Sunday, March 23, 2008
The paradox of Alice Springs.
Because it is so bang in the middle of nowhere, Alice Springs ought to seem a miracle—an actual town with department stores and schools and streets with names—and for a long time it was sort of an antipodean Timbuktu, a place tantalizing in its inaccessibility. In 1954, when Alan Moorehead passed through, Alice’s only regular connection to the outside world was a weekly train from Adelaide. Its arrival on Saturday evening was the biggest event in the life of the town. It brough mail, newspapers, new pictures for the cinema, long-awaited spare parts, and whatever else couldn’t be acquired locally. Nearly the whole town turned out to see who got off and what was unloaded.
In those days Alice had a population of 4,000 and hardly any visitors. Today it’s a thriving little city with a population of 25,000 and it is full of visitors—350,000 of them a year—which is of course the whole problem.These days you can jet in from Adelaide in two hours, from Melbourne to Sydney in less than three. You can have a latte and buy some opals and then climb on a tour bus and travel down the highway to Ayers Rock. It has not only become accessible, it’s become a destination. It’s so full of hotels, motels, conference centers, campgrounds, and desert resorts that you can’t pretend even for a moment that you have achieved something exceptional by getting yourself there. It’s crazy really. A community that was once famous for being remote now attracts thousands of visitors who come to see how remote it no longer is.
That's from In a Sunburned Country.
At any rate, I seem to be farther from the mean on my view of him than I am with most authors.
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