Settling in

It was a glamorous start to my second week in Alice Springs when I was sent on assignment to cover the Wearable Art Awards — a creative fashion competition for local artists and designers.

I didn’t know much about the event before I went, and in all honesty I didn’t have high expectations. I anticipated there to be a few good pieces, with the remainder of the work resembling a year eight art project.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The outfits were spectacular, and demonstrated the incredible imagination and skill of the local arts scene. When models took to the stage they didn’t just stroll down the catwalk, they performed to show-off features of their outfit, adding an extra layer of entertainment to the evening.

My favourite pieces from the show were a gown covered in flowers made from curled-up magazine pages and an elaborate outfit made out of natural fibres. I photographed these outfits for my second front-page at the paper, I also got a double-page spread in the following issue.

My images from the Alice Springs Wearable Art Awards published in the Centralian Advocate

My images from the Alice Springs Wearable Art Awards published in the Centralian Advocate

The day after the Wearable Art Awards I moved to a new sharehouse on the other side of town, which is another step in making my relocation feel permanent. When I first arrived in Alice Springs I moved into my friend Bec’s spare room, and I’d like to say a big thank you to Bec and her housemate, Lauren, for making me feel so welcome during my first week.

The new house is in the desirable suburb of East Side. Here I have three housemates, five chickens, a pool, yoga room, and neighbours who run the best bakery in town. I can vouch for the quality of their goods — they’ve already dropped by with a big bag of delicious bread and pastry products.

Finding permanent accommodation has helped me feel more settled, and has meant that I can unpack the only kitchen items I bothered to bring with me — my collection of tacky English mugs. I’m not sure how the collection started, or why I love it so much, but I HAD to bring it with me. I just can’t imagine having a cup of tea in anything other than a mug with a British monarch on it.

My Prince George mug is a favourite for my morning cuppa

My Prince George mug is a favourite for my morning cuppa

The new place is near the Todd River, so I've been wandering down there after work to take some photos at sunset.

Before I show any of the images, a word about the "river"...

Google Maps vs Google satellite view of the Todd River

Google Maps vs Google satellite view of the Todd River

As you can see above, the Todd is a waterless river. It's dry all year round, except for a few days when heavy rains in the north flood down to Alice Springs. They say you aren't a local here until you see the Todd flow three times — a feat I'm hoping to achieve.

In August residents make decorative boats then get drunk and race them around the river in Flinstone-esk fashion. Ironically the boat race has been cancelled once, in 1993, because the river had water in it. I'm looking forward to blogging about the event next year.

For now, here are a few of the photos I've taken around the Todd this week.

The stunning view directly across the Todd River at dusk

The stunning view directly across the Todd River at dusk

Beautiful gumtrees grow in and around the river

Beautiful gumtrees grow in and around the river

This raised path gets me across the river to work

This raised path gets me across the river to work

In addition to the Wearable Art Awards, other photographic highlights from my week at the paper include a portrait of 2015 Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, and a portrait of Rector Brian Jeffries in front of a heritage-listed mural. It also turns out my previous job as a newborn photographer at the Women's Hospital has come in handy, and I have a regular gig doing the Alice Springs "new arrivals" page.

That’s all the highlights for week two. Tune in again next week for more news from the red centre. Yabadabadoo.


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.