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  • Still the same. A small part of the mall full of life—tourists, locals, shops, cafes—but it suddenly drops off at the edges into empty streets and overgrown paths. Here are the groups of bored young men, mostly Aboriginal, or women yelling to their children in language. It takes me back 20 years.

    There is a red dog at the Red Dog Café. A yellow dog really. A dingo on a lead, held by a hippie. Alice still attracts hippies, dreadlocked, nose pierced, casual, relaxed people, ordering the vegan breakfast. Alice caters for vegetarians now, as well as those with a taste for camel, crocodile, emu or kangaroo.

    At the café you can see the tourists and locals. Tourists somehow look cleaner, or crisper, more ironed. They are casual but it looks like their casual best. Locals are casual but their clothes are more lived in, rumpled.

    An old Aboriginal man, looks like an ex drover with his hat, checked shirt, riding boots. Still with the red dust of cattle stations on his clothes. Sitting outside the café. Looks like he could sit there forever.

    There is a busker outside the café. An Aboriginal man playing country music. It sounds good adding to the sound of the café clatter and breakfast noises. I give him some money and he stops mid song to say thanks.

    There is water in the Todd River but shop owners are sick of the rain. The land is green and shrieking birds are everywhere, Port Lincoln parrots and bright green smaller birds, perhaps they are budgies.

    Alice is Caterpillar Dreaming with its tail cut off.

    The outskirts of Alice lifts my heart so that it wants to fly away over the MacDonald ranges into desert country. The town of Alice sucks my spirit back in, narrows my vision and brings me back to the day to day. Perhaps all towns do that. It is energy sapping but it does have cuppacino.
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