Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Alice Springs


Alice Springs is the second largest town in the Northern Territory of Australia. Popularly known as "the Alice" or simply "Alice", it had a population of 26,486 in 2005. Averaging 576 metres above sea level, the town is nearly equidistant from Adelaide and Darwin, close to the geographic centre of Australia. The site is known as Mparntwe to its traditional inhabitants, the Arrernte, who have lived in the Central Australian desert in and around what is now Alice Springs for more than 50,000 years.

In 1861-62, John McDouall Stuart led an expedition through Central Australia, to the west of what later became Alice Springs, thereby establishing a route from the south of the continent to the north.


A settlement came into existence as a result of the construction of a repeater station on the Overland Telegraph Line, which linked Adelaide to Darwin and Great Britain.
The OTL was completed in 1872. It traced Stuart's route and opened up the interior for permanent settlement. It wasn’t until alluvial gold was discovered at Arltunga, 100 km east of the present Alice Springs, in 1887 that any significant settlement occurred. Until the 1930s, however, the town was known as Stuart.


The telegraph station was sited near what was thought to be a permanent waterhole in the normally dry Todd River and was optimistically named Alice Springs after the wife of the former Postmaster General of South Australia, Sir Charles Todd. The Todd River was named after Sir Charles himself.

The original mode of transportation in the outback were camel trains, operated by immigrants from Pathan tribes in the North-West frontier of the then British India (present-day Pakistan) who were misnamed ‘Afghan’ Camellers.

In 1929 the Palmerston and Pine Creek Railway was completed from Darwin as far as Birdum, while the Great Northern Railway had been completed in 1891 from Port Augusta as far as Oodnadatta, South Australia, 700 km south of Alice Springs.

Araluen Centre for Arts and Entertainment - Alice Springs Cultural Precinct
The lines wouldn’t meet until 2003. On February 4, 2004, the first passenger train arrived in Darwin from Adelaide.
During the 1960s it became an important defence location with the development of the U.S/Australian Pine Gap joint defence satellite monitoring base, home to about 700 workers from both countries, but by far the major industry in recent times is tourism.
Almost in the exact center of the continent, Alice Springs is some 1200 km from the nearest ocean and 1500 km from the nearest major cities, Darwin and Adelaide. Alice Springs is now the midpoint of the Adelaide–Darwin Railway.

World War II
During World War II, Alice Springs was a staging base, known as No. 9 Australian Staging Camp, and a depot base for the long four-day trip to Darwin.
The Australian Army also set up the 109th Australian General Hospital at Alice Springs. Seven mile aerodrome was also constructed by the Royal Australian Air Force.

Indigenous history

The "Springs" that gave the town its name
The Arrernte Aboriginal people[4] have made their home in the Central Australian desert in and around the site of the future Alice Springs for more than 50,000 years. The Aboriginal name for Alice Springs is Mparntwe.
Three major groups Western, Eastern and Central Arrernte people live in Central Australia, their traditional land including the area of Alice Springs and East/West MacDonnell Ranges. They are also referred to as Aranda, Arrarnta, Arunta, and other similar spellings. Their neighbours are the Southern Arrernte, Luritja, Anmatyerr, Alyawarr and Western Arrernte peoples. There are five dialects of the Arrernte language: South-eastern, Central, Northern, Eastern and North-eastern.
Arrernte country is rich with mountain ranges, waterholes, and gorges; as a result the Arrernte people set aside 'conservation areas' in which various species are protected.
According to the Arrernte traditional stories, in the desert surrounding Alice Springs, the landscape was shaped by caterpillars, wild dogs, travelling boys, two sisters, euros, and other ancestral figures.

Alice Springs Desert Park, Sand Drawing Aboriginal
There are many sites of traditional importance in and around Alice Springs, such as Anthwerrke (Emily Gap), Akeyulerre (Billy Goat Hill), Ntaripe (Heavitree Gap), Atnelkentyarliweke (Anzac Hill), and Alhekulyele (Mt. Gillen).
There are roughly 1,800 speakers of Eastern and Central Arrernte, making it the largest spoken language in the Arandic family, and one of the largest speaking populations of any Australian language. It is taught in schools, heard in local media and local government.
Many Arrernte people also live in communities outside of Alice Springs and on outstations.

Modern town
The modern town of Alice Springs has both western and Aboriginal influences. The town's focal point, the Todd Mall, hosts a number of Aboriginal art galleries and community events. Alice Springs’ desert lifestyle has inspired several unique and interesting events such as the Camel Cup, the Henley-on-Todd Regatta and the Beanie Festival.



Built environment
Alice Springs Telegraph Station
Alice Springs has many historic buildings, such as the Overland Telegraph Station, Adelaide House, the Old Courthouse and Residency and the Hartley Street School. Today the town is an important tourist hub and service centre for the surrounding area. It is a well-appointed town for its size with several large hotels, a world class convention centre and a good range of visitor attractions, restaurants and other services.

Parks and gardens
The Alice Springs Desert Park was created to educate visitors on the many facets of the surrounding desert environment. The arid climate botanic garden, Olive Pink Botanic Garden is a short distance from the town centre. They were named after anthropologist, naturalist and artist Olive Pink, who lived in the town for almost 30 years and died in 1975. She was well known locally and referred to by all as Miss Pink. The Alice Springs Reptile Centre is located in the town centre.
The MacDonnell Ranges run east and west of Alice Springs and contain a number of hiking trails and swimming holes such as Ormiston Gorge, Ormiston Gorge Creek, Red Bank Gorge and Glen Helen Gorge. The 223 km long Larapinta Trail follows the West MacDonnell Ranges and is considered among the world's great walking experiences.
The Simpson Desert, southeast of Alice Springs is one of Australia's great wilderness areas containing giant red sand dunes and interesting rock formations such as Chambers Pillar and Rainbow Valley.


Aboriginal population
According to the 2001 census, Australian Aborigines make up approximately 17% of the population of Alice Springs, and 29% of the Northern Territory. As Alice Springs is the regional hub of Central Australia it attracts Aboriginal people from all over that region and well beyond. Many Aborigines visit regularly to use the town's services. Aboriginal residents usually live in the suburbs, on special purpose leases (or town camps) or further out at Amoonguna to the South and on the small family outstation communities on Aboriginal Lands in surrounding areas.
The traditional owners of the Alice Springs area are the Central Arrernte people. As it is the largest town in central Australia, there are also speakers of Warlpiri, Warumungu, Kaytetye, Alyawarre, Luritja, Pintupi, Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Ngaanyatjarra, Pertame, Eastern and Western Arrernte among others.

3 comments:

Tripzibit said...

I wish i could go there. Seems like it's very interesting place.

Indra Putu Achyar said...

viSitS in the day, while Sending you to Smile ...

Ivana said...

what a beautiful view..warmest regards from Travel Accesories blog