In the early ’80s I was captivated by a Masterpiece Theater Miniseries, “A Town Like Alice”, so much so that I read the book upon which the series was based. Who knew that about 35 years later we’d be spending two nights in this “bonza” town in the Northern Territory, right after our stay in Melbourne.
There is still so much more to say about Melbourne, and I will eventually get to that, but first, I bring you Alice Springs with a summary of why this is a town we will never forget.
Our hotel, the Doubletree, is located right across from the Todd River. Both the river and the mall (among other things) are named after Sir Charles Todd, who brought communications to the area by constructing telegraph wires or stations or something along those lines. (Clearly I wasn’t all that interested). His wife’s name was Alice, and I’m guessing that at one time the area had a lot of natural springs?
Check out the Todd River.
What, you’re having trouble finding it? That may be because the “river” is bone dry. You see, this area can go for YEARS without rain. It actually looks a whole lot better on Google maps, portrayed as a blue ribbon surrounded by green borders. But no. It is all brown and dry. But the walkway is nice.
So, why did Mike and I decide to skip Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef to spend an additional five nights ( count ’em, FIVE nights !!!) in Alice Springs?
It was a nose bleed. Yes, you read that right. But WHAT a nosebleed! Enough to warrant a 3AM ambulance ride, a hospital stay of three nights, with a trip to the operating room thrown in for good measure. Thanks to the wonderful doctors and nurses in Alice Springs, our hero is out of the hospital and on the mend. But he needs to rest up, so we are hanging out in Alice Springs for those extra days, then flying to Sydney, where, if all goes well, we will be able to rendezvous one last time with our wonderful group before we all fly home.
Exactly HOW did Mike get that geyser of a nosebleed?
No, his boomerang did NOT circle back and whomp him in the nose!
It all started in Melbourne. He awoke very, very early with what he thought was strep throat. (It wasn’t). Being the considerate, resourceful guy that he is, he didn’t want to wake me or our tour guide, so he surfed the net to find St Vincent’s Hospital was close by. (Bad idea). I woke as he was headed out the door, unfortunately not alert enough to shout “NOOO. Don’t do it.” But then I figured he knew what he was doing, he’d get his antibiotics, then return to the hotel to spend the rest of the day sleeping off his illness.
While I was enjoying the magnificence of the Great Ocean Road, Mike was having his nasal passage assaulted. A nurse decided to ram a swab up his nose to do a flu test. That caused his FIRST nosebleed. (The afore mentioned nosebleed in Alice Springs was the SECOND one). The doctor cauterized the wound, (but not well enough) kept him in the hospital overnight and discharged him early Saturday morning, clearing him to fly to Alice Springs.
Although if we’d had our druthers, Mike would have skipped learning about another country’s health care system, however there WERE a few positives.
- We felt lucky we weren’t in a remote area devoid of medical facilities AND grateful we both understood the local language (sort of).
- We HAD purchased trip insurance plus we have high spending limits on our credit card, so we were okay paying (charging) up front.
- We learned more than we ever wanted to know about travel insurance, electronic devices (phones, SIM cards, hot spots) which provides me with lots of material for future blog posts.
- The hospital was only a mile away, so I got plenty of exercise walking along the “river”, from hotel to hospital and back, a couple of times a day.
- I was able to download “A Town Like Alice” to my phone and reread it while waiting for Mike to get out of surgery. I had forgotten that I had liked the miniseries so much more than the book. Still it was a good distraction and it reintroduced me to the word “bonza”. What do YOU think it means?
- We discovered how tuned in Australians are to what is happening in America, and how well informed they are about Trump, Pence, even Mike Pompeo! Some of them probably know more than many Americans. The nurses were curious about what Americans think of Trump, so we gave them our views and others’ views. Being liberals, that’s what we try to do. Present the facts. We had no idea how much other countries are counting on us to vote him out, something we heard frequently on our trip.
- The hotel has a pool, so I could imagine I was taking a “sit in the sun and do nothing” kind of vacation. It didn’t take long for me to remember why I never go on that kind of vacation any more!