Outback Life







Alice Springs RSL Club

Children - Life as a Child in the Outback
Overview | When the Soldiers Came | Explosion: bomb or accident | Life as a Child in the Outback

Compared to children who were living on the coast, a child living in the Outback such as Alice Springs led a very different lifestyle. The activities that a young person in Alice Springs would do included covering large distances, spending time on large and remote cattle stations and, because of the war, preparing for bombings and air raid practice or doing what they could to support the soldiers.

1940-45 - Central Australia
Road under water near Newcastle Waters (Image courtesy of Carr-Chinner Collection, Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory)

When the war started I was only 8 years old. We'd come in from Owen Springs Station and we went to Parker's Farm over the east side of town. We used to walk across the creek to school every day. We had a pet magpie used to follow us and we used to bring our lunch to school wrapped in grape leaves and newspaper or brown paper. I was going to the Hartley Street school and I remember we children dug trenches down under the gum trees in the back of the School. And we used to have air raid practise. The sirens would go off and we'd have to march down orderly into these slit trenches. They were L-shaped with the idea being if the planes were coming that way you'd be in there and not in danger. Just about every afternoon they had a session on the radio updating the war efforts throughout the world. Les Dodd, the Headmaster used to keep a track of it on a big map on the wall. After the bombing of Darwin they brought the evacuees down and they said, "Oh you can have a couple of days off", because the evacuees were all billeted at the school and I think that was one of the best things that came out of the war. We had a few days off.
John Strange, Oral History
1940s - Central Australia
Coniston Station (Courtesy of Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory)

The threat of bombings was always in people's minds and the children welcomed every opportunity to get out of Alice Springs to go camping and perform other activities. Just as John Strange mentioned above, many of the children spent time on stations around Alice Springs which were far away from the military build-up in Alice Springs town area. Many hours were also spent by the children doing whatever they could to help the War effort, just as the rest of the country was doing.

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