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A History of Guiding in Alice Springs

The first Guide Company was formed in Alice Springs by Mrs Dorothy Griffiths, wife of the Methodist Minister Reverend Harry Griffiths in 1934.  The Guides met in a little iron shed behind the old Methodist Church in Bath Street every Saturday.  A Brownie Pack was also formed at the same time by Mrs Griffiths.  They met at the Manse next door (now demolished) every Friday evening evening.  Amongst the first Guides were Mrs Mona Byrnes, Mrs Heather Clough and Mrs Jean Lovegrove.

Mrs Griffiths was helped by Miss Robb for several years, as well as other teachers from the Hartley St School (now Mines Branch), nurses from the hospital and some of the girl’s mothers.

After the War Sister Eileen Heath, an Anglican deaconess, took over the Brownies and later the Guides.   They met in the CWA Hall in Todd Street.  The first Commissioner was Mrs Gladys Flynn, who also formed the first Ranger Company in 1946.

Guides were very active, as can be seen in an article in the Centralian Advocate on July 6th, 1951, reporting the Guides giving a concert and running a trading stall to send Janet Biddulph and Norma Nicker, two of the Guides to a camp at Narrabeen in N.S.W. that year.

In 1955 Mrs Jolly of Menindie was appointed Northern Territory Commissioner, a position she held for nine years.  Sister Eileen was warranted as Captain of the 1st Alice Springs Guide Company in 1957.  In 1959 Guiders reported hikes to Pitchi Richi, camps at Tennant Creek and also Guides attending Naturalisation Ceremonies and serving afternoon tea.

Mrs Gwen Walker, commissioner for Alice Springs (and also manager of Wallis & Fogarty’s store) paid £6/7/6 to the lands Branch in July 1960 for a 99 year lease on the land at Billy Goat Hill as a site for the Guide Hall.  It has to be fenced in 12 months, and have a building worth £2,500 built within 3 years.  Grants worth £700 were received from the Cultural Grants Commission to assist in the project of the Guides and Brownies having their own meeting place.

In May 1961 the 2nd Alice Springs Guide Company and 4th Brownie Pack were registered with the Guide Association in Adelaide.  The 4th were formed at Amoonguna – Sister Eileen was the Guide leader and Misses Ruth Earle and Judy Kellogg (now Mrs. Hodder) were Brownie Leaders.  Mrs. V Mellors took over the 1st Alice Springs Guides.

In September 1961 then new Guide Hall was officially opened by Mr. Charlie Wall, a very active member of the enthusiastic local Association.  Mrs. Dorothy Marriott organised and coped with the paper work.  Mr. Braitling donated steel frames which Mr. John Marriott made into tables, Rotary donated the picture of the Queen and also the front fence.  The Apex dug the drains and donated the incinerators and the lions club paid for the bitumen driveway.

Mrs. Walker left Alice Springs in 1961 and Sister Benny Moore Matron of the Old Timers’ Home, became the new commissioner.  The Guide Uniform was changed at this time from a blue overall to a navy skirt and light blouse.  Mrs. Telka Williams was appointed Brownie Training Advisor after attending a training course in Victoria.

In 1962 there were 54 Brownies and 60 Guides, according to the official returns.  Alice Springs Brownies’ first Pack Holiday was held at Undoolya in 1963, but due to Mrs. Williams’ illness at the last moment it was run by a Guider from Adelaide and Mrs. Anne Devine, Brownie Guider from 3rd Alice Springs Brownies.

The Commonwealth Railways kindly donated a 10’3” x 12 hut to the Guides and Scout camp site at the Old Telegraph Station in March 1964.  This hut was damaged by vandals in later years, and the camping gear stolen, so it was moved to its present site at the rear of the Guide Hall in 1973.

The Amoonguna Brownie Pack went into recess in 1966, though in May of that year Brownies of the Air commenced meeting on the Royal Flying Doctor network.  The Brownie Leader was Mrs. Jean Williams of Adelaide, who conducted the correspondence meetings, and Mrs Peg Nelson as Tawny, while Mrs. Telka Williams took the meetings on the air on Sunday mornings.

The U.S.A.F. Detachment in Alice completed the lawn planting in 1965.

On June 4 1967 Cheryl Marriott became Alice Spring’s first Queen’s Guide.  Another big event of that year was the first by Lady Baden-Powell, who arrived by plane in Alice Springs at 5am to be greeted by a large number of Guides and Brownies.  The Guides and Brownies from Tennant Creek drove down specially to meet her.

In April 1969, 5th Alice Springs Brownie Pack was formed, and this pack - together with 2nd Alice Springs Brownies – held a joint Pack Holiday at St Philip’s College, and Mrs. Tattam and Mrs. Gillian Bartlett gained Pack Holiday Permits.

In 1970 Sister Eileen concluded her long association with Guiding in Alice Springs, having been awarded the Guiding ‘Order of Merit’ for her work.  In August the same year 20 Brownies and 16 Guides travelled by bus to Adelaide to attend the Diamond Jubilee of Guiding Pack Holiday and Guide Camp.

Two separate districts were formed in August 1971 – Alice Springs and Stuart, 3rd Alice Springs Guides being re-named 1st Stuart and 3rd and 5th Alice Springs Brownies were renamed 1st and 2nd Stuart Brownie Packs.  The Guide uniform was changed to a light blue princess-line dress with a v-neck, royal blue scarf and navy skivvy for cold weather; the Brownie dress the same in brown, with a yellow skivvy.  The first Central Australian Commissioner was Mrs. Telka Williams, Alice Springs Commissioner was Mrs. Penny Jackson, and Stuart Commissioner was Mrs. Judy Hodder.

The same year the hall was improved by the flooring being tiles.  In 1973 Quota donated $200 towards new camp equipment after the theft of the old tents from the camping hut at the Telegraph Station.  Mr. B. Roberts donated an Inter-Company Challenge Trophy in the shape of a propeller.

Helaine Harrison was presented with her Queen’s Guide Award at a special ceremony at the Old Telegraph Station in April 1975.  The third Guide to gain the award was Alison Bartlett in 1976.

The Lottery and Games Board granted $2000 towards the new ablution block at the rear of the hall in 1976.  Stoves were also installed.

In 1979 the first N.T. State Camp was held in Alice Springs in May, the venue being Yirara College.  A new Brownie Pack - 3rd Stuart – was registered, and also a new ranger Unit – 1st Stuart Ranger Unit.

Since then we have fitted out the Guide Hall with a commercial kitchen, concreted the driveway, renovated the ablution block, purchased canoes and new camping equipment, renovated the rear yard and installed a new storage shed amongst many other things.

Since 1979 Girl Guides from Alice Springs have travelled overseas to America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Malaysia and many more locations, as well as locally to beaches, snow, mountains and out bush, in Tasmania, NSW, VIC, QLD and the ACT to various international state and local camps.

In 2014, the 80th year of Guiding in Alice Springs, we were funded by the NT Government and funds from the Finke Desert Race gate takings to renovate the walls, ceiling and floor of the Guide Hall.

In April we hosted the NT Camp in Alice Springs, with over 94 Girl Guides, 12 Leaders and many family members attended the events held during the week.

 

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