The Finke River. It’s one of the oldest rivers in the world and possibly, with the sister rivers here, the oldest, formed 350 million years ago, long before Australia broke off and formed a new continent. This is where you can look at the river banks here and imagine aquatic life make million generation millimetre-by-millimeter progress onto land for the first time, unless you’re a punctuated equilibria theorist, an incredible thought. A short article on the big-picture geology here
Alice Springs (pop 28,000) somehow lodged itself in my mind as early as any city names, like New York, or Paris way back at an early single digit age. There was something about the image of this beautifully, almost perfectly named town in a vast outback that grabbed me as maybe the most fascinating place I’d heard of to date. Maybe everyone has that memory.
The facts are the same as the memory but the details have changed and it’s not what I imagined as a child but just as interesting. Crime is a serious problem here. The 18% aboriginal population is largely blamed. The town is a mess but a 1st world mess. Nothing like the shitholes (in rider-speak) we’ve seen elsewhere.
This small group of buildings, built in 1872, was the reason Alice Springs exists and why it’s one of the most famous towns in Australia. It was the telegraph station between Adelaide and Darwin and the result of an epic engineering feat of stringing a 3000K telegraph line ultimately to connect Australia with the outside world
There are many incredible stories about this accomplishment and a few specially interesting ones. For instance Alice Springs was named after the wife, Alice, of the main engineer/adventurer/mastermind Charles Todd, who pulled the project off. Nice. But the awkward part is that he didn’t name it that. One of his men William Whitfield Mills did.