Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Day 12,13,14,15, 16- Alice Springs and an extra Night that wasn't planned for - Alice Springs

Early start for heading off to Alice Springs which was 348 kilometers away. We are getting quicker and better at packing up now. We played more I-spy and read our books. Charlotte read her book
 ( Black Beauty) that she bought from the second hand book shop in Sea Lake when we were at Nannies and Grandads. She has been reading it all the time and loves it. I am reading Anne of Green Gables. Nannie gave me the whole set (except Anne of  Windy Willows ) they were hers when she was 11 and now she has given them to me. They use some different words that mum said are not really used now so it took a little while to get into it because i had to keep asking what they all meant.
Now i am really enjoying it and i will have enough books to keep me reading for the whole trip and probably longer. Mum is reading "A town like Alice" and said that is really funny reading about a place that we are staying at right now. It is about the war and she said it is really good.
We are staying at the Big 4 and it has a huge jumping pillow. We unpacked our van and headed into town to pick up Francis.
Our friend Francis

He flew in this morning and was waiting for us at the Todd Tavern. Francis and mum worked together as Anaesthetic Nurses at the Royal Melbourne Hospital before I was born. He lives in Melbourne but has worked at the Alice Springs Hospital about 10 years ago so he is going to stay with us and also stay with some of his other nurse friends from Alice Springs when we leave. We had a relaxing day and dad cooked up a lovely Capers, anchovy and rosemary roast in our Ziggler. The Ziggler is like a Webber Q BBQ. Our friend  Tim D has one and we got it just before we went away. We have been cooking pizzas in it as well and we love it. Dad loves it almost as much as mum loves her Thermomix.
Tonight we will be having Roast Lamb
Mum and Dad stayed up late laughing with Francis and i couldn't sleep very well because they were right under my window.
The next day Dad went to the emergency department with Francis to get a script done because he couldn't get into any doctors. They had to wait 4 hours and they had lots of funny stories to tell when they got back about all the different people ( and police ) that were waiting in the emergency department.  Charlotte and I did some homework while mum repacked the van and started putting our warmer clothes away and getting out our summer clothes because the days were heating up and we will not be needing them soon. It is lovely and sunny here during the day but the nights are still freezing. It was 0 degrees at night and we had the heater going full blast.  We hired some go-karts with Adele and George and it was so much fun. We rode around the park for an hour and mum, dad and Francis went to George and Ro's van to chat with them.

Start your Engines

Our new Friends George and Adele

Today we went to the Overland Telegraph station and Francis went to the Market because he has been to all of the tourist sites in Alice Springs already. The Overland Telegraph was really interesting and we learnt how the first telegraph line was built in Australia. It took two years to build and was finished in 1872. It went from Darwin through Alice Springs to Port Augusta in South Australia and there was 36,000 poles used along the 3,200 kilometre long line.
The Telegraph Station
Sending a message using Morse Code

Only 35999 poles to go
Before the telegraph line it could take 3 -4 months for letters to come from England by boat, now it only took a few hours. They transmitted messages using a special code called Morse code and the telegraph line was connected from Darwin to  an underwater submarine cable in Timor sea to Singapore and then this was connected onto England. We got to have a play with the Morse code machine and saw lots of different rooms that were set up in the homestead and post office exactly like they would have been all those years ago. Mum thought it was a beautiful, peaceful place and loved looking at all the buildings and I thought that we were lucky we didnt have to live like that. It would have been so hot and uncomfortable and the nearest town was 10 kilometres away and they used to walk into town for supplies. We also visited the School of the Air today and a lady gave us a tour and talk about how children from all the cattle stations, aboriginal communities, road houses, military bases and national parks  and other remote areas went to school by using the radio. They used to use a radio but now it is done by computers. There is 140 children who are enrolled in the Alice Springs School of the Air this year and it is known as the largest classroom in the world because it covers an area of 1.3 million square kms (that is 10 times the size of England).
The closest student is 80 kms away from Alice Springs and the farthest is 1300 kms. They get to come together twice a year for a school assembly when they all come in and meet each other and have a special week of activities. It costs between $10,000 and $15,000 to set up each student with the satellite and computer equipment and it is a government school and they even do the NAPLAN test. The got in the top 10 % score so that is very good. We saw lots of their art work and it was really great. They had lots of pieces that were almost like the same ones we have done with Mrs. Brown. They made a big patchwork display and each student had to make a steel plaque about where they lived. One of them had hand-cuffs on his, his dad was the policeman and one had bullet holes through it. We went for a swim when we got back to the caravan park but it was a bit chilly so just laid out in the sun on the lounges. Off to bed early as we had a big day and were very tired.

Today we went to the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Charlotte and I got to sit in the plane that they use to collect sick patients. We got to sit in the pilot and co-pilots seat. We watched a film all about different people who live out in  remote areas and who were in really bad accidents and were taken into hospital by the Flying Doctors. They all said that they wouldn't be alive today if there was no Flying Doctor. Reverend John Flynn started the Flying Doctor Service in 1939 and he leased the first plane from Qantas and now they have a fleet of over 60 aircraft. Francis didn't come inside but waited for us in the front area where the man said that he made the best coffees in Alice Springs...........Francis said later that it wasn't the best!! We had dinner with the Auchterlonies and had a late night and i slept like a log.

Nurse Bella at the RFDS

Today we went to Simpsons Gap and Standley Chasm. We saw some rock wallabies at Simpsons Gap and we walked across a creek. Francis went first and then Charlotte followed him but the rocks were too far apart for her legs and she ended up in the water. It didn't matter though because now we know that her hiking boots were sort of waterproof.
Simpsons Gap

Çan you spot the Wallabies
One of us got wet feet

We got to Standley Chasm at midday which was just the right time to see it because the sun was shining through the chasm and it looked amazing. We took lots of photos but it didn't really show how nice it was.
We are off to Stanley Chasm
We got their at Noon so the sun would be perfect
Stanley Chasm was amazing
 We had sausage rolls and mum, dad and Francis had a meat pie. Dad took his back because it was still cold inside and they were very expensive for a microwave pie. We are heading off to the Devils Marbles tomorrow and Francis is going to his friend Liz's place to catch up with her. Francis gave Charlotte and me a really nice aboriginal painting each that he bought for us when he was at the market. It was called "collecting bush tucker". We are going to get them stretched and put over a canvas when we got home. We had tacos that night for dinner and Francis showed us the way he does his, which was a bit different to ours. We were having a debate about whether the soft tacos or hard tacos were the best and Francis and Charlotte went with the hard but I think they are just messy.
We are going to miss Francis but I wont miss his snoring.

We packed up the van and said our goodbyes to Francis and Liz came to pick him up because she had just finished a night shift at the hospital. We headed off on our way to the Devils Marbles to free camp with the Auchterlonies. It was going to be about a five hundred kms trip and we were about 120 kms out of Alice Springs and the "fuel filter maintenance"light came on. Mum tried to call the Toyota place in Alice but we had no reception. In the manual it said that you should take it straight to a Toyota dealer so it was either push on til the next Toyota dealer that was in Katherine and this was about 800 kms away or turn back 120 kms. Dad decided to turn back and when we were nearly in Alice we got reception and they said that they couldn't look at it til Thursday. (oh no we all said......because it was only Monday now) But mum worked her magic on the man and he said he would fit us in at the end of the day so that meant that we had to stay another night back in Alice. We headed back to our caravan park and dropped the van off and dad and I took the car into the dealer.
We got to pick up the car about 5.30pm that afternoon and then it was too late to start driving so we stayed at the caravan park and it rained all night. This is the first heavy rain we have had and it was heavy.
Early night because we have a huge day tomorrow because we are now just going to drop in at the Devils Marbles and try to get to Daly Waters to have dinner with the Auchterlonies. It will be a 960 km drive so It will be a big drive for mum and dad.

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