National Geographic : 1963 Sep
Parallel ridges of the Macdonnell Ranges furrow a 240-mile stretch of the Northern Territory. Finke River, chief waterway of the continent's vast red center, slices through eroded folds on its southward course. Dried-mud islands in a sea of salt pattern the bed of Lake Amadeus, a 90-mile-long wasteland in the Northern Territory. Rains fill the basin about four times a century; then a few days of sun all but dry it out. that had altered almost out of recognition, these were many. Beneath all the bustle and the astounding progress, there were some obvious problems. "We are a nation-the only such nation of Europeans permanently settled in Asia," an Australian friend already had pointed out. "Our forefathers found a continent, virtually empty, which had been here a long time. We have made something of it, and we will make a great deal more." This was new thinking to me. We had learned at primary school about our country as part-the principal part-of Australasia, which also included New Guinea, the nearer Pacific islands, and New Zealand. Then the word somehow dropped out of fashion. We did not think of ourselves as "Australasians" or any kind of Asians. Asia then seemed thou sands of miles away. In the 1960's, I found Australians taking a fresh look at themselves-a rich white civili zation with a high standard of living, in an underpopulated continent, a jump away from more than a third of the population of the world. Asia, bursting at the seams, is not next door but on the doorstep-the awakened giant where aspirations rise, numbers ex plode, and Communism lurks ready to exploit troubles or stir some up if need be. "Our eyes are on Peking, not on Moscow," Premier Bolte of Victoria had told me. "We are well aware of the challenge and we must Maze of channels in Queensland forms an irrigation system that waters 10 million acres of black soil and sand in good seasons. But intermittent rivers fill Channel Country watercourses only during rare floods. Pool-fringed Ormiston Gorge cuts through the Macdonnell Ranges to the Finke River. Daily, as the sun's angle changes, colors in the chasm range the spectrum from red and orange to emerald and sapphire. EKTACHROMES BY GORDON DE'LISLE AND KODACHROME 378 (LOWER LEFT) BY ROBERTB. GOODMAN © N.G.S .