Today was our first experience with:
1) The state of unpaved roads in the Outback
2) Flat tires in the middle of nowhere (not ours, fortunately)
3) Aboriginal art
We took the morning off to drive 80 km out of town to visit the tiny village/mission of Santa Teresa (Ltyentye Apurte). Basically, you drive past the airport and keep going until the road dead ends. Most of the road is a very bumpy, dusty dirt track. We were in a caravan with several other cars, and the dust was crazy. There were definitely times that you couldn’t see the car in front of you (or the road), and you just had to try and keep an eye out for the edges. In the US, being on a dirt track like this tends to make people slow down. In the outback, you keep doing about 100KPH and hold on. The flat tire occurred on a friend’s car about 15 minutes after we started. He was able to replace it, but didn’t have another spare, so he turned around and headed back into town. Baring that, we could have called a tow truck. They charge by the KM and it gets real expensive real fast. Many of the off-road vehicles here carry at least two spares (no doughnuts here) at all times. Despite the fact that our little RAV4 isn’t a 4×4 it handled well and got us there and back again safely. Needs a wash now.
Santa Teresa has two things of interest to tourists – the Keringke Arts Gallery and the Catholic Mission. At the Gallery, we found a canvas painted by a local artist, Stacey Davis, that we (and especially Ashley) liked. At the Mission, we found one Christmas present, an ornament, and a few other odds and ends. The Mission is famous for its crosses, but none of them really jumped out at us this time. They are all painted locally in various Aboriginal designs. One of the nice things about the Santa Teresa style art is the use of color – many other communities stick to the palette of red, yellow, white, and black.
A few more pictures here.