prior to the war, Alice Springs was a small community with a few
hundred residents, but by the end of the war, Alice had seen almost
two hundred thousand service personnel
pass through and had been home to some 8,000 transport personnel
who were based in the town and ran the convoys up the track to Darwin
and back. Naturally with such a significant population the infrastructure
of Alice Springs was rapidly expanded to meet the demands
placed on it during these years of abnormally high population.
Once the war was over, Alice Springs' population rapidly reduced
which resulted in the town
being left with facilities and infrastructure
that was far in advance of what would usually have been available
to such a small, remote community.
Perhaps the greatest benefit the war brought to the advancement
of Alice Springs was the development of the highway north to Darwin.
In the space of 2 years the road changed from little more than a
bush track to a road navigable by standard cars and buses.
Heavitree Gap in the background. Looking south from ANZAC
Hill. Church of England is mid-right. Part of Roman catholic
church at left. Part of post office far right. Also can be
seen: railway, police station, jail. (Image courtesy of Conservation
Commission of the Northern Territory)
during the war and almost immediately after the bombing of Darwin
the Civil administration of the Territory moved its base from
Darwin down to Alice Springs. Not only did this increase the
number of higher level civil servants in the
town but also went some way to promoting a more refined social
scene within the town, which was even more apparent when compared
to the type of social activities
that existed before the onset of war.
of the sparse population in the Centre and the difficult way of
life there, social occasions
were few and far between. Precisely because of this they became
major events. Racing continued to be the king of sports in Alice
Springs. Indeed, racing in Central Australia took on a new sophistication
in 1928 when a new course was established near Mount Nancy immediately
north of the town. To mark the transition, the club became known
as the Central Australian Racing Club in the early 1930s. Tennis
parties and picnics were regularly organised and thoroughly enjoyed.
As new people moved into the town new sports were introduced. Ly
Underdown was particularly interested in cricket and acquired equipment
from St Peter's College. While it was difficult to organise a regular
competition, games were played frequently.
1939 - Alice Springs
J. McDouall Stuart Memorial in front of Hospital, Alice Springs.
Note: on the left of the image there are some men dressed
in army uniforms. (Image courtesy of Carr-Chinner Collection,
Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory)
too, was introduced in the early 1930s after Maurice Fuss, postmaster
at the telegraph station, brought a set of clubs to Alice Springs
and began to hit a ball around in his spare time. In 1933 the devotees
laid out a nine-hole course on the east side between Spencer Hill
and the Todd River and erected a lean-to shelter to act as a clubhouse.
David Neck ensured that the proper rules were adhered to.
could not be anticipated, and when celebrated became gala events,
particularly if they involved notables from any major stations.
Such marriages were landmark events for women in the Centre. Something
of the excitement is evident from the southern correspondent to
the Northern Territory Times:
Mr Editor. Am bubbling over with joyful anticipation and feel too
elated with feelings of adventure, curiosity and excitement, to
remain calm and collected, so please excuse the incoherent style
of these lines. The cause of so much joy and thrill is simply because
we have been very kindly invited to a wedding. Miss Doreen Crook
of Singleton Station, elder daughter of Mr and Mrs Crook is to be
married to Mr W.W. Braitling, on April 1st and quite a crowd of
we bushies are off to the big 'spree' per car, and hope to have
a jolly good time...The mere fact that I have never witnessed a
marriage ceremony makes me tingle with impatient anticipation.
Alice Springs - Its History and The People Who Made It, Donovan