By LIZ MARTIN CEO of the National Transport Hall of Fame. The local champion of lateral thinking has parlayed the Hall into the town's top private and volunteer initiative, and the nation's leading museum of its kind. The global recession called for a change of tack – and the Hall had one of its best years ever. How can this kind of "never say die" attitude be applied to the town's woes?
Here are some of her hints:-
• We have always been aware of our precarious position as a community based museum and planned ahead, not only for future development but survival in the bad times and succession planning for our future.
• I have always been lateral in my approach to this business.
• It’s not just about working hard; it’s about working smart, especially when times are tough.
• This advice came from Kurt Johannsen in 1992: “There will be plenty of knockers but don’t waste time on them. While you are worrying about them you are letting down the people and businesses that support you – keep striving towards your goals.”
• Don’t over-think your problems. I see many people in "damage control" and spending too much time solving their day to day problems. This extends to Alice Springs as a community. I hate to think about the countless times in the past thirty years that we have gone back to square one dealing with and changing the methodology in how we deal with anti-social behaviour and criminal activity.
Tall Tales but True: Brought to you by the National Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs.
Christopher (Chris) Kuhn started work for the Commonwealth Railways in 1928 and went on to work for them on the Marree to Alice Springs section until 1953.
His job was to use a horse and scoop to clear the ever-shifting sand drift and debris from flash floods and windstorms off the track so the Ghan train could get through. The Old Ghan train was notorious for literally being stopped in its tracks and it was Kuhn’s job to ensure the train could get through gaps in the sand dunes. Sometimes the track collapsed because termites had gnawed through wooden sleepers.
If the train got stuck a goat, or other game, would be shot so the passengers could be fed. Those were the days too when all litter from the train (ablutions, kitchen waste and tins) were dropped through chutes to the track. It was a harsh and thankless environment: working in freezing cold or searing heat and open to the elements.
Chris Kuhn and his wife Mary lived at Irripitana just south of William Creek for many years. Following the line as it progressed towards Stuart (now Alice Springs) it was a harsh and nomadic life and yet they managed to raise 12 children. The family were known by all Commonwealth Railway staff and regulars who used the line to be friendly and welcoming and willing to lend a hand to anyone in need. Following the tragic loss of a daughter the family moved into Alice Springs.
Mary worked as cook at the old Alice Springs hospital where she cared for sick Aboriginal children. The Kuhn children grew up to be pioneers in their own right. Their eldest daughter Jean married Les Poole who was one of the town's first electricians. Their son Chas was instrumental in starting the Old Ghan Preservation Society in Alice Springs and works today on maintaining the modern locomotive fleet on the Adelaide to Darwin run. Chris retired in 1953 and was drowned in 1955 when a flash flood in the Todd River washed his car downstream. Kuhn Court in Alice Springs is named in his memory.
Norris Garrett Bell was born in Scotland in 1860. He was employed as the Commissioner of Railways from 1917 to 1929 and played a significant role in planning, constructing and overseeing all aspects of the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs railway link. Tall Tales but True – a series courtesy the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs.