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NIOD Alice Springs




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Alice Springs lies almost in the geographical center of the immense Australian landmass, some 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) from the nearest major city. It has a population of approximately 27,000 people, 2,000 being aboriginal. It is located in the Northern Territory, most of which consists of a semi-arid environment.

As you'd expect from a desert, Alice Springs is predominantly dry with brilliant blue skies, especially from April to September. Between the summer months of December to March, it can get very hot. (35°C-45°C or 95°F-113°F).

During the winter months of June to September, the day temperatures will be mostly pleasant, but at night it can drop below freezing. Rainfall usually occurs in the hottest months from October to March, bringing welcome relief to the landscape and its people. But with a yearly average of only 275ml (9.3 fluid ounces), clear skies are generally a pretty safe bet. Extreme conditions do occur however, and precautions must be taken to prevent fatigue.




  History ...The spring on the river named Todd, was actually a water hole in the riverbed, and was named after the wife of Charles Todd.  

Prior to the turn of the century, the Northern Territory was goverened by South Australia. In 1870, Charles Todd, the Superintendent of Telegraph for South Australia, contracted a telegraph line to stretch from Port Augusta (North of Adelaide) to Darwin.

This line would link the major cities of Australia with Europe via a newly installed Indian Ocean / Asian cable. Following the path of the explorer John McDougall Stuart, surveyor W.W. Mills decided on March 11, 1871, to locate one of the telegraph relay stations at the site of a spring on the river he named "the Todd". This spring was actually a water hole in the riverbed, and was named Alice Springs after the wife of Charles Todd.

By 1888, miners and travelers to the nearby gold fields of Winnecke and Arltunga were draining the resources of the small station. As a result, the settlement of Stuart was founded about two miles downstream of the station. The first public building was the Stuart Arms Hotel in 1889, and by 1901 the town had nine buildings (three of them breweries). All supplies arrived via Oodnadatta, the railhead located 370 miles to the south. Afghans using camels transported many of the supplies over that barren stretch of land.

Territory Government passed from South Australia to the Federal Commonwelth in 1911, and a pledge was made to continue the railway north. The decision for the line was finally made in 1925, and the line arrived in Stuart in 1929 to the delight of all 50 residents. Three years later, the Telegraph and Post Office were transferred from the Old Telegraph Station (now preserved as a landmark) to Stuart, which was re-named Alice Springs. The town's population has increased five-fold by this time, and has been growing ever since.




Alice Springs

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Page Publisher: NIOC MD N3I Web, tel. 410-854-2946
Last Modified: March 30, 2017 
Last Reviewed: March 30, 2017