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  Webmaster's Memories from Alice Springs, 2001  

"S" = Shirley Club Convention,
Alice Springs, 2001.

“Hello, Shirley!” says S1.

“Hello, Shirley!” answer 130-odd voices. So begins the 5 days of merriment and friendship in September 2001 at Alice Springs.

Surrounded by beautiful banners representing the different states and districts, S1 and V1 welcomed us to our first convention. Webmaster believed that the Queensland banner was by far the best, even if some myopic fools thought it said “OLD” rather than “QLD”. Silly duffers!

Prayers were made for us and for the New Yorkers. Nerissa and Fran (our guides/caretakers) were evicted, but the Channel 7 gang stayed to film our carryings-on. Fran made a recovery and became our newest Shirley (in gold curly wig, a la Shirley Temple) as member 212, as well as being Q7 for Queensland. Then she ratted on us to lead the non-Shirleys in their side-swipe at us (more of this anon).

We swam in the Rydges pool, where one of the NSW bathing beauties (of more than 3 score year and ten!) wore her neck-to-knee outfit, much to the delight of several children. With the Casino next door, there was no shortage of after-hours fun for the ladies, although Webmaster did not join in this pastime.

The 5 days were certainly filled with friendship, happiness and laughter. Webmaster made many ladies giggle with her ridiculous capering, and to those whom Webmaster offended – tough titties!

"H" = Henley-on-Todd Regatta.
(And other tours).

This is a marvelous, theatrical piece of Australiana. The sandy, waterless Todd River, flowing through the Alice, provides a stage for the many “boat races” which see Man pitched against Nature – canoeing, sand-shovelling, yachting and speed-boating – all without water, just the ingenious “Fred Flintstone” method of locomotion. The finale between the motorized juggernauts was a treat.

We toured and toured indefatigably, visiting the School of the Air, the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the Telegraph Station, Anzac Hill (where we obtained superb views) and the Desert Park.

"I" = Inland.

The harsh, unremitting red earth is just now covered in a myriad wildflowers, owing to the recent rains. The secret lies in the ability of the flora to send down gigantic taproots, adapting leaves and bark to the fierce sun, and being opportunistic where weather, birds and insects are concerned. Several species depend on fire for reproduction.

There are bluebells, wattles, cassias, grevilleas, callistemons, paper daisies, ruby dock and more. One treasured memory is of the fairy martins building mud nests above our heads in a cave. They are sweet, fearless little birds which take beakfuls of water from a pool at Uluru, then make mud pies in the dirt. With each mouthful of mud, they add to their cone-shaped adobe houses on the ceiling of the cave. This cave contained Aboriginal paintings – so we won both ways.

Thorny devils (lizards with attitude) abound, and the skies are alive with various raptors. They glide effortlessly on currents of rising warm air and seem to hang overhead. At the desert park, we discovered just how rich and varied is the birdlife in this area, grouped according to preference for Sand dunes, Riverland or Bushland.

"R" = Red Centre.

So much could be written about the spectacular landforms of Ayers Rock (Uluru) and the Olgas (Kata Tjuta). No matter what you already know of these mighty rocks, nothing prepares you for the majesty of these icons or the intricacy of the weathering patterns. Attached to every fissure and pock-mark is an Aboriginal Dreamtime legend. Webmaster bent down near little Ayers Rock (an outcrop of rock next to the monolith) and touched ground over which many, many people trod 1000s of years ago. This is ancient country, steeped in folklore – it is a very eerie feeling being alone on the East side of the Rock, shortly after sunrise.

Water, rock and sand meet at Simpson’s Gap. The setting is spell-binding, and truly worthy of our photographic efforts. The non-Shirleys went on a day trip to Standley Chasm and Ormiston Gap whilst we Shirleys were busy slaving over a hot dancefloor. And the general consensus was that we had only seen but a skerrick of what the Territory offers.

"L" = Loads of Food.

The Shirleys make no secret of the fact that eating is a very important function of the Club. We enjoyed full buffet breakfast every morning at Rydges Plaza, followed by delicious sandwiches and fruit platters for lunch. An abundance of coffee, tea and refreshing fruit juices kept us going in the heat.

But it was the dessert cakes which really found the Shirleys in their element. Delicious and sumptuous cakes, cut into huge wedges, drew us to the tables like magnets. We piled our plates with an unbelievable array of chocolate or caramel delicacies, as if there was no tomorrow. Our sisters at the tail of the queue did not miss out – there was enough food to sink the Titanic. And our hips kept expanding as we waddled from one feast to the next.

Footnote: the bus trips to Ayers Rock for sunset/sunrise gave us a chance to savour fine champagne and juice. Then, we sampled crocodile, ‘roo and emu under the stars at the Sounds of Silence dinner.

"E" = Entertainment

What a talented group of Shirleys met at Ayers Rock in September 2001! Comedy (“The Mammogram”), tap-dancing, singing, clogging and lots of jokes. One lady took off Judy Garland, complete with spirituous refreshment. The NSW contingent held a mock talent quest, with N1 being a very sour Cornelia Weakest-Link. Contestants “won” a holiday to Oodnadatta. The Rindercella skit performed by South Australia was riotous (Cinders lost her knickers rather than her shoe), especially when Prince Charming lost the plot – literally!

Our Queensland number went off well, and hit the right note of fun and enjoyment. However, Western Australia won the day with their Shirley Bassey rendition. This involved the ever-present Channel 7 camera gang – many kisses and hugs for the boys. We performed line-dancing, ballet and the ever-popular Nutbush. Some of us (Webmaster, please stand up!) could not get the hang of the Macarena at all!

Webmaster’s bridegroom, Peter, was one of the many non-Shirleys. The men gathered by the pool every afternoon under a spreading tree to drink beer and tell yarns. They constantly complained of how noisy we were (quite untrue!) and planned their revenge at our Gala Ball. Trevor and Michael led a team of non-Shirleys in their version of our theme song, and gave us 10 points to follow for our next convention in Melbourne, 2003. Then they produced the non-Shirley banner, comprised of a pair of Y-fronts with the non-Shirley club motto and a big purple bow on the crotch. Enchanting! Needless to say, we booed them from the stage.

Footnote: another source of vast entertainment for all of us was the credit card: buying every souvenir in sight, with no obligation to regret our random purchases until November.

Erldunda, where the proprietor of the Desert Oaks Resort was called Shirley. She greeted us warmly and we purchased lots of souvenirs at Erldunda (of course).

"Y" = Yulara Resort.

This is the resort at Ayers Rock. Rather than service a series of far-flung hotels, the residences and ammenities at the Rock are all congregated at Yulara. Webmaster and Peter stayed at the Outback Pioneer, which is more of a young person’s up-market back-packer hostel: very comfortable, but communal showers and toilets. Some of the clever Shirleys had already upgraded to better accommodation (Emu Walk). However, Webmaster did spot 2 virile German hunks returning from their 4.30 am shower – they were wearing not much more than posing pouches, which woke up Webmaster somewhat.

Webmaster spent her day chasing fellas out of the Ladies showers. She did this with tact, charm, wit and not much terror (?).

The 12 people who toured the Rock and other sites were mostly couples from NSW, WA, and Victoria and of course, from Queensland. We struck up super friendships from the start and hopefully will keep the flame burning.

Further footnote: one American lady stared at Webmaster’s badge then said: “Oh, the Shirley Club. And what’s your name?"

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  Photo Memories from Alice Springs, 2001  

These photos may take a little time to come up - as there are some big ones amongst them.

Okay - starting off with the entire company -- these are the girls who held the Guinness Book of Records for a teensie while until beaten by the Marias of Spain. Then follow: Henley-on-Todd; 3 photos of V177 with Webmaster and the girls on the 3-day Uluru leg of the week; the map of Desert Park, which we found so entertaining; the Olgas; Simpson's Gap; the Telegraph Station; the Rydges lounge; and a view showing the Rydges pool.

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  Other Shirley Memories from Alice Springs, 2001  

The Non Shirley's 10 Suggestions for the next Shirley Convention in 2003.

1) Noise; In fact we are talking here of levels of noise compatible with industrial deafness levels. Many of the Non Shirley's have been able to develop selective hearing over the past 30 years, plus, living with one Shirley....But when there is 130 of them it amounts to subjecting Non Shirley's to Industrial Deafness levels of noise. As a result, all Non Shirley's must be issued with ear muffs or ear plugs at the next convention.

2) Non Shirley's be allowed to speak occasionally...Maybe one short sentence every decade or so.

3) All Credit Cards belonging to Shirley's be left at home prior to attending their 2003 convention.

4) Travel; Non Shirley's never get a window seat, whether it be a Train, Plane, or Coach. So Non Shirley's would like all seating on planes, trains and coaches to be designed and fitted with window seats.

5) Guiness Book Of Records; Non Shirley's know that the Shirley's have had some difficulty in setting a record for the Largest number of Shirley's in one place on one day. We suggest a Guiness book of records would be easily set for the most number of sweets eaten in one place. Do you realise with just 130 Shirley's, that 265 sweets have been the minimum consumed after one meal with 306 deserts being the most eaten at the Alice Springs Convention.

6) Venue for 2003 Convention. To set a record for sweet eating maybe you need a different kind of venue to that of a resort like Rydges at Alice Springs. Non Shirley's suggest a venue such as "The Sarah Lee Factory" or the "Cadbury's Chocolate Factory" would be more appropriate. Just imagine...At Cadbury's the Shirley's could have a few squares of chocolate for entree, a block of chocolate for main course and for deserts a whole slab of chocolate.

7) Queuing; Have you noticed at the Alice Springs Convention that when 3 Shirley's group together immediately all the rest of the Shirley's fall in behind and form a queue. At the next Shirley Convention...No Queuing.

8) Sign Language; Maybe at the next Shirley convention it could be run differently to this one in that the Shirley's could have a conference where only sign language is used. IE Shirley's should be seen and not heard.

9) Alternative Venue; The next convention could be held on that island just past New Norfolk Island, called No Shirleyfolk Island.

10) Non Shirley Convention; In the event that the above 9 conditions can not be met then...All Non Shirley's should be sent to the Barrier Reef for a fishing holiday while the Shirley convention is held and the Non Shirley's will send the Shirley's a post card saying: "Having a great time, Glad you're not here".

Trevor R. of Morpeth

On behalf of the Non Shirley's ........ and V177's Mike created the Non-Shirls Banner .......

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