ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
December 20, 2000


EXODUS STARTS: ALMOST HALF WILL 'HEAD SOUTH'. Report by DYLAN FITZSIMONS.

As magpie geese migrate to the northern shores of Australia, salmon and trout move between fresh and salt water, and the Arctic tern flies over 19,000 kilometres to escape the northern winter in sunny Antarctica, almost half of Central Australia's population, too, is departing for gentler environments.Nearly every second person who spoke to the Alice News in a survey last week are "head'n south" for some red-dirt respite.With school ending and government departments winding down their operations for the year, some long-term residents can't recall ever having spent Christmas in the Alice!Visiting interstate family seems to be the main factor encouraging locals to holiday elsewhere. "Colleen" will be enjoying her holidays in January away from Alice "because it's my birthday at that time of the year, and I'm having a celebration somewhere else"."Chris" is leaving to visit family, and Alan Murray is going to see his son in Sydney.Ali Morton is "going to Sydney to visit my relatives", and to "go bush walking".Ingo Metts will be leaving "because my family's in Queensland", but assures "we're coming back".Dave Anthony, however, is embarking on a big holiday that won't see him return to Alice Springs:"I've just come back from one trip and I'm off again in a week. "I'm actually going to move out all together, I've been here thirty- odd years without going anywhere really good ... so I'm off for a trip around Australia."Alice's holidaymakers are also looking out of the town for greater entertainment opportunities.Anna Perkins says she's looking forward to leaving because of a lack of entertainment locally. With two weeks off at the end of January, hers is the ideal holiday of many young people: to Adelaide for the Big Day Out – " because no good bands ever come [to Alice Springs], at least not in numbers" – and she'll also be going "night clubbing".Perhaps in confirmation of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution, the calling of the sea also influences the summers of Centralians: they leave the arid lands to return to more primordially linked beachside localities. Steve Raptrace says he's going away "because I scuba dive. It's pretty hard to scuba dive here". But Megan Crowe is staying put although "there's not a lot to do in Alice Springs during the holidays". And even if half of the town leave on holidays, someone has to stay behind to keep Alice Springs running. Work commitments are holding many of our respondents in town."Serge", clearly a workaholic, says: "No, I'm not going away. "I haven't been away for six years. I'm working, I'm always working."Also working is Debby, "because I haven't got holidays".Likewise Matthew Bailey: "At this stage ... I've got to work"; and Anne-Marie: "I can't get holidays from work".With several interest rate increases during the year, the reduced money supply may also explain why some Centralians are setting up their deck chairs at home rather than afar.Chelsea Lawrence is staying: "I've got no money."Sally Balfour also says "I can't afford it" – but clearly would like to.Erin Thomas is "leaving town [for good] half way through the holidays", so she's getting as much of Alice as she can before then.Every flock of migrating birds has one bringing up the rear, and in the movement of Centralians, Wil Foe is the one a little behind the pack.He's not going away over December-January "because we're going a way in May".Young Matt, downing his skateboard for just a moment, says he isn't going away because "my mum won't let me".With a slight majority of respondents not leaving over the Christmas – New Year holiday period, it appears that the long- lasting trend of the summer mass-exodus may be declining. Over the years, the Alice has grown, and continues to grow, to the point where holidays away from town seem a little less attractive, or necessary, to some, and many workers need to stay in town. NOT OVERSEASEven so, many locals will continue to take part in the annual migration, looking forward to spending time with family and enjoying entertainment opportunities not available in Alice.Interestingly, the News couldn't find anyone who was leaving the 7,682,300 square kilometres that makes up Australia for holidays overseas, perhaps explained by our incredibly weak currency.Some years ago people would say to each other at Christmas, "last one out of town turn off the lights".Today, "have a good one" seems more fitting.

CENTRAL ISSUES FOR THE YEAR 2001

PETER TOYNE MLA: Let's get The Alice going!
Where are the Alice and Central Australia trying to go in 2001 and what do we need to get there?My first thought is that the one place we definitely don't want to go is nowhere! It would represent a real loss of opportunity if the town and its region pulled up at the end of next year with the economy still flat, with social problems largely arising out of our excessive consumption of alcohol still running unchecked, and still suffering the disadvantages of being the largest collection of people living on the wrong side of the Berrimah line.The year 2001 offers some political opportunities for us to improve our position as a regional community. The NT and Federal elections will be due next year and it is a good time to review the quality and effectiveness of our representation.In Alice itself, two terms of representation by CLP members in all three seats has not served the town well. I cannot remember one occasion where any of the incumbents have offered public support to the town against inappropriate CLP decisions. Are they really suggesting that their party is perfect in every way?The treatment of Loraine Braham shows that towing the line of the CLP power brokers in Darwin offers no more certainty to political survival. For a fleeting moment it we saw see the hand of the Berrimah brokers extend from the monsoonal mists of Darwin to lift the unwanted piece from the chessboard and replace it with one more to their liking. Next year's Territory election is a chance to do something about this. While the Labor party will naturally want to win one or more seats in the town, our candidates must demonstrate a willingness to go to hell and back to advocate the interests of the people of Alice. The other great point of interest in the coming election is the likelihood that independent candidates will significantly shift the vote in the town seats. Loraine Braham may well decide to stand in Braitling. Meredith Campbell would be a strong independent candidate in Araluen should she choose to abandon the wishy washy positions she has taken on key issues in favor of more forthright opinions.In the bush seats, a combination of Federal and NT Labor members has served the people well in the past and there is a strong possibility of this outcome in the coming elections. We would want to set up urgent reforms based around labour market programs, education and health, to stem the continuing decline in the situation of Aboriginal people. Failure to achieve this will see further stresses being placed on the Territory budget and the quality of life of Territorians as a whole. Instead of moving forward we will be just marking time.The people of Alice and Central Australia will make their choices but I hope, for the good of the region, that they opt for political change rather than the status quo.

MINISTER FOR CENTRAL AUSTRALIA RICHARD LIM: Project led recovery.
As the New Year rapidly approaches, we tend to reflect on the year that is closing. The year 2000 will perhaps be best remembered by us all, for the Millennium celebrations and the Sydney 2000 Olympics.As Central Australians we shared our time in the spotlight, with the Olympic torch relay beginning its Australian journey at Uluru. I was privileged to have been a part of that historic occasion, taking my place beside thousands of other Australians as an Olympic Torch bearer. From there the flame made its way to Alice Springs, with Olympics Minister Michael Knight congratulating the Centre on a magnificent community celebration, saying the scene had been set for other torch celebrations throughout the country. My congratulations again to all those involved.The Honda Masters Games were again successfully held for the 8th time in Alice Springs. Nearly 4000 competitors from around the country took part in the October event, providing a multi million dollar boost to the local economy.The good rains have seen the pastoral industry enjoying a great season, while the construction industry has been kept busy with the $30 million Alice Springs Hospital redevelopment, and Centralian College extensions.This year also saw the release of a package of proposed works for the Todd River, including channel rehabilitation, a review of the functionality of the Casino Causeway and the construction of a levee bank on the old Eastside.The Alice in Ten project has continued to make good ground, with hundreds of public submissions and lots of community input regarding the various projects. Alice in Ten isn't about identifying a vision for Alice Springs in a given year; it's about assisting the community to constantly focus on the future. Achieving the vision will require the entire community and all levels of Government to work together.As we head into the New Year I am very excited and filled with a high level of optimism. We can look forward to the development of the $10 million Alice Springs convention centre, while we can also expect further outcomes from the Alice in Ten project. Financial closure is expected on the Alice Springs to Darwin rail link, making a long term dream of many Territorians a reality. We can also look forward to the Centre's tourism industry achieving benefit from the new marketing campaign and the exposure of the Olympics.Alice as a town is maturing. A level of transient residency continues, however over time, more and more people are calling Alice home, and are looking to have a say in the town's future. At the same time, people from remote areas within Central Australia are increasingly accessing services from the town. We have an envious range of activities for all residents, and the level of social infrastructure in Alice must be the best in Australia when compared to other similar centres.In the coming year Government will look to ensure that the economy is stimulated to ensure that employment options are available. The Desert Knowledge project is one such initiative. The new hospitality training facility at Centralian College will also create jobs and first class hospitality staff.Australia's Centenary of Federation will be an exciting time for the Centre, with plans for the Yeperenye Dreaming Festival in full swing. On an ongoing note, preparations are being made for a proposed Alice Springs Festival, which would precede the Yeperenye Dreaming Festival and hopefully become a biannual event.I believe that all residents share an expectation, that whilst Government must pursue major objectives, focus is maintained to ensure that basic services and the social health of the community are considered. All in all the future for Central Australia is a bright one. As the new Minister for Central Australia, I will work hard to ensure that the residents of Central Australia continue to receive the representation required, and I'm looking forward to working with you in the New Year.

MAYOR FRAN ERLICH: We must diversify.
There are many things of which we can be proud in Alice Springs: excellent infrastructure, a striking and beautiful landscape, a more stable and committed population than before. I feel very positive about our future but we also face challenges. We've had a period of slow growth this year but there are signs that the future will be better. The Convention Centre and the hospital upgrade will be beneficial to the town. The railway will bring challenges for some, such as the transport sector, however the opportunities are limited only by our imagination and initiative. We need to diversify our economic base. Some companies have already shown that living in Alice is no barrier to e- commerce and projects such as the Desert Knowledge Consortium will capitalise on unique arid zone expertise.We need to expand employment and training and address skill shortages in specific areas. It is imperative for our future that we find ways of keeping our young people here or attracting them back after training elsewhere. One of the biggest challenges is the education and training of young Aboriginal people so they can participate fully in the life of the town and our future.Arrernte people's Native Title rights in Alice Springs have been recognised and they are keen to contribute to decisions in partnership with both the Town Council and the Territory Government. I look forward to their input and developing the relationship.Council has recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tangentyere Council, which I regard as a positive step towards reconciliation. This could be a blueprint for future agreements. There are many benefits for the whole town, not just economic, if all the organisations providing community services can work more closely together.There has, as yet, been no formal response from the Licensing Commission or the NT government on community reaction to the "Dollars Made from Broken Spirits" report on alcohol issues. One of the first actions by the new Council this year was to formulate our response and recommendations for action. We invited many community organisations to give us their views and these were passed on to the Licensing Commissioner and Minister for The Centre.It is an excellent opportunity for action on these longstanding issues. The new year should see some positive progress and concrete moves to combat this problem. It is not something which can be solved overnight and remedies must include actions on a range of issues such as health, housing and education. There is, however, a great deal of goodwill and expertise in town to help towards lessening the problem.Environmental issues will be, as always, crucial to living sustainably in our arid environment. The recent release of the new Flood Brochure has increased residents' awareness of Alice Springs being a very flood-prone town. Work on weed eradication and sand removal is being carried out in the southern part of the river near the Gap. The NT Government has agreed to add funds to those already granted to the Town Council by the Federal government, for a levee bank on the Eastside. Other proposals such as continuing Stephens Road over the range to link with Sadadeen Road will also increase mobility during high river flows. Community interest in waste minimisation will continue to be high. The installation of a weighbridge at the Landfill will enable Council to keep accurate records on what goes into the landfill. When charges are instituted in early January there will be an incentive for people to separate their loads and utilise the "Tip Shop" before going over the weighbridge.Council has worked hard to set up and maintain good working relationships with other tiers of Government this year and we look forward to continuing this in 2001. One of the big issues facing Local Government will be the Reform Agenda and negotiations will continue on the many facets of this. Discussion about amalgamating the services and administrations of community councils potentially has enormous benefits for them and I will watch these negotiations with interest.

ATSIC COMMISSIONER ALISON ANDERSON: Let's talk about the treaty.
The most important issue on the agenda in the new year will be the treaty between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians. I think all the leaders within Alice Springs need to sit down and talk about the treaty. We have to have a Central Australian perspective on the national treaty and involve Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in discussions so that it is a united front with people leading it, talking about it in a partnership, rather than fighting with each other. I'm on the national treaty committee and I need to start involving people at a regional level so that I can start feeding the national body with what people are saying here. The other thing that should be on the agenda at the regional level is the grog issue.We need to really start to put strategies in place to combat the alcohol problems we have in Alice Springs.Minimal restrictions are not enough. People are crying out for help and we are in a position to offer that help. We really need to get the town working together, non-Indigenous people and Indigenous people, to combat drugs, alcohol and any sort of problem we have. If we can work in a collaborative partnership together, anything's possible.As ATSIC zone commissioner, I'm constantly talking to agencies about coming together with ATSIC to develop better outcomes in education, health, grog issues for Indigenous people for this whole region. Economic development is something we can look at under ATSIC's regional autonomy concept that can work in with he Territory Government's local government reform agenda. That will be one way of getting economic development off the ground and making people more self-reliant, self-sufficient.I've played a major part, along with other players, in those discussions which are well advanced now with the Western MacDonnells' councils. We're not saying at any stage we are going to take over services, it's a governance issue: you'd have an autonomous body sitting there saying this is what can happen on our land, this is what we want in education, this is what we want in health, this is what we want in roads, infrastructure ad economic development, then it's up to those service providers to works towards the outcome that the autonomous body has outlined. Local government reform is something ATSIC, health, education, and the land councils can all be really proud of. Reconciliation has done a lot to move issues and relationships along, but regional authority is the way to go, giving real power back to the people. People are willing to change if they are being consulted properly. Land rights was set up to get land back for people, and it's done that. If we want to go beyond that to achieving economic development I think it needs to be a true partnership, thorough consultation with the traditional owners, plus have a land council involved in making the traditional owners understand the agreements the two parties have, so that there's no comeback on either party.People are always willing to do something if they know they are going to benefit from it.Women have taken a leadership role in art and craft in most of the Aboriginal communities, in the night patrols, in aged care, and also with substance abuse. In Central Australia you see more and more women taking the initiative to do things. Women are the major part of bringing communities together and keeping them together. They're the first people to jump up to offer themselves for programs so they can improve their situation. What we've got to look at now is involving our men. I think the men have been left out too much in programs. We need to bring men into the work of bringing families and communities together. I think people themselves taking a leadership role to make sure that things are getting done will achieve a lot of the outcomes we hope for.Look at Laramba community, for example. They've got an excision on Napperby Station, about 120 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs, with 120 to 180 people living there. From the very beginning the development of their community has been done by everybody. The fencing around the football oval has been done by the guys there, they've got a stage, a softball diamond, nothing's come from outside, they purchased the materials and did it all themselves. The Chairman of the Papunya Regional Council, Clarrie Rabinya and his wife Pam Lynch, the council administrator, they have just gone ahead and got the community to work with the CDEP program and even without program dollars.They've achieved a lot of outcomes with the Skinny Babies program, the diabetes program. Their community's not heard of, they've done it with minimal money but because the community's got that initiative and things have grown from there. That's down to leadership by Clarrie and Pam, and the willingness of the whole community to make it work. There's a lot we can learn from Laramba.

MANY USES FOR $3m CENTRE IN THE DESERT.

A combined civic and cultural centre at Warburton is the new $3m home for local government in the Western Australian Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku, as well as for the Warburton Arts Project's permanent collection of over 300 works.Warburton is on the Outback Highway in the Western Desert region, half way between Kalgoorlie and Alice Springs.Visitors to the community will have what is, in remote Australia, a rare opportunity: seeing contemporary art work of excellence in a purpose built gallery.The Warburton Arts Project collection – paintings and art glass, as well as archival material, traditional artifacts and historical photographs, all fully documented – is said to be the most substantial Aboriginal art collection in Australia under direct ownership and control of Aboriginal people.The community's desire to use it as a basis for developing sustainable economic activity has been central to the Cultural and Civic Centre (Ngaanyatjarra Tjulyuru) Project, nine years in the making, and finally opened in October this year by WA Premier Richard Court.The community sees the move as one of "engagement with the wider community", as is their local government, "one of the few mainstream Aboriginal majority local governments".A community statement says: "The issues of reconciliation and communication with other Australians is the most important issue facing Ngaanyatjarra people into the next century and is a crucial part of this project."Ngaanyatjarra Tjulyuru will be an enduring testament to a maturing Australian national identity, which embraces all Australians in the year of the Centenary of Federation and the era of reconciliation".The building itself, designed by Tania Dennis (Insideout Architects), with extensive community and regional consultation through all its phases, is described as "living architecture", reflecting "contemporary Ngaanyatjarra values".The landscaping, credited to Alice Springs designer/educator Jude Prichard, is "intrinsic to the project", grounding it in the central desert landscape. Arts project coordinator, Albie Viegas, says there has always been a commitment by the project to artists' using good quality materials, making for enduring work, as well as to choice about whether or not to sell work.Ngaanyatjarra cultural maintenance is a long term objective of the project, and has underpinned the development of the permanent collection. Some of the paintings in the collection have been used as evidence in native title claims, says Ms Viegas.However, the project has also worked to develop a market and there is a retail area in the cultural centre where visitors can purchase art and craft. PICTURED (clockwise from top left): The new centre; WA Premier Richard Court at the opening; the gallery section, and an aerial view of Warburton with the new centre in the top part of the frame.

GROG SCOURGE CUTS FAMILIES: SHAMING CAN BE A WEAPON. Part Three of a series by KIERAN FINNANE.

Having a beer at the end of the day is a part of Dave Price's culture; he's from an Irish Catholic working-class family from Newcastle, but has lived in the Centre since the late ‘ seventies. His wife of 20 years, Bess Nungarrayi, a Warlpiri woman from Yuendumu, didn't drink alcohol for the first ten years of their marriage but now drinks in moderation. In their mixed-race extended family, some people drink, some don't.How has alcohol, so often a scourge for families in the Centre, been managed?KIERAN FINNANE reports, in this third part of her series. (See Parts One and Two in the News issues of Dec 6 and Dec 13, or on the web.)
"The family is divided between those who drink and those who don't," says Dave. "Those who don't, despise drinking and they really get upset about it. "Those who do, get into it with a great deal of enthusiasm and have drinking habits that are not at all good for them in health terms and social terms. So, it's a big issue."I've made it fairly clear that that kind of drinking and the behaviour that goes with it is not going to happen here. "That lead to a few clashes with a few people but I reckon it's respected now."In that we've certainly had the support of the non-drinkers of the family They back us all the way. "It's an issue for every Aboriginal family. They see the young fellers and more frequently now the young women literally destroying themselves with grog. "They can't stop them and they can't say no to them because they''re familEven when they know money's going to grog, they will still hand it over because they cannot say no to brothers, sons, nephews. I do say no and I lecture people and that works well because they get really bored with it, they don't want to put up with it."The Price's daughter, Jacinta, says shaming can also work well: "It's usually the drinkers who ask you for money and who you rarely get anything back from ."I usually say well, don't ask me for money, I don't have much money, and you never give me any money, why should I support you if you don't support me?"Then they change their tune and ask for $2 just for food. I say well, if you didn't spend your money on alcohol you'd have enough for food. "In the end they give up and leave you alone." If Dave's a big help in saying no to relatives, Bess says she also knows when to help Dave out: "When we go to parties and I know he doesn't want to hang around any longer, I say we've got to go now."How smoothly would things go if Dave's family were living in town?Jacinta laughs: "It would go smoothly for Mum but it might not go so smoothly for Dad!"Dave: "My family basically leave you alone. You never ask for help unless you can't possibly avoid it, and if you do you pay it back. It's that kind of mentality, that working class thing."But there are certainly things that my family do that Bess regards as very odd. "For example, my sister does therapeutic massage, and when I go down I get her to give me a massage. Bess finds that utterly outrageous, sisters do not touch brothers like that." How do they deal with that between them?Dave is defiant – "It's my sister, my family, my massage." – but Bess says quietly,"I wouldn't have let him if I was with him. I would tell him not to do it."GRIEVINGAfter years of experience, Dave and Jacinta both think that the Warlpiri approach to grieving is better than the Irish Australian way.Dave: "I don't go for the cutting on the thighs and the whacking on the head but Bess and I have both lost very close loved ones, and Bess has gone through sorry business. "That's been far more effective for her than what I went through when my Mum died."At a funeral all Bess' family line up and lie down on the coffin. As you do it, the sisters or brothers of the deceased ( it used to be just brothers but more and more sisters are sharing that role) as you lie on the coffin they rub their hands on your back. "When I do it, they speak in English, for everyone else it's in Warlpiri, and I really appreciate that."They tell the deceased your brother's come to say goodbye and I find that very, very effective. "When my mother died that was what I wanted to do."The three of us were standing there with my family and it would have been so right to do that, but if I had gone up and thrown myself down on my mother's coffin my family would have thought I was having a nervous breakdown. "We didn't do that but we laid our hands on the coffin and said goodbye that way. I thought, hang on, I'm in a whitefeller situation now, but I'm just so used to Bess' way, we've been to so many funerals now."Jacinta: "I think you are able to release more of your sadness and come away feeling much, much better. You've let go after a Warlpiri funeral. "My grandmother meant a lot to me, being at her funeral, just sitting there in such a sterile environment, and the family only whimpering in the churích ... at a Warlpiri funeral everyone just cries and wails and lets it all out. "I come away feeling happy, relieved, you know that they've gone on and you can go on too."
NEXT: Inside / outside: language and skin colour. (This Alice News series will be continued in the new year – first issue out on February 7.)

SPORT 2001: FINKE, HORSE RACING AND AUSSIE RULES TO BLOSSOM!

Pioneers will again be the side to beat in Aussie Rules, the Finke Desert Race will be huge with a solid sponsor behind it, and on the race track, a six figure budget is set to make the Alice Cup the biggest ever.These will be some of the highlights in sports mad Central Australia in the New Year.As is the norm, sporting competitions go into recess over the December-January period. Sport begins again on the Australia Day weekend when locals have returned from their pilgrimage to the southern surf. On the days surrounding our national holiday, our cricketers will engage in a three day Super Eight competition. This innovative form of the game has rapidly gained popularity because of its high scoring nature. The Masters Games this year further promoted the game in Alice and keen competition from all clubs is assured. The One Day final of the domestic competition on February 3 will cap off this feast of modified cricket.In Rugby Union, the Footrot Flats challenge between Australia and New Zealand has in the past been a social day to mark the resumption of that code's competition. Normally this clash is held on Australia Day, but it may have to be transferred to Waitangi Day due to the top dressing of Anzac Oval during January.Major sporting events to mark 2001 then kick in from all quarters of our community. The Alice Springs Turf Club have recently opened a pavilion which provides twenty-first century comfort to the punters of the sport of kings. Throughout April the pavilion will be the focus for Cup Carnival, which will build up until May Day when the Cup itself will be run. Since Lassetters announced their intention to lift the prize money of this race into the six figure bracket, interest has come from stables based all over the land.In June, over the Queen's Birthday weekend, the Tattersalls Finke Desert race captivates the attention of Centralians. It is the chance for campers to line the route from Alice to the Finke, braving the elements with camp fires blazing. Again the star attraction of the race will be Stephen Greenfield who has won the race outright three times on his beloved Honda. "Greenie" is the king of the Finke, but there will be plenty of motor cyclists and four wheel competitors out to beat him. Regular front runner Mark Burrows, Paul Simpson in his Jimco, and Bruce Garland with Harry Suzuki in their Jackaroo, will head up the 200 or so starters in the sprint to Finke and back.In August, the Australian Safari will again be routed through the Territory, giving all Territorians a second chance to observe the likes of Greenfield and Garland, somewhere between Alice and Mindal Beach.The feature event of September will undoubtedly be the Central Australian Football League finals series. Again Pioneers will be the team to beat at Traeger Park. Graham Smith, Minahan Medalist of 2000, should head a line up including the mercurial, high leaping Clinton Pepperill, and the fleet of foot Taylor twins. In the West camp, Noel Teasdale has already been appointed coach and the presence of this former Brownlow medalist at Traeger should ensure keen observation from the hill.Complementing the CAFL action will be the further development of the Country Competition. Saturdays at Traeger Park have become the focal point of sporting endeavour, with teams from the bush vying for premiership points. As an indicator of the potential of community football, the game is being played in the bush throughout our current summer. In the Tanami, eight teams from Willowra, Mt Allen, Nyirripi and Yuendumu are playing matches each week night and on Saturdays. To kick off the year in Australian Rules the Desert Warriors, a representative squad from the Country League, are to stage a rematch against the Tiwi Islands on Australia Day at Marrara, in Darwin.This year the Warriors comprehensively accounted for the Tiwis at Traeger Park. The return challenge will no doubt be in Tiwi's favour, being played in the wet season and in Darwin. However the locals lads are in full training under coach Sid Anderson, and the experience as a curtain raiser to the NTFL versus Port Adelaide will do nothing but good for the players and the promotion of Country Football.In terms of domestic sport Rugby Union have had a real topsy turvy start to this season. The Eagles who didn't take to the field in the first round have bounced back, accounting for the Kiwis a fortnight ago, and then the Cubs last Saturday night. The resumption of the CARU premiership competition in February will see the Kiwi Warriors still sitting on top and firm favourites for another flag. But beware, stranger things have happened in sport and the Cubs, Eagles and Devils could stage some surprises.In cricket the mid season break sees all four teams poised and "in with a show" to be there in the March finals. Feds led the way early, only to lose a succession of key players, seeking to improve their game elsewhere. West, who looked to be wooden spooners, have benefited from the presence of Greg Aldam, Ken Vowles and David Vadiveloo in recent weeks, and they are now a competitive outfit. RSL and Rovers have shown that they too are most capable of winning the premiership this year.During the off season in Rugby League, Ron Raper, the CARFL development officer has been "flat out" revitalising the game in the Centre. He has been to Tennant Creek on a promotional visit, and out of his training sessions brought a squad of schoolboys to Alice Springs last week to take on the local lads at the ASHS Oval. Catering for seniors, a referees' and coaches' camp is expected to be a prelude to season 2001, with support from the NTRL and the Institute of Sport. With a host of newly qualified officials, the League has no reason for not getting off to a flying start. In administrative terms, a successful AGM has been conducted and Rab Watkins has again taken on the Presidency. Watkins has already been able to announce that mid next year a national Under 17s championship for developing states will be held at Anzac Oval.The local competition will have the full commitment of the West, United, Central Memo and Vikings clubs, with the selection of a representative side for the NT Championships in May being a carrot for all players to produce their best form early. At Ross Park courts, the Alice Springs Netball Association will again provide competition for over 700 players, from the juniors through to A Grade. At the elite level, the Giants and Sundowners proved to be the powerhouse clubs of the year 2000. However Federal, West and Memo Rovers each showed they are on the rise with young players in their ranks capable of lifting the standard bar such that competition is close throughout the year.Table tennis is one of the quiet achievers in Alice Springs sport. Played on a Tuesday and Thursday night at the ASHS gym, the three divisions allow for over 80 players to compete. Graham Shaunessey has forged a profile for the game in the Centre and behind the scenes is actively seeking out a home base and club room facilities for table tennis.Cycling is mid way though their track season, and while some riders head south for racing in the big smoke, competition will resume in Alice at the velodrome in February. Numbers of track riders are up, with a host of rising stars including Chris Jongewaard, Stephanie Muscat, and the Rhodes youngsters making for a good second half to the season. In the winter cyclists take to the road, where tours to Glen Helen, Jim's Place and through Emily Gap to the east attract a healthy pack of riders. Another attraction of the cycling calender is the ride from Alice to Kings Canyon, orchestrated by John Dermody and Fred Twohig. The three day soiree over the Picnic Holiday weekend engenders a camaraderie between riders which spills over to the rest of the cycling season.From February, of a Saturday morning, the Alice Springs Pool will be the starting point for the Alice Springs Triathlon Club's activities. At the front of the pack in the multi disciplined challenge are Loie Sharp, and Tony Fitzpatrick, with BA Kerslake, Nicole Green, Wendy Heywood, brother Duane, and Ben Clark pressing on their heels in each event. The club structures courses to suit the needs of triathletes at all performance levels and new members are always welcome.Indoors eight ball will begin its new year with NT Junior Titles and later the conduct of the Max and Chrissy Osoinick Doubles competition at the Federal club. This Australia Day, competition brings eight ball players from across town together to remember these fine contributors to the sport. Summer and then winter competitions will follow, interspersed by the NT Titles.In all Alice Springs will offer over 50 sports, from bowls to bow hunting in 2001.

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