5 AMAZING THINGS ABOUT THE ALICE
I started writing a chronological history piece here: Alice was originally the home of the Arrernte Indigenous people then along came the explorers then the early pioneers then the missionaries, blah blah blah. From then til now. Like a history lecture. It’s good. It’s interesting. It’s valuable. Come on my tour and I’ll tell you all about it – how Alice emerged out of her history to become what she is today.
But I have decided instead to tell you what Alice is like. From my perspective. 5 amazing things about Alice Springs to explore and discover. That have made it worth my while to live here for the past 26 years.
And how you can find out more about these things.
1. THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
When I stepped off the Ghan in October 1989 and landed in Alice Springs for the first time my initial impression, and one that has remained with me, was an encompassing sense of warmth and wide open space, bathed in the bluest of blue skies. The climate, the red rocky, dry sandy river beds that snake their way across the desert floor and the beauty in the distance between things. Desert riches abound. Life ekes out a living admirably in the most unlikely of places. Elsewhere an unexpected sense of abundance prevails. You can step out into desert wilderness in a short walk from town or a short drive or take yourself on a road trip out into the middle of amazing nowhere.
Visit the Alice Springs Desert Park
Use Alice Springs as your base from which to explore the national parks and reserves of the region
Walk on the Larapinta trail
2. ABORIGINAL CENTRAL AUSTRALIA
Australia is home to the oldest living culture on earth. Alice Springs is at the heart of that. Aboriginal people comprise about 30% of the population of Alice Springs compared with perhaps 2 % of the Australian population as a whole. In all directions from Alice Springs, out on thier own lands, Aboriginal people live, speaking their own languages as their first language on communities with populations 90 to 100% Indigenous. For those people living in outlying areas, Alice Springs is a hub for goods and services.
Central Australia’s history of invasion and colonisation is recent compared with just about anywhere else on earth. Surprising and not-surprising effects of the coming together of two vastly different world views and ways of living are prevalent in Alice Springs. Causalities exist. Traditional Aboriginal ways live side by side with the modern developed world. The richness and ancient knowledge of Aboriginal Central Australia along with joy and resilience in meeting new challenges is here, in Central Australia, to be discovered and treasured.
Visit the Alice Springs Desert Park
Go on a tour with Bob Taylor
Visit Kathleen Buzzacott
3. A FASCINATING HISTORY
Alice Springs is full of history: the original Aboriginal way of life; early contact; pioneering endeavours and achievements; examples of early architecture made of local materials and designed for the nuances of our climate; the legacies of some extraordinary individuals; adaptation and service provision to remote and isolated regions; the development of the town, from Stuart to Alice Springs.
It’s unique, it’s fascinating, at times it’s disturbing and it’s the foundation for the town and way of life we have today.
4. THE CULTURE OF THE ALICE
Alice Springs is, in the words of a former Director of the Araluen Arts and culture Precinct, “a community of amazingly creative people.” As explained by Pip McManus, artist and long term resident of Alice Springs,
I think it’s quite extraordinary that a town of this size can give birth to such a wide range of exciting endeavours. It’s because of the singular nature of it being a crossroads: physically, culturally, the isolation. You have to have a sense of adventure and a sense of self.
The people of Alice Springs are creative in the arts, in business, in service provision, in celebrating and exploring the unique character of our lives and in creating our own entertainment. From the Todd Mall with her cafes and speciality shops to the range of annual festivals and events that reflect the diverse tastes of the Alice and surrounds, the art and culture of Alice Springs has grown out of the particular aspects of our heritage, our environment, cultural diversity and the independent spirit of the folk of Central Australia.
5. A COURAGEOUS, INVENTIVE SPIRIT
Courage, resourcefulness, creativity: it’s always been a salient aspect of life in Central Australia. The original Indigenous people of the area lived for thousands of years with the desert, using what it had to offer, knowing it intrinsically, caring for it. The colonisers and pioneers brought new ways of facing the challenges of life in Cental Australia and what didn’t exist they invented. This spirit of inventing and adapting continues in all manner of ways and shows no signs of letting up.