12 September 2013
There is no direct route from Brisbane to Alice Springs, so I fly first the 1,700 km north to Cairns and from there, 2,400km southwest to Alice in the Northern Territory.
From Cairns, we fly over the tight wool-curls of rainforest canopy; gazing down on hills that fold like draped green curtains dropping to aqua-green sea. Across the range, as we rumble west, colour fades to dryness and the gentle swelling of the land flattens out to plains.
I want to record the pilot announcing our approach into Alice and so the helpful hostie asks the pilot for some advance warning of the announcement. Advice comes back that the pilot is Scottish. From Dundee she says. I have to let him know I am from Broughty Ferry (a former fishing village, and suburb of Dundee). Before I get my reply, I know that he is going to be from Broughty Ferry too. I have an immediate, irrational feeling of safety up there above the clouds in this metal box; an illogical feeling that I am connected and therefor in ridiculously safe hands.
Mparntwe (Alice Springs) sits on the western side of the Simpson Desert, in the Northern Territory, separated from Wirrari (Birdsville) on the eastern side by 1,100km of desert.
We fly slowly downwards over the rugged red of the MacDonnell Ranges and the final stage of my residencies begins.