ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
February 13, 2002.



COUNCIL SURPLUS FRACAS: GOVERNMENT PUTS FOOT DOWN. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

The NT Government, which has the power to sack the town council, has told aldermen to defer any actions in the budget surplus furore until a departmental investigation is completed. "These issues are now suspended within the enquiry," says Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne, who is dealing with the issue together with Local Government Minister Jack Ah Kit. And an alderman supporting a motion of no confidence in the council's senior management on January 29 now says: "I am not embarrassed to admit that I was wrong."Says Ald Annette Smith: "That we have gone off half cocked and didn't follow due process is shameful." A move to overturn the censure of CEO Nick Scarvelis and three other senior staff failed at a closed meeting of council last Thursday in a narrow six to five vote. The Alice News has learned from a reliable source that aldermen Jenny Mostran, David Koch, Geoff Bell, Bob Corby, Samih Habib and Michael Jones voted to keep the censure in place. Mayor Fran Kilgariff, as well as aldermen Smith, Raelene Beale, Susan Jefford and Russell Naismith wanted it rescinded. FRICTION Says Ald. Smith: "I supported the intent of the motion initially because of frustration. I was aware of the friction. "I was looking for a catalyst for change. "It took me 30 minutes to realise my mistake." She says she "tried to defer and amend the motion" on January 29. "I believe the motion is a denial of natural justice. "It is way too encompassing." Ald Smith says the buck stops with the aldermen who are the ultimate management of the council. "We should have dealt with this situation earlier to avoid crisis." Ald Smith says a committee is now being formed to "look at the function of the council, restoring public confidence". But Dr Toyne says for the moment the council "can meet and discuss any other matters and make decisions on them. "But decisions on the senior staff and any censure against council members based on [the budget surplus] issues cannot be put into effect before the enquiry has reached its findings. "So it's basically frozen that area. "The aldermen should take responsibility for what has gone wrong. "What we're trying to prevent here are decisions being made without full access to objective information." Dr Toyne says the council's financial reporting system will be investigated by a private firm of accountants "so it is absolutely independent and objective". "The Office of Local Government will be looking at the human dynamics, [how far] the dysfunctions extend and to what degree there has been a breakdown in trust and for what reasons. "The government is trying to be helpful rather than the opposite" and it may be that objectivity within the council has "fallen away because of people's emotions". "We believe the Minister has these powers. "Where an impasse has been reached there can be a mediation through this sort of process." Dr Toyne says Mr Ah Kit has "responded very quickly" to a request for intervention from the council. "The longer it is left the more damage would be done." Meanwhile Federal Member Warren Snowdon, who says he is interested that Commonwealth grants received are "spent properly and that people are accountable for the way these monies are used," was less measured in a comment on the fracas. PILLORIEDHe says he's concerned that there may be "victimisation of management here at the town council for political purposes. "I can see no good reason why you want to pillory senior management, in their absence, without giving them a reasonable opportunity to report, especially when there is a surplus. "In most parts of Australia you'd be given a gong," says Mr Snowdon. "But somehow or other we've got a coterie of CLP supporters and followers who seem intent on eroding the leadership of the town council. "I think this is not just an attack on the management but also the Mayor, and it's unreasonable. "Publicly vilifying, implicitly, which they have done, is not responsible and not the way we should be dealing with paid employees of the town council or any government agency. "There is no hint of any misappropriation of funds here. "If [aldermen] haven't asked the right questions, don't blame the senior management if they haven't been given the answers they want. POLITICS "I suggest the CLP take the politics out of the town council and deal with local issues fairly," says Mr Snowdon. Meanwhile Mr Scarvelis, in a media release last week, says, "every effort was made to provide aldermen with accurate reporting of the financial status of the council's financial position. "The council received a regular monthly report showing income and expenditure details for all financial accounts. "It also identified salaries and wages, capital and operating components, and was accompanied by explanatory notes. "These reports are presented monthly to the Finance and Management Committee. "Officers were always available to answer questions. "Elected members were also aware of the projects which would need to be carried over into this financial year. "These were discussed in budget workshops, at estimates reviews and in officer reports," says the release. "Aldermen participated in decisions relating to the budget through budget workshops, and at the Finance and Management Committee meetings, chaired by Alderman Koch." Mr Scarvelis says any misunderstandings must be clarified, and he welcomes the review. He says: "I regret the apparent politicisation of this matter. "It is distractive to the achievement of good community governance."

SAVING RURAL AREA: WILL THEY LOCK UP BERT?

Bert Cramer is risking his freedom to save Alice Springs' rural residential areas, which he fears may soon face massive bushfires. He's defying the total fire ban by using, on his 19 square kilometre Temple Bar property, a home-built burner (pictured above right), creating fire breaks on the Ilparpa land overgrown with vegetation after record rains. The well known eccentric says the machine is perfectly safe: it cuts a swathe about the width of a lawn mower and at the same time burns the grass, making laborious collection of the clippings unnecessary. Bert, aged 74, a former Fire Captain and local resident since 1955, says he operates the machine only during the night, when it is cool and still. He's had no trouble using it, clearing vegetation from areas around sheds, and his collection of about 10 vintage Land Rovers (pictured at left). Bert says he's now trying to get the fire authorities interested in the use of the burner. So far they've paid scant attention to the rebel's scheme. The contraption is working much faster than mowers and "whipper snippers" which, he says, would use up all the fishing line in Australia to cope with the record growth in the area. The machine can operate in rough and stony ground inaccessible to conventional cutters. Patent pending!

MOZZIES MAY HAVE KILLED US WOMAN! Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

An American woman, diagnosed with Murray Valley Encephalitis (MVE) in Alice Springs last summer, has died in the United States, but this summer there have been no new cases of MVE, due in part to a dramatic drop in mosquito numbers.The death of the former employee of the Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap was confirmed by the Australian deputy chief of the facility, John McCarthy.Mr McCarthy could not say whether the direct cause of death was MVE."All I can say is that she had a very bad case of the disease, she was treated for a long time in Adelaide and was eventually ‘medi-vacced' to the United States where she died a couple of months ago."He said it was assumed that the woman had contracted MVE in Alice Springs, although she had visited North Queensland shortly before her diagnosis. MVE is a mosquito-borne disease. The woman was one of two people who may have contracted MVE in Alice Springs last year. The other, a German man who was diagnosed in his home country after spending time in Alice Springs and the Top End, has since recovered.The sentinel chicken flock, monitored by the Department of Health and Community Services (DHCS) has not revealed any viral activity, including MVE, so far this summer. Sentinel chickens are not useful for monitoring the less dangerous Ross River virus as it does not pass through a bird cycle.There has been one known local case of Ross River virus this summer.Monitoring has indicated dramatically fewer mosquitoes present around Alice Springs. Traps in Ilparpa Valley held from 22 up to 509 mosquitoes on February 6; the town trap held 14. These figures compare to a record 17,500 in one trap last summer. Senior Environmental Health Officer for DHCS, Philippe Porigneaux, says the drop in numbers is due to several factors including on-going drainage, by the town council and PAWA, of the Ilparpa swamp, which has reduced its level by around 300 mls. Also, there has been no discharge of effluent into the swamp for several weeks.The summer has been predominantly hot and dry. The last significant rain, falling in early December, saw a rise in mosquito numbers, with 600 being caught in one trap.This triggered an application of the chemical Altosid across the entire 130 hectare swamp on December 23. Altosid is a growth inhibitor, preventing the emergence of adult insects. It is the female adult mosquito Culex annulirostris which bites humans and which may, in the right conditions, become a disease-carrier. It is thought, although not scientifically proven, that infected mosquitoes travel into Central Australia on monsoonal winds and rains coming from the north and north-west. "We've been lucky in that this kind of weather hasn't occurred this season," says Mr Porigneaux.Mosquito traps are monitored weekly and a rise in numbers, accompanied by other contributing factors, would again trigger an application of Altosid.At Pine Gap, Mr McCarthy says their fogging regime was stepped up after the now-deceased woman's diagnosis, in consultation with health authorities."Being a big employer, we take the threat of mosquito-borne diseases very seriously and have done for a long time," he says.

ANOTHER FAREWELL. Column by ANN CLOKE.

People coming and going, that's what the essence of the Alice has always been: some stay longer, others leave, taking with them memories of the incredible people here, lifestyle and desertscape. Some even return! Late last year Terry and Alison and others hosted a farewell party for long-term Alice residents, Ron and Ina: they have moved into their seaside home and David and I are pleased to report (after a lazy afternoon spent sitting on their veranda watching the waves) they are surviving in the south. Ina wants to do a spot of diving (difficult in the Alice) and Ron has other interests he wishes to pursue… he'll probably end up as self-appointed Mayor of the Southern Coastal Regions in the not too distant future. Speeches and emotions ran high as people tried to express what an Alice sans Tremaines would mean to them personally. Whenever any of us leave the Alice, we become roving ambassadors for the town. It's important that we do get out there and promote the attractions of Alice Springs, let the world at large know that life in the Centre is fulfilling, that there are still many business and personal opportunities on offer here, that we do have sealed roads and that Alice Springs is actually in the NT! Even though, as David often points out, I am not gainfully employed full-time, I still look forward to "Thank God it's Friday" drinks: we sometimes catch up with Stephanie, John, Fiona, Chris, Joanne, Tony and others… We share mutual friends who now live elsewhere. In December it was our turn to catch up with a couple of them in Adelaide. (David said "Don't mention my operation", so I won't, except to say it was successful, AND my choice of vocation was correct – I would not have made a good nurse.) In Adelaide I shared a bottle of wine with my ex-business partner and friend, Diana, and David and I dined with Phil, accountant extraordinaire and the most eligible bachelor to escape the Alice (in 1992 anyway!). Now he has Anne and their children, Sophie and Tom: the joys of city living so close to the coast seem to outweigh the pangs of missing Alice and friends here. Minna and Paul leave next week. They've been major contributors to life in Alice for decades and will be missed, but this is a new phase of life and they have much to look forward to in Adelaide. The "meet, get to know, farewell" syndrome is a part of Centralian life: it makes for an exciting mix of people from different backgrounds and all walks of life, and we accept newcomers readily. It's always unsettling when friends leave: it creates a huge gap in the community and on the social calendar. Names are crossed off guest lists, for a while there are empty chairs but eventually others are invited to regular get-togethers and dinners. The up side is that we don't lose touch with friends. We simply catch up with them in different places, some more accessible, more exotic, than others.

ALICE TO BE SHORT 1000 PLANE SEATS A WEEK. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Alice Springs will be 1000 airline seats a week short from "about July onwards" as there is now little hope to have a second airline – let alone a third – operating here before well into the new financial year, according to CATIA general manager Craig Catchlove. And before that, peak periods such as Easter are already almost booked out, while loadings at other times are generally around 90 per cent. The tourism industry's outlook isn't helped by the refusal last week of acting Prime Minister John Anderson to commit Federal funds to the major national event of the Year of the Outback, for which Alice Springs has been chosen as the venue. Mr Anderson, in town last week, said: "Alice Springs is the best known, here in Australia and internationally" amongst all outback centres. But he wouldn't talk money: "I don't want to do that today. I don't want the focus to be on money today." So when will the announcement be made? "When I've finalised our approach which will have to be done in the context of the Budget." UP IN AIR This, of course, would leave in the air planning and promotion for the September fixture until mid year. In fact Mr Anderson wasn't even sure of the event's name – "Outback Central 2002, Songlines from the Alice" – referring to it as the "planned … ah … conference here, towards the end of the year". On the brighter side, the impending opening of the convention centre is likely to bring the sorely needed big spenders into the town. The Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau (SCVB) says international convention delegates to Sydney last year spent $749 per day, over nine times more than other international tourists. A study showed significant increases in total spending in areas such as, domestic air travel (up 87 per cent), shopping (up 21 per cent), tours (up 78 per cent) accommodation (up 7 per cent) and restaurants (up 10 per cent). Based on delegates attending this years' events in Sydney won by the SCVB, $117m will be spent on accommodation, $60.7m on shopping and $41.2m in restaurants – all in NSW, of course. "As a result of the global economic slowdown, international tourists are spending less. "However this study shows visitors attracted by conventions are defying this trend and continue to spend at high levels," says SCVB. SEPTEMBER 11 Meanwhile the Tourism Export Council says international visitor arrivals figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for December 2001 show 60,000 less visitors came to Australia than the same month in 2000. This is a 10.7 per cent year-to-year decrease and means Australia suffered a decline in arrivals for the fourth month in a row post-September 11. "Based on individual visitor expenditure estimates this represents a minimum $600 million lost in foreign exchange earnings. "If you look at the figures for the entire year of 2001 we saw 4.8 million visitors compared to over 4.9 in 2000," says the council. "Therefore, 2001 experienced negative growth of 2.6 per cent which is tremendously disappointing considering estimates at the start of the year predicted a growth of 8.3 per cent."

FALLING BEHIND IN THE NUMBERS GAME.

Alice Springs is groping in the dark when it comes to hard economic data that are up to date. A "public discussion paper" released by Alice in Ten in 1999 put the annual value of tourism at $287m in the region, including $159m in the "Alice Springs subre-gion" and the remainder in the "Uluru and Watarrka [King's Canyon] subregion". Mining was a close second with $241m and cattle a distant third with $17m. It does not appear these figures have been updated by Alice in Ten. The pastoral figues, for one, are likely to be at least double in the wake of a bumper season. CATIA's Craig Catchlove has now called for comprehensive annual summaries which indicate which industries – in the town of Alice Springs itself – are going up or down. He says there are raw numbers, but there is no financial information about Alice Springs in isolation.With respect to the tourism industry, "we have the number of people but not the dollars for Alice Springs itself," says Mr Catchlove. He says the latest data comparing tourism earnings in the town with other industries was in a town council publication, "Economic Profile", from 1998. "I would like to see figures as a whole, what is the relative worth of all the industries, are they going up or are they going down. "These figures may be out there in very disparate forms but I'd like to see them in one document that is an effective summary of our region." PLANNINGMr Catchlove says these data, which should be revised at least annually, are vital for any strategic planning for the town. He says popular wisdom is that tourism is the biggest private enterprise earner, closely followed by mining – each worth around $300m a year – but that tourism is by far the biggest employer and has a greater impact on the local economy than mining. Mining in the region is almost entirely confined to Normandy North Flinders Mines giant Granites and Tanami gold ventures, some 500 km north-west of Alice Springs. Manager Leigh Taylor says they will produce 600,000 ounces of gold this year, worth more than $300m. But the benefit of this vast income to the town of Alice Springs is difficult to assess. Many of the supplies are sourced from interstate. There are 600 people working at the two mines. However, 400 of them are spending their R&R in Darwin or interstate. If they're heading to the east coast and Adelaide they stage through Alice Springs. The mine has direct flights from the Granites to Perth and Adelaide. Only around 200 of the staff live in The Alice.

SCAFFOLDING - THE FAST LANE TO READING SKILLS. Part Two of a report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Everyone has a copy of the novel. To start with, the teacher reads it aloud, probably a chapter a day, so that the class is moving through the book. In the course of that, the teacher picks particular passages that have a teaching point. Paul: "For instance the first chapter might have some really rich work on orientation. " We'll spend the rest of the double lesson on a couple of paragraphs, looking at the family, where they'd moved to, what their new house was like. "We work through the text explicitly, it's on the overhead projector, and kids are coming out, marking certain key features of the text. "There's constant reference to how the author is operating. "A lot of the children don't make that distinction by themselves, that the author is consciously working his or her audience, that the story doesn't just unfold – the story is a product of how the author is manipulating the text to engage us, the audience. "After you've looked at specific language features, then you graduate on to a stage called Transformations. "You'll put that piece of text up on a story board to look closely at a particular aspect that is your teaching point for that day. It might be how, in a Paul Jennings story, the suspense is set up. "You'll pull out key features: how does that impact on the writing? It becomes quite easy to see how it loses a lot of its potency without these adverbial phrases, for example, and that's quite high order work. "I've had a couple of students who were testing at Year One level, yet they still were able to understand and be a part of this work." Why wouldn't it be the case that only the quickest students cotton on and answer all the questions? This is where a lot of hard work for the teacher comes in, both before and during class. All the dialogue around the text is pre-formulated: step by step knowledge of the text is constructed for the whole class, everyone knows what everyone else knows and everyone can answer the questions. Paul: "You've given the answer, talked around it, made it explicit up front, then the question comes. "It's not playing this game, I've got the knowledge, I'll go fishing for it and you over here, you'll have a fair idea because you're very literate children in this class, and this large group in the middle has a little bit of an idea, and this one third of the children here aren't even in the hunt and never will be." Fiona: "They don't see where the answers are coming from because they haven't had the exposure to really literate features of complex texts. They are supported to engage in the class using these higher level texts. "Even though they can't do it independently, they can do it with support."At the same time in a mainstream class you'll have children who come from a very literate background so you have to extend them – you give them the skills to write like Roald Dahl or Paul Jennings." What hard evidence is there that Scaffolding works? Fiona, former principal at Yipirinya School, introduced the program there. "After 18 months a senior class at Yipirinya went from Transition level to being able to read a Year Seven text. "It wasn't as if they didn't have any skills: because they'd been at school they'd had exposure to a variety of ways of seeing words and understanding words, but they could never put it together to make a lot of meaning, and they weren't challenged to read higher level texts." Fiona says their reading skills transferred to their speech. She says research by the program's originators, Brian Gray and Wendy Cowie, at the University of Canberra, indicates that written English is a vehicle and means of improving children's oracy. "Our students at Yipirinya developed an amazing ability, for ESL children, to articulate in English in any situation, talking to visitors, talking to the camera, they spoke extremely well." Scaffolding research has been carried out at the Schools and Community Centre at the University of Canberra for over 10 years: Brian and Wendy each year work with some 120 children, identified as having literacy problems, in a 12 week one on one program. The aim in each case is to boost the child's literacy sufficiently to get them back into a mainstream classroom. Fiona: "They're refining the program now so that you can take it into a classroom and do it with a whole class. They've been doing that with a lot of Aboriginal community schools around Australia – here and in WA, Queensland and South Australia – over several years. "Research at the moment is showing that even children who don't attend every day, who attend maybe 60 per cent of the time, still become literate and retain that literacy. "That's why it's really important that it's taken up in Indigenous schools where attendance is an issue." In Paul's classes he's seen significant movement: "When you introduce a text, basically it's mostly listening in the first instance. "You might work a whole week on a page, and at the end of that week they should be able to read 90 per cent plus of that text. That doesn't mean they can transfer and read an unseen piece of text at that level, that transfer is something that happens over time – we start to see that happen after six months or so." The NT has committed significant resources to the trial: close to $1m for two years in five schools, including Gillen and Anzac. The other schools are Nightcliff High and Ludmilla Primary in Darwin and Ngukurr CEC in the Katherine region.If the trial is successful in these schools, the department will look at trialling the program in another remote school.Each school has a minimum of six teachers involved, although Gillen, Ngukurr and Ludmilla have elected to involve the whole school. At the end of the trial, the department will have 30 to 40 teachers trained well in the methodology. The students are monitored fortnightly, in both reading and writing; that will provide the key data, but their MAP test results will also be looked at. (MAP is the Territory wide testing program for Years Three and Five students.) The students in the trial will be expected to increase their benchmark by one "national profile" over the two years; Fiona is confident that most of them will do much better than that, "if they are reasonable attenders". Attendance will also be monitored, as will sustainability, the potential to transfer the programs to other schools, and professional development and teacher satisfaction. "The department is hoping to increase teacher retention through this program," says Fiona. "Most teachers are really dedicated and hardworking but they cop a lot of flak because students aren't achieving. "That's not because the teachers are not trying. They're often trying to do a million activities for the different levels in their class and get so bogged down. "When they give this a go, they see the benefits are immense and they feel good because they're succeeding."

LETTERS: Judging court fashions.

Sir,- I attended the opening of the Legal Year parade this morning (Feb 6). I seemed to be the only member of the public to do so, apart for a few bored looking and bemused people there on more serious business. I was not surprised. It is difficult to imagine what a group of mostly men togged up in dresses, both clerical and legal, has to do with the system of justice in the NT in the 21st century. Incidentally, it was good to see at least one of the few women doing a bit of reverse cross-dressing and wearing trousers. This bit of silliness was followed by an "ecumenical service of worship", according to the official handout. Ecumenical of course means Christian. I gave this bit a miss, but it is here that I take very serious issue with the whole proceedings. The judiciary is a vital part of our society. The independence of the judiciary is essential to the proper functioning of our society. We usually take this to mean independent from the politicians, but it should also be independent from others groups, including the churches. I find it appalling that the legal system under which I live finds itself dependent on "putting itself in the presence of the Lord" to quote the official "form of service". How can I and many others like me expect to receive fair and just treatment when we find no reason to postulate the existence of any such "Lord" on which our legal system seems to depend. I respectfully submit, your worships, that this bit of theatre is in breach of the spirit, if not the letter of Section 116 of the Constitution, which supposedly ensures our freedom from religion.
Charlie Carter
Alice Springs

Sir,- The following is a message to all fellow tourism operators in the Northern Territory:- I am not sure how keen you all are but sometimes it is not a bad idea to have a look at how the NTTC spends YOUR money. The Annual Report is available on the NTTC site www.nttc.com.au. It is 105 pages long so fill up your printer before you print it out. It makes interesting reading if you have the time, and I strongly suggest you MAKE time – it is YOUR industry. There is nothing for the NTTC to sell if it was not for YOU. The TD bit starts about page 83 so stick with it – if we had a bottom line like that at the 30th June 2001, ( a loss for the year of $888,000) ASIC would close us down, and so they should! I hope the business YOU got out of it makes it worthwhile because it didn’t do a thing for me. I wonder if things would be better if the money, time and effort had been spent on marketing???
Penni Tastula
CEO Northern Gateway Group of Companies
Darwin
PTastula@Norgate.com.au

WITHOUT LUCKY BREAK 'I WOULD HAVE BEEN BUGGERED': CAAMA'S NEW TV DOCO.

There's an irony in the title of Allan Collins' latest doco, Mistake Creek: it's the story of a guy who makes all the right decisions. Steven Craig was an Alice-born lad, 13 years old, with energy to burn and heading for trouble. A cousin offered him the opportunity to work with cattle out bush. Without this chance Steven says he would have been "buggered": he obviously gained a thorough knowledge of stock work upon which he built his future. His next good decision was to choose the right woman - Jo-Anne. The film is a touching account of their relationship, of their struggle to make their marriage work in the context of Steve's job. Jo-Anne seems to have made the bigger adaptations, but Steve must have worked on what it took to motivate her. He says that without her he wouldn't have tried to get where he is today, manager for the last eight years of Mistake Creek cattle station, on behalf of its traditional owners. At present, the property is one of only two independent, commercially viable Aboriginal-owned cattle stations in the Territory (the other is Alcoota), and Steve is one of very few Aboriginal station managers. The film focuses on Steve's personal story, rather than that of an Aboriginal station manager, so some questions around the keys to his success remain unanswered. Steve would seem to put his marriage at the heart of the matter, though: "The main thing," he says, "is to keep that woman behind you happy. If she's happy, everyone's happy." Mistake Creek is one of a series, billed as Everyday Brave, produced by CAAMA for Film Australia. It will have a free public screening at Araluen on February 16, together with For Who I Am, directed by Danielle Maclean. Her film tells the story of Bonita Mabo, wife of the late Eddie. Since her husband's death, Bonita has been campaigning for the recognition of her own people, Australian South Sea Islanders. - Kieran Finnane.

'BENT' ARTISTS TO LET IT ALL HANG OUT. Review by DOROTHY GRIMM.

"Art is an expression of who you are on that day," says Alice Springs potter Nancy Hall. On Sunday (11am-10pm) at Olive Pink six Alice artists will show the public who they are. The exhibition, titled Bent and Twisted, Unfocused and Frayed, is for mature audiences. "The Six" are Pat Elvins, Nancy Hall and Margo Trigg in clay, Barbara McIlvain in fibre, Harry Leverdingen in jewellery and photographer Les Gilliland. All have taken part in various exhibitions over the years, many have had market stalls, and many have waited a long time for another opportunity to show their work. Pat Elvins' last exhibition was in 1976 at what was then known as the Art Shed. Her clay cats made such an impression then that some are even talking about getting in early on Sunday. "Each of my cats is an original," Pat says. "Each one is individually designed and made; they are NOT mass produced. The centre piece is Bastet, an Egyptian cat goddess who protected women and animals." Pat studied at the Geelong Technical School and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology before coming to the Centre in the 1950s. As well as her sculpted cats, Pat will show drawings from her three-dimensional artist book, William the Grey Cat."William is a cat I knew personally," she says. "He belonged to Virginia and Roy Crippen who lived here in the 1970s and 1980s. "William is presented as the pensive one while Virginia and Roy are looked at as hopeless human beings. "The cat is laughing at the humans and I hope viewers will laugh along with the cat." Virginia was a teacher, artist and active exhibitor when she lived here. Nancy Hall recalls: "Virginia used to tell her classes that art doesn't have to be serious to be art." It's a lesson Nancy learnt well: she loves to show humour in her work, like her figure of an elephant stamping "fragile" on packages in an imaged post office. For this exhibition Nancy is showing garden stakes featuring animal heads. The heads are on star pickets and include emus, giraffes, feral cats and camels. She will also show wind chimes, totem poles, curved tiles and an extensive collection of cookie cutters. The artists all have high hopes of Olive Pink as an exhibition venue: friendly, low key and accessible, as The Residency used to be. Photographer Les Gilliland had his first exhibition there in 1986 with two other photographers. In 1991 Les was named Landscape Photographer of the Year by the Australian Magazine and Nikon. More recently Les has received a Fellowship from the Australian Photographic Society and excellence awards including one for service at the state or territory level. Jewellery maker Harry Leverdingen, originally from Canada, has been exhibiting around Alice Springs for almost 20 years. He enjoys making one-off pieces featuring items found during his travels both around Australia and overseas. "Each jewellery piece is totally unique and almost has a story of its own to tell," says Harry. Margo Trigg started clay work in 1963 while at teachers college in Melbourne. She later took classes at the Community College in Alice Springs where Pat Elvins was teaching. She used to hand build clay pieces until 1980 when she got on the wheel, which allowed her to make more functional pieces. For Sunday, Margo has made a variety of mosaic pots and planters. Barbara McIlvain's contribution is "fibre stuff": a quilt, a number of felt knitted bags and some "bent and twisted" cat toys. "I hope I have well hidden the frayed bits in the seams," says Barbara. Barbara, in Alice from the US for a holiday with her sister, Nancy is a frequent visitor and a member of the Alice Springs Quilting Club.

KEEPING ATHLETICS ON THE MOVE FOR OVER A QUARTER OF A CENTURY.

"The events of September 11 were a real wake up call for everyone to get out and live," says Noel Harris, long-time promoter of athletics in Alice Springs. But he wasn't the first. For years the May Day Sports at Traeger Park and later on at Anzac Oval were Alice Springs ‘s contribution to athletics. After the Bangtail Muster (and without the attraction of the Alice Springs Cup) the townspeople would throng to the Sports, making it into a real picnic day. There were races for the kids and adults; a variety of field and team events; and invariably it was John Bell who took all before him in the May Day Mile. The proceeds of the day were ploughed back into the Youth Centre. The sight of a bushman, in jeans and RM boots, executing the scissors style of high jump, at what appeared to be an enormous height, had people talking up the chance of Alice one day having Olympic representation. It was a great day on the Centralian calendar! In 1970 athletics received a further shot in the arm when Ken McGlinchey, consolidating the presence of Caledonians in town, staged a Highland Games. So dedicated was McGlinchey that a caber was brought to town giving the Games authenticity. Terry Gadsby, who had surveyed his way here from the elite level of athletics in Victoria, proved to be town champion in all the throwing events, and no doubt he still has several of the specially struck medals of the day in his billiard room. Percy Cerruty gave athletics a real presence when he conducted training sessions on the St Philip's oval in the early ‘seventies. And from South Australia came a scientific survey of physical attributes, including foot size and heartbeat, in would-be athletes. All Alice school children were "measured up". In 1975 John Bell, namesake Terry Bell, and a few "boundary umpiring" mates who ran seriously, were joined by Noel Harris. Soon after Harris' arrival, John Bell moved to Canberra where he is now with the Institute of Sport, and it was left to the new boy to keep the athletics flame flickering. The "fun run" rage which was sweeping the world hit Alice with the introduction of the Flynn's Grave to Flynn Church run. In September 1979 the inaugural Ida Stanley Preschool to the Rifle Range (now part of the Golf Course estate) Run was conducted. The run, billed as a "Life Be In It" activity, attracted 58 starters and proved to be the launching pad for the Alice Springs Running and Walking Club. In due course Harris took on the role of inaugural president of the club. He was ably assisted by Peter Dean as vice-president, and Darryl and Robin Clark as secretary and treasurer respectively. Fun runs were staged on a more regular basis to destinations like the airport, and all and sundry in the community were encouraged to train. In the ‘eighties the club enjoyed a real surge of support with membership climbing from 22 in 1984 to 200 in 1988. The Earth Peace Race of 1986 was an event to remember, with the Running and Walking Club getting right behind the celebration. (In the same year the Masters Games were first conducted in the Alice, becoming a cornerstone for the continued growth of athletics in town.) Such was the contribution made by Harris in this formative decade that he was declared the first life member of the club in 1989. However that was far from the end of the line for Harris. The club now had the services of the enigmatic Adrian "Catweazle" Wellington, who in tandem with his wife Chris, did much to promote athletics. One memorable day the "Cat" ran a marathon on the Sunday morning, buttered up at Traeger Park to umpire the footy, then excused himself so he could play a hockey match. Such behaviour (which many may consider a trifle eccentric) kept the Running and Walking Club in the community spotlight. It was in the early ‘nineties that Harris seriously embarked on what has become his full time passion. He left the security of permanent employment to establish a Sports Therapy Centre in the Alice. By providing a consultancy for training, treatment and after care for those seeking a healthier lifestyle, Harris filled a void in the town. Through his tutorage and by participating in the running and walking activities, the unhealthy have found nirvana. In more recent times Noel Harris has teamed with a band of enthusiasts to establish the Central Australian Athletics Club. The club has over 20 members, with Paul Dixon at the helm. As a sound starting point they have joined with the Little Athletics Club. Their combined meetings and assistance have proven to be a windfall for Steve Darling and the Little Athletics committee. In 2000 the Olympic torch was carried through Alice by a host of runners, Harris being one. Two years later, Noel Harris a keeper of the athletics torch in Alice, continues to keep the flame flickering.

CRICKET: WESTS TAKE 1ST INNINGS.

Wests, the top team in the local turf competition tightened the odds for the ASCA premiership on the weekend when they took first innings points over Federal at Albrecht Oval. In a recoil performance after losing the one day final, West took no prisoners in their fight back campaign against the Demons. At the other end of town, at Traeger Park, the Rovers boys also did little to have the bookies winding out their odds when they dismissed RSL to also claim a first innings win. Turf cricket this summer has been marred by rain and last Saturday morning the chance loomed of yet another round being drawn due to precipitation. However, at both Albrecht and Traeger ideal playing conditions prevailed by the scheduled start of play. Federal were facing the task of compiling 328 to win. In Wests' hit the week before, Brian Manning, Jeremy Bigg and Graeme Smith each claimed half centuries in a power performance that saw the loss of only seven wickets. The presence of Adrian McAdam to assist Rory Hood in the pace attack was appreciated, and Jarrod Wapper's 3/86 were the best figures returned. But the 300 plus runs accrued by West really paled the bowling performance into insignificance. On day two Feds were always going to be up against it. They lost Tom Clements early for 13 when caught by Peter Lake off Jeremy Bigg. Jamie Chadwick then combined well with Rory Hood before falling to Peter Tabart, caught by Ken Vowles for 35. Roger Weckert didn't stay around long before being caught for 10, and then Hood was run out when on 39. Jarrod Wapper came to the crease to join McAdam, and the two found some touch. They pushed the score along to 4/175 with 21 overs to go, and despite needing to score at seven an over, rated themselves a chance. In the final session, however, Federal collapsed with McAdam making 60 and top scoring while the rest of the batting order fell in rapid succession. The Bloods finished the day by bowling Federal out for 209. At Traeger Park, the Rover boys really rose to the occasion. On the first day they had made a paltry 140, with RSL skipper Matt Forster notching up 5/41 and Cameron Robertson 2/23. RSL fresh off a one day win over Westies gave themselves every chance to match the target and collect premiership points.In typical Rover style however the Blue boys adopted an agressive approach to the task at hand and put their bowling machine in motion. The openers made a start but then when the score was 41 things started to go astray for RSL. Successive wickets tumbled and the Razzle found themselves four wickets down without adding to the score. This knocked the wind out of the batsmen's sails and, apart from a late partnership of a half century between Forster and Troy Camelleri, RSL showed little resilience. They staggered to 118 while Rovers' bowlers celebrated. Peter Isbel returned 3/30 off 14 overs; the enigmatic Craig Murphy posted 2/10 from 13; and skipper Mark Nash ended the day with 4/31 off 17. In cleaning up the tail, Nash set himself a target for this week. By taking the last two wickets on successive balls he has left himself sitting on a hat trick on his first ball next Saturday.

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