Outback Life







Alice Springs RSL Club

Military - Overview
Overview | Role of Alice Springs | Soldier's Experiences in Central Australia | Life on the Convoys

During the second World War, Alice Springs was used as a staging point for the movement of men, equipment and supplies north to Darwin. At this time the railway stretched from Adelaide to Alice Springs, but for most of the way from Alice Springs to Darwin, there was nothing but a narrow, unsealed track. Until the road from Alice to Darwin was improved, all heavy transport to Darwin was by sea.

Early 1940s - Alice Springs
When the soldiers first came to Alice Springs, they camped on the eastern side of town on what is now Anzac Oval. To see a recent image of the site, roll your mouse over the image. (Image courtesy of Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory)

Alice Springs was seen as crucial by the military in the provisioning of Australia's Top End defences from the earliest stages of the war. Initially though its use was as a base from which to supply the construction gangs undertaking the upgrade of the Alice Springs to Darwin road, and also to supply the troops in the Top End. With the bombing of Darwin in February, 1942, Alice Springs became a crucial link between the railhead from Adelaide and the start of the 1500km drive undertaken by the army convoys.

29 December, 1942 - Alice Springs
Members of 121st Australian General Transport Company arriving by train in Alice Springs. (Image courtesy of the Australian War Memorial)

This section on the Military will reveal what it was like for the soldiers who stayed in Alice Springs before moving north, as well as the lifestyle of those members of what was initially called the Darwin Overland Maintenance Force, who undertook the long convoys from Alice Springs to Darwin once the road was upgraded.
Of course, it wasn't all work for the soldiers and we include some of the soldiers' other activities as well, including sport and so on.

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© Alice Springs RSL Sub-Branch 2002