Day two: Tuesday April 5th was a more leisurely scheduled day for our team. On our way to our first stop we had a half hour to kill. Our guide for the day, future District Governor Peter Schaffer, took us up into the hills for a view of the region on a rugged four wheel track. Actually, the trail more resembled a dry, cascading creek bed with gullies, ridges and bumps all cascading down the red rock and hills. Great fun. After that it was a tour of the Arid Zone Research Institute, commonly called AZRI. It was a fascinating visit to learn how they are working to bring sustainable agriculture and range management to this arid region. We toured their date production area, table grape plot then took a drive out to the cattle station to learn how they are using remote monitoring technology to manage cattle and range land. This is particularly important given the massive size of the stations in Australia and dwindling labor.
After lunch we took in the Alice Springs School of the Air (ASSOA). Since 1951, this innovative school has brought education to the children spread over the vast regions of Australia. School of the Air has been bridging education gaps caused by remote locations and providing schooling to children at cattle stations, roadhouses, Aboriginal communities and national parks with daily lessons via satellite broadband to children aged 4 to 13 years. In the early days it was done by radio, but with the internet and broadcast technologies of today, their service area covers 1.3 million square kilometres (50,000 square miles, about the size of Louisiana). From their interactive live television studios in Alice Springs teachers lead children through their lessons. Unfortunately it was spring break so no live sessions were underway, but we did see a recorded version to get an idea on how the program works. I bought and donated back a book for kids to enjoy.
That evening we were hosts and presenters at the Alice Springs and Stuart Rotary Clubs.
Next up: Our adventures in Uluru (Ayers Rock), the Kata Tjuta National Park (the Olgas) and Kings Canyon of the Watarrka National Park.