ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
June 30, 2004.



CAMP HEALTH HAZARD: COUNCIL IS "POWERLESS". Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Mayor Fran Kilgariff says the town council is powerless to deal with the out-of-control rubbish problem at the Charles Creek town lease area, just a few hundred metres from a school, a suburb and a shopping centre.
Shown a photograph of a man sleeping last Saturday in front of a humpy surrounded by litter and next to a pile of garbage Ms Kilgariff said: "Tangentyere Council has service responsibilities for anything associated with town camps.
"The town council has no way of providing services inside town camps as they are private property.
"The council's Environmental Health Unit are not responsible for the conditions on private property."
Ms Kilgariff claimed council officers could not enter town leases without permission from Tangentyere.
However, while the town council may not be obliged to provide services on town leases, it has mechanisms – and, possibly, obligations – to deal with health hazards.
The council's website says the Environmental Health Unit "has powers to investigate public health risks under the Public Health Act and regulations".
And the Act says the government's Chief Health Officer "may require risk to public health to be rectified" and "require the owner or occupier of the land to cause the risk to be removed".
The Chief Health Officer "may authorise a person to enter, with or without employees, vehicles, plant, equipment or materials, on the land and carry out such work as is reasonably necessary to remove the risk".
This seems to put beyond doubt the ability of council officers to access town lease areas for the purpose of preventing health risks caused by improperly disposed garbage.
Ms Kilgariff says the Environmental Health Unit is subsidised by the NT Government but its "responsibilities are for public places and places like restaurants and cafes serving the public".
"If sanitary conditions on town camps degenerate, council would certainly raise the matter with Tangentyere Council.
"Our role would then be as a lobbyist.
"It is not something we can deal with directly."
Ms Kilgariff says the town council is hosting two indigenous trainee environment health workers as part of a partnership between the town council, Arrernte Council and Tangentyere Council.Jane Vadiveloo, Tangentyere's Manager of Social Services, says the northern end of the Charles Creek camp is a problem area because it is heavily used by itinerant people.
Tangentyere has put up fences, but they are being torn down, and bush visitors then use the area without permission.
There is an urgent need for camping areas for bush visitors – an issue under examination by the NT Government's Quality of Life initiative.
Another problem is the ready access to alcohol from a nearby bottle shop.
Ms Vadiveloo says Tangentyere provides a garbage service for each of the 19 town lease areas about twice a week.
The council and Tangentyere have a Memorandum of Understanding whose opening paragraph acknowledges that "peace, order and good government" which are the responsibility of the town council are as much the right of people in town lease areas as anyone else's.
The memorandum deals in part with litter control.
Deputy Mayor David Koch, before the recent election, claimed council and Tangentyere had done a "particularly good job" on the control of litter (Alice News, May 26).



LOSING THE FIRE IN THE BELLY OR FINDING FEET WITH THE PROCESS? Report by KIERAN FINNANE.

Town Council aldermen should be wary of getting "too comfortable" with one another, says Alderman Murray Stewart, fresh from the team-building and governance training sessions of the new council's first weeks.The new aldermen's passions appear to have been "neutralised" in this process, even Ald Ernie Nicholls seems to "have taken a cold shower", says Ald Stewart, but "I hope this is not a full-time scenario".
"To get things done we need passion and turbulence to surface."A team is only a real team if everyone is being honest, he says."No need to worry, the new council will be "robust and active", assures Alderman Melanie Van Haaren.
"Any sense of conservatism or caution is to do with the new councillors finding their feet in terms of process."
Ald Van Haaren says she is full of optimism about the "depth and character" of the council and its "progressive thinking as a collective".
Testing the water, the Alice News showed the aldermen the photo appearing on this week's front page. What should council's response be?
Ald Stewart says, "Public health issues have to be our responsibility even if there are legal barriers against us acting.
"There is a health and hygiene crisis in this town and I want to put it on the agenda immediately.
"It would be racist to ignore this issue, to accept that some people will have health and hygiene standards way below anyone else's simply because they're black.
"We fall back on due process too much in this town, too much theory and not enough action. It is time to allow people to have their heads in the way we resolve issues."If it's a matter of enforcing laws or by-laws, then council's officers and the police should collaborate, he says.
If there's not enough money or people to do the job, there should be.
If it's a matter of instilling pride, then find ways to do that, but there should be no compromise.Ald Van Haaren says working in partnership with Tangentyere Council is "the only way to go".
Hasn't this been the approach of the last council and doesn't the partnership appear to be failing at least some residents in basic service delivery?
Ald Van Haaren would not pass comment on the last council."There are different players on board now, but we don't intend to go it alone on these issues.
"It's a matter of strengthening the Memorandum of Understanding with Tangenteyere and strengthening Tangen-tyere's capacity to deliver services.
"Issues around equality and quality of life for all residents of the town were part of the election platforms of many aldermen and they are tabled in every forum you would care to name.
"We are not going to let this drop off the agenda."Ald Stewart stresses the need for early action demonstrating that this will be "a good news" council, to stop people leaving town.
It has been contested that people are leaving town in significant numbers. What information is Ald Stewart relying on?"I'm in the people game. As a myotherapist I see 40 people a week.
"I don't need statistics to tell me people are leaving, and a lot of them are established community people with considerable expertise."They are frustrated that the town is no longer going to progress, but it will if the right intelligent views are allowed to prevail."
So far, debate has been mainly dealing with "old news from the last council".However, he expects that by August at the latest there will be fresh debate about the town's pressing issues of "public order, cleanliness and water conservation".
On one "old" issue, the Civic Centre, Ald Van Haaren says there has already been keen debate, with conflicting views being put forward."This will be a big one," she says.There has also been controversy over the introduction of the 50km/hour maximum speed limit, says Ald Van Haaren.
Ald Stewart can be relied upon for further controversy. Despite opposition, he says he is not going to let his proposed youth curfew die. He has written to councils in Northbridge (in Perth) and Port Augusta to find out how their curfews work and what benefits or problems they have brought to the community.
"This is not an anti-youth move, it's the reverse.
"Children, 13 and 14 year olds, are not safe on the streets at night. They should be at home or in a safe supervised environment."
Water conservation is perhaps less controversial, but not if water restrictions are introduced, and Ald Stewart argues we might just have to bite the bullet on that.But isn't that outside of council's jurisdiction?"Nothing is out of our jurisdiction. Everything that affects the town has to be part of what we do, whether it's as local government or as tireless lobbyists," declares the ebullient Ald Stewart.
Ald Van Haaren, who speaks calmly and carefully, taking time to think about her answers, is also ambitious for the current council.
"We want to offer exemplary leadership," she says. "We want to put not only Alice Springs but the council on the map, as an innovator, a role model, especially for other regional councils."Having an efficient operation, an experienced and highly respected CEO, a new Local Government Act and a dynamic, multi-cultural combination of aldermen are all things in the new council's favour, she says.The review of all existing policies to "make sure they are in line with community aspirations" is a first step.
It's early days yet but she says council will take on responsibilities in new areas, naming economic development in particular.
"Our aim is to have in four years' time a vibrant Alice Springs with a growing population and economy."Then we will be able to be very proud of our achievements."




BUFFEL WORRY IN USA, ROCK.

"The introduction of buffel grass (Cechrus ciliaris) for cattle grazing has been particularly harmful.
"It accumulates, forming combustible litter that causes the complete burning of ironwood and other plants.
"As a result, arid grasslands replace the xeric scrub, thereby lowering or preventing the recruitment of perennials.
"If this practice remains uncontrolled, the landscape … may change and biodiversity may be lost."The landscape in question is not Central Australia but the Sonoran Desert in Southern Arizona, USA. The reference is dated 1994.
A quick google search for buffel grass reveals that the concerns expressed by botanist Peter Latz in last week's Alice News are shared in other parts of the country and the globe.
A resident of the Sonoran Desert, Lynn Walsh, has posted the article containing this extract:
"The summer monsoons nurture a rapidly spreading perennial grass from South Africa that was introduced by the government from 1950 to 1970 to provide restoration so that cattle could graze in denuded cotton fields.
"The plant, called buffel grass, is so happy in its new habitat that it is taking over vacant areas and is widespread in the foothills.
"Buffel grass sprouts earlier in the spring than native plants and out-competes them. After fuelling grassland fires, it simply re-sprouts from its massive perennial roots."Fire, predominately human-caused, is now a fact of life in our area.
"The grasses are too widespread for elimination from the total environment.
"There is no easy way to re-vegetate."
Closer to home, the Darwin-based Tropical Savannah Cooperative Research Centre (with offices also in Townsville, Qld, and Kununurra, WA) describes the situation in Queensland thus:
"Buffel is one of the most widely sown pasture grasses in western Queensland and dominates over much of these areas. It is resilient under grazing and tolerant to drought – features that make it an excellent pasture species."However its spread into non-target habitats has been identified as a potential problem. From tests conducted by CSIRO, it is thought that while native grasslands were in good condition they excluded buffel.
"During the recent drought years in north east Queensland (1993), however, buffel started to invade native paddocks.
"TS–CRC and CSIRO are currently sponsoring research into the spread and impact of buffel grass."
University of Queensland scientist Tim Low in his 1997 paper "Tropical Pasture Plants as Weeds" describes buffel as the most destructive of these plants.Like Mr Latz, he says it forms "dense monocultures that displace native plants", including in national parks such as Uluru.
"It is a grave threat because it does best in the moist fertile places where biodiversity is concentrated.
"It causes more extensive fires than native grasses, thereby reducing habitat variability for fauna.
"It triggers more frequent fires, destroying seedlings and seed stores
"It seeds prolifically but the seed is not available to seed-eating birds, and the numbers of finches and parrots decline."In Western Australia, buffel grass is replacing spinifex (Triodia spp.).
"It is encroaching upon Carnarvon National Park, Palm Grove National Park, Expedition Range National Park, and several other parks.
"In Epping Forest National Park in central Queensland the area of buffel grass has increased from 13.3 per cent in 1987 to 54.0 per cent in 1994."
Interestingly, Queensland's Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries have detailed information on the web about the buffel grass seed caterpillar (Mampava rhodoneura).
It feeds on seed in the seed heads of buffel grass, webbing the heads together.
It occurs wherever buffel or Setaria grasses are grown. Swamp foxtail, a coarse tussocky native grass with a seed head similar to buffel grass, is the native host of this insect pest.
Its importance as a pest is described as "major and frequent". "Damage is most common in the third and subsequent crops where a number of sequential harvests are made, or in late summer and autumn."
The department recommends chemical control, but the converse, using the caterpillar as a biological control to limit the spread of buffel, seems an obvious possibility.
But for this to have a hope of happening quickly buffel will need to be declared a weed, and for that to happen in the NT those with concerns about the grass will need to hold sway in the current debate about the new Territory weeds list.



ALDERMAN IS LIVING NEXT DOOR TO ALICE.

Alice Springs needs an anthem, says Murray Stewart, alderman and go-getter.
"Up there Cazaly" made many converts for VFL / AFL.The Newcastle song ("Never Let a Chance Go By") changed the face of his former NSW hometown. A revamped "Living Next Door to Alice" could do the same for Alice Springs.
The lyrics have been rewritten to speak more directly about the outback experience; copyright issues have largely been resolved; and a couple of local artists are recording the song.
Mr Stewart says he has presented the idea to a "favourable hearing" by the Destination Alice advisory committee, set up by the NT Tourist Commission to develop a destination marketing strategy for the town.
The NTTC's Rachel Goff says the committee is interested to hear the song and the lyrics, once the recording is finished.
She says it is one of a number of "fantastic ideas" designed to promote Alice Springs coming from the community.
Others include documentary proposals, one on the Todd River, the other on the country north of Alice, en route to Tennant Creek.The ideas and proposals will all go into the "melting pot", together with the results of research about how the town is perceived elsewhere in Australia, as the committee develops its overall selling strategy for the destination.
Mr Stewart will pursue his idea no matter what."My target date for an official launch, all things being equal, is November 1. 
"To me this song should play every time a Qantas or Virgin Blue jet touches down at our airport or upon the arrival of every Ghan train. 
"It is also our intention that a recording company will mass produce it for air play all over Australia. 
"Am I dreaming?  I can only say, once people have heard this song, I'm sure they will be equally convinced."



LETTERS: Trees lost.

Sir,- Daily we hear on the radio and read in the newspapers about the Labor Government's and the Greens' policies on the environment, the destruction of trees and native habitats of animals and birds.
They say "save the trees" and this is also my concern.
Why should the government be allowed to destroy so many trees on the airport road and other places in the Territory? Under the Sacred Sites Laws, we are unable to destroy a dangerous, white ant riddled, old white gum on our block of land, or to damage a sacred site in any way.
The trees along the airport road, I see as a sacred site, the self-grown ones as well as those which the Department of the Interior planted in 1965.
In that year I and two Aboriginal helpers planted trees from just north of the old drive for seven miles to the airport, 60 feet apart on both sides of the road.
In the same year, we began tree planting on the older section of Eastside from the river to Burke Street. My two helpers planted white gums from Woods Terrace to the foot of the hills along both sides of the North Stuart Highway.
The total number of trees was 575 on that section of the highway.
In 1969 we planted trees in Gillen from Bloomfield Street to Memorial Drive as well as in the town centre around Anzac Oval.
Today less than a dozen of the white gums we planted along the North Stuart Highway remain.
Now our trees are fast disappearing out on the airport road as new roads are constructed to building sites in that area.
It takes many years for our good lord to grow a lovely tree, but mere seconds for a lunatic to destroy it.
I ask all people, black and white, of Alice Springs to support me in blocking the destruction of that lovely avenue of trees on the Airport Road, which is the southern gateway to Alice Springs.
This road should not be allowed to resemble the North Stuart Highway today.
Dave Baldwin
Alice Springs

Rough road deal for Territorians

Sir,- There is nothing in the Federal Government's AusLink plan to promote future regional development.
The Cattlemen's Association was told by the government that the Territory would receive $20 million over four years, but this promise has clearly been broken.
There are 9,000 km of roads on unincorporated land in the Territory — 40 per cent of our local road network.
But over many years these bush and beef roads have been excluded from the government's Roads to Recovery funding program.
These roads will now deteriorate even further because the small amount of funding that has been made available for them — $10 million per year — will be shared between the other states.
The funding is less than the Territory received prior to the establishment of the Roads to Recovery program in 2000.
The government has again failed to recognise the unique needs of those who use these roads, such as the cattle and mining industries, Indigenous communities and, increasingly, tourists.
These people will have to make do with a crumbling road network that falls far behind the standards of other regions of Australia.
On another point, the move to abolish the Electronic Outback Program (EOP) runs against the government's arguments for selling Telstra, which are based on pledges to improve telecommunications services in the bush.
This is another example of the Howard Government selling out the bush.
Despite its rush to sell off the remainder of Telstra, and despite the many claims about improved services in the bush, John Howard is putting a halt to its most successful program in Indigenous communities.
Once again, we're not hearing a peep from the Territory's two CLP representatives, who have never spoken about telecommunications in parliament.
It's time for them to speak up on behalf of Territorians in Canberra and ensure that we get a fair deal.
Warren Snowdon
Member for Lingiari

Man with a mission

Sir,– There are hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of Australians who have missionaries in their family tree.
They may have left letters, photographs, books or pamphlets behind which families wonder what to do with.
Far too many of these "bits and pieces" are disappearing and it is important, not only to family history, but also to our national history, that the contributions of our home-grown missionaries are not lost forever.
The rapid growth of computers means that records such as letters, pamphlets, and photographs are being recorded electronically.
To ensure the preservation of these very important electronic records, an archive is being established in Canberra to collect as much as possible for future generations.
It would be useful to know of the existence of such collections, where they are held and under what circumstances they can be made available for historical research at some future time. People who have electronic records on CD-Rom disks are invited to send a copy of the disk or disks for archiving to Dr Ian Welch, Missionary Archives Project, PO Box 7034, Farrer ACT 2607. All donations will be acknowledged.
No use will be made of disks without prior approval by the donors.
Please do not offer paper records such as letters as there is no way these can be stored or processed at this stage.
Donations of books and pamphlets not electronically recorded are also invited.
Where they have been scanned, "pdf" copies on disk would be particularly valuable as part of the electronic archive.
All items will be placed in an academic library for preservation.
Unfortunately, no funds are available to process or purchase records or to cover postage or other costs.
Ian Welch
Australian National University
Canberra

Penpal wanted

Sir,- I was hoping, via your newspaper, to make contact with people in your area who might be interested in being my penfriend.
I am a 48-year-old married lady with two grown-up daughters.
I live in the south-west of England in a small seaside town of approximately 12,000 people.
I work as a medical secretary for the National Health Service and my husband, Roger, drives a car-transporter.
My family was fortunate enough to visit Australia last November and spent three very interesting days in your town, with which we fell in love.
I am keen to learn more about your beautiful part of the world and also the differences in daily life between our two countries.
I would be so pleased if anyone would contact me with a view to establishing a friendship.
Chris Walsh
18 Coronation Avenue
Dawlish
South Devon EX7 9EG
United Kingdom
Tel: 01626 865918
chrissy1234@vodafone.net



FRED WILLIAMS: A HARSH LAND. Review by KIERAN FINNANE.

Together with Sidney Nolan and leading Aboriginal artists since the 1970s, Fred Williams changed the way Australians perceived their landscape.
Because, though, his vision has been with us for over four decades, and his dash and dot gum trees in particular have become almost a cliché of landscape painting, it is hard to get a sense of the way in which it was new and even shocking at the time of his innovations.
This doesn't take away from the sheer pleasure of viewing the Pilbara series, on display at Araluen, a touring show of the National Gallery of Victoria to whom, on behalf of the people of Australia, the series was gifted by Rio Tinto.
It is Williams' last major series, completed in 1981, a year before his death, miraculously preserved in its entirety, and a culmination of his discoveries.
I love best the pictures where the horizon has disappeared altogether and everything seems to be falling apart, mesmerisingly unstable.
Frances Lindsay, NGV's deputy director who opened the show on Friday, told me that Williams saw, when he returned to Australia from England in 1956, that unlike the European landscape, the Australian landscape had "no focal point".Wanting to challenge the domination of the Heidelberg School greats, Tom Roberts and Arthur Streeton, Williams determined to work with that perception, as "an opportunity too good to pass up".
Paintings like Trees in landscape, Gorge landscape and Pilbara Landscape all reveal how enduring that interest was.
In other works where the horizon is dangerously tilted, or else curved – evoking a mind-boggling scale – there is still this tumbling dynamism across the canvas.I am less riveted where the horizon stretches across the canvas more conventionally but even here there is a rhythmic charge to the undulating forms and the dance of vegetation over them.
My typical Williams landscape of memory was a fairly monotone affair but this series pulses with light and colour, with some canvasses verging on prettiness, but then the desert can do that and in the Pilbara series Williams has captured many of its moods.
The painted surfaces vie for importance with all this and you can forget about landscape altogether while appreciating close up Williams's way with paint.



AUSSIE RULES: BLOODS BOIL. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.

West have established a clear two-match lead at the top of the premiership ladder, having beaten Pioneer 13.12 (90) to 9.10 (64) at the weekend.
The pre-match gossip around town was that West would be tested by Pioneer with several key players unavailable including young-gun forward Steven "Squizzy" Squires who has headed south to try his luck in the big league.
With Lachlan Ross out for the next eight matches, the Eagles were also weakened.
However, as the flow of the game indicated, Pioneer need to show significant improvement if they are to be premiership contenders in 2004.
Throughout the season, coach Roy Arbon has been tested by the lack of numbers at training, and on match day was heavily dependent upon young performers.
The Bloods jumped Pioneer from the first bounce with Kevin Bruce and skipper Michael Gurney threading goals between the posts in the opening minutes.
Kain Hewett debuted at centre half forward and lived up to expectations from the outset.
By the first break it was West in command 5.4 to Pioneer 1.3.
From that point Pioneer showed a glimmer of the Eagles of old, as they forged their way back into contention.
Instrumental in the revival was Matt Campbell, who with Shane Hayes provided zip through the forward line.
Campbell scored four goals for the quarter and Hayes added one to his initial goal in the first term.
West managed three goals through Nick Kerber, Ben Hux and Gurney.
At half time 8.4 played 6.6 and Pioneer continued their run of enthusiasm through the efforts of the Campbells - Jethro, Eric, and Matt.
They hit the lead and seemed on course to rocket home but West were able to counter the offensive late in the term with Henry Labastida, Rory Hood and Kevin Bruce feeding the ball forward to lanky Peter Ryan, who commandeered the goal square.
Ryan booted three successive goals before the three-quarter time bell to re-establish Bloods' control of the game, deflating Pioneer confidence.
At oranges, West led by 19 points.
In the run home West contained Pioneer while scoring goals through Hewett and Bruce to have the" fat lady" warming up.
In time added on, the Eagles showed signs of reviving when Matt Campbell scored a badly needed goal.
West showed they have the depth and versatility required of a successful club with Bruce, Labastida and Andrew Wesley forming a solid foundation.
Hood, Hewett and Adam Taylor played a tough, determined game in gathering the crumbs.
Pioneer's Daniel McCormack, Ryan Mallard, Robbie Taylor and the Campbells were in fine form.
The win by Federal over South in the late game has increased their chance of playing in the final.
Gilbert McAdam's team are committed to playing 100 minutes of football, not something to happen overnight.
In contrast, South's Shaun Cusack cut a lone figure on the boundary line coaching a bare 18 players with minimal assistance.
Federal applied themselves from the start with Adrian McAdam driving the ball forward from the centre bounces.
Contributions by Daryl Ryder and Daryl Lowe ensured that effective use was made of possession and Feds led at the first break 5.4 to 3.2.
Patrick Ah Kitt and Liam Patrick added sting to the Federal forward line as the Demons played a game of possession football.
Murray Liddle, better known in Darwin circles, was a valued team player.
In the South camp, expectations were high on the shoulders of Clinton Ngalkin, Gilbert Fishook, Curtis Haines and Max Fejo but despite their efforts Federal penetrated the South defence, outscoring them 9.5 to 6.7.
Federal gained some breathing space in the third, scoring six goals to four but, as both sides made four goals in the last term, Federal further established themselves as a team to consider in the finals, winning 19.9 (123) to 14.12 (96).



SOCCER: HALF-WAY HEAVEN FOR LEADERS VERDI. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.

With A-grade competition reaching the half-way mark, Federal Strikers and TDC had to be satisfied with a one-all draw in soccer at the weekend.
Federal opened the encounter with a flank attack on TDC's backline and in response, TDC centred on attacking moves through the middle.
The multi-skilled Darrell Lowe broke the ice in the 14th minute with a goal to Feds, outgunning TDC keeper, Frank Logozzo.
In the 40th minute, a scramble resulted in the ball being passed back to Richard Farrell at the edge of the box and he calmly slotted the equalizer.
HALF-HEADERFor top-placed Verdi, a second-half header from veteran Robin Yak lifted his team to a 1-0 win over S&R Vikings.
The game in fact could have gone either way, after a scoreless first half.
In B-grade, the seemingly-unbeatable Scorpions continued their winning ways with an 11-1 win over RSL, three players scoring hat tricks.
Not to be outdone, Central Falcons then compiled an 11-0 victory over TDC with Trevor Satour nailing no less than 5 goals.
Continuing with the cricket-type scores, Buckleys settled for a 7-0 win, including a Tom Clements hat trick.
In the fourth game, Stormbirds, assisted by the prowess of David Stockman and Aaron Hester, notched up a 2-0 win over the Federal Scorers.
C-grade proved to be equally exciting with the young Gunnaz managing a 2-0 win over Stormbirds, who, despite the result, have shown signs of distinctive improvement over the past few weeks.
Desert Spinach then brought home the bacon when they accounted for Neata Glass Scorpions 2-0.



Social climbing Eastside sport. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

I know that "class", used in the social sense, is a dirty word.
The Australian dream is where you (kind of) work hard for years, invest wisely, have some luck along the way and end up living on a grassy foreshore with your own boat ramp.
Or you (kind of) work hard for years, then you retire and take six months to drive to Broome in a mobile home the size of Apollo 11.
Supposedly, class has nothing to do with this.
I even heard an intellectual on the radio explain that the word made him feel queasy.
If this is the case, then fine.
But it doesn't explain how moving from Sadadeen to the Old Eastside is such a serious exercise in social climbing.
In Sadadeen, we lived against the background of a healthy neighbourhood hub-bub of noise; now we have ample peace and quiet.
We used to have fences; now we have fences plus trellises.
We once had no shade; now there is a multi-layered ecosystem in which many plants thrive. vOr at least they do for as long as I can keep them alive.
And this is just for starters.
I used to have friends in Sadadeen; now it feels as distant as the dark side of the moon or Tennant Creek.
Thinking about social climbing made me want to do it physically.
So, one public holiday, I arose at the crack of dawn (like 8.30 or something) and strode out for Spencer Hill.
I wanted to take an aerial photo of the Eastside so that I could paste it onto change-of-address cards that I am sending to a large number of people who never write to me, in case they should get the urge to do so sometime in the next decade.
I thought the photo would capture the character of Alice Springs and excite people who would never come here themselves.
They would be impressed and envious of my impeccable good taste.
It would be "the Old Eastside from the air".
The photo would look like I had cruised across in a hot air balloon.
So I climbed up.
I am not sure whether I caused any offence to those who consider the hill sacred and I'm sorry if I did.
I wouldn't do it at Uluru or Billy Goat Hill, despite the scoffing of those who give us bleeding hearts such a hard time.
There is no track, so it became ore heart-racing, given the small risk that I might have fallen and scuffed my acrylic trousers.
At the top, I even saw a wallaby that looked at me as if to say "shouldn't you be in bed?".
By this time, it was 10am and I hadn't had a single cup of my posh new coffee. So he was probably right.
From the summit, I leant out to take pictures of Foodland in the distance and Snob Hill down below on the left.
If class doesn't exist, I thought, then why do we have Snob Hill?
Then I realised that the unique desert suburb of Old Eastside had changed while I was climbing.
From here, it was just a muddle of tin roofs, an occasional swimming pool and some dusty brown public spaces.
Even the spectacular ranges in the background had shrunk to a line of ant hills.
It was as if my 2x digital zoom had worked in reverse, making the features further away and harder to see. My boast that "we live in a landscape surrounded by mountain ranges" was decimated by the truth, that "we live in a pock-marked plain with a rim at the edge and Bi-Lo in the middle".
Oh well, I sighed as I descended, this was never going to be a panorama of the Alps, was it? A suburb is just a suburb, after all.
Why should anyone much care?
I'll just try not to slide back down. steve@afishoutofwater.com



Green slave or queen of white goods? COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.

I'm feeling slightly guilty.
It's a beautiful sunny day with a fresh breeze blowing outside and I've got the tumble-drier going.
When it's pouring down, it's easier for me to justify using it although I still see it as a luxury item.
As a modern environmentally-aware person, I know I should limit the use as we've got perfect drying weather most of the time in this part of the world and I should look after the planet for my children and grand-children.
Never mind that it takes me two hours to hang out four loads of washing, not including folding and ironing time and I usually do about 12 to 16 loads per week.
I also feel very guilty about the disposable nappies all my children were in from birth with the exception of a few short months when I invested in different types of cloth nappies.
I try to live up to some idealised image of a good mother who not only loves her children unconditionally and has endless supplies of patience but also always does the right thing by the environment, doing everything in her power to recycle and think green.
I set myself up for failure every single day of the year and feel guilty about my shortcomings both as a mother and member of the human race.
Early on in the feminist movement, authors like Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who wrote the short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" addressed ways "to free women from domestic subservience".
Women's choices and rights have improved in the western world since then but I think it's still easy to become "domestically subservient" when you are the parent staying at home with the children, or as a single parent, and therefore taking main responsibility for the household chores.
I would like to have quality time with my children, especially during the school holidays.
I would also like some time for myself.
If I do the right thing by the environment and my children 100 per cent of the time it will have to be at my expense.
To sacrifice yourself for others, especially your children, is traditionally one of the finest things a mother can do.
As my teenage daughter so elegantly put it "you chose to have children", blame yourself for the mountains of washing, the never-ending stream of dishes, house cleaning, taxi-driving and sleeplessness and do feel guilty about using the tumble drier, dishwasher, car and for those hot fragrant baths you manage to fit in somehow a few times per year using all that water.
We live in luxury in the western world using up far more than our share of the Earth's resources.
We eat well, we enjoy good healthcare and have access to education in a democracy that recognises women as equals. I have no right to complain.
Compared to most of the women in our world I have an easy life, even compared to many women of central Australia. I was brought up to be grateful for what we had, to recognise my good fortune. But I still don't think life should be all about work.
There should be times when we can sit down for a moment's rest and enjoy it. Watch our children play and smell the roses. Sometimes the tumble-drier gives me that freedom and in that moment I may not be as "green" a mother as I aspire to be but
I'm very grateful!


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