My job led me to Alice Springs earlier this month. Michael and I have never before visited Australia's red centre and we took this as an incentive to book some leave and join a three-day mini-bus tour of hiking, camping and swatting at flies. The tour included all the food we needed, though we did relish the odd roadhouse snack.
Meals were big and often barbecue based - stir-fried noodles and veges, burritos wrapped in tortillas steamed in their plastic by the scorching sun, bushmeat burgers and steaks. Our guide thoughtfully supplied several different mock alternatives for us two vegos, while our international travelling companions were introduced to lamingtons, damper cooked in the coals and - much to one daring Californian's ultimate disgust - Vegemite. We established toasted marshmallows as a common cuisine.
Conditions were profoundly dry and the temperature soared beyond 40 degrees one afternoon. Water was much more important than food. It tasted weirder and weirder as we travelled away from Alice Springs, reminding me of olive brine around Kings Creek Station. Weird or warm, we still drank litres of it each day. A refrigerated bottle of iced tea from a service station was the greatest luxury I could imagine.
For all that, we weren't in it for the food. It simply sustained us long enough to take in Atilla, Uluru, and Kata Tjuta. These red rocks are truly spectacular. Here's a slideshow summarising what we saw.