The graphic designer & the research scientist

Hiking with Guy and his @ greyhound dogs Kenan & Knoll in the MacDonnel mountain ranges

Hiking with Guy and his @ greyhound dogs Kenan & Knoll in the MacDonnel mountain ranges

I was always wondering why people had built a city in the middle of the desert, surrounded by red sand the size of Europe & at least 1500 km away in each direction from cities & other resources.  It kept fascinating me and I’m glad I finally found the answer.

Mparntwe, The Arrente Aboriginal name for Alice Springs is surrounded by mountain ranges, created by the actions of several ancestral figures including the caterpillars beings ‘Ayepe Arenye’, Ntyarike & Utnerrengatye.  The MacDonnel ranges, as we know them today, is just but one of their creations.

The Overland Telegraph Station

The Overland Telegraph Station

In 1862 explorer John McDouall Stuart led an expedition from the south through the centre to the north coast. His goal was to navigate and map the country for white settlement.  As arguably Australia’s pre-eminent explorer, the Stuart Highway connecting south to the north, honours his remarkable feats of exploration & leadership.  Following in Stuart’s footsteps, the early explorers travelled through this region to site a path for the ‘Overland Telegraph Line’ which was to run from Adelaide to Darwin to enable fast & direct communication between Britain & her independent Australian colonies.  They needed to construct 12 ‘repeater’ stations, one every 300km and in the Center they chose to locate a repeater station alongside a waterhole which they named Alices’ spring after Charles Todd’s wife.  Charles Todd being responsible for the construcion of the ‘Overland Telegraph Line’.

Alices' "spring"

Alices’ “spring”

Unfortunately for the future telegraph workers, the ‘spring’ turned out to be simply a temporary waterhole which only fills after extended rain.  However, they persevered & the Alices’ spring Telegraph Station bears testament to the lives of these early settlers.

The Overland Telegraph Line was completed in 1872 and made it viable for pastoralists to take up leases in the Centre.  However, it was the discovery of alluvial gold in Arltunga in 1887, 100 km east that provided a population boom for the Centre.  Until the early 1930’s the settlement near Alices’ Spring was known as Stuart.  The dual naming created such confusion that the township of Stuart was officially named ‘Alice Springs’ in 1933.

Alice Spring

Alice Springs

The township needed provision of course and before 1929, Afghan cameleers forged their place in Central Australian history driving their camel trains across the desert to deliver essential provisions.  In 1929 the railway linked Alice Springs with Adelaide through the famous ‘Ghan’ & mechanised trains replaced the camels.  The population kept on growing but it was not till February 2004 that the train line was extended right through to Darwin. Motor & air transport grew more frequent as well and Alice Spring overcame its isolation.  Sites such as Uluru, King’s Canyon, Kata Tjuta helped the town equally by the growth of tourism.

Scottt, Justin, Tracy, Guy, Emrys & myself

Homeparty @ Tracy’s with Scottt, Justin, Tracy, Guy, Emrys & myself

At my arrival in this fascinating town, I met my couchsurfing hosts Guy & Emrys.  Emrys, originally from Adelaide, works in Alice Springs since several years as a research scientist studying the flora in the area & its evolution.  He explained some very interesting facts about the fauna & flora in this arid region.  He met Guy a few years ago while travelling in Laos and they live together now in a beautiful house just outside of town between the ranges.  Guy is a graphic designer & photographer and had several projects going on in town.  I had an amazing time with them and their 2 lovely greyhound dogs Kenan & Knoll.  Guy took me for a hike in the morning to the MacDonnel mountain ranges, Emrys took me to the Telegraph Station, Anzac hill for a beautiful view of the city and the ranges and we strolled in the city center as well.  They also invited me to one of their friends’ homeparty where we had a delicious lunch, some drinks, great laughs & fun and where we played silly, funny games with some other of their friends.   Tracy was the host & worked as a hairdresser in town.  She had invited Scott and his boyfriend Justin as well.  Justin & Tracy (no. 2) were teachers in the local school.

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