Tuesday, May 27, 2008

DAY 209: Day 2 off Tennant Creek

Tues 20th May 2008
Sunny, 24 deg C
Elevation of destination 248 m
Distance to date 12612 km (7882 miles)

I must have slept for at least 9 hours last night, despite a local dog breaking into a loud howling bark at around 1, and then didn’t stir until it felt warm enough to quit my cosy abode. I’d decided to take another day off here since it’s pretty comfortable and an interesting place, plus I hardly saw anything yesterday due to necessary maintenance.
After breakfast I went for my 0930 haircut appointment whereupon I was pretty much scalped at my request, then cycled up to the Battery Hill Mining Centre, just up the road from the Outback CP where I was staying.
The BHMC is a fascinating place, and I spent most of the rest of the morning there. I particularly enjoyed the Social History Museum which tells a lot of personal stories about the early settlers and their many hardships, such as lack of water, poor state of the roads, heat, lack of money etc. - it really brought home the resilience and resolve of these people more used to the comforts of Melbourne or London. There were many old photos helping to illustrate all this. There is also a minerals museum which dispslays some of the finest mineral samples in Australia, collected from here and all over the world - the shapes and colours of the samples is amazing.
Next I went to the Nyinkka Nyunyu Aboriginal Cultural Centre, where in contrast the influence of the white settlers is described from the Aboriginal perspective, and very well too. Lands that had been home for some 40,000 years were in many cases now out of bounds to the natives, to make room for mines and farms. Many of the established residents worked in these industries but often not for cash but just for food, clothing and rudimentary shelter. It makes for very poignant reading, but is beautifully done with little models in glass cases, and simple verbal descriptions.
After jam butty lunch back at camp I rode out to Mary Ann Lake along a concrete cycle path - it’s some 6km from town. The landscape is lunar-like with red stones instead of soil, completely bare in parts and with the odd tree sticking out here and there. As a contrast the lake is blue and the grass is green all around it of course, but there weren’t too many birds around compared to the billabong at Camooweal. I sat in the shade for the rest of the afternoon reading the Telegraph Weekly, as happy as Larry, whoever he is. I was surprised to read some of the news from home - Gordon Brown’s big troubles as PM; buffoon Boris Johnson for London Mayor!? - unbelievable, and far away thankfully.
A very good day though, and I’m glad I stayed an extra day to get these things in.

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