My first few days in Alice Springs felt like a holiday, but after being here a week and starting my new job the permanency of the situation is starting to sink in. There has been a lot to adjust to in the last seven days; the rocky landscape, oppressive heat, persistent flies, and defiant sweat.
But enough about my underarms.
On my second night in Alice I was treated to a Spanish feast care of a culinary rivalry worthy of My Kitchen Rules. The sharehouse I’m staying in has an ongoing competition with another sharehouse in town, and they take turns cooking for each other and scoring the meals.
The competition has escalated with each round and is now at the point that teams buy new crockery and print menus to pimp out their table setting.
Apparently entertaining at home is popular in Alice Springs due to a lack of dining options in the town. Barbecues are also common, so I’m working hard on my veggie burger recipe.
I should point out that although I was technically part of the cooking team for this round of the competition, I can’t take any credit for our banquet; my only contribution was designing the menus.
The night after the banquet was Halloween, which is a big deal in Alice Springs because of the large contingency of Americans working at Pine Gap — a facility just outside of the town centre. Pine Gap is a satellite ground station controlling U.S. spy satellites passing over territories such as China, parts of Russia, and the Middle East.
The location for Pine Gap was chosen because Central Australia is too remote for spy ships passing in international waters to intercept the signal. Operations at Pine Gap are classified, so If you meet someone who works there they will likely tell you they are a gardener or work in the mailroom.
Anyway, back to Halloween.
The Americans all live in the same suburb, and on Halloween the Alice Springs locals all converge there in costumes to extract as much candy from them as possible. I’ve never lived in a place that was enthusiastic about Halloween, so I headed over there to see what all the fuss was about. I wasn't disappointed.
There were hundreds of families in costume walking from door to door collecting candy. I was impressed at the lengths home owners had gone to to decorate their houses, and every single trick-or-treater was in costume.
Watching the whole event was so much fun I'm tempted to dress up and join them next year.
The feast and Halloween was fun, but the highlight of the week was seeing the paper on Friday. It was the first edition of the Centralian Advocate that my photos have been published in.
My cover photo was used for a witty headline about the Alice Springs Ice-Cream Festival, which may-well be the peak of my career as a photojournalist. I can't think of any future stories that will make me as happy as a pun about ice-cream (I also got to sample the product after the shoot).
Generally speaking, I had a great first week at work with the paper. Through the stories I covered I got to see a lot of the town and meet some interesting characters. I can tell my job here is going to be a great way to get to know Alice Springs.
That's all for this edition of The Alice Years. Check in again the same time next week for more highlights of life in the outback.
Emma Murray is a documentary photographer based in Alice Springs. The Alice Years is a personal project documenting life in and around the red centre.