Sunday 31 July 2022

Completed Goals for July

Before the end of the month ticks over I had better show how I went with my little goals.

Yes, I made my little manicure set pouch, which has been working beautifully as we travel along.

Yes, my purple blocks were completed before we left home.

Well, in the end I had this completed quite early on. The goal was six blocks, I completed seven,  Admittedly, they were the easiest to complete. 

The bonus was completing four of my little hexy flowers.  Now it is time to cut and glue before making another four,  The colour here is way off, with the cutting mat really mauve and the blues definitely don’t have a green tinge to them.  That’s what you get for doing this in a rush before we leave Alice Springs into unknown internet territory.

I’ll now have to decide what my goals will be for next month.

Saturday 30 July 2022

Off to See the Wizard - Alice Springs Day 3

I’m still running behind with my notes, but hopefully will catch up eventually.
Thursday was a day around town after our big day to the Palm Valley.  After doing more domestics we had another go at visiting the Women’s Museum of Australia.  We were very pleased that we didn’t try to cram it in half an hour the other day, as we ended spending over two hours there.  It is housed in the old Gaol, so it is a two in one place to visit.

This gaol was built in 1938 to house both male and female prisoners and was closed in 1996, when a new facility was built 25kms south of town.  After a fight by the locals it was saved from demolition and preserved as a community space.
The Women’s Museum is housed in what was the dining room.  There are some murals on the wall, painted by prisoners.
The display is broken into two parts.  The first is “Women at the Heart” which shares the history of the early pioneering women of central Australia.  These are six of the seven woman that lived here in 1903.

It is mainly story boards of the first women and how they travelled here, what work some did and the conditions in which they lived.  It certainly was a tough life and I take my hat off to them. I don’t think I would have lasted five minutes, that is if I had even managed the trip to get there.
The second part was “Ordinary Women Extraordinary Lives” which celebrated the first women in particular roles.  Some women broke into primarily male dominated roles many years ago, while others only surprisingly recently.
There was also a signature quilt signed by many prominent Australian Women.  Only about a third is on display and under controlled lighting as some of the signatures are fading.
There are a couple of familiar names here.
The next section of the complex is the male prison cells.
One cell had a fresco on the wall which was rather unexpected.
The Women’s section was a little different.  Initially it was just a building with three cells and an enclosed verandah all around.  As more inmates came along there was an extension built in the 1970s.

There is a video interview with the lady who was matron from 1955 to 1984.  She said they did’t judge the girls, the courts had done that.  Their role was just custodial.  Over time they made improvements, such as painting the cells pastel colours, starting to cook their own meals instead of them just being brought over from the men’s section.  They always referred to their cells as “rooms” not cells.  
Eventually, they convinced the powers to be to provide some cotton fabric in a few different colours and the girls made their own sleeveless dresses for their uniform, instead of the previous beige ones.  The girls designed them and they would be a pinafore during the colder months.  In the mornings they had their chores, but in the afternoons they could study or work on crafts.
They made patchwork quilts from donated dressmaking scraps to make their rooms more homely.

All in all, we both found the museums very interesting and well set out.
After lunch, we went to the Telegraph Station - the reason the town was created.
The telegraph station was established at the halfway point between Adelaide and Darwin.  
Water was a major concern and it was built close to a natural depression in the Todd River, which the founder named “Alice Spring” after Alice Todd, the wife of Charles Todd, who was the South Australian Superintendent of Telegraphs.

The station was opened in 1872 and was one of 11 staffed repeater stations on the Overland Telegraph Line.  The line consisted of a single strand of iron wire on 36,000 timber poles, stretching 3,000kms from Adelaide to Darwin, from where there was already a submarine cable beneath the sea to Singapore.  News from Britain which prior to 1872 would take 3 months to reach Australia by sea now arrived within a few hours.
It was all sent by Morse Code.
The timber poles were eaten out by termites, so replacement metal poles were imported from Holland.

As more people moved to the area with the gold rush, a new town was created at the site of the current town of Alice Springs, a few km south of the Telegraph Station.  Also, as technology improved the station was no longer required.  The buildings were then used as “The Bungalow” a home for half caste children, being children with an aboriginal parent and a non-aboriginal parent, with the intention to educate them and adopt European customs. This was part of the stolen generation.  The station was used for this purpose from 1932 until 1941.  During WWII it was used by the military.  After that it fell into disrepair until 1963 when it was handed over to the NT Reserves Board and restoration commenced.
While we were there a lot was happening, as things were being set up for a dinner for travellers on the Ghan train. It would have been an interesting place to enjoy a meal.

Thursday 28 July 2022

Off to See the Wizard - Alice Springs Day 2 - Palm Valley

When we checked into the caravan park we noticed a sign advertising a day trip to Palm Valley.  It wasn’t a place we were planning to visit as it is a 4WD only road.  We decided to join the tour and give Mick a day off driving.  It was a great decision.

The start was early for our new holiday lifestyle, being 7 o’clock, and zero degrees. There was a nice little group of us, 14 passengers and Bill, our driver and tour guide.
We could see the West MacDonnell Ranges to the west in the distance, as we were travelling a little bit further south.
We turned off the bitumen to travel 22kms on a rough dirt road, entering the Finke Gorge National Park.  The Finke River is considered one of the oldest in the world and the gorge has been created by the river working its way through the sandstone over millions of years.
The river has had three major floods recently, one in November 2021, another in January 2022 and a third in February 2022.  You can see where the debris washed up against the trees and where large trees were washed away.  It had been very deep and very wide. It wasn’t until late April that the road was made passable again, and even then, lots of vehicles were getting bogged.
A lot of the time we were actually driving through the riverbed.  It varied from the softest sand, like being on a beach. You can see here where so much sand washed down in the floods that the road had to be dug out.  I was surprised that the sand is light coloured, not red like much of central Australia.
Some was lots of river rocks……….and that was the easiest parts of the road.
Our 4WD bus, driven by Bill made light work of it all.  We were very pleased that we didn’t take our vehicle in.

We drove to a picnic area and enjoyed a cuppa, fruit cake and bikkies before getting back into the bus for the last 4kms to the end of the road.  
That 4kms took nearly half an hour to negotiate the road.  
Some was so rough that the bus pretty much walked and climbed along the road.
Some didn’t look too rough, until you went to drive over it.
Bill was informative as we drove along, telling of the changing landscape.  It is much greener due to the good rains over the last couple of years. He also pointed out a particular grass - buffel grass.  It is native to tropical Africa, India and Indonesia.  It was introduced to Australia when it was used as padding in the camel saddles.  It has been used in Australia as a drought resistant pasture grass that thrives in sandy soils and as a dust suppressant.  It has become naturalised around Alice Springs.  However, there are some downsides - whereas native grasses are generally wispy and don’t support intense fire, Buffel Grass burns intensely and hot, which impacts native trees and animals.  As it is a dense plant it also prevents the growth of native plants.  The people who care about the land are really worried about its impact.  Sadly, it looks like it is here to stay in this area.

Onto more positive things…..
We finally reached our destination and prepared to go on an hour long walk in the Palm Valley.
The palms are Central Australian Red Cabbage Palms and are found nowhere else.  Their closest relatives are about 1000kms away.  It is a mystery how they came to be here, but a couple of possibilities are that, as the seeds were used as a food source, the nomadic aborigines may have brought them to the area and some germinated.  Another theory is that the seeds may have been deposited by pelicans, as they fly considerable distances to follow water and they could have been in their stomachs.  Who knows.  There were about 9000 plants last count.  The tallest ones are about 25 metres high and can be between 100 and 300 years old.  Theories about how long the palms have been here range from about 15,000 years to one million years.  Once again, who knows.
It is intriguing how some have a wriggly kink in their trunks.
There were amazing red cliffs.  
Their composition was a sandstone conglomerate, but not as many rocks in the sandstone as at The Olgas.
This small tree covered in flowers is the Corkwood Tree, which is a member of the hakea family.
Beautiful flowers, aren’t they.
We saw some ghost gums.  The white trees along the watercourses are river red gums, even though they have white bark.  Ghost gums grow in more arid positions, have smaller leaves, and if you rub the bark you will get a white powder on your hand.  It’s hard to see how a tree of this size can survive in such a rocky position.
The reason the palms can survive is due to the fact they are in a protected narrow gorge and that there is permanent water. At the base of the valley there is harder rock, which holds the water. We even saw some small gudgeon fish swimming around.
There was some incredible textures in that hard rock at the bottom of the gorge.
At the end of our section of the valley we ascended some stairs to return via the valley rim.
And the obligatory photo.
None of the walk was even under foot.
Mick with Bill.
Our next stop was to see the Cycads that grow along just one ledge in the valley.  They reckon that some could be 200 - 300 years old and that they have probably been here for 12 million years. They are sheltered by huge sheer cliffs.

Once we had retraced the four very rough kilometres to the picnic area we enjoyed a nice lunch of salad wraps, vanilla slices and danishes, all provided by a local bakery.  It was delicious and very filling.
Then it was a return trip home, just stopping to see a couple of interesting rock formations along the way.  Can you see why they now call the second one “The Cruise Ship”?

We arrived back at the caravan park at about 5 o’clock.  It was a wonderful day and Mick really enjoyed the fact that he could sit back and take it all in without having to drive over the rough roads.

Once we disembarked, we booked a further night at the caravan park, so we can see a bit more of the area, seeing as we had just spent a day out that we hadn’t banked on.

In the evening, we popped next door to the Alice Springs Brewing Co to catch up with people we had met at Kings Canyon.  
A tasting paddle of beers was ordered.
Followed by pizza.  It was nice to compare travel notes before we each head off in different directions on our trips.

The highlight of our day was the bus tour in general.  We are so pleased we did it.