Entertaining yourself in Alice … part 1

June 5, 2010 1 comment

So what is there to do in Alice?

It’s a bit different to be a resident here than being a short term tourist. There is some cross over in activities but new residents need something to sustain them through many a long day & night spent in the desert. It may be mundane & suburban but reading books (we have a couple of great bookstores) & watching telly do help pass the time. (Next post: we’ll venture away from the house for our entertainment.)

We have an excellent public library, with a marvellous children’s section complete with fun activities & visits from children’s authors throughout the year.

Free to air television (Freeview) supplies us with a mix of digital & analogue channels.


  • Seven Central (a mix of 7 and Ten network programs)(6pm News is from Brisbane.)
  • Imparja/Nine


  • ABC – 1, 2, 3 and HD
  • SBS – One, Two & HD

There’s just one or two little quirks with the digital channels. ABC HD is fed from Sydney so you won’t get NT news. You need to watch ABC 1 for that. (And may I just say, as one who does a fair amount of travelling across the states, ABC NT News has the better newsreaders!)

ABC channels all broadcast as per their stated times.

SBS digital don’t. You need to subtract half an hour from the stated times. This is because it gets it’s feed from the eastern states & the digital channel here is goes to air at Eastern Standard Time, which is 30 minutes ahead of our time zone. This can be useful at times for those late night shows, for example, The Killing starts at 10pm in most places … but here, here we watch it at the more reasonable starting time of 9:30pm.

If you forget to subtract the half hour, don’t worry, you can always switch back to the analogue channel.

It’s quirkier during those months when EST becomes ESST for daylight savings.

If the Freeview channels are not enough, then there’s always Pay TV – Austar.


Interesting conversations

June 5, 2010 2 comments

I’m still processing the odd conversation I heard at work during the past week.

It was an enlightening & interesting insight into one person’s past and brought out others’ highly positive & embracing views.

I’m left with a feeling of well, who would have thought huh?

You get used to colleagues revealing personal histories of alcohol addiction, multiple divorces & adultery. We all have hidden skeletons in our lives.

But it’s not often you hear a workmate confess to having done sex work.

I don’t have a problem with it. It’s just that I’m surprised that it’s this particular person. Like I said above, who would have thought huh?

I think it would have been highly entertaining & interesting for the conversation to have continued but alas, work intervened.

About that work-life balance

I have been working way too hard, earning money to pay my bills. I tell you, the hours leave me exhausted! How do people cope with full time work AND fit in all those mandatory household chores such as food shopping, cooking, laundry & cleaning the bathroom?

I can’t seem to do it.

I’m reducing my hours back to three days a week for the coming weeks as an experiment in better work-life management.

I’m hoping to get my kitchen floor mopped; it has been sadly neglected in recent weeks & is getting sticky.


The toilets have been prioritized, as was the gathering of foodstuffs. Doing the laundry just once a week means the weekend is hectic. More so when it rains. Like it did this weekend.

Working just Mon-Wed-Fri may result in changing the bed linens, wouldn’t that be nice? (Lavender oil covers a multitude of sins and debauchery.)


I also need to cut back my hours as the constant typing is having an adverse impact upon the joints in my hands and wrists.

The question will be, will I be able to survive financially on the lesser hours?

I suspect I will learn to cope for I know my body & mind will appreciate the time away from the coalface. And that will make me a lot happier.

On a clear day you can see forever …

May 9, 2010 2 comments

On crisp, clear, sunny days you feel you can see forever & the beautiful MacDonnell Ranges stand out so sharply against the blue sky. It’s just magnificent to see.

But do you think I should mention the dust?


Okay, so it gets a trifle dusty every now and then. (Photograph taken during the BIG dust storm of 22 September 2008. This photograph was being freely circulated on the net in the days afterwards.)

That photo above was taken from the top of Anzac Hill. You can just make out the mountains & Heavitree Gap in the background.

That particular dust storm then travelled across the country picking up more dust until Sydney woke one morning to find themselves under a red sky.

But for Alice Springs it was followed by an almighty storm with much damage done to the town. I was in the hospital watching trees come down in the car park before venturing home (on my bike!).

Some great, short videos about on You Tube of that day:

1) PurpleRifle’s video is a good one in that you get to hear the guy talking about how to protect your house.

2) OutbackBros’ video shows the storm front.

3) fmlycar’s video shows just what it was like when that storm front hit the town!

NT News of 23 September 2008 has a brief story on the storm & there’s also a gallery with 50 photos of the dust, the storm & the damage.

Some great still shots over at Flickr. They’re protected by copyright so I can’t display them here, but do click on the links:

1) loyobaey took this on 22 Sept 2008. Standing on Anzac Hill looking down into the CBD.

2) MacDonnellliensis’ photo taken looking through the dust-laden air to the Gap,

3) Another shot by the same photographer, this time looking down on the town. (Note, these last two shots were taken on 1 November 2008, another dust storm apparently on that day.)

So how do you cope with the dust?

Embrace it, learn to love the dust & the dust storms. They’re bigger than us, they will win. Might as well enjoy them.

If you can seal your house and windows, do so. But if your house is like mine … then that’s not really an option. I can close the doors & windows but the house is still pretty open to elements as fine as red dust. Some years are worse than others.

You vacuum a lot. I own a Dyson. Highly recommended for clean up operations. Note: I do not clean up after each and every little dust storm that blows through. That’s too much work. I content myself with making sure the kitchen benches are clean, the toilet seats & cisterns are clear & my bed. Eventually I get around to doing the big vacuum & mop.

Soft tissues. Or handkerchiefs. For blowing your dust-laden nose. Ignore the colour of what comes out. (It’s better than living in a smoke filled environment which turns your snot grey or even black.)

Sudafed PE tablets or some other sinus decongestant as advised by your doctor or pharmacist. Because your sinuses will block.

Whatever antihistamine or allergy treatment gets you through the hayfever season. Because with the dust come the pollens & grass seeds.

And don’t bother with white linens or clothes during dust season.  🙂

Scale … in pictures

May 8, 2010 2 comments

In case you thought I might be overemphasising the scale build up caused by the water here in Alice Springs, here are photos I took today …

The hard water in Alice Springs leaves unsightly streaks on my kitchen sink.

The stuff even builds up behind the bath tub taps.

OK, this is a bad one. I haven't cleaned this shower in ages because it's in the main bathroom which I don't use. Only houseguests use this one. I do clean it off prior to receiving guests. 🙂

Build up of scale on the faucet over the hand basin. I try to remove it with CLR regularly but it will still build up.

The laundry - streaks in the tub, rock hard scale on the tap (faucet).

CLR is a regular item on my shopping list!

But can you drink the water?

May 7, 2010 3 comments

I haven’t mentioned the water yet have I?

Hobart’s median annual rainfall is a generous 597.8mm & Melbourne cops 646.2mm. We’re in the middle of a desert, in the middle of Australia, much of which is also desert and our average annual rainfall is a mere 237.6mm.  So where does Alice Springs get its water from?

From under the ground.

You might be thinking we tap into the Great Artesian Basin (GAB). But no, we source our water from the Amadeus Basin at Roe Creek Borefield, about 15km south of Alice Springs.

The Amadeus Basin is not connected to the GAB.

Four different aquifers supply the town’s water – Mereenie Formation, Upper Pacoota Sandstone, Lower Pacoota Sandstone & the Upper Shannon Formation. Around 80% of our supply is drawn from the Mereenie Formation.

Here's a pretty picture showing how & where Alice Springs gets its water from under the ground

There are no water restrictions in Alice Springs. Yet.

One assumes that eventually, given the average water usage being so high here (roughly 1000L per person per day!)& total amount of water getting lower, we will end up with water restrictions.

Many would disagree but I think the water here tastes just fine. So did my daughter when she was living here. So does my partner. We don’t bother with any water filtration devices or buying our drinking water. We drink straight from the tap. At most, when I am refilling my drinking bottle with water, I’ll leave the cap off for a couple of hours to get rid of any chemical taste.

I think Alice water tastes better than Hobart’s. And I think Adelaide’s water tastes better than both.

All a matter of taste I guess.

BUT … there is something I need to mention about our water supply: it’s very hard.

We have a problem with the chronic build up of scale.

Scale is the white-ish/green-ish hard, crusty, rock-like coating that builds up on all our taps, shower heads, inside our kettles, hot water systems, pipes etc etc. It will even damage your toilet’s rubber valves & seals. It’s due to the high levels of calcium & magnesium in our groundwater. It can be very difficult to remove.

Scale causes no harm to your health should you happen to drink it (and no doubt we all consume a reasonable amount each year).

Anywhere water travels around your house, there will be scale building up. This includes your pool filter & the pads on your evaporative air-conditioning units. Scale leaves streaks on your glass shower screens, your freshly washed dishes & on your lovely but not-so-shiny stainless steel sink.

I soak my kettle in white vinegar every few weeks. (And rinse thoroughly of course.)

The air-conditioner requires servicing & often new pads each year, generally in early Spring.

Shower heads need to be soaked in CLR (our local shops sell it in the bulk sized container which tells you something about the scale problem) probably once per season, more frequently is better. We don’t bother with a reduced-flow shower head because they need even more maintenance and the scale build up in our regular, old-style shower head reduces the water flow quite nicely thank you.

Some people swear by wiping dry the sink & the shower screen after each use – I don’t have the time. Instead I swab my shower screen monthly with the CLR (wear gloves) and I wipe down my kitchen taps & sink with white vinegar weekly. I also wipe out the dishwasher with vinegar after every few uses.

To soften the water when washing the dishes by hand, I add 1 tsp of bi-carbonate of soda.

Whilst I can obtain a lather when shampooing my hair, I do notice I need to wash it more frequently & it always feels dry & not so fresh and shiny. The lack of humidity here no doubt plays a role here too, I moisturise my hair & skin daily, often twice daily.

So, our water may bugger up your tap fittings & pipes but at least it’s safe to drink!


We are seeing more of this type of incident in Alice Springs. Doesn’t impact me personally, but I am aware of it happening in the community. A great shame.