Alice on the Line - An Australian Classic
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"The town that is now Alice Springs was a telegraph station when Doris Bradshaw Blackwell went there as a young girl in 1899. Doris Blackwell's father, Thomas Bradshaw, was the officer-in-charge of the telegraph station from 1899 to 1908."
unknown. If father had asked for them he’d probably have been told they were an unnecessary luxury; in any case, they would have taken valuable loading space on the camel trains required for more vitally needed supplies. For several days we had fun exploring the station and its wonderful works, and we made some exciting discoveries. I remember that one of these gave me the kind of thrill that today’s Hollywood publicity men would call “spine-chilling,” but it didn’t last long and I can’t recall
Australia but withdrew from the race when it was found to be more practicable to bring the Line from Port Darwin, where the cable from East Java was to come ashore, through Central Australia to Adelaide. For two reasons South Australia was vitally interested in having the Line pass through its territory. The first was to earn transit revenue on all cable messages to the eastern colonies via Adelaide. The second was to open direct overland communication with its sub-colony in the tropical north,
occurred when I was learning to ride on a quiet old mare soon after we arrived. One day I ignominiously fell off, or was thrown off, and cut my ankle badly on a sharp flint. Subsequently it was balm to my wounded pride to learn that the accident happened because a stirrup strap broke; but that didn’t help the injured flesh, especially when my father, in his inexperience, drenched it liberally with arnica, which was for use only on unbroken skin. That was roughly equivalent to pouring in salt,
the trackless desert, but whatever hardships the drivers had were overshadowed by the experiences of Blakeley and his friends. Nor were they the only ones to ride bikes through the Centre to Darwin. It had also been done by Francis Birtles, Ted Reichenbach, and J. Murif. When Dutton and Aunger left Alice Springs on their second trip they took today’s equivalent of a wireless trans mitter with them in case of trouble. This was my uncle, Ernest Allchurch, who carried equipment to tap the telegraph
night. After eight years of the comfort of kapok mattresses and feather pillows I found that my bed, until we reached Alice Springs, was to be a blanket-roll on the ground. How hard it was! Poets have found beauty and authors romance in swag-rolls, starlit heavens, sputtering billycans on campfires; and yarning by night in the soft light, but to me it all amounted to nothing more than sheer discomfort. These night camps meant extremely hard work for the men, who could not rest until horses had