I returned to Australia in 1999 to take an appointment at Kintore Remote Community 600 kms west of Alice Springs, about 30 kms from the West Australia Border. This was the school when I arrived there. The school grounds were enclosed with a tall wire fence and when school was in action, the gates were opened, and when school finished, the gates were closed.
There were three sections to the school..the Administration Building with a Staffroom, an outside verandah where most of the smokoes were held, a storeroom and a huge computer room which was mostly the Principals Domain. Then there was a senior school which I was the teacher for, and a junior school with three teachers. This included a kindergarten too in those days. There were two missionaries at the school in 1999 who ran singing classes every morning for the whole school, until I arrived and took the seniors into their own area where they played cards on the Computers and painted until I provided class lessons and a routine.
The Principal was keen to prove that western teachers could not live in this environment. To prove his point, my first welcoming morning smokoe was lizards cooked in a campfire, burnt black with the coals and fire. I was invited to my welcome morning tea, led outside to the verandah in 50 degree heat, and offered a table full of black lizards which those present grabbed and tore apart in their fingers and enjoyed. I think they were more interested in my reaction than in welcoming me. I settled for a mug of coffee and watched the others.
He then drove me to my house and left me there with my one bag of luggage. My belongings were not to arrive for over 8 weeks and I slept at night when the desert air got very cold, under my clothes for warmth, and used a shirt as a towel. There was a general store where I was able to buy some food, and I managed to find a plate, knife and fork in my yard which I used, and brought back a mug from the school.
One weekend he drove me into Alice Springs with his partner’s daughter sitting next to him in the front of an partly opened jeep and had me sitting in the back on a wooden slatted seat where the dust poured in from 600 kms of unmade roads and covered me with dust. I did see a golden eagle eating road kill that he tried to run-over, and he did change passengers once we hit the made road, which was about 60 kms out of Alice. He was not a nice man. They had also brought their own water and sandwiches which they ate on the way. This was my first very remote locality and I was totally unprepared for everything and had no idea how remote we actually were.
The Principal had been there 13 years and in this time he had established a school Bush Tucker Garden where he grew native edible plants and also a selection of vegetables. Once a week he provided a lunch for the students where he cooked a stew of vegetables and some meat and fed them all sitting under the shade cloth outside the garden. They did like that very much and so did the community mothers who came to help and join in the meal. When there was an issue, he simply sent all the students home and closed the gates. Lunch times varied according to him. He sent the students out and closed the gates until he wanted them back. Sometimes he did not open the gates again until the next morning and the children would hang outside just waiting patiently. They had no clocks and no sense of time. When the gate was opened, there was school and when the gates were closed, they simply waited.
My teacher house was the last house in the Community right at the end of the street and I had to walk to school every morning dodging local dogs and sometimes getting blasted with red dust from dust storms. I remember one morning leaving freshly washed and dressed all in white, and being totally engulfed by a red dust whirlie that made me all red. I continued to walk to school dusty and dirty.
There were two mountains at the end of the street and below the Community Land, and they were the Male Mountain and the female Mountain.
This photo was taken with me standing at the gate of my house looking into town and the road I walked along to go to school every morning.