Apr 11, 2013
|Day 15: Thursday 11 April
Alice Springs / Sunny and hot
Day 15 of our trek – Alice Springs
After a good night’s sleep we were able to have our breakfast outside with no flies. We had toast for the first time on the trip, I really enjoyed my cinnamon toast.
We hadn’t been able to wash for a while, my towel was starting to smell! We did 7 loads of washing, it was a hot day (31 degrees) so it was all going to dry quickly.
Once we had finished hanging out the washing we set off to look around town. Firstly we went to Todd Mall and looked at various shops. Here we also saw the first hospital built in the area, it was set up and designed by Reverend John Flynn. The hospital was specially designed to keep cool so the patients and staff could survive the long hot summers. Reverend Flynn did so much fantastic work in this area. He set up the Royal Flying Doctor service and he invented the first pedal. Reverend Flynn was passionate about helping people in remote areas, his face is found on the twenty dollar note.
In the afternoon we visited Alice Springs School of the Air, this was the first school of the air to be set up in Australia in 1952. The School of the Air was made possible by using Flynn’s pedal radio system. In the olden days the kids needed to pedal the radio system so they could hear their school lesson.
Today Alice Springs School of the Air has 130 pupils that all live very far away and include kids on properties, National Parks, Road Houses and children of policemen. There are 13 teachers. The government provides each child with a computer, printer, scanner and satellite dish. There is a timetable so each child knows when they need to get onto the computer for their lesson. They can see, hear and talk to the teacher and other pupils through the computer. Each student also has individual time with their teacher and they have work books and library books posted to them. The kids have a home tutor to assist them with their school work, the tutor is usually their mum, but sometimes it is dad or a paid tutor.
Four times per year all the children, family and tutors come together at Alice Springs for one week. The first week in the year they meet their teacher and other classmates and the tutors get instructions on how to help the children. The second week is to do the Naplan testing. The third week concentrates on social skills as many of these children rarely get to see other kids. They have a sports day, sometimes they go and visit a ‘normal’ school and the highlight is lunch at McDonalds! The final week is held at the end of the year where they celebrate Christmas. The children perform in a concert and Santa Claus visits.
I found my visit to School of the Air fascinating.
We then headed to the Old Telegraph Station. The Old Ghan railway line had followed the same route as the Telegraph Line that went from Adelaide to Darwin to provide communication to the world. Unfortunately we were too late to enter the museum but we were able to have a good look around the grounds. We walked up a big hill to a trig station, a trig marks the top of a hill. We had a great view from up here and we saw wallabies and kangaroos hopping over the rocks. We also walked in Todd River which hardly ever has any water in it, so we were walking just in sand. Each year the Todd River Boat race is held but instead of real boats people make funny boats out of various materials like cardboard to race in the sand.
A small community set up in the 1800’s when the Telegraph Station was set up at Alice Springs, after a while a gold rush happened here so many people came to the area, the community was not big enough for all the extra people, so the town was moved 4km to where Alice Springs Town is today, it was first named Stuart Town but everyone kept calling it Alice Springs.
To finish the day we visited a botanical gardens that had lots of native trees and bushes from the area.