A Town Like Alice

Has a film ever made you want to visit somewhere?
Since the first time I saw A Town Like Alice, I always wanted to go to Alice Springs for it’s old  colonial remoteness. The town only featured in the last ten minutes of the film but made an impact. Probably because I fancied Virginia McKenna.
More recently I’ve learnt about the millions of flies due to Alice Springs being surrounded by cattle stations. The flies breed on the dung thence perpetuating their proliferation. The romantic outback cattle station utopia bubble burst a long time ago as well. No longer is there a lazy, rural outback town where the Bruces ride horses, drink beer on slatted verandahs outside traditional hotels, wear cattlemen’s hats and have an Aborigine bushman called *Jirra. No longer do the Sheila’s stay at home making pink check cotton dresses and cooking *floaters and *Lamington biscuits with their maid called *Yindi.
aborigines
There are Aboriginal settlements, well, groups of sheds, with the ubiquitous rusty oil drums and 100% unemployment, disease, poverty and a fair amount of squalor, in stark comparison to the outer suburbs of what I’ve seen of Brisbane and especially the Gold Coast. The Aborigines were moved to these “camps” from wherever they were before and dumped in these settlements, as far as I can see, to stop them from causing problems. It certainly hasn’t enhanced their lifestyle. It’s just made them dependent on people who have swept their many grievances under the carpet. I presume logically, it must be disorientating and disillusioning to a once proud and independent society, to be moved from the land that historically has been in your tribe’s blood, stories and was inhabited by your creed for hundreds of thousands of years before Europe had even emerged from the ice age. It is a fight worth continuing. The passive battle goes largely unnoticed, rarely making the news and even then it gradually fades away like a spirit from Dreamtime. Obviously the camps are not on the tourist trail, but you can of course buy “authentic” Aboriginal paintings or clothing patterns to hang on the wall of your suburban semi detatched. From a shop.
However, as cynical as I am, I’d still like to go to Alice Springs.
* Jirra – kangaroo, 
* Yindi – sun, 
* Floater – meat & potato pie floating in a sea of mushy peas.
* Lamington cake – chocolate coated sponge cake covered with dessicated coconut

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15 comments

    • I started reading a book about the North American Indian and sadly left it at Corus when I left. The British are wrongly accredited with forming the first concentration camps in the Boer wars (1880’s), the Americans had starvation camps for the Indians in the 1830’s. They promised and then double crossed, maltreated and tortured, scalped, skinned and God knows what. They were similar if not as bad as the Nazis and still are.

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  1. The white australians are very scathing about the aborigines in a lot of cases, and I see that as very sad. These people, the original people of the land, have been persecuted and exploited and moved around through the years. The aussies have a lot to own up to I reckon.

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    • I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw these specialist pie restaurants alongside the Bruce and Pacific Highways. For a country with such diverse sea creatures and fruit, to eat pies and fish and chips in 35°c temperatures was odd.

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    • The only aborigine we saw in 3 weeks was on the plane from Singapore to Brisbane. She was very tall, statuesque, pretty and as black as coal. In the Aborigine shop in Brisbane there wasn’t an aborigine. instead there was an Indian girl behind the counter who was really rude. She threatened to get the police after Astrid dropped a plastic boomerang after part of the sellotaped counter gave way and I refused to pay for it ($1.99). I just told her to fuck off and we walked out. Now if she had been aboriginal I might have sympathised as I can’t see an aboriginal stropping like she did.

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  2. I agree with Sulas comment the aborigines were treated like second class citizens hopefully that dosent happen so much nowadays shameful considering it was aboriginal country 😦 me I wouldnt mind visiting Sydney Harbour 😉

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    • They still are treated as second class citizens. They are treated like we treat travellers in Europe. The council build camps that they don’t really want to stay at because they like moving about. Same problems as well, they leave debris all over the show, this is their downside and in that they can turn a brand new camp into a rubbish dump in weeks. similar to some of our council estates in England I suppose.

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  3. When I was out there 6 year back I was taken into the ‘outback’ and did actually visit a shack town.

    My sister’s partner is a convere bloke and he met them when he was sorting plants (or what left) in a region…

    It is heartbreaking to see the squalor…but they are happier than you and me.

    They exist much as the nomadic people in Greanland…and a big proportion of their food is RABBIT…not an animal Native to Australia.

    But with permission from MIck…would love to write a blog on this as I learnt much whilst out there.

    P xxx

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    • Be my guest. I would like to visit Arnhemland and Torres Strait area just to see. The Sydney Harbour bridge etc are for tourists but I’d like to see the hinterland. It could take the rest of my life.

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      • Oh gosh Mick it would take forever….Becci and I were only there for a few weeks and we travelled round the Victoria Area…so many Townships…and were amazed considering that it was the English that originally collonised it is so American in some places.

        I wish I was younger as I would love to settle over there…life is so different…so laid back…people are so friendly.

        The one thing I could not get over was the difference in ‘LIGHT’ and the vast space…could tell so many tales of our visit.

        P xx

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  4. Ah, don’t believe everything you watch on TV. Look at Midsomer, there’s only 200 people, 38 dogs, 22 horses and 19 cats live there but there were 80 murders during the series…. :))

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