Paintings at Emily Gap
My run up through Queensland is over with the last show which is always a good one at the Curry (Cloncurry) . The next show at Alice Springs, a mere 1300 k's away via Camooweal, Three ways, and Tennant Creek is where I finally feel some space and enjoy the uninterrupted views to the horizon. Winter in central Australia can be severe, this year temperatures drop to zero at night however the days were perfect, around 20 and a bit more at times. Having a week to myself I stopped at Gemtree for a few days and from there followed tracks through the ranges over to Arltunga. This is where gold was first discovered at a spot called Paddys Rock Holes, soon after, a rush started and men travelled over some of Australia's harshest country to peg their claim. So little surface water exists out here even after one of the best seasons in our history it amazes me they were able to complete the trip without perishing. As well, the rocky undulating ground surface must have been a nightmare to travel over. For the first ten years very little development took place and at the most there were 41 miners working the goldfields. Soon after, gold was discovered at nearby White Range. The SA Government installed a battery to crush the rock and it wasn't long before numbers on the fields passed 400. The Town of Arltunga was now established. Whatever items were needed on the goldfields came from Adelaide, firstly on rail to Oodnadatta and from there by camel or horse teams for a further 600 kilometers over unforgiving country that deteriorated the further north they travelled.
Arltunga is now in a fenced reserve and looked after by Jim and Jan (not their actual names) who act as rangers protecting the historic site. Actually they had mine leases in the area and were soon to retire and asked to take the job on as Government rangers kept leaving the post due to the isolation factor. The pair do a wonderful job explaining and showing how gold was won to the many tourists that visit the area on day trips from Alice. An area is set aside for gold heads like me to try their luck detecting, unfortunately all I found was was small pieces of metal rubbish left over from the mining ventures all those years ago, but I'll be back to try again sometime down the track.
Mill near Arltunga
Bread cooking in the Bedourie oven
Looks good,,,tastes ?
Most of the stations around Alice Springs have been held by the same families for generations, unlike the top end where the majority are owned by companies. The cattle in the south of the N.T are predominately british bred, herefords and shorthorns and those in the north, brahmans. Generally the weaners are sent south to sale yards, feedlots or meat works rather than north to the live export trade and this year for the forth year a shorthorn beast won the hoof and hook competition at the Alice show.
South side of Harts Range NT
The pictures above display a different image of central Australia than most would have in mind and without the Mac Donnell Ranges in the background dominating the scenery and the plains country covered with an abundance of herbage so barely any red dirt is visible one could be easily convinced the shots were taken elsewhere and not east of Alice out towards the Simpson Desert. Until next time. Steve and Sass