Alice Springs is one of the romantic names in Australian history. The Arrenrte Aboriginal people lived here in the Outback for thousands of years before the first Europeans arrived.
The original settlement was named Stuart in honor of Scottish explorer John Macdouall Stuart who made several punishing expeditions into the Red Center. On his sixth expedition in 1861 – 1862, he finally successfully crossed the harsh Outback deserts, mapping a route to build a telegraph link between Adelaide in the south and Darwin in the north, a distance of 2834 kilometers across central Australia.
The town Stuart was renamed Alice Springs in honor of the wife of Sir Charles Todd, Postmaster General of South Australia who set up the telegraph station, one of the most historic events in Australian history. The Todd River, normally a dry creek bed most of the year, was named after Todd who built his telegraph station along banks. The river bed starts in the West MacDonnell mountain range, through Alice Springs, connecting with the Simpson Desert in the west.
Adelaide to Alice Springs
We flew two hours on Quantas from Adelaide to Alice Springs, the second largest town in the Northern Territories. The landscape below looked barren and almost lifeless, dry creek beds, millions of gum trees, and dirt roads carved in the red desert soil. A two lane paved road, Stuart Highway which connects Adelaide to Darwin, was visible as a tiny scratch across the desert.
We got off the plane into oven like summer Outback heat and had a few minutes in the modern, air-conditioned Alice Springs airport packed with international tourists arriving or departing from Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, Darwin, and Perth.
Our host, Uwe Path, picked us up and drove a few kilometers to his desert oasis B & B, Pathdorf (Path’s village in German). From the moment we stepped out of Uwe’s van, we fell in love with his place. Before he took us to our air-conditioned room, he took us for a tour around his property, walking along paths with indigenous trees, plants, and flowers he designed and laid out.
Pathdorf is green, with energy coming from solar panels he installed. He built a rabbit fence and dug out the invasive buffel grass, much despised in the Outback. Fires are nature’s way for deserts to renews themselves in the Outback, But buffel grass burns at such high temperatures, it destroys trees that normally survive and sprout seedlings or spread new shoots after fires.
As a result of Uwe’s hard work and vision for a desert oasis, his property has attracted many native birds and lizards. He pointed them out to us, dragon’s walking around pool to drink in the morning, and songbirds he feeds by hand.
A hundred meters behind Pathdorf is the dry bed of the Todd River that runs through Alice Springs, named after the telegraph entrepreneur who linked Adelaide in the south to Darwin in the north
Uwe is a professional chef and fixed us dinner several nights outdoors under the stars. As dusk fell, stars began emerging in the darkening sky. A half hour later, with the fading sun light in the west, the eastern sky was lit up with amazing number of stars, including the Southern Cross constellation that is on the Australian and New Zealand flags.
We remained outdoors as temperature dropped slowly to watch more stars appear and the Milky Way rising in the east. There are few times I’ve seen as many stars as we did those desert nights at Pathdorf. Another memory we will cherish for years.
Mornings at Pathdorf
We enjoyed breakfast on the second floor covered patio looking over the pool and Pathdorf gardens. Temperatures were pleasant, with a hint of the heat that would hit about 9 AM.
Uwe would join us at breakfast, sharing stories about Alice and giving us tips on exploring the Outback. After light breakfast, we’d stroll through his garden, enjoying the songbirds and fragrant desert aromas.
Our week at Pathdorf was a wonderful experience, one we hope to repeat in the future when Uwe’s desert oasis matures into lush, full-grown trees and plants.
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Next: West Macdonnell Mountain Range
As many of you know, I also write mysteries and romantic suspense novels.
I recently published my first international thriller, Thirteen Days in Milan, which is available on Kindle as well as other ereaders, tablets, and smartphones.
I’m back in Europe for the summer to hire a translator and to research my next book which will also be a thriller based in Milan. I’ll be posting along the way from Milan, Stresa, Zurich and other locations.
I have a few posts on another blog, Anatomy of a Thriller, where I write about the process of researching and writing an international thriller. I’ll add more posts there as well.
Please share these links with writers or readers who might be interested.