While a search for things geeky is no reason to go to Alice Springs, once you are here there’s no reason not to keep an eye out for them in addition to basking in the wonder of Australia’s red centre. So here are the geeky things to do in Alice Springs that we came across over the last few days:
The Telegraph Station – Alice Springs was originally settled by white people as a station on the overland telegraph route. You can see the technology which kept this vital lifeline to the world humming, and do much comparing along the lines of – ‘wow that huge thing is a battery that puts out less electricity than the one in my watch’ and ‘think about it, this was the cutting edge of telecommunications and we’re posting pictures of it for the world on Facebook’.
The School of the Air – worth only a quick visit. They have a display of technology from radios through to the chroma-screens that they use today and it’s cool to contemplate a school of 122 kids spread over 1.2 million square kilometres. If it wasn’t going to such a good cause the admission price would fall into rip-off territory.
Solar Centre – When you live in the middle of a desert, solar power is something you have an abundance of. The Desert Knowledge Australia Solar Centre “is a demonstration facility for commercialised solar technologies operating in the arid solar conditions of Alice Springs, Central Australia.” Sadly it’s a rather disappointing visit. There wasn’t as much information as a visitor could wish for and a lot of the solar panels were not working or were overgrown or dirty – it all looked rather unloved. (The Centre does have a fabulous website though.)
Star gazing tour – The Earth Sanctuary Star Show is fabulous. Although it’s only about 15 minutes drive outside of Alice Springs it’s far enough to escape what little light pollution Alice throws and so the view of the stars is breath-taking. The guys who run it are amateurs but with a deep love of astronomy engendered through many years of sleeping outside in swags. They are extremely knowledgable and interesting, combining scientific information with Aboriginal stories to make for a thoroughly engaging hour. We, amongst a great deal more, saw Jupiter and Venus through the telescope and learnt three ways to identify South from the stars.