Thunder and Lightning in Alice

12 Jan

Tonight the skies displayed the power of Creation in thunder and lightning. Shards of light danced like magic between  the clouds and for light relief occasionally earthing themselves as arcs of fire tore down the gap between heaven and earth. As the bold sweeps of energy sliced open the sky, carving edges to the darkness behind, thunder lent weight with sonorous applause, ringing off the hills and rumbling into the distance. All the while, the cooling rain beat down on a land that had been scorched by the heat of a fiery day, bringing soothing peace and ease to those who had gasped in the flames of the daytime inferno. And in and around the razor edge of light and the rolling grumble of the thunder came the softness of rain – sheets of warm rain, bringing relief, but also a strange sensation of peace and of deep inner connectedness, as if the water drops caused me to feel more linked to the earth, and to the storm.

Slowly the energy of the storm moved overhead, the procession of lightstorm and  the deep growl of thunder echoing round the surrounding hills until it moved out of sight and away from our ears – and yet leaving an impact on our hearts, humbled to witness the power of nature unleashed for a short while through coruscating arcs of white fire and the roar of thunder as it rolled with majestic power around us. Each of us left in no doubt that the power that had been unleashed in simple skyborne display could in an instant transform each of our circumstances into new.

One of the things that changed dramatically for Alice Springs was the river. Normally a dry creek bed, where the annual Henley-on-Todd boat race is held – enterprising competitors simply poke their feet through the bottom of their craft and run. It’s cancelled in the event of flood. When I arrived, the river was doing what we would expect… nothing much. This morning, we were confronted with a red torrent, making it tricky to get to the Botanical Gardens the other side of the river.. which was my plan. The locals loved it, splashing and paddling, although motorists looked a bit bemused. I decided that the easiest way was through, so, feet clad in my trusty sandals, waded the river.

Todd River (5)Todd River (6)Todd River (8)Todd River (9)Todd River (1)

There are some great views of the surrounding mountains…

Botanical Gardens (3)Botanical Gardens (6)

I climbed Anzac hill as well, with splendid views across the town and beyond to the McDonnell ranges – these parallel stripes across the surface of the Red Centre are (according to aboriginal belief) due to the activities of three caterpillars crawling on the earth.

From Anzac Hill (2)From Anzac Hill (3)From Anzac Hill (4)From Anzac Hill (6)

And I discovered a very apposite sign for me in Gloria Jean’s Coffee – wicked mudslide mocha – and passed the home of the flying doctor service.

Gloria JeansFlying Doctor

And then out of Alice Springs onto the Ghan, 1500km of train ride across the outback into Darwin. The train has a top speed of around 85km/hr and I reckon they are doing around 70… so it’s a leisurely trip, made even more leisurely by the 3 hour stop over in Tennent Creek overnight, and four hours in Katherine, where the train drops off its payload of passengers for whistlestop tours of the Katherine Gorge (very beautiful, apparently) or the town. And then it hits me – I’m all rocked out! Too many stunning canyons, gorges, mountains, cliffs, volcanos and other forms of weather worn rock. Lucky I am off to the Great Barrier Reef next week!

On the Ghan (1)Katherine (2)On The Ghan (16)On The Ghan (18)

The trip gives you a real idea of how huge the outback really is – kilometre after kilometre of gum trees, eucalypts, termite mounds and the occasional road or cow to break the pattern. It’s strangely evocative and beautiful.australia_termites_2 On the Ghan (6)

(these things range from a few cm to 3m in height and there are millions of them)

And so into Darwin. I have 5 hours to experience all that Darwin has to offer – it takes me 30 minutes. And then another uncomfortable night at the airport before my flight into Cairns the next day (via Gove, which I have never heard of, but seems to be the gateway to untouched Arhemland in the very north of the country). 

Before the flight, we’re treated to another incredible son et lumiere show, the heavens performing as ever with streaks of lightning ripping open the sky and lighting up the airport. And torrential rain too.  Fantastically tropical.

I do discover that it’s bad news to be sat in a window seat on the last two rows on a 717 jet, as the only view you get is of a very large jet engine. Now, don’t get me wrong, they are really good things to have on a plane, and I would prefer if they didn’t fall off… but not outside my window. Fortunately, that route is not the most heavily subscribed, and I manage to move, and even repair some of the damage caused by lack of sleep at the airport.

Oh, and I picked up a couple of late pictures from my Taiwanese fan club from the Uluru tour…

Tim jumpingTim & Toys

Tim & Girls


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