Alice Springs

Trip Start Aug 15, 2008
Trip End Aug 14, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Saturday, June 6, 2009

6th June – Alice Springs

We reached Alice Springs after flying for 3.5 hours over the bush to the "Red Centre" of Australia. We saw the MacDonnell Range from the air – it was most spectacular.
Alice is a nice little town, spread out along the Todd River, although the river only flows about 3 times in every 20 years. They hold an annual boat race, the Henley-on-Todd Regatta, where the competitors have to run along the dry river bed with their legs sticking through bottomless boats. It's the only dry riverbed boat race in the world !

We visited the actual spring after which the town is named; this is where a telegraph relay station was originally established in 1872. These relay stations carried Morse code messages from Darwin to Adelaide, bringing news of fresh disasters from England. The electrical signal was sent through a wire perched on 36,000 poles strung right across Australia. They have restored the buildings & installed the equipment that was used back in 1895 – all brass fittings, coils & wet-cell batteries.
The waterhole was named Alice Springs after the wife of the Postmaster General, by a surveyor called Mills (what a creep).
She never, ever, visited the town

The Alice Springs School of the Air
The Alice Springs School of the Air was established in 1951 to teach pupils in remote areas. It’s “the largest classroom in the world” covering 521,000 sq miles (that’s ten times the size of England). The pupils used to tune into their lessons using radios but today they connect via the Internet which allows 2-way video chats.
We watched a live broadcast & guess what; it was about Information Technology (can I ever get away from I.T.).

Royal Flying Doctor Service
This is another uniquely Australian venture that was established in 1928 in Alice Springs to provide medical assistance to people who live in the heart of central Australia - it covers an area larger than Western Europe. We visited the original station which is still operational in the middle of town. They serve very nice afternoon tea.

I went into a bottle shop buy some wine & was asked for my photo ID – I wondered if they thought I was under 21, but alas, it was part of the town council’s very strict liquor regulations. These regulations (they say) are intended to protect the locals (i.e. Aboriginals) from themselves.
The town has a problem with unemployed Aboriginals who tend to hang about in noisy groups in the shopping mall. Although there is high Aboriginal unemployment in the town, there is little evidence of the council employing any of them. It is a real problem however – I was pestered all the way to the car park by a woman demanding money, saying she was hungry.

We took a day trip along the West MacDonnell Range to Simpsons Gap, a beautiful natural rift in the rocks where we were lucky to see a black footed rock wallaby grazing quite close to the path. It seemed totally unperturbed by the clicking of our cameras.
Further west is Standley Chasm, a very high, narrow cleft in the range. It says you can trek right through the chasm, however, when we got to the end, there were a coach load of “wrinklies” blocking the way; they couldn’t climb over the rocks at the end & had got stuck.

We took a little excursion, 28km out of town, to see the “CIA Garden Centre”.
This top secret establishment is at the end of a well maintained dead-end road in the desert, where (allegedly) the CIA performs satellite surveillance. They employ about 1,000 local people who, if asked, say they are gardeners.
At the end of the road there is a notice which says “No Unauthorised Access - TURN ROUND NOW” & warns that the penalty for taking photographs is 7 years in jail, so I turned round.
I had the last laugh though, our flight out of Alice took us right over the site, so I took some great aerial shots.

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holly08121 on

P Smith
Love the Adventure b4 Dementia!

holly08121 on

P Smith
Very interesting to know why its called Alice Springs. Loved the CIA Site!

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