Before setting out on a guided highlights tour of the Larapinta Trail our group had the added bonus of visiting the Telegraph Station. Located near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory of Australia, this is the site of the original European settlement.
Established in 1872, it is apparently the best preserved of the 12 Overland Telegraph Line relay stations which carried messages between Adelaide and Darwin. Surveyed the year before as a suitable route through the MacDonnell Ranges, and declared a historical reserve in 1963.
The waterhole was discover by William Whitfield Mills and named it after Mrs Alice Todd. Alice Springs is located east of the station and gets it’s name from the waterhole. It is 4km from the town and the Alice Wanderer bus service is a recommended way to visit. The station operated for 60 years, and afterwards became a school for Aboriginal children.
The reserve now consists of a number of buildings preserved in the original stone, with furnishings and artefacts appropriate to the period. It’s not a large site, but photogenic, with the stone buildings and an old style wooden cart.
Entrance is free, but a paid for guided tour and brochure is available too. There is a picnic and barbecue area, and walking or cycling are popular activities in the area. As already mentioned it is the start point for the first section of the Larapinta, and makes an appealing diversion before setting off on the trail.
It’s a popular bird watching site, and our merry band saw colourful, but noisy galahs and several impressive wedge-tailed eagles soaring overhead. These are common in the outback, and were our regular companions along the trail.
We spotted a couple of roos on the skyline, silhouetted against the overcast, but dramatic early morning sky. They were slightly too far away to tell whether they were wallabies or kangaroos, but maybe a roo expert out there can identify them for us.
They were possibly seeing us off, wishing us luck as we set off on our three-day expedition into the outback, the beginning of our Larapinta adventure.