Sunday, October 26, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Some information about it from the NT Government website ...
"The main features of the Rainbow Valley area are the scenic sandstone bluffs and cliffs. These free standing cliffs form part of the James Range, and are particularly attractive in the early morning and late afternoon when the rainbow-like rock bands are highlighted.
The coloured rock bands in the sandstone cliffs were caused by water. In earlier wetter times, the red iron of the sandstone layers was dissolved and drawn to the surface during the Dry Season. The red minerals formed a dark iron surface layer with the leached white layers below.
This dark red capping is hard and weathers slowly, whereas the softer white sandstone below weathers quickly into loose sand."
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Sunday, June 01, 2008
The Saints finally won that elusive second premiership with a hard fought and thrilling 2 point win over the West Sydney Mortgage Defaulters, in front of 250,000 fans at the Demetriou Dome (Named in honour of the greatest and most influential person ever involved with the AFL) in New Delhi. The Saints overcame tough opposition, a hostile crowd and oppressive temperatures to become the first club to win a premiership after finishing the home and away rounds in 24th position. The Saints cleverly exploited the "Mark Williams Finals System" to clinch a berth in the play-off after just 18 preceding finals. The 24 teams in the 48 team competition that missed the finals are considering a protest.
Star of the triumph and winner of the Demetriou Statue (Named in honour of the greatest and most influential person ever involved with the AFL. It replaced the Norm Smith Medal in 2010), awarded for best afield, was none other than ageless St.Kilda champion, 65 year old midfielder, Robert Harvey.
At his usual relentless running best, Harvey, in his 1035th game for the Saints, accumulated 35 possessions and capped his performance by scoring 3 Demetrious (Replaced the goal in 2010 and named in honour of the greatest and most influential person ever involved with the AFL) in the second half, including the winner, just seconds before the final siren.
Victorious St.Kilda coach, Connor Harvey, was full of praise for his father's efforts. Connor, himself a fine player, although retired since 2032, described the old man as, a marvel, role model and mentor of the highest order. He could work on his defensive accountability a bit more, and he could kick a few more goals, but at his age I have to cut him some slack. What the hell, we finally got the chocolates. No one deserves this more than dad. Now his CV is complete at last. Two Brownlows, 2 Demetriou Medals (Replaced the Brownlow Medal in 2010 as
the award for the Fairest and Best player in the AFL. It is named in honour of the greatest and most influential person ever involved with the AFL), 6 club best and fairest, the last two won in his fifties, AFL MVP, Legend, Hall of Fame member and AFL lifetime achievement Award, The Anderson, named after the patron saint of interstate clubs, Adrian Anderson.
The typically humble Harvey was full of praise for his team mates, refusing to accept individual accolades. "The best part of today, and we had a bit of luck with the new grandfather/grandson rule brought in this year, was that I got to play in a premiership with my two grandsons, Grant and Thomas. They were superb, weren't they?" enthused the champ. Devoted wife Danielle stood beside her man, beaming with pride. "I couldn't be more proud of him. He's been a bit of a handful at the Rod Butterss maximum security home for the aged this year, but it's all
turned out all right in the end. They just can't control him. They've tried rotating tags of nurses, but he just grinds them into the dirt. He can't be stopped. At least now he can retire, as he's been promising to do for the last 35 years!"
St.Kilda President, Michael Rix, was on hand to accept the long awaited premiership cup, but somehow failed to take full possession of it,eventually fumbling and dropping it on the floor. "Another touchless outing, I'm afraid, " lamented the President.
Vice President of Australia, Corey Worthington, standing in for the President of the Australian Republic, Deborah Mailman, was on hand to present the Demetriou Statue to the humble saints hero. Worthington then mumbled something about the premiership celebrations were on back at his place and that he'd text all his mates to bring their friends and grog.
Meanwhile, Harvey thanked his sponsors, R & X Clarke Prosthetics, for extending his career. The company was founded by former St.Kilda players, Raphael and Xavier Clarke, who based their research and product development on their own continually shattering bodies. They became the largest makers of prosthetic devices in the world, with Harvey the face of the company.
Harvey's original heart is on display at the National Museum, in the Australian Capital, Noosa, next to that of Phar Lap. His artificial heart, the RX 5000, has delivered reliable and consistent performance after a rocky start. "Couldn't have done it without the new technology,"admitted Harvey. "The big ones this year though, were the titanium hips and knees. They'll last another 20 seasons."
At this point, Danielle Harvey collapsed, sobbing uncontrollably. When she challenged the great man about his promise to retire if the Saints finally landed a flag, her husband shot back, "We've got to try for back-to back flags, don't we?
Sunday, April 27, 2008
I went to see the Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow - here in Alice Springs last week. First time I've been - amazing to see it here. The theatre was booked out. There were 5 stand up comedians - and as expected some were funny and some were not. There was quite a lot of profanity and adult content thoughout the show.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
As part of the NAB challenge there was an AFL game here in Alice Springs between Carlton & West Coast Eagles. Carlton lost however there was a reasonable crowd of supporters for both teams. I met this kid who was really proud of indigenous players - Eddie Betts in particular. So he had his face painted in recognition.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
And then I arrived at the Glen Helen Gorge. The information area says that the rocky slopes around the gorge are home to a colony of black-footed rock wallabies which sometimes appear in the late afternoon and early evening but I didn't see any. But it was interesting to read that Glen Helen is one of only six permanent waterholes on the Finke River. Glen Helen is known to local Aborigines as Yapalpe and the Finke River is Larapinta which means 'serpent'. It was a favourite meeting place for the Aboriginal people from the West and Central MacDonnell Ranges.
Only a short drive from Glen Helen was Ormiston Gorge which consists of the spectacular Pound and the narrow gorge which is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful gorges in Central Australia. The subject of a number of paintings by Albert Namatjira the gorge rises to over 300 metres at points and is characterised by the beautiful river red gums and rock wallabies which are in the park. I went for a walk through the middle of the Gorge and after a while came face to face with a wallaby - just staring at me! A little further on a I saw a Goanna lazing in the sun. The walk was interesting as it was mostly large rocks that I had to climb around to get through the Gorge - so picturesque.
I thought it amazing that among the rocks and mountains that trees still grow!
From here I went to the Ochre Pits - a natural ochre quarry mined by Aboriginal peoples for painting and decoration.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Walking throughout town is interesting - there are some obvious differences between Alice Springs and home. Aboriginal people congregate together in groups in parks, benches or even just on the sidewalk - wherever they happen to be. Sometimes in the shade - sometimes not. They sit around ... as if meditating. In town they stand around the streets - in groups. Sometimes they are involved in conversations with each other and sometimes they raise their voices - quite loud. Sometime I can detect profanity - but mostly I hear the aboriginal language which sounds very foreign - like a loud mumble. I haven't had any occasions when I have been fearful - although there have been times when I've been stopped asking for a smoke or money.
The most visited landmark in Alice Springs, ANZAC Hill shows a panoramic view of the town and surrounding MacDonnell Ranges - which is quite spectacular.
I've been out and about a bit ...
After my first week here I went to Kings Canyon and Ayers Rock - Uluru. WOW. This was a most amazing experience. A few guys from work hired a mini bus and planned the trip - which in hindsight was a bit too adventurous. We left Alice Springs at 5.00am and returned at 3.00am the next morning! That's a lot of traveling. People think that Ayers Rock is just next to Alice Springs ... it's not - it's a long long drive away. The scenery all the way was quite amazing and impressive, certainly not what I expected to see in the desert. Mountains galore, green areas and heaps of wildlife.
Our first stop along the way was to Roadhouse called "Jims Place" where I saw and heard a singing dingo! Some information about it is here and you can even hear it here!
Kings Canyon was picturesque and well worth the visit - we stopped there for lunch and a walk. Some magnificent pictures are here - as told by Jim - from Jims place.
Uluru is one of those places where we've all seen photos and knew what to expect. I think what impressed me the most was, after driving all day, to get a first glimpse in the distance - then as the road turns getting closer and closer, realising that this rock is absolutely huge. And it's not just its size - there are parts of the rock that are signposted as sacred and no photos are allowed - and seeing the rock from these angles was unique. Getting up close and going for a walk along the base of the rock to see some drawings and caves was also worth the visit. I would have liked to walk all around the rock - around 9km however it was late in the day and we had to allow for our return journey. I saw a few plaques on part of the rock as a memorial for some who had died attempting to climb Uluru - The local Aṉangu do not climb Uluru because of its great spiritual significance. They request that visitors not climb the rock, partly due to the path crossing a sacred traditional Dreamtime track, and also due to a sense of responsibility for the safety of visitors to their land. The Aṉangu believe they have a spiritual connection to Uluru, and feel great sadness when a person dies or is injured whilst climbing.
The long journey back to Alice Springs was difficult. At night the wildlife come out and like to sit on or near the road (there are no fences) so missing them can be difficult - especially when you're driving at 140km or so. Northern Territory driving safety advises not to swerve to avoid animals, especially when driving at high speeds however with so many emotional people on the bus ... we found ourselves frequently slowing down and speeding up. We also designated a spotter in the front of the bus to get an early warning if animals were near. We didn't hit any animals.
We arrived at Erldunda at around 1.00am - out of petrol, only to find that they were closed! So we take out the mobile phone ... no signal! Look for doorbells or a contact ... nothing! We see a phone box ... out of order! Another phone box ... no phone directory! We rang directory assistance and got put through ... we can hear the phone ringing! and after 30 minutes of feeling stranded they opened up the petrol bowser for us - phew.
I've also been to a few other scenic places here - usually on the weekend.
The Alice Springs Desert Park presents and interprets the Australian desert environment and its inhabitants, and contributes to the conservation of Australia's desert flora and fauna. The Park site is of significant cultural importance to the local Arrernte people and includes parts of the Akngwelye Artnwere and Yeperenye Altyerre (Wild Dog and Caterpillar dreaming stories). Hence the Desert Park provides a sensitive and realistic insight into Aboriginal culture by display and interpretation of the traditional use of plants and animals and with regular liaison with local indigenous groups. This ongoing process has resulted in the Traditional Custodians of the Park site experiencing a strong sense of pride and ownership in the attraction. One of the attractions I saw there were feeding of birds (by the ranger) where I saw and different species of birds including eagles and owls - and then even saw a dingo.
I visited the Alice Springs Cultural Precinct which included the Araluen Arts Centre, incorporating the Albert Namatjira Gallery, Central Australian Aviation Museum and the Alice Springs Memorial Cemetery. Needless to say that the paintings by Albert were great - I guess I'm more of a fan of landscapes than dreamtime interpretations.
As part of my work I went for a trip to Yuendumu - a remote aboriginal town 293kms from Alice Springs. After driving for 2 hours, not seeing another car on the road, we came to a roadhouse called Tilmouth Well. There were no cars there, and I'm told it's always quiet, however I was amazed to see them ready to serve me when we arrived. I noted the price of unleaded petrol was $1.90 per litre.
Arriving at Yuendumu gives the impression of a small, run down town. Most houses were "kit home" style and looked poor. I don't mean any disrespect - but the town was dirty - and looked like a tip. In fact right inside the town was a fenced off area with rubbish strewn all over. There was also about 50 derelict and demolished cars next to it. In a huge contrast I found out that the town is powered by solar energy - one of 3 remote aboriginal towns to get these massive solar dishes installed - at a cost of $7,000,000. The project won a prestigious Engineering Excellence
award in 2005. I took some photos of the dishes after asking permission - the land where the solar dishes are located is sacred aboriginal land where women are not allowed - it's used for mens initiations. Such a contrast with a derelict town and cutting edge solar technology.