Saturday, March 17, 2018

You Say It’s Your Birthday

The walk into Alice Springs (102*)

We took a 2 hour flight from Melbourne today to Alice Springs which is just about in the smack dab middle of Australia.  Most blokes around here call it the Red Center.  We know it better as the Outback.  It is a very ancient land.  The hills surrounding Alice are made of rock formed about 1800 million years ago.  It’s bloody hot here, too.  They may say it’s fall but it was 99 degrees when we landed.  This area has been home for Aborigines for 30,000 years.  The physical characteristics of the land have cultural significance to the Aborigines, which is the main reason they will not live elsewhere.  Because they will not leave the land their economic situation remains pretty dire.

Martin Ludgate, the Perfect Aussie

Our site coordinator here is Martin Ludgate, and like all previous site coordinators he has a passion for and a deep knowledge of the area.  On the bus from the airport, Martin gave us some information about the area.  Before the Aboriginals arrived there are no other signs of a people such s Neanderthals living here.  It is believed now through DNA that the Aboriginals came down through India.  First White contact came around 1870 when the telegraph lines were being laid.  Some of the tribes in the Outland areas did not have contact until 1950-60.

School of Air

After lunch we went to the Alice Springs School of the Air.  Had I realized (in other words paid attention) the coach would return to the hotel for a lecture, I would have skipped this trip.  It was just to show us how long-distance learning was developed and used for kids that lived hundreds of miles from Alice on the cattle ranches.  Road Scholar generally tries to support cultural and civic organizations through visits and gift shops.  I think this was one of those supports.

Paunch art with Witchetty Grub

Our lecture was on Aboriginal Culture and Art in Central Australia.  The majority of the art consists of hand stencils in caves with ochre to depict ancestors and to claim land.  There are rock carvings on sandstone and paintings with white clay.  The best know Aboriginal artist to paint in a western style is  Albert Namatjira  The region is noted for its Papunya art, dot painting.  The Papunya Tula Artists is a cooperative formed in 1972 that is owned and operated by Aboriginal people of the Western Desert.  These paintings tell the Dreamtime creation stories.

The Alice Springs Trio

Tonight we had dinner and entertainment at the Olive Pink Botanical Gardens Cafe.  It was perfect timing to celebrate Wayne’s birthday.  We had a traditional steak on the barbie and song from Barry Skipsey.  Wayne had to perform with Barry on the Lagerphone.  I laughed until tears came.  Have fun with this at flickr.