Alice Springs is in the center of the Australian outback.

Its fame came from a book by Neville Shute, “A Town like Alice” a book everyone should read. Alice is a small Northern Territory town on the road (Route 87) that bisects Australia North to South from Darwin to Adelaide and by all accounts is situated at the very center of the continent. You can reach Alice directly from most cities in Australia by plane and then from Alice you can explore the outback by jeep, or take a bus to Uluru, Ayres Rock, the Olgas, and King’s Canyon. On the way to Uluru, an aboriginal station will sell you all the carvings and paintings of their people as well as serve a genuine Devonshire Cream Tea while macaws fly overhead. Australia is nothing but a place of contrasts. There are camel stations where you can ride the beasts and visit to emus and the kangaroos and eat an outback breakfast of eggs. There is plenty to do around Alice Springs and nothing will leave you quite the same. The river through Alice Springs is the Todd and each year Alice celebrates the “Henley on Todd River Regatta” in October. It is styled on the British boat race, the Henley-on-Thames Regatta, where the rowing on a smooth and verdant Thames is of Olympic standard. The Henley-on-Thames Regatta is often the British Olympic trials venue. However, in Alice there is one problem. There is generally no water in the Todd River, which would make the Henley-Regatta-on-Todd problematic to most people. In fact most times the bed of the Todd River is inhabited by Aboriginals sitting in groups, smoking and drinking. However, lack of water is no problem to the Australians. They run their boats, standing in holes cut in the bottoms and carrying their boats by their arms. The bed of the river is pure sand about a foot deep, soft and yielding, so running in it is a real challenge and hilarious to boot. This regatta is a sight that cannot be experienced elsewhere. As the Wikipedia correspondent puts it: “Watching seemingly sane people race in bottomless "eights", "Oxford tubs", "bath tubs" and yachts through the deep coarse sand of the Todd River provides a unique spectacle amongst world sporting events. The multi-event program attracts many local and international participants from the audience who often finish up on world TV news paddling canoes with sand shovels and in "land lubber" events like filling empty 44-gallon drums with sand.” In addition to the Regatta on this occasion Alice Springs stages other regular events. The Surf Lifesaving Event is for a team of four. The “lifesaver” paddles or shovels the surf along the rails to pick up the damsel-in-distress. Both are then reeled back by the other two members of the team Then there is the Battle-Boat Spectacular in which three battle boats, powered by four-wheel drives, churn through the sand bristling with flour mortars and highpowered water cannons. Can you imagine what it is like being hit by flour and water in a sandy environment? However, these days are not considered Whacky. They are Australian and they are in Alice Springs and therefore they are unique. After it’s all over the competitors retire to the numerous corrugated-iron roofed bars

to drink their disappointments away and to celebrate the winners while local guitar and harmonica groups celebrate the winner. This is the time to visit Alice Springs.