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Alice Springs

From singing wire to iconic outback town

Stuart Traynor

Alice Springs
In 1870 a colonial government, on the brink of collapse, made an audacious move. South Australia's squabbling politicians briefly put aside their differences and took the bold decision to run an iron wire to the middle of nowhere and beyond. Stringing the Overland Telegraph Line across the silent heart of the continent was a momentous event in the country's history. It connected Adelaide to a global network of cables and wire: those travelling up and down the track through central Australia were seldom out of earshot of its hum. Alice Springs was its most important repeater station.

Alice Springs: From singing wire to iconic outback town is the result of eight years of meticulous research unravelling the early history of central Australia's first white settlement. It contains information, never previously published, about that little outpost - a significant heritage site - and how an iconic town was born nearby, during a goldrush that made few people rich. It is a tale of the country's heart and some of its most remarkable but little-known characters, and of children torn between two cultures living at the telegraph station after the morse keys stopped clicking in 1932; children under the shadow of the most controversial piece of legislation in Australia's history. Central Australia has a black history.

Alice Springs is no longer the small, outback community romanticised in Nevil Shute's novel A Town like Alice. But its people, black and white, are still living on the line.

Winner of the 2017 Chief Ministerís Northern Territory History Book Award

Praise for Alice Springs:
'To read Stuart Traynor's Alice Springs is to not only better know our town's past, but to better understand its present.' - Kieran Finnane, Alice Springs News

'This detailed and informative history of Alice Springs goes to some lengths to give a highly readable account of just what the Overland Telegraph Line meant to Australia in 1870 and, specifically, to Alice Springs.' - Christopher Bantick, The Weekly Times

'An amazing feat of research and would be an excellent reference for students studying this era in Australian history.' - Helen Eddy, ReadPlus

'Well worth the journey.' - Robyn Douglass, SA Weekend

'Meticulously researched.' - I.F. - ARPA News

'This highly readable and detailed account of the history of Central Australia goes a long way to a better understanding of its settlement and development and its good, and black history. The one problem with Stuart Traynorís book is that once you start reading, it is almost impossible to put it down!' - Nic Klaassen - Flinders Ranges Research

'An enjoyable and educational read.' Craig Bellamy, imprint

'A marvellous collection of characters, strung on a thin historical thread ... An enjoyable romp through the story of Alice Springs and the people who made it. ' - Alan Powell, Northern Territory Historical Studies

Long-time Alice Springs resident Stuart Traynor left the cultural melting pot of Wollongong for the Northern Territory on the eve of Cyclone Tracy seeking adventure, and finding it in abundance. After a spell in secondary schools and Aboriginal education, he 'won the lottery' in the 1980s, joining the Conservation Commission of the Northern Territory, a vibrant and well-funded organisation that encouraged initiative. As the senior officer in charge of community education, his work involved training programs across the Territory, writing for a range of audiences and organising community events. For many years he was a weekly voice on ABC Territory Radio, raising awareness of NT flora and fauna, local history and conservation issues. He was honoured with life membership of the Australian Association for Environmental Education and recognition from the Alice Springs Town Council for his community service work.

Stuart Traynor spent eight years researching the history of central Australia for this book.

View an extract
Format Paperback
Size 234 x 156 mm
ISBN 9781743054499
Extent 456 pages
Price: AU$39.95 including GST
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