Sunday, October 2, 2011

Our Visit to Alice

We arrived back in Alice Springs late afternoon on Friday, 23rd September and booked into the Stuart Caravan Park initially for three nights then extended this to five nights.  On Saturday we spent most of the day at the caravan park – I don’t think the washing machine stopped for the first 24 hours!  It is always nice to sit back and relax knowing that we are not moving on for a while and socialising with neighbours.  During the afternoon we started visiting the art galleries in Alice Springs.  I am quite keen to purchase a piece of Aboriginal Art so wanted to look at a number of the galleries to see what was on offer.  I have a reasonably definite colour in my mind, and would like dot art, but as to size I am lost.  Of course, the cost varies considerably between artist and size of the painting and it also appears which gallery.  There are a number of groups of local people sitting in the parks and malls offering their paintings for sale at considerably less cost.  We are not too sure about these.  I have now decided to wait until we have visited our new house in NZ before making any decision as I can’t decide which wall in the house would be better to hang the painting on.  It will mean that more than likely we will buy our painting when in the Kimberley area next year.

Standley Chasm
As we had travelled to the West MacDonnell Ranges last week we had bypassed both Simpson Gap and Standley Chasm with the plan to return from Alice Springs.  On Sunday morning I baked some fresh marmalade muffins and we headed off to Standley Chasm stopping first at the grave of Rev John Flynn who founded the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This was a distance of about 50 kms and is an Aboriginal Reserve so was the only gorge we have had to pay to visit - $10 adult.  On arrival at the reserve I realised that I was going to be in real trouble with Peter – I had left my walking shoes behind in the caravan and would have to walk to the Chasm in my sandals.  He hates me doing this as it is very easy to slip.  We had been told that the best time to visit the Chasm is between 11 am and 1 pm so we planned our visit during that time.  We took the 20 minute walk in.  The Chasm is a very tall gap between two rock walls and the sun only reaches the ground around midday.  We were certainly dwarfed by the height of the walls.
Simpsons Gap
Our next stop was at Simpsons Gap where we firstly had our picnic lunch and took the very short walk to the Gap.  It was here that we saw a black footed wallaby amongst the rocks high on the hill opposite the trail.  It was impossible to get a photo as it blended so well with the colours of the rocks.

We planned to have a leisurely time in Alice Springs as we had been on the move for some weeks and it is three weeks since we have stayed more than two nights in one place.  The only disappointing thing was that Alice Springs was surrounded in smoke most days.  There is smoke drifting in from fires raging out in the Simpson Desert to the east and now beyond the West MacDonnell Ranges to the west.  In addition there are small bush fires starting around Alice Springs.  This has resulted in think smoke and Peter is finding that it is affecting his breathing somewhat.  It also meant that we were not able to take many photos as the views were affected by the smoke haze.
 Royal Flying (RFDS) Doctor Service Alice Springs
On Monday we went to the Royal Flying Doctor Service base in Alice Springs and took the tour which included the museum.  This was very interesting.  While there we bought a couple of tickets in the raffle.  Two ladies from Victoria had handmade a quilt for the RFDS to raffle and fundraise – not sure if it matched the quality produced by our good friend, Pauline, but we thought it was really nice and be a lovely prize for someone to win.

Womens Hall of Fame info
From here we went next door to visit the gold Stuart gaol and the Women’s Hall of Fame.  Alice Springs was originally named Stuart.  The gaol was in use from 1938 until 1996 and housed both men and women.  The famous artist, Albert Namatjira, who was the first Aboriginal person to be granted Australian citizenship in 1957, was charged with supplying alcohol to local people and was sentenced to six months.  He didn’t serve his sentence in the gaol but after a few days he was taken to a little hut in a local area so he could continue his painting.  The gaol is well preserved and worth visiting.   It also houses the Women’s Hall of Fame for Australia which acknowledges all women in all walks of life.  Although we didn’t know many of the women it was surprising just who we did know of.  In addition there was a collection of home items of historic interest.  Peter was concerned about the number both he and I recognised from being in our homes during our childhood!
Tuesday was a particularly smoky day so besides catching up on some shopping and visiting the local art galleries we did very little.

Wednesday we decided it was time to move on again but as the smoke had cleared a little we decided to do a little more sightseeing first.  Our first visit was to Anzac Hill to try and take some photos – to the south of Alice Springs there is a gap in the ranges and this is quite an impressive sight as apart from the surround range the area is flat desert.  We then went into the township and first visited “The Residency”.  This was the official residence in Alice Springs and where Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip stayed during their 1963 visit.  It is beautifully maintained and has a veranda surrounding the house and was lovely and cool inside.  It was particularly interesting to talk to the volunteer manning the house about her life in the Alice Springs and surround Aboriginal communities for the last fifty years.  What a great woman she was!
The Rev. John Flynn was the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and there is a Uniting Church in Todd Mall, the main shopping centre area, named after John Flynn.  There were a group of local people selling their art outside the church but I was careful not to include them in my photo as they do not like their privacy being invaded.

The Hartley Street School was next which was the original school built for European children and then extended mainly to half cast Aboriginal children.  The school was in use until the 1960’s so was much like the classrooms both Peter and I remember.
As we left town we made a stop at the Transport Hall of Fame – this museum is mainly trucks and is beside the Ghan Museum.  Peter really enjoyed wandering through the many exhibitions and the huge number of trucks and vehicles on site.  I was grateful for the few seats that were scattered around as I soon lost interest in looking at trucks and it was very hot.  They did have a very late model Kenwood truck on display that was a display model and basically split in half to show the internals of the cab and sleeping area.  This was quite interesting!  We were quite late in the day so didn’t have time to go to the Ghan Museum so will keep that for the next visit to Alice Springs.

It was a very hot day (around 35 deg) and very windy.  Everyone was hopeful that the wind would blow the smoke away.  We decided to just head a short distance out of town and stay overnight and continue south towards Kings Canyon and Yulara (Ayres Rock) tomorrow but a lot will depend on whether the roads are open as we understand the road to Kings Canyon is closed today due to fire and smoke.
The founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service - Flynn's grave
  Rev Flynn's grave

Standley Chasm

Within Standley Chasm
 At the base of Standley Chasm
  Beyond Standley Chasm into the gorge
 As far as we were able to venture - Standley Chasm
The end of the road at Standley Chasm
Looking up
The sun comes into the chasm around midday only
The sunlight in Standley Chasm

Simpsons Gap

Simpsons Gap near Alice Springs
An unusual sight!
 Closer into Simpsons Gap
 Rock slide at Simpsons Gap
Colours of the rocks at Simpsons Gap

 Reflections at Simpsons Gap
  Simpsons Gap waterhole
Small tree growing in rock wall Simpsons Gap
 Flowers in rocks at Simpsons Gap
Royal Flying Doctor Service

 Within RFDS museum
 Flight simulator at RFDS Museum
 Types of planes previously used
 Quilt depicting RFDS
 Current type of plane in use

  Pilatus PC12
 Peter the radio man
Womens Hall of Fame
 Gaol plan Alice Springs Womans Hall of Fame
 Hints to the business girl from 1906!
Meat safe type baby's cot
  Rules for teachers - especially for Amber but may be a little late!
 Within the Women's Museum
Cell in men's gaol Alice Springs
 No privacy in the showers! - For gods sake don't drop the soap!
Mens cell wing Alice Springs
 Womens on left men on right
Entrance to Alice Springs Gaol
Outside fence of Alice Springs Gaol
Todd River
The dry Todd River in Alice Springs
 Todd River Alice Springs where the annual yacht race is held

Anzac Hill

View of gap Alice Springs from Anzac Hill
 Westerly view of Alice Springs from Anzac Hill
West MacDonnell Ranges from Anzac Hill
Northerly aspect from Anzac Hill

The Residency

Rev Flynn Memorial Church Alice Springs
John Flynn signage
Aboriginal and Australian flags
Todd Mall Alice Springs
Hartley Street School sign
Hartley Street School sign
 Hartley Street classroom
 External of Hartley Street school
 See the flames - commencing on yet another hill
  Old Ghan Train

Old Ghan info

Road Transport Hall of Fame

 Military Jeep
 Early Bus
Early days garage setup with Holden being worked on
Bitsa Car
Old Dodge like Dad used to drive in Auckland
 Kenworth Hall of Fame
 Kenworth Freightliner
The first truck had done over 2.5 million k's
 Would like to have a try in this one, they are better equipped than
your caravan, they are luxury on wheels
The bedroom
Ok so I give you to its only a demo model apparently
worth over a mil great demo though
Brand new truck donated in memory of Kevin Forbes
pity about the colour

 Peter's first good car was one of these as a station wagon
fantastic as a teenager!!
 Malcolm just for you
 Malcolm has one of these in his collection I  think
Car with a Gas callefont for power
 Waiting their turn for restoration
Reminds a little of Southwards Museum in Waikanae in New Zealand
however with a focus on tracks

Camels were used as a form of haulage to open up the areas
 Distance to cover over the next 4 weeks that is if
we don't go left or right to have a look

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