley of the Winds walk. ©Pauleen Cass 1994

On the Valley of the Winds walk. ©Pauleen Cass 1994

The track through the Valley of the Winds is peaceful and restorative, as well as tiring! This is certainly an experience best savoured in the cooler months of the year when overnight it can be decidedly chilly, especially in a tent or swag. Those hot summer months (about October to April) are best avoided as most people will find them unbearable. Do plan to hang around at the Olgas towards the end of the day so you can see the setting sun light the dunes with varying shades of pink and red. Just magnificent!

068 Kata Juta moonrise and sunset


Welcome to the garden.

Welcome to the garden.

If you love gardens it’s always worth keeping an eye out for the local Open Gardens events   when you travel – they’re a great Opportunity to see new and different garden designs as well as plants you may not be familiar with.

The 2013 season Open Gardens NT commenced last weekend and we have a feast of Top End gardens to choose from throughout the Dry. It’s one of our favourite weekend activities to visit a garden and have a coffee and cake while soaking up the ambience. You can see my stories and photos from 2012 through this link.

Why visit: To see a unique natural wonder of Australia and the amazing colours, vegetation and animals of the Outback.

FYI: There are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated


On the turps: big drinking session

Old mate: A NT special gradually soaking into the vernacular elsewhere. A generic expression meaning, roughly, bloke, someone you don’t know. So old mate drove his (Land) Cruiser through the creek….

Outback: Australia’s vast interior. The iconic idea of Australia often completely unfamiliar to its many coastal dwellers. The people are typically unemotional and physically tough and laconic.

Ordinary: not the usual meaning of “normal” but also in the Aussie sense can mean sub-par, inferior, not much good. How’re ya going mate? Feeling a bit ordinary today…

I wonder where the letter P will take us tomorrow? How about back into the Kimberley?

A to Z 2013: A is for Arlee, Alice and Aussie-isms

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9 (1)First and foremost, a big thank you to Arlee Bird from Wrote by Rote who started the A to Z challenges in 2010. Thanks Arlee for giving us more opportunities to make new blogging friends. You’re a star!


Alice Springs has its own particular status in Australia. It’s famous for being the town roughly in the centre of Australia and many miles from the coast. Known as the Red Centre, Alice comes with beautiful ranges and desert scenery which lends a very different outlook. As soon as you disembark from the aircraft the change in plants and trees is immediately noticeable.

Aerial view of Alice Springs and the McDonnell ranges.

Aerial view of Alice Springs and the McDonnell ranges…sorry about the horizon.

The bulk of Australia’s population crowds together along the coastal fringe, and the east coast at that. To live somewhere like Alice where the ocean is a minimum 1500kms away is definitely counter-cultural. However the Centre’s residents are generally die-hard devotees of the place looking on others as rather wimpish (Darwinites are reserved for special disregard).

Those who have read A Town Like Alice might imagine the town as some sort of oasis and I think would be sadly disappointed by the reality. Today it has a vexed reputation for racial tension and high crime rates. This is counterbalanced by the amazing Indigenous Arts and Crafts which are readily available and also the varied historic sites. As with most desert places Alice’s temperatures soar up to the 40s (Celsius) and down to around zero mid-year: heating and air conditioning are not really optional extras.

A view over the town centre towards the Gap.

A view over the town centre towards Heavitree Gap and the airport.

There is a local tradition that if you see the Todd (River) flood three times you’ll be in Alice Springs for good. At this point I’m pleased to tell you that I have only seen it flowing twice. Still it’s interesting to see the town and surrounds in rain as it gives such a different perspective.

Why Visit: For the Indigenous arts and crafts, the historical sites like the Overland Telegraph, the Alice Springs Wildlife Park, the wonderful National Parks nearby, and if you’re keen the Camel Cup and the Henley on Todd Regatta .


A is for Aussie-isms and today we’ll kick start some of Australia’s quirky colloquialisms. Some have been outdated by the influences of television but Australian adults of a certain era will certainly remember some or all of them. I’ll asterisk the ones which are not heard as often these days. In many cases, the significance or meaning is determined by the tone of voice or the context of the sentence.  

Arvo*: short for afternoon. eg I’ll come over tomorrow arvo. May be added to, eg arvo tea, for afternoon tea.

Arse: This is the Aussie version, not the American “ass” which we think is a donkey.  While vulgar this word is used in all sorts of ways other than to describe someone’s rear end: “He’s being a bit of an arse” might mean he’s being a pain or alternatively an “idiot” (in which case donkey would be a substitute rather than ass).  “Head over turkey” or “arse over tit”. Arsey on the other hand, means lucky. 

Arrogant: while this is a perfectly normal word, you really don’t want to be called this as it’s generally used as a definite insult eg he’s an arrogant bastard. Australians don’t like tall poppies!  

Aggro:  aggressive (stirring for a fight).

‘Ave: in lieu of “have” eg “’ave a go ya mug” (note, this is not “Ave!” in the church sense).

Apples: used in “she’s apples” ie it’s alright or it’s “all good“.

Ankle biter: child often used disparagingly eg “will someone get those ankle biters outside”.

Join me tomorrow for a day trip out of Darwin and some more dinkum Aussie colloquialisms for which the letter “B” is very popular!