The McDonnells: a stunning backdrop to The Alice
Miss Eagle is spreading her wings to-morrow and is off to the Northern Territory for three weeks. Will be having a couple of days in Alice Springs and then off to my old stomping ground of Tennant Creek which is situated on the western fringe of my spirit country, the Barkly Tableland. There is a vital element missing from the map: the Tropic of Capricorn which is about one hour driving time north of Alice Springs. Tennant Creek is 504 kilometres (5 hours driving time north of Alice). However, while both are Arid Zone towns they are vastly different. I recall once leaving Alice at a particularly dry time when one could not see one natural blade of green grass. One got to Tennant and, by comparison, it was a tropical oasis.
Sunset from the Gold Stamp Battery, Tennant Creek
I have included a map, dear Networker, so that you can get an idea of of distance. From Tennant Creek to Darwin is approximaely 1000 kilometres; depending on how heavy your foot is travel time is anything from 7 to 10 hours. There used to be no speed limits in the NT outside the towns. However, a few years ago highway speeds were given 130kph limits. Now, how well these are enforced is open to conjecture. The long straight Stuart Highway from Mataranka south to the NT/SA border is ideal for cruise control! Population is sparse in the NT and a significant proportion is Aboriginal - meaning there is regular contact with the most ancient culture on the whole planet: languages, nations, attitudes, and - sadly - socio-economic differences of major proportions.
Currently, there are many undercurrents in the NT due to the abhorrent Intervention. I will be keeping my eyes open and trying to be sensitive to views, black and white, around me. But please remember I am kicking off my sojourn in the place where Samson and Delilah was filmed - and that was realistic.