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A Town a Little like Alice/ The OutBack

AUSTRALIA | Sunday, 25 August 2013 | Views [11182]

You may have read Neville Shute's novel or seen Peter Finch and Virginia McKenna in the movie: 'A Town Like Alice'

Alice has the small town outback atmosphere, but is still a colonial town where white men rule and most Indigenous residents are alienated and confused.

When will the Aboriginal community assert their claim to the town? Georgetown (Penang) is now run by Malaysians, Hong Kong by Chinese, Havana by Cubans and Pretoria (now called 'Tswane') is rapidly being 'Africanized'. Time for Alice to be 'Aboriginalized'?


Highlights of our visit:

Desert Park, Alice Springs. We were fortunate to arrive at the time of the year when wild flowers were blooming and Alice's Desert Park had a brilliant display of flora as well as of birds, nocturnal and other creatures. There is a saying that once you have been there, 'the desert will never look the same again'.


Glen Helen resort. We stayed 2 nights in this funky, old fashioned outback pub/hotel. There was a great atmosphere, friendly backpacker staff, good food and live music in the evenings (the inimitable John Baker - we bought and enjoyed his music on his latest CD.)


'CAAMA' radio that plays Indigenous music is great to listen to when travelling the long distances of the outback.


Hermannsburg and Palm Valley. The heritage precinct of Hermannsburg was fascinating - this includes the contribution of Albert Namitjira to Australian art, the trials and difficulties as well as the achievements and survival of the community.

The magnificent Palm Valley is about 22kms south of Hermannsburg and only accessible by a challenging 4WD track.


Kings Canyon. Probably the highlight of the trip was the 6 km trek around the rim of the Canyon.


The Rock - Uluru. (In case you are not aware, Uluru is 24 metres taller than the Eiffel tower.) Like a giant benign red queen bee she glows as she straddles the landscape, comforting the many worshipper tourists that busy themselves around her base.

There are still lots of people showing disrespect to traditional owners of the rock, by climbing it.


 Kata Tjuta, some 40 kilometres distant is equally tall and equally stunning. The 'Valley of the Winds' and 'Walpa Gorge' hikes - probably more Miyazaki than Tolkien.


The blooming Desert (literally). We really enjoyed the incredible array of flora with the red sand as a backdrop.


Question: wherever we travelled, the resorts, the shops were often staffed by backpackers or visitors from overseas. Why is there little evidence of local Aborigines being employed? There are 300 Aboriginal persons on the books seeking employment within the Hermannsburg Community. Only about 15 have employment and many of these are employees of the mining industry, away from the public interaction.

The one exception is the Kulata Academy cafe staffed by Aboriginal trainees. http://www.eglobaltravelmedia.com.au/indigenous-trainees-empowered-with-running-the-kulata-academy-cafe/


We had our challenges - our 4WD hire vehicle arrived nearly 2 hours late; Glen Helen Gorge ran out of petrol and we had to drive the 130 km back to Alice to fill up; the 4WD facility stopped functioning along the Ernest Giles 100 km dirt track and we had to change & repair a flat tyre when we arrived at Yulara.   The joys of travelling the Outback.

Tags: alice springs, caama radio, glen helen gorge, hermannsburg, kata tjuta, kings canyon, uluru

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