Hey Barista,


Mike Fowler

Alice Springs, Australia

Hello from Mparntwe (Alice Springs)

Mike Fowler has been drawn to Mparntwe/Alice Springs ever since he and his wife got engaged there on a trip seven years ago. But in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic turned a quick visit into a permanent stay. Now he has become at ease with the slow pace of life in the desert, over 15 hours’ drive from the nearest big city. We caught up with the barista and photographer to get a picture of daily life. More of Mike Fowler’s work can be found here: [Link]

*The photographer would first like to acknowledge Australia’s First Nations Peoples, the First Australians, as the traditional owners and custodians of this unceded land and gives respect to the Elders—past, present, and emerging—and through them to all Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Cultural Notification: Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are advised that this website contains a range of material that may be considered culturally sensitive, potentially including the records of people who have passed away.



“When you fly toward Alice, you are moving over an endless red desert that appears more like Mars than Earth. Then there is an imperceptible ripple in the dirt, and green flashes at you from beyond what you realize is a small mountain range, and the town is suddenly there.”

“Here you can be forced to wait, but in those moments, you find yourself breathing deeper, knowing people more and resting in a way that you don’t even know you missed. So perhaps life is cherished here in a way you don’t have space to do in bigger cities and towns.”

“The desert oasis here has endless color, character, and light. Every sunrise and sunset has a power and quality that transcends what can be found at the coasts. The red ranges glowing into the evening far after what seems possible—and the clear air makes the stars of the night sky as bright as day. The land itself is so formidable it must be respected, with minus temperatures in winter and 45-degree [Celsius] days in scorching summer.”


“I am challenged about my privileges and purposes here on a daily basis. It feels like the border town or final frontier of colonialism in Australia. It’s a trite observation, but there’s a serious sense of freedom in the air amongst the white ‘refugees’ from the coastal cities here and yet a sobering flip side ever-present—that we build our joy on the suffering of First Nations peoples, the traditional and unceded owners of these lands.”



“Life here is raw and real… The social aspect is full of urgent needs and quick joys, while the landscape is magical in its own way.”