A Visit to Tennant Creek Primary School – Remote Australia
Last week I was fortunate to be offered the opportunity of presenting to classes of children at Tennant Creek Primary School, geographically classified as far remote Australia.
Wednesday morning, so this time last week, I was winging my way to Alice Springs where I picked up a hire car on arrival at the airport and made my way to Bradshaw PS to pick up children’s illustrator and friend, Marjory Gardner, my driving companion on the 500 kilometre journey north to Tennant Creek.
As I drove into town, I followed the train track for a while and happy memories flooded back of the last time I was in Alice with my husband and we travelled on the marvellous Ghan from Alice to Adelaide.
Marjory and I set off on our adventure with the advice from the librarian that it was an easy, straight journey to Tennant Creek which would take about 5 ½ hours. As we left the outskirts of Alice, Marjory and I chuckled at the 130 kph speed limit sign – the inference being ‘AS IF’.
The road was straight and pot-hole-free and we found ourselves having to treat the accelerator kindly. For some reason the car loved 130! The scenery was red and green and amazing, the petrol stops interesting with a character waiting to be written about at every stop and the Devils Marbles, a spectacular rock formation, not too far from our destination, a fascinating sight, especially the one lone kangaroo sitting on the highest rock surveying his kingdom.
We arrived at the motel at Tennant Creek with time to spare, avoiding easily that twilight period when it is often dangerous to be driving on any Australian country road with animals on the move. The windows of our motel wouldn’t open (built that way) but we enjoyed the delicious meal and a good night’s sleep.
First thing next morning we arrived at the Primary School where we were greeted by the Principal and welcoming staff. Our classes were a mixture of Australian Aboriginal, Australian and little faces from far away places, but the joy I felt from sharing my books with these children was unparalleled.
The biggest decision for me was what book I would focus on. In the end I chose Queenie, thinking that most of these children would never have seen an elephant – dogs are everywhere, although not necessarily sitting on tuckerboxes and I thought a carousel might be too hard to imagine for some of the children.
My favourite moment was watching a little girl’s fingers touching carefully the pages of ‘Flame Stands Waiting’ as if she could feel him, which is exactly what my character Clara, does in the book –
‘Clara looks at the horses one by one. She runs her fingers over their pearly paintwork. She gazes up to the inside roof of the carousel. Then she looks to the horses again . . . and reaches for Flame.’
My visit is something I will never forget, or the faces of the children.
Our visit to Tennant Creek Primary was funded by The Children’s Charity Network and Minemakers Limited. Thank you.