ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
December 17, 1997
WE'LL HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS - BUT WILL IT BE A
PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR?
COMMENT by News Editor ERWIN CHLANDA
The Alice Springs News wishes its readers and advertisers a merry
Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
The easy-going nature of residents of The Alice will guarantee that
we'll accomplish the former without much difficulty; the latter,
however, will be a tough battle.
Our fate in 1998 will be entirely the result of the determination and
resourcefulness of Alices people.
Make no mistake, no-one else is going to help us turning around the
disaster our local tourism industry has become; halt the progression
toward civil war fuelled by alcoholism, petrol sniffing and abysmal
race relations; nor put a stop to the colonial style government under
which we are relegated to taking orders from our masters in Darwin.
Never in my 23 years in The Centre have I seen so much despondency and
pessimism as I witnessed in 1997.
We must put a stop to this - starting now.
The dying year has been marred by a further deterioration of the
democratic process: Parliamentarians, rather than taking the demands of
their constituents in The Centre to the seat of power, have become the
carriers of orders from it to us underlings.
The Opposition has hardly inspired trust: Stuart MLA Peter Toyne
excepted, it has been drifting without any recognisable agenda and has
even lost the "unlosable" seat of MacDonnell.
The worm, however, has begun to turn.
The annihilation of local government at Yulara, the old gaol fiasco and
even the stupid plans for draining Redbank Gorge have crystallised the
bottom line issue: either we'll fight or we'll go under.
The Alice will need to work hard not to lose focus on this main game in
the face of the looming Federal election.
Its potential for a Wik - native title inspired racist campaign is
There are Territory forces which have time and again turned racism to
their political advantage, obscuring all other issues.
If we let them get away with it again, it will be to our peril.
The Alice News , having reached a position of dominance in terms of
circulation and commercial advantage for its advertisers, will continue
fine-tuning its operation in 1998, our fifth year of service to The
But the News won't deviate one iota from its fundamental objectives
announced in a flyer in December, 1993 - three months before our first
edition, appearing as scheduled on March 3, 1994.
At that time we said in part: "The News will focus on the researched
background story, the investigative piece, the feature article that
puts together the confusing puzzle of news stories.
"Without fear or favour, and independent from political and corporate
masters, we'll be dealing with the matters that make or break our town.
"Opinion, news reporting and advertising will be clearly separated.
"The heart of each edition will be an investigative piece.
We'll go beyond the immediately available facts, probe, ask questions."
We look forward to bringing you much more of that next year.
We don't publish in January because as a free delivery publication, we
don't want to create security problems by piling up copies in letter
boxes of homes whose occupants are away on holidays.
Our first 1998 edition will appear on February 4.
We look forward to seeing you then!
NATIONAL PARKS SHOULD HAVE MORE LODGES, SAYS
PICTURED ABOVE: The Glen Helen lodge in the MacDonnell national park
west of Alice Springs.
The link between national parks, tourism and the economy - more
significant in the NT than anywhere else in Australia - is a key focus
of the just released Parks Masterplan.
A second major theme of the plan is a new look at the relationship with
Aboriginal people, acknowledging the power of attraction of indigenous
culture and emphasising greater cooperation and opportunities for
traditional owners to create an economic base for themselves.
A lot of space in the plan is devoted to the issue of accommodation
The West MacDonnell Park is one that is identified as having potential
for "high quality formal accommodation".
The plan also says developments need to be large enough to generate a
sufficient cash flow for sustainable management of their infrastructure
(sewerage, water, energy, rubbish disposal, architectural form,
landscaping, erosion control and quality visitor programs).
The plan also comes down in favour of involving the private sector in
operating camping areas within parks.
While this would be an expanded opportunity for commercial operators,
the plan recommends a tightening of control over tour operators in
At present only tours originating in a park come under Commission
The plan proposes the introduction of a system of accreditation of tour
operators, administratively linked to their current vehicle licensing
arrangements with the MVR.
The 15 year plan estimates that during the 1998-99 year, tourism will
earn $800m for the NT - with parks as the industry's main drawcard for
an expected 1.5 million visitors, staying 7.7 million nights.
Tourism is already the Territory's largest employer, and second largest
Over 70 per cent of all visitors come here to experience the natural
environment, and over 65 per cent of overseas visitors come
specifically to experience national parks, with Uluru- Kata Tjuta the
most highly visited, followed by Kakadu and Litchfield.
The plan quotes research by NT Tourist Commission (NTTC) which
indicates high visitor satisfaction with the low key atmosphere of many
Tourists' key desires are to be informed, stimulated and educated.
The plan recommends that closer monitoring of visitor impact and
satisfaction be undertaken by the Parks and Wildlife Commission in
collaboration with the NTTC.
It is acknowledged that, to date, visitor satisfaction has had little
impact on the Commission's strategic planning.
There will be a change of focus, so that visitors are seen as customers
"with legitimate expectations of levels of service".
The other main elements of the park development strategy are defined
augmentation of the parks network to enhance its range of
further enhancement of high-profile parks to maintain high standards of
environmental management, while delivering a high quality, sustainable
tourism experience, via in particular the development of appropriate
accommodation and camping facilities within parks and of visitor
facilities, such as "Icon Tracks" like the Larapinta Trail;
the establishment of three "greater" national parks, two of them in
Central Australia (a key proposal of the now two-years-old NT Tourism
Development Masterplan, and still on the drawing board);
the establishment of remote parks for adventure tourism.
The plan does not appear to outline a strategy for the realisation of
what is nonetheless stated as a key aim, which is to bring all national
parks under Territory management regimes for coordinated planning and
(Uluru-Kata Tjuta and Kakadu are managed by the Commonwealth.)
The development of new parks in the Top End and Katherine regions is
already underway in several areas; the Barkly region also has the
Davenport Range National Park, south east of Tennant Creek, in train.
The plan's emphasis for Central Australia is to sustain the viability
of the Ayers Rock experience by easing the pressure on the destination.
This could be done by better promotion of Kings Canyon in the Watarrka
National Park and Mount Sonder in the West MacDonnell National park.
Opportunities for new parks in Central Australia are identified as:
south of Alice Springs along the Finke and Hugh Rivers; at the Alcoota
fossil field, to the north east of Alice, for specialised tourism; and,
dependent on the desires of the traditional owners, in several mountain
range areas under Aboriginal ownership.
The plan takes a positive and optimistic approach with respect to
Aboriginal land holders and their role, current and future, in park
It outlines the extent of Aboriginal land ownership - as of February
1996, it stood at 41.57 per cent of the Territory, with a further 8.3
per cent under claim and land acquisitions likely to continue.
"Much of this land is, or will be, of conservation and tourism
interest," says the plan, and "Aboriginal people can be expected to
continue to assert rights and interests in land and marine areas set
aside as Territory parks."
The plan acknowledges, on the one hand, that many Aboriginal people
have indicated their desire to play a major role in conservation ad
park management, and, on the other, "conservation may not always be the
first choice for Aboriginal land holders."
Nevertheless, says the plan, "the general Aboriginal concern for
"Caring for Country" and conservation objectives of this Masterplan
will often be in accord," and the "Caring for Country" initiatives of
the Northern and Central Land Councils are seen as having "much to
The theme of "Reflecting Culture" is one of the five proposed in the
plan's vision statement.
"Joint management arrangements with Aboriginal people will be the
norm," says the plan, " together with employment of Aboriginal people
in a range of roles within the park system.
"Such employment will recognise the knowledge and skills of traditional
owners and custodians, who will occupy senior positions within the
Parks and Wildlife Commission."
A key recommendation of the plan is that the Territory Parks and
Wildlife Conservation Act be amended to give greater prominence to
Aboriginal involvement in parks and to provide for the declaration of
Indigenous Protected Areas (a concept proposed by the federal agency
Parks Australia as part of the National Reserves System).
These would be declared only on the instigation of Aboriginal
landowners, but not on land subject to unresolved claims under the Land
Rights Act or the Native Title Act.
Proposed criteria include:
conservation as a principle land use;
demonstrably effective long term conservation management;
voluntary participation of indigenous landowners;
the presence of significant conservation values;
involvement of the Parks and Wildlife Commission in some capacity, at
least in the development of a Plan of Management;
For Aboriginal people, the benefits are outlined as:
improved long-term management of natural and cultural resources;
enhanced employment opportunities through land management and possibly
the ability to determine arrangements for Aboriginal involvement and
control in a range of formal or less formal management mechanisms;
improved opportunities to implement and strengthen traditional laws and
The benefits for park management would be:
a strategic framework for flexible arrangements between Aboriginal
people and the Commission for mutually compatible ends, with financial
assistance from the Commonwealth Government;
an expansion of the total area of land under conservation management.
Management options for IPAs could include:
formally constituted Boards of Management with Aboriginal custodians
holding executive powers and majority control (as is already the case
in the Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) and Gurig (Coburg Peninsula )
contracting the Commission as manager;
the Commission providing specific conservation management assistance
simple recognition and accreditation of Aboriginal conservation
initiatives, to enable them to be incorporated as a part of the
Territory's contribution to the National Reserves System.
"The emphasis would be on flexibility," says the plan.
Options which contributed most to Aboriginal self-determination would
The Commission will seek consultation with Aboriginal organisations in
the review and amendment of the Act.
THE NEW HEAD OF THE TOURISM LOBBY LOOKS AT WAYS OF
DRAGGING THE INDUSTRY OUT OF ITS SLUMP
New CATIA chief Steve Byrnes in the Royal Flying Doctor Service radio
Dragging the Alice tourism industry out of its worst slump, redefining
the relationship between the regional tourism bodies with the NT
Tourist Commission - constantly under fire for its failure to perform
despite its massive budget - and coming to grips with a new regime at
the Ayers Rock resort are just some of the objectives for Steve Byrnes
in the New Year.
The Alice manager of the world famous Royal Flying Doctor Service - a
prime tourist attraction in itself - was elected unopposed to head the
region's tourism lobby, the Central Australian Tourism Industry
Mr Byrnes spoke with Alice News editor ERWIN CHLANDA.
News: The tourism industry in Alice Springs has been in decline now for
several successive years so that our annual bed occupancy rate is now
down to 44 per cent.
What are you going to do about it?
Byrnes: CATIA has responsibilities within the partnership agreement
with the NT Tourist Commission (NTTC).
News: Aren't you a watchdog over the NTTC which is obviously not doing
Byrnes: That's your opinion.
News: The figures bear it out.
Byrnes: It's not only the figures here for Central Australia or for the
NT but for Australia in its entirety which has had a dramatic decrease
in tourism, especially from overseas.
[The trade in] Central Australia is not down as much as other areas.
The Gold Coast, at certain times, is 50 per cent down, Cairns is down
We've had a downturn in the domestic market because of the economic
situation in the eastern states.
People are taking shorter holidays and are staying close to home.
They feel they can't commit themselves long term.
While people feel they have to see The Centre at some stage of their
lives, they're putting it off at the moment.
News: Is it not true that we have much more to offer than the average
We're more famous, more beautiful; would you say that?
Byrnes: You and I would, we're Central Australians, we're Territorians
and we're very proud of our area.
News: Aren't we right?
Byrnes: We're right to the degree that we have a different destination.
If you're talking to people in Cairns, for example, they're just as
We have the difficulty of being an expensive destination.
We're now looking at the incentive and convention markets.
We have a reduced capability to take big conventions.
Araluen can seat only 500 people, and a lot of the other venues are
around the 200 seats mark.
The town council has provided funding, using CATIA's expertise, aiming
especially at the conventions and incentive market.
News: That's been the objective for three or four years and it's still
Byrnes: It goes back some time but it's now in place.
There were some discussions about the best way of doing it, rather than
spending dollars willy nilly.
Secondly, the research department of the NTTC has indicated we should
go after the more affluent tourists.
Byrnes: Daryl Somers, the current front man for our promotion, hardly
appeals to the affluent person.
Very few of the rich would watch his show.
Does he fit the bill?
Byrnes: You'd have to ask the NTTC that.
News: I'm asking you.
Byrnes: We're an industry association, looking after Central Australia
in conjunction with the NTTC.
News: Do you see yourself as a lobby keeping a critical eye on the
NTTC, even telling it what to do?
Byrnes: I find telling people what to do doesn't always work.
The Somers campaign is a positioning campaign devised by the NTTC.
The regional tourism associations (RTAs) don't really have that much of
a say in it.
We are here for our membership.
News: Has the membership raised any questions about the Somers
Byrnes: I've been the chairman for only two months.
Nobody's spoken to me about Somers.
To my understanding the NTTC has scaled down the use of Somers.
News: Given that you're now looking at the more affluent end of the
market, what's your own personal view about the Somers style of
Byrnes: I don't have one.
News: Do you think the government should put half the NTTC's $26.5m
budget at the discretion of a body representing the southern half of
Would you spend it better than the Tourist Commission?
Byrnes: We haven't carried out that exercise.
There are different roles for the organisations and there has to be
economy of scale.
Once you start splitting up things you lose economy of scale, you lose
On the other hand, I don't believe one organisation can do the lot.
In fact it's been tried before and hasn't been very effective - that's
why it's been broken down.
The NTTC had bureaus, that was found not to be appropriate.
That system was revamped and the RTAs received funding to run visitor
information centres, meeting the needs of the visitors once they are in
To have a number of organisations basically doing the same thing is not
News: The opposite argument to that is Ren Kelly at The Rock who turned
a company that was in trouble at the time of the pilots' strike, into a
mammoth operation with nearly 100 staff, 57 luxury vehicles, including
coaches, an annual turnover of $6m and 180,000 passenger movements.
Ren has a number of overseas offices and relies almost entirely on his
own promotion and marketing.
Rod Steinert is doing much the same with respect to marketing.
There certainly seems to be a place for individual promotion.
Byrnes: Our role is to look after our membership's interest and to look
after visitors once they are in Central Australia.
We only have a relatively small budget.
News: What are you saying to the NTTC at the moment?
Byrnes: We're telling them that things aren't good, that we need to be
doing something different to what's been done in the last couple of
years, we need to get into the hard sell of product.
The partnership arrangements need to be tightened up so the dollars can
be spent effectively.
NTTC and the RTAs are currently having discussions about their
respective roles, how we can meld together to do the job in the most
News: How do you see the relationship between the industry in The Alice
and at The Rock, now that a new company owns the resort and the NT
Government no longer has a 60 per cent share?
Byrnes: They are part of Central Australia, they are good members of
News: The company owns the resort and any commercial activity - except
for Ren Kelly - requires the permission of the resort owners who charge
a hefty commission.
Do you have a view on that?
Byrnes: I don't. It's the same as Dunk Island.
It's a resort.
It's a government decision and that's the way it is.
News: The government has set up a monopoly at the Territory's prime
Anyone who wants to sleep, eat, drink, shop at The Rock must do it with
an enterprise sanctioned by the owners.
Byrnes: It's not a monopoly - they have a big slice in it.
News: No - they have the right to fully control what happens there.
Byrnes: Not in the park.
News: What's your comment on the old gaol controversy?
Byrnes: CATIA has written to the Minister saying the actions by the
government were completely inappropriate.
We have had a detailed response, acknowledging what we have said.
It was the view of CATIA that the gaol should be used constructively,
as a bus terminal, for example.
No-one's so far come forward with a commercial proposition for the use
of the land.
It's an asset.
As a taxpayer I believe that the government should always have long
term considerations with any decision they make.
My personal view, not CATIA's, is that if the community - which is the
government - decides that we require to maintain certain places of
heritage, then the community should have to pay for it.
The government should recognise it as a requirement of the community
and the government should pay for it.
YOUNG PEOPLE IN JAIL: THE FEECTS OF MANDATORY
Report by KIERAN FINNANE
Commander Bullock of the Alice Springs Police, says the Alice Springs
Watchhouse has on occasion provided overnight accommodation there for
relatives of detained juveniles.
This is indeed one of the provisions of Recommendation 242 of the Royal
Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.
However, following the breakdown in negotiations between Minister for
Correctional Services Eric Poole and the Central Australian Aboriginal
Childcare Agency (CAACA) over converting part of Aranda House into a
short term juvenile holding facility, Mr Poole made clear on ABC TV
that one of the main sticking points has been CAACA's desire to
accommodate parents or relatives with the young offenders.
Recommendation 242 says that in the event where a juvenile is detained
in a lock-up (which should not happen "except in exceptional
circumstances"), then "every effort should be made to arrange for a
parent or a visitor to attend and remain with the juvenile."
Because of the lack of a juvenile holding facility in Alice Springs, 18
juveniles have been held in isolation at the adult prison since it was
opened in August 1996, while others have been held at the Watchhouse,
seen as a more "desirable" option.
Mr Poole says: "Government will now have to look at establishing an
alternative facility for the short-term detention of juveniles or for
Meanwhile, Mr Bullock says: "The Alice Springs Watchhouse has been
approved as a place where juveniles who have been charged with an
offence and not admitted to bail shall be detained.
"Release on bail, however, is the preferred option where appropriate
and the bail act is quite clear on the granting of bail and police
responsibilities in that regard.
"There have been occasions where a juvenile who cannot be released from
custody (because of a court order for detention or imprisonment) has
had a family member remain with them for the period, including
overnight, that they are detained in the cells.
Similarly in arrest or other custody situations such as protective
custody for drunkenness or other substance abuse, consideration is
given to their release to family members or other suitable persons in
"In many instances of custody, family cannot be located for a number of
"In a number of instances it could be considered that the family/home
environment and lack of parental responsibility are causal factors in a
young person engaging in behaviour that brings them to the attention of
"Arrangements have been negotiated with organisations such as Alice
Springs Youth Accommodation and Support Services (ASYASS) and Aranda
House, which offer other options for release in such cases.
"The established policy of the NT Police regarding the detention of
juveniles is in accord with recommendation 242 of the Royal Commission
into Deaths in Custody.
"Police general orders accurately reflect the terms of the
The Alice Springs News also asked Mr Bullock whether mandatory
sentencing for property offences in the Northern Territory, has meant a
greater burden of discretion falling on the shoulders of the police,
and what guidelines officers receive about using discretion in regard
to charging offenders.
Says Mr Bullock: "Discretion for police officers has a number of
"They are advised that the deprivation of liberty is a serious matter.
"Discretion is necessary when police have no personal knowledge of the
In such circumstances, police have to satisfy themselves that the
information upon which they are acting is reliable.
"Similarly, the policy is that suspected offenders be given the
opportunity to explain themselves.
Unless clear evidence emerges, it is better to detain that person.
"Proceeding by way of summons rather than arrest is normally the
preferred approach, except where arrest is seen as necessary to prevent
a continuation or repetition of the offence.
Police must also give consideration to the seriousness of the charge
and to the likelihood of whether or not a summons will ensure the
offender's appearance in court.
"The decision to prosecute a person is not taken lightly and every care
is taken in the exercise of discretion whether to commence or continue
"It is essential that in exercising such discretion, police are able to
demonstrate the propriety and impartiality of their decision.
"Circumstances will arise in which consideration needs to be given to
public interest as to whether a prosecution should be initiated.
Circumstances which may influence a decision include:
The youth, age or infirmity of the offender; the antecedents and
character of the offender; the degree of culpability of the offender;
the seriousness of the offence; and the need to provide a deterrent to
"Regard should also be given to the prevalence of that offence within
the particular community and the community expectation in respect of
the actual act or event.
"Checks and balances exist within the organisation to ensure that
individual decisions to exercise discretion are overseen, considered
for appropriateness and, when necessary, other courses of action are
"The exercise of discretion is not an issue that has or currently
causes concern to police."
THE NECK TRADING DYNASTY - LOOKING BACK ON 60 YEARS
OF BUSINESS IN THE ALICE
KIERAN FINNANE continues her historical feature.
PICTURED: Murray Neck in his college days.
Murray's mother didn't have any domestic help, but Annie employed a
number of Aboriginal women and men at the boarding house, as gardeners,
in the kitchen, and looking after the goats:
"I can recall these people very well.
They were really lovely people, I got on particularly well with them
and, of course, they spoilt me rotten," says Murray.
"One of the gardeners was called Spider and his wife was called Maggie.
They were a wonderful old couple.
"My Dad also employed an Aboriginal by the name of Toby Johnson.
"I later employed Toby, his brother Ted, and his nephew Edward at odd
"Toby had been brought up on Bloomfield's Station at Loves Creek.
He had a number of skills - he could count, he was a bit of a
carpenter, he could use a soldering iron, he was a good gardener and a
pretty good horseman too.
"He used to spend a few months with us, then he would go walkabout' out
Loves Creek way in the Eastern MacDonnells.
Sometimes he'd give us notice, sometimes he didn't.
Eventually he'd come back and ask for a job, which we always gave to
We'd fit him out with new clothes and a new hat.
"Later, when I went to Adelaide, I always bought a new felt hat which I
would wear while I was there.
When I got back I'd give it to Toby because I wasn't a hat wearer.
So Toby was always pretty pleased to see me.
"I got to know his family pretty well.
Some of them still live out at Santa Teresa, and some live east of
here, out Undoolya way.
"I've got a close affiliation with this family.
Toby's children all call me brother, their children all call me uncle,
I'm a cousin to others, they've worked it all out.
"I've been to Santa Teresa where they've come up to me and said,
ïYou're my cousin,' or ïYou're my uncle'.
"I've got quite an intense feeling of pride about this.
"Toby was a very close associate of mine, we did a lot of things
He was my Dad's age and he taught me a lot.
We would go out bush together, and he'd talk to me a lot about his days
wandering around the bush, of floods and fires and storms, wild food,
"He taught me quite a bit of his language, I can't put a sentence
together but I knew a pile of words, and they come back to me now and
then. "My children also have this association, they've been brought
into the family circle.
Greg in particular often gets a visit from them in the shop.
"Toby's wife Madeline is still alive, a remarkable woman. She must be
well into her nineties."
This was the Central Australian world into which the radio came.
The first sets were medium wave and could only receive programs during
the cooler months and at night: "During the summer months daylight
reception was blotted out with the rising of the sun.
"We knew all the programs, of course."
5AD and 5DN were the two major stations broadcasting out of Adelaide.
"There was a 5AD program for children, Search for the Golden Boomerang,
and a 5AD children's club."
In 1939, the town's population was no more than 1500.
The hospital was being built, the streets were kerbed and guttered,
though there was still no bitumen.
Roads were macadamised (gravelled).
Cedar trees had been planted for shade.
Murray's father decided to load his Dodge Buckboard with some radios
and go to the Hatches Creek mining centre and on to Tennant Creek,
taking in a few stations which were close to the main road, then only a
two-wheel dirt track with gravel creek crossings.
Murray, who was 10 years old, went with him.
"That was my introduction to retailing," says Murray.
The trip, in September 1939, coincided with an ominous time in world
history, the outbreak of the Second World War.
"I can recall the day war was declared," says Murray.
"We were in the Wauchope Hotel that night. I remember I was allowed to
drink a shandy. A lot of the young fellows at the bar were saying they
were going south to join up, they were going ïto sort this Hitler
Troops came to Alice Springs in 1941, moving north on their way to
Singapore, where many were subsequently captured.
The road was quickly upgraded to a macadamised surface and a short time
later bitumised all the way to Darwin by the combined Country Roads
Boards of Australia, the states' roads boards taking a section each.
At the Alice Springs Primary School children and staff dug slit
trenches in the back of the school yard.
Darwin had been bombed, and there was a sense that anything could
In 1943 a Northern Territory scholarship, one of six, took Murray away
from wartime Alice, to Scotch College in Adelaide.
There was no secondary school in Alice Springs at the time.
"I had to work awfully hard at college," he recalls, "but as long as I
kept passing, I could stay on."
He was only allowed home once a year, and for the first three years,
such was the militarisation of the Territory, he had to go to Keswick
Military headquarters in Adelaide to get a permit to cross the South
Usually, he came home by train but in his last year he flew home for
the second term holidays and again at the end of the year: "It cost 17
pounds 10, pretty expensive."
Murray returned at the end of 1947, with his leaving certificate under
his arm, and joined his father's business.
He would never leave the Alice for as long a period again: "Through the
years I've observed that children who did their secondary schooling
here felt the desire to get away, some for a higher education, some to
get closer to action of a city.
"I had five years at boarding school, my four children had the same and
we were all pleased to get home, we didn't need any inducement."
Through the war years the electronics industry, indeed the whole of
Australia, went over to wartime production.
The radio industry was devoted to the communications needs of the armed
There were no consumer products at all available from not long after
the start of the war until well after it had finished.
Production had started again by 1947 but the demand had also increased
enormously: "The psychology of Australian people at the start of the
war was quite different to that at the end of the war," comments
"We were a very, very staid community prior to the war, but afterwards
people became more adventurous. Thousands of troops had been overseas
and they came back home with tales of adventure, new lands, new people.
The total thinking of the community had changed remarkably."
In the war years Murray's parents concentrated on the cordial factory
and the milk bar; David did little selling.
With troops in town the milk bar was busy, selling homemade products
and a small cigarette quota.
It was hard work, long hours, seven days a week.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays they stayed open till after the theatre
closed, well after 11 o'clock in the summer months.
Dorothy worked behind the counter, and there was usually a staff member
in the shop as well.
David worked in the factory, sometimes employing troops during their
time off, mostly at night: "During the summer we ran the iceworks at
It was a matter of sleeping with an ear open, which you got used to,"
When Murray came home on holidays he'd always lend a hand: "I always
had jobs to do, my children always had jobs to do and now my
grandchildren have jobs to do.
"They've all cut their teeth early in retailing."
The family now lived and worked in the shop and residence on the
property in Todd Street, which David had built in 1938.
The cordial factory was at the back of the block.
They had their own well and pump, and, until 1939 when power and water
were reticulated, they were one of few households to have electric
lights, running off their own generator.
By the end of 1947, a few new consumer products began to arrive on a
Of special interest to the Centre were the early refrigerators, open
units with a separate electric motor and compressor, with a belt
There were a few early American-made Kelvinators.
They had 110 volt motors equipped with a transformer to drop 240 volts
Refrigeration brands sold by the Necks included Charles Hope, a
kerosene fridge from Brisbane ("an extremely good one"), Electrolux
("imported and very expensive"), and the Cold Stream, manufactured in
They also brought the first washing machines into Central Australia: a
Hoover single tub with a hand wringer and later, the Simpson
Early brand radios were Fisk Radiola, Stromberg-Carlsen and Tasma,
followed by His Master's Voice, Phillips, Healing , Chrysler, Astor,
and Fisk Radiola renamed as AWA.
"When refrigerators became available they were expensive compared with
the basic wage," comments Murray.
"When I left school the basic wage was five pounds a week, I was very
well off because I got the basic wage and free board and lodging, so I
was able to bank quite a bit of money."
A five cubic foot Kelvinator sealed unit would sell for 129 guineas,
that is 129 pounds plus 129 shillings or [calculating quickly] 135
pounds and nine shillings.
From the basic wage point of view, it was worth nearly half a year's
"That was a reasonable size fridge of the day. A comparable ten cubic
foot fridge today would cost $700 and the basic wage is, say, $350."
So that's two weeks' worth of wages.
"My industry is most efficient when you look at it from that point of
view. Both the appliances and the electronic products that we sell keep
getting better and better and cheaper and cheaper in relation to the
To be continued in our first issue next year (February 4): Murray buys
the business from his father in 1953 and, with his marriage to Mary
Kerrison, starts work on establishing the Neck family dynasty.
SPORT WAS GREAT IN 1997 - BUT NEXT YEAR WILL BE EVEN
PICTURED: A rare sport in dry Central Australia: Canoe polo in the
Alice Springs swimming pool.
For Alice Springs sport, 1997 will be a year remembered as one of
achievement and celebration, but there are even better prospects for
the year to come.
In January the third Lasseters Indoor Challenge will give those of us
who bask in the laziness of a Centralian Summer, a chance to enjoy any
of 10 indoor pursuits, at a recreational or competitive level.
Everything from Euchre and 500 to Eight Ball is available, at popular
Alice Springs venues which offer air conditioned comfort and an ideal
Registration is still available, until Friday, at the Department of
Sport and Recreation.
While the Lasseters Challenge is underway and most of the rest of the
town are in holiday mode, the organisers at Sport and Recreation will
not be resting on their laurels.
Shane O'Leary has returned to the Department's frontline and with Mike
Crowe, heads up the preparations for the Honda Masters Games of 1998.
The Masters in October are renowned for being the Friendly Games, and
despite the competition from other games interstate and overseas, the
Alice Games continue to grow.
Already the town's accommodation centres are reporting "full house" for
October, and in order to cater for the revelling thousands of visitors,
a Tent City, and Home Stay options, are in hand.
Early in the new year the whole community will again be welcome to join
in and ensure that our Games are still the best.
As usual volunteers are needed and the general public will be needed to
help in any of a myriad of ways, from starting races to ambassadorial
While Lasseters Challenge and the Honda Masters Games will be our
sporting flagships in 1998, the year could well be heralded by a
personal best Spirit of Alice performance in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht
Murray Preston is to skipper the Alice Springs Yacht Club's challenge,
leaving Sydney on Boxing Day, and all hopes are with the Centralians
emulating the success of 1997.
On the home front, the Yacht Club continues to thrive from its Oasis
Headquarters, and in 1998 sights are also set on the Darwin to Ambon
race in July.
In ensuring the ongoing growth of sailing in the Centre, opportunities
will again be available for the youth of Alice to improve their
nautical technique through sponsored participation in training programs
like that of the Leeuwin.
The Town Pool also provides locals with the opportunity to enjoy water
In recent months extensive shade areas have been erected poolside for
the protection of those basking.
The pool is now heated to ensure year round comfort for Max
O'Callaghan's swimming team and those who simply enjoy "doing their
Of a Tuesday night Canoe Polo has become an attraction at the pool with
a healthy competition allowing devotees, and locals who are river
canoeists, the chance to hone their skills.
For fitness lovers, aqua-aerobics lessons are conducted at the pool,
and pool manager Ian O'Leary is the man to see for more information.
The Town Council has dedicated time and money to the development of
Traeger Park in 1997.
Mounds have been developed on both the eastern and western sides of the
oval, a new kiosk has been built, Mona's Lounge completed, and paving
of the park's surrounds commenced
In 1998 players and spectators should benefit from these improvements.
So too at Albrecht Oval in Larapinta, the Bill Waudby Pavilion is a
testament to the founding father of the Mount Wedge Cricket Club, and
Alice Springs Cricket.
The turf pitches are now showing a healthy abundance of growth and the
Spring / Summer rains will ensure a lush surface early in the new year.
The Alice Springs Cricket Association will host the Calder Shield in
Alice Springs at Easter.
The carnival is a traditional feast for all Territory cricket
enthusiasts and already a Country Eleven, Darwin, the Underage NT side
and Alice Springs representative teams are in the selection process.
On the local front of Cricket, we have seen the emergence of Wests as a
force in all grades.
As with their football, Wests have blended youth with experience.
The association's Development Officer, Greg Aldam, is Captain Coach and
he has the services of David Vadavaloo and Peter Tabart to meld with
Andrew Bent and a host of emerging youngsters.
RSL Works continue to field strong sides through the grades.
A Grade skipper Graeme Smith has Stewart Haycock, Matt Forster and Geof
Whitmore to depend upon with bat and ball.
Rovers are able to keep all teams honest, especially with the emergence
of Paddy Bowden who has given the top order consistency, combined with
the experience of Craig Murphy, and Brendan Blandford.
Federals are the side capable of beating all comers, but as in 1996/97,
they have not won enough matches in the first half of the year to
assure their presence in the finals in 1998.Pressure is now on them to
perform in 1998.
The Central Australian Rugby Union have established themselves as a
sporting strength in the town, after only a decade of competition.
Kiwis continue to dominate the competition and and will go into 1998
favoured to win the CARU Premiership and possibly even the Footrot
Flats Cup, played on Australia Day.
Cubs have continued to consolidate, and after their win over the Kiwis
a fortnight ago are quietly confident of going one place better in the
A traditional force, the Federal Devils have shown they have the
ability to match all comers in the competition, however their
undisciplined attitude lets them down too often.
The Eagles also need to improve.
They would benefit from an injection of fresh legs in the forwards in
order to compete on an even footing with the top sides.
The administration of the CARU, with NTRU backing, has been the secret
to Rugby success in 1997.
Bill Davies as NTRU's man on the ground has not neglected the
Territory's regions in nurturing the game.
In 1997 the Alice team were scheduled to play Yulara at the Rock and in
town, and also to travel to Tennant Creek to face the might of
In February of 1998, regional Rugby will receive another injection when
a Country Side will tour Victoria and Tasmania.
Triathlon attracts of the order of sixty members, but has done itself
proud in 1997.
The NT Short Course Championships were conducted in Alice last month,
with locals Tony Fitzpatrick, Loie Sharp and Jessica Beames all
becoming NT Champions.
In the new year Loie Sharp is heading to the east coast to seriously
challenge for the National title in her age group.
As heartening will be the expected growth in the sport in 1998.
Seasoned performers like John Dermody, Glen Fox and Russell North, will
blend with Ben Bruce and the growing team of juniors thriving in
Complementing the three disciplines of Triathlon is Cycling.
The Friday night competition at the Dalgetty Road velodrome and the
Criteriums of a Tuesday night at the Airport carpark have proven to be
a boon for cycling numbers.
In 1997 life memberships were awarded to Paul Pearson and Dallas
Spears, and it is through service like theirs that the sport has grown.
The Little Athletics Centre at Head Street has been a quiet achiever
once again this year. The 100-strong club caters for athletes from five
to 15 years, from Easter till September.
This year the cream of the crop travelled to Darwin and took all before
them in the NT Championships.
From there an elite group trained under Peter Toyne in preparation for
the National Primary Exchange Championships held last week in Canberra.
At this prestigious carnival Laati Burns won a Silver Medal in the 13
year old Girls Long Jump, Sam Hanzel a Bronze in the 13 year old Boys
Discus and Mario Martinez a Bronze in the 13 year old Boys Shot Put.
Mario also participated in the Relay team which won a Silver.
A highlight of 1998 could be Little Athletics involvement in the
conduct of the Masters Games Athletics events.
They have a strong contingent of willing officials at Little Aths and
have the ability to organise an event of this magnitude well.
Show jumping is another sport which receives little publicity for their
Bob Willshire and his committee brought the sport to town in 1997,
conducting meetings at Traeger Park and at Federals Club.
This initiative generated public support from people previously not
involved in the horse industry.
As a highlight a contingent ventured to the South Australian West Coast
where they competed in the Show circuit.
The group collected 82 ribbons while on tour and have been invited to
other country circuits, and the Adelaide Show in 1998.
Pioneer Park has again proven itself to be the home of the Sport of
Kings in 1997.
Local restaurateur Pat Adami ensured the Alice Springs Cup stayed in
Then Alice horses dominated the Darwin Cup Carnival, with Nev Connor
and Viv Oldfield again showing Centralian thoroughbreds can match it
with the best in the land.
The Spring Carnival at Pioneer Park was again a huge success trackside
with bumper crowds ensuring a bright future for racing in the Centre.
Winter sport in the Centre was dominated by Netball and Australian
At Ross Park over 700 women competed in the various grades over the
In A Grade Rover Memo prevailed over Federal to achieve back to back
Interest in the game here in Alice was kept at a premium with the visit
of Australian icon Vicky Wilson.
The Central Australian Football League had a year to remember in 1997.
It was their fiftieth year of competition, and Pioneers celebrated more
than other clubs in winning premierships at League, Reserve and Under
The season was further nurtured by the AFL game between the Adelaide
Crows and Essendon, and then by the Territory Thunder who accounted for
the prestigious Western Jets in the AFL Under 18 competition.
At representative level our Under 25 CAFL side then covered the town in
glory with an historic win over the Cairns Football League
In 1998 Centralians may well see their side involved in a National
Country Football competition.
Soccer also made a resurgence in 1997 with a competition at Ross Park
that included a largely women's team, F Troop. In 1998 it is expected
that this code will continue to prosper with the flow of youngsters
from the ever popular Junior Soccer joining the Senior ranks.
Rugby League while not enjoying their best year in 1997 can look
forward to 1998 optimistically.
The clubs themselves have made a commitment to running the CARFL, and
by involving players at an administrative level have established
structures at club and league levels that will ensure success.
The Dead Centre Bowhunters and the Red Centre BMX have each had a grand
season in sport, catering well for the interests of those interested in
action of a different kind.
So also the motor sports continue to cement their positions as sports
to be watched in the Centre.
The annual Finke Desert race will again attract national and
international interest as riders and drivers push human limits in the
name of off-road racing.
The Mount Ooraminna Track, Aileron and Arltunga will host enduros of
The Seven Mile Strip at the Airport will again host Day and Night meets
for the Dragsters.
Here in town at Arunga Park the Speedway will provide thrills and
spills of a Saturday night through till Easter.
In all 1998 will be a bonzer year for sport in the Alice!
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