Tropical Hot Spots

Just back from a packed fortnight of tropical temps, beautiful sunsets, crosswinds, headwinds & tailwinds. A week each in Darwin & Alice Springs got the work part of the trip out of the way, with lots of flying hours amongst it all to get us around.

So, before I forget, I have a couple of great finds to share with you.

  1. ALICE SPRINGS: Best family-run Vietnamese restaurant in the outback:  "Tinh & Lan" Vietnamese at Alice. Ph: 08 8952.8396.  Address: Lot 1900 Heffernan Road, Alice Springs.  To get to Heffernan Road, take the Stuart Highway out of town towards the airport, then before you get to the airport, turn left into Colonel Rose Drive, and Heffernan is off that. Would you believe, in a week, we went back three times for dinner.

T&L serves up a superb fresh, lively menu, reasonably priced, and you will dine amidst hilarious plastic-flower decor as only the Asians know how to drape for effect. It's actually worth going just for the 1960s coloured bulb chandaliers. There are inside and outside tables, and as this is located in the middle of a paddock, there's plenty of parking.

  1. ALICE SPRINGS: Best cafe by a country mile is "Page 27", down the arcade at 87 Todd Mall, opposite the Lone Dingo store at the southern end of town.  Another fabulous cafe is the Watertank Cafe, inside Bloomin' Desert Nurseryland, 14 Hele Cres, Alice Springs. Incredibly tasty and different menu.
  2. BOURKE: Bourke Bridge Inn.  For visiting pilots, this little boutique B&B is fantastic. It's located 5 minutes' drive from the airport overlooking the historical old bridge on the Darling. Give the owner, Glenn, a ring and he'll happily pick you up from the airport and drop you back there. Accommodation is seven cottages with ensuites all beautifully decorated and roomy. In the main house, there are two more executive suites with spas and a wonderful dining room for breakfast, overlooking the magnificent garden. Glenn tells me they've just won first prize in the latest regional garden competition.I'm not surprised. They don't serve dinner here, but there's a handy shuttle bus that'll take you into town and bring you home.

Address: 4 Bogan Street, North Burke.  Email: Ph:  02 6872 3167

  1. DARWIN: Accommodation: Mantra Apartments on the Esplanade. Get a motel room if you want, but if you're there for any longer than a night or two, I'd choose an apartment.  Huge, roomy, full-size kitchen, beautiful position overlooking the bay, two seconds walk to all you'll need in the centre of town.  And bonus, across the road, the walking path takes you the length of the waterfront, through Darwin's manicured parks.  Ph: 1300 987 604
  2. DARWIN: Great restaurant: The Noodle House, half way down Knuckey St, Darwin (centre of town).  No need for a reservation. Reasonably priced, wonderful Asian food in a super casual atmosphere. It's located opposite Delaney's Country & Western store, where I noted you can pick up the real-deal authentic crocodile belt - bound to cost you more than the meal across the road but worth a look at what people are actually game enough to wear up here.
  3. BROKEN HILL: Best citrus tart (you know you want to ...): Al Fresco Cafe, cnr Oxide & Argent Sts, middle of town. Good restaurant is the Astra, part of the hotel across the road. Probably need to book: 08 8087.5428

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