Thursday, June 21, 2007

Tennant Creek and southwards

Bas, thank you for solving riddle no.2: DISILLDOUS on the back of a motorhome was: "this will do us" meaning the grey oldies are happy to retire and travel for as long as they can.

What about the first riddle?? INOURRI also on the back of a motorhome, a slow Nissan bus. Anyone?

And here is one found in the pub of Ross River Homestead, it cost $1 if you ask the bartender to explain: ISDERASMNEORSSEDSASDERISORSSRSS?

TRAVELING SOUTH: Tennant Creek is 1000 km south of Darwin and 500 km north of Alice Springs on the Stuart Highway.100 km South of Tennant Creek we find the Devil's Marbles; nature found a way of splitting rocks and then rounding off the edges. According to the local Aboriginals, this is the site where the rainbow serpent laid her eggs.

The center of Australia started opening up around 1870 when the first telegraph line was built from Adelaide to Darwin, to connect by cable to the rest of the world. With many relay stations along the way, a telegram from London to Adelaide would take about 7 hours to arrive. Operators in most of these very remote stations would write down the message in morse code, translate and then use the morse key to send it on. In 1877 the first town in Central Australia was established, it was Hermannsburg, 125 km SW of Alice Springs.

Tennant Creek, the last gold rush in Australia, mid 1930's, in the middle of the Great Depression. Here we see many Aboriginals, some active in art centres or working as road crews, but the majority living off the doll and sitting around. Recently there have been calls from some community leaders to change the social welfare system and link it to "good clean living" such as kids going to school, no abuse of alcohol, drugs, gambling, domestic violence and sexual abuse of in particular children. It is a very complex problem with no simple solutions. Moreover, the anti-discrimination acts will stop any laws relating to only Aboriginals. Having experienced apartheid in South Africa, we cannot understand why our government is still funding and creating so many separate services for Aboriginals, why can we not be all Australians, irrespective of race or cultural background?

This afternoon we will go to the Central Lands Council and apply for permits to travel through several areas of Aboriginal Land. Just today on the radio it was mentioned that the permit system will be overhauled.

-It is the longest continuing art tradition in the world, at least 40,000 years and probably longer.
-There are hundreds of different Aboriginal cultures in Australia, all with their own unique form of cultural expression and ancestral language.
-Most artists are located in urban rural and remote communities and are connected to local art galleries.
-Authentic Aboriginal art includes documentation of the name of the artist, the title of the work, when the work was made, the language group of the artist and some appropriate cultural information.
-Although most Aboriginal artists are women, in 1971 a group of men started painting in Papunya after having been encouraged by a school teacher. They established in 1972 Papunya Tula Artists Pty Ltd. and are now highly regarded internationally.

This is the camping ground in Alice Springs, one of the driest places in Australia......

It seems we cannot get away from locals commenting like: "this is very unusual weather, we have never experienced this before". So once again, we had hardly stopped to camp in Alice Springs, and the rain came down in buckets. This time it was cold as well, during the night down to a few degrees above freezing. Tanneke bought a fan heater, which we now use when we have a powered site. When traveling around Australia with our children in 1990, we had 2 days of rain during the whole year, now we can count the days of sunshine; we have had two days of hot weather so far! Even Darwin is having temperatures in the low 20's.

At 200,000 km (very low km's for an Australian 12 year old Landcruiser, most have done over 300,000 or as much as 600,000 or more!) and with the central desert road in front of us, it was time to change the coil springs on the Landcruiser. Upgraded (thicker) coils resulted in the car going up by almost 100 mm, thus increasing the ground clearance and also stopping it from bottoming out on bad roads.

The East Macdonnell Ranges, N'Dhala Gorge 90 km east of Alice Springs; note the tilted layers of rocks, very similar to Arkaroola in the north Flinders Ranges in South Australia. On the right we see one of many petroglyphs (rock carvings) about 10,000 years old.

Trephina Gorge with the John Hayes Rockhole. We also visited the Ross River Homestead, built in 1890.

The Macdonnell Ranges stretch east to west for 400 kilometers, are around 340 million years old and were created around the same time as Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (the Olgas); originally more than 3000 meters high but now eroded to lower levels.

The Todd River Regatta in Alice Springs is a yearly boating competition; unusual is the fact that the Todd river is normally dry (on average it holds water once a year- however has held water 6 times already this year) and thus the regatta is held with bottomless boats .....true!. I have seen a picture once and it is absolutely hilarious, boats with running legs sticking out underneath!
The yearly Camel Races is another crowd pleaser. And then there is the yearly Beanie Festival, don your own handmade creation. Although not a large city, more a town, Alice Springs surprises with many shops and eating places, 7 caravan parks and lots of art galleries; it is clear that tourism is a major source of income here.

Zijn er geen stickers te koop met
"The Rainmakers" voor op jullie auto?
Even in Holland it is drier that your trip! Must be a 'dark cloud' over your heads.!! You need to write a book about your travels after this trip, your comments are very entertaining.
It is 30C here, sunny and very dry. Just plain great weather.
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