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The Singing Line

by Alice Thomson

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66None320,746 (3.44)1
An inpoverished young scientist from Greenwich, he took up the post of Goernment Astronomer and Superintendent of Telegraphs for South Australia. His mission? To string a telegraph wire across one of the last uncrossed colonial widernesses, and finally to connect Australia with Britain, a near-impossible task. With him went his young wife alice, a spirited and intrepid woman years ahead of her time, after whom Alice Springs would be named. In 1997, their great-great-granddaughter, also named Alice, embarked on the adventure of a lifetime, following their footsteps across the Great Australian emptiness. Her plan was to track the telegraph, and her ancestors, from Adelaide over the thousands of miles ofdesert, outback, swamp and mountain that charles Todd had crossed with his men a century and a half before.… (more)
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Epigraph
Alice lost her virginity
Witness by
The old man gum tree
While the dog sat confused
Patiently licking its wounds
She gave birth
To one stone room
Next a shed then a house
She then stepped one step south
Before the caterpillars knew
Alice grew
With the scenery so strong
The old man gum tree
Witness Alice lose her virginity
Long before me
--David Mpetyane, Aboriginal artist, 1992, 'Fertility'
Dedication
This book is for Ed.
First words
I could have been called Patience, Gwendoline, Kathleen or Maude, all family names.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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An inpoverished young scientist from Greenwich, he took up the post of Goernment Astronomer and Superintendent of Telegraphs for South Australia. His mission? To string a telegraph wire across one of the last uncrossed colonial widernesses, and finally to connect Australia with Britain, a near-impossible task. With him went his young wife alice, a spirited and intrepid woman years ahead of her time, after whom Alice Springs would be named. In 1997, their great-great-granddaughter, also named Alice, embarked on the adventure of a lifetime, following their footsteps across the Great Australian emptiness. Her plan was to track the telegraph, and her ancestors, from Adelaide over the thousands of miles ofdesert, outback, swamp and mountain that charles Todd had crossed with his men a century and a half before.

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