the end of the 1930s, the population of Alice
Springs was very small, as were most Territory
towns, with only 30 or so telephone extensions at the telephone
exchange and most of those were businesses.
advent of World War II
saw Alice Springs change from a very small Outback cluster of buildings
which was isolated from the rest of Australia, to a thriving modern
day community with ready access
to transport both north and south. For a time there were even
discussions of Alice Springs permanently replacing Darwin as the
capital of the Northern Territory. There was certainly some
interesting byplay between
the civil and military administrations.
- Alice Springs
In 1940 the memorial on top of Anzac Hill overlooked a sparse
community, however now it oversees a large modern centre.
(Image courtesy of Adelaide House Collection)
Roll cursor over image for a modern view of the memorial.
- Alice Springs
Saddling paddock at the Alice Springs racecourse (Image
courtesy of former Conservation Commission of the Northern
Abbott commented that 'on the cultural side, life in Alice Springs
had plenty of interest. Art societies were instituted, lectures
on music given, play reading and exhibitions of paintings were
held, and modern comedies staged.' In the town, the Capitol
and Pioneer Theatres provided a variety of movies which were
well patronised. Canvas decking seats made a truly relaxed atmosphere.
Even the Governor General, Lord Gowrie, and Lady Gowrie attended
during an official visit in 1943.
The Camp Theatre was later built on the north-western slope
of Anzac Hill and was used for cinema and live entertainment,
such as boxing, wrestling and the arts. The Catholic Church
and the Methodist Inland Mission held dances, concerts and musical
entertainment, where townsfolk were able to mix with service
personnel, even though there was a very heavy imbalance of males
Convoys Up The Track, Alan C. Smith
population, industry, infrastructure
and ease of access for non-Territorians
were all enhanced as a direct consequence of the impact of the war
on this small outback town in particular and Central
Australia in general. Additionally, there were a number of local
people who were instrumental in assisting the
town in its economic
and social development
during this period. In this section we visit some of these people
and take a look at a few of the ways that the town was changed.