Five Photos, Five Stories: Day 5: Pitchi Ritchi and the Alice

033 Alice Springs Pitchie Ritchie

© irene waters 2015

These photos were taken when cameras were not of the quality they are now, but I’m sure you’ll get the idea. Pitchi Ritchi is a bird sanctuary and open-air pioneer museum which opened in 1955 by Leo Corbet. As you wander around the myriad of tracks sculptures by William Ricketts, a Melbourne sculptor, delight you. Ricketts made numerous trips to the outback between 1949 and 1960 to spend time with Pitjantjatjara, Arrernte, Pintubi, Luritja, Alyawarra and Anmatjirra aboriginal peoples whose culture inspired his work and philosophy.

033 Alice Springs Pitchie Ritchie02

© irene waters 2015

He believed that many of his works were integral to the landscape and out of this context would be meaningless. He, therefore, left them at Pitchi Ritchi where the sun, hitting them at different times of the day, make the desert colours come alive and become unforgettable.

0034 Alice Springs

© irene waters 2015

Alice Springs really is an oasis in a red centre. Surrounding the Alice on all sides is red dirt. Growing up as a Presbyterian minister’s daughter I knew all about Alice Springs as the church was active in its mission there. The Australian Inland Mission. The most notable was Rev John Flynn who saw needs beyond the spiritual and is known as the founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. He could see the advantages that the new technologies of radio and airplanes would make to the isolated people living on the huge properties in 1917 and in 1928 the first aeromedical flight took off from Cloncurry. He died in 1951 and is buried in the grave below at Alice Springs, close to those he helped.

0036 memorial to Flyn of the Inland

© irene waters 2015

This grave was not without its problems as the original rock (above) came from a sacred site at the Devil’s marbles and the traditional owners of the land the grave was on had not been consulted. In 1998 the rock was returned to its original site and, with much consultation with local people, a new, suitable rock was placed on the grave.

0035 aboriginal in the park

© irene waters 2015

Sadly Alice Springs is not without its problems. Many aboriginal people travel from their dry (no alcohol permitted) towns and camps into Alice Springs, as it is the only large centre for miles around. For many the temptation is too great.

Thank you to Norah Colvin who nominated me this challenge. Norah’s passion is childhood education and even if you don’t have children, there is always thought-provoking insightful writing that keeps those grey cells working.

The blogger I am nominating today (with no pressure to join in ) is Geoff LePard from Tangental. His site is sure to interest and bring a smile. If you wish to participate it is 1 photo a day for five days add a story fiction or non-fiction or poetry, link to the person that nominated you and nominate 1 person each day.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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9 Responses to Five Photos, Five Stories: Day 5: Pitchi Ritchi and the Alice

  1. TanGental says:

    wow, thanks Irene. As a child I loved hearing about the flying doctor. So exotic living in suburbia

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very moving story. As a kid, I was fascinated by the stories of the Australian flying doctors. Always saw them as heroes. This side of how the service developed brings it into sharper focus, and the photos of the sculptures of indigenous peoples, then the final of the man drunk on the lawn – really a story about the clash of cultures, where it works and when it doesn’t. This is one of your most memorable posts for me – history in a fully dimensional perspective. Very well done, Irene.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Charli Mills says:

    It’s not always the quality of the photograph, but more the story the photo captures. The history and culture seems to fit the amber tones of the photos. The sculptures are amazing and I can imagine how the desert light enhances them. The last photo. So sad. It’s like a physical manifestation of feeling culturally lost.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Norah says:

    Thank you for following up on my nomination, Irene, and for the generous mention in every post. I have enjoyed learning more about our history with each post. This one I knew a little more about, not the statues, but the Alice and John Flynn. I had my first visit the the Red Centre earlier this year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Visiting the Flying Doctors’ Museum was one of the highlights. The cultural divide is very sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the nomination Norah. I have to admit that I have enjoyed this 5 photo/story challenge/prompt. The red centre is something you don’t forget and glad you enjoyed your time there. I missed the museum when I was there as I was with a few people and they opted to do something else. I was the only one who wanted to go. Still it is a good excuse to return and Roger has never been and I’d love to see the post cyclone Darwin as I was there in the November of the Cyclone Tracey.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Norah says:

        I’m pleased you enjoyed the photo challenge. I did too. Sounds like a visit to the NT might be in the pipeline. You never never know, if you never never go! 🙂


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