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Published: September 18th 2014
A Mini-Market Sunset
This was the view from the balcony of the Night Market looking over Tennant Creek. What a great place to hold a market!
After the long drive yesterday, we both needed a bit of a sleep-in. Then I borrowed an iron and finished the laundry. We really need to get one of our own as not every caravan park has them.
We went into the town to see what electrical shops were there and if they stocked irons. A couple of general stores did and I got a light one for $30. Barry then spotted a computer store and went in to enquire about what might be wrong with my laptop, which had started to display images with too much red and something seems to be missing making waves and putting black in places it shouldn’t be. We’d had a look in Harvey Norman in Mt Isa but the sales assistant there just kept pushing and pushing me to buy more and more expensive units, without even knowing if it could be fixed, so I’d walked out.
This man, the shop owner, plugged the computer into an old desk top screen and the images came up fine. At least there was nothing wrong with the hard drive. Unfortunately, he thought the problem was in connections to the screen
Tennant Creek Night Market
There were more picnic tables than stalls but the atmosphere was wonderful and so was the food and entertainment. A lovely evening out.
which are integral to the computer and cannot be replaced without enormous cost. We looked at some of his computers and notebooks and found one similar to what the Mt Isa bloke had been trying to flog me for $1100 (with the three year warranty – you MUST have). This one was charging $600, much more what I had hoped to pay. It also lasts about 8 hours without power, which means I can type the blog even when we free camp, and it can be charged from the cigarette lighter in the ute, which the laptop can’t – without a unit costing nearly $200. My laptop will only do about 1 – 1 ½ hours unpowered, which is why I keep getting so far behind on my blog. I decided to buy it, although it will need an external drive if I want to store a lot of photos on it. The shopkeeper then offered to sell me the old screen for $25 so I could still keep the photos on the laptop. I accepted, although when I came to pick it up to leave the shop, I wasn’t sure I’d made the right decision – it weighed a
An Ant Dance Floor
No - not the ants dancing. In 1935 a group of women wanted to have the goldfield's first dance but everywhere was so dusty that they made their own dance floor using compressed termite (often called white ants) mounds set in a wooden wall. The same method was used to make good floors inside the houses.
We took our purchases back to the van and then went to have a look at the Battery Hill Tourist Information Centre and Museums. There were a few of the usual artefacts, but there was also a building devoted to “Outback Life” in the 1930s and onwards, largely told by Kevan Weapar (yes that is how he spells it). His blind father and his mate, who had one eye, found gold. They called all the cousins and relatives in to help mine it. They all told there memories of growing up or working under the harsh living conditions.
They also told of some of the ingenious ideas they had to improve life. When there was a get together, the men would hang their beers in wet socks from a tree or washing line and leave them for an hour or so and they would become cold.
The ladies wanted to have a dance for a special occasion so they made their own dance floor using some of the local termite mounds.They ground them up and made them into a thick paste and then packed the mud into a wooden frame,
Cold Beer - Old Style
In those days, at parties and dances, people would put a bottles of beer into a wet socks and hang them in the breeze for an hour or so to cool off.
stomping on it repeatedly to make it firm and smooth. Termite mound mud contains their saliva and dung, which makes it very strong. This method was also used to create a dirt floor that was firm but not dusty and was very durable.
Women also had to be hardy. Many despaired trying to keep their houses clean with lack of water and constantly blowing dust. A new arrival was told by an old hand not too stress about dust. Clean once a week and forget about the in-between times. They also had to share bath water and then re-use that for the cleaning.
There was rather a shortage of women willing to live in the area so the men didn’t have much female companionship. This was reported in one of the national newspapers (although they exaggerated somewhat by saying it was a town with no women) and one young lady wrote to the town offering to come out and keep company with dancing and conversation etc, if they would pay her fare. They men did so and it seems a grand time was had by all for a couple of weeks. It was also
The Gem Collection at the Museum in Tennant Creek was full of amazing specimens of minerals from all over the world, like these enormous pyrite crystals.
in all the papers and other young women started coming, too.
Another building housed an excellent gem collection with the largest and best specimens of minerals from all over the world. Each display case was arranged to cover a particular type of gems and minerals, like Pyrites, Oxides, Sulphides and Silicates. The information boards also explained how geologists recognise minerals in their raw state. They rely on knowledge of the properties of any mineral – how heavy, hard, waxy, clear, the colours etc. Once they think they know what it is they can pay to get it assessed or pay for the chemicals to test them. Brent would be very envious of the specimens and the information.
The Centre closed and we went home to clean up. We’d been told that there was a Night Market under the verandah of the Battery Hill Information Centre, starting at 6pm. One lady in a van next to ours thought she would take her home-made jewellery down and open a stall and had been welcomed.
We got down there as it started, and had trouble finding a parking space, unlike earlier in the day. As we approached we could hear the verandah was buzzing with people chatting and some music playing. There was also a wonderful smell coming from there, which made us hungry.
The first thing I found was a stall selling Hungarian Fried Bread. It is like a large firm pancake filled with cheese, onion and garlic and topped with cheese and sour cream. The stallholder cooked them quickly in really hot fat and plonked them on plates. They were large, crispy and absolutely delicious. Then we had something from the Sausage Sizzle Stall, Barry had the sausages and I had a stick of Satay Chicken and she gave me another as they weren’t selling well. We topped that off with a piece of home-made Lemon Cheesecake, a beer for Barry and a coffee for me. We ate all this sitting at the large picnic table in the centre of the space, listening to the Australian country singers, who also did some old classics from the 50s and 60s.
The atmosphere was lovely with everyone talking, sitting around the tables or wandering around the stalls. It was a very small market, with only about 10 stalls all up. There were some selling home-made crafts like knitted toys and crocheted doilies and others selling kids toys or skin care products. One of the best stalls was the lady from the caravan park. Her jewellery was very well made, but not something I would wear, unfortunately. I wandered around the stalls but, apart from the food, I didn’t buy anything. Barry just looked from the centre, sitting down.
Battery Hill overlooks the town so a highlight of the evening was watching the sun set over the town from the verandah. It was really beautiful. It hadn’t been a big market but we’d enjoyed being part of the lively atmosphere and went home replete from the banquet and happy.
Back at the van, we set up my new Notebook and I started to learn what to do with it.
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