ALICE SPRINGS NEWS,
August 31, 2006. This page
contains all major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
OUR JOKE GIRL A HIT OS.
By ELISABETH ATTWOOD.
Home-grown comedian Fiona O’Loughlin will perform in front of
television network executives in Los Angeles later this month.
The American TV bosses loved her work at the Montreal Just for Laughs
festival and have asked her to showcase two 30 minute skits for them.
But O’Loughlin hopes she won’t suffer the embarrassment she had during
filming an episode of Spicks and Specks.
“I think I’m the only person ever to have had nits in the hair and
makeup department of the ABC,” laughs O’Loughlin. “I had to run
out and get a wig.
“I hope it doesn’t show when the program goes to air!”
Her international career has rocketed in the last 12 months: she
travels abroad on average once every 10 days.
She’s pictured in Hong Kong outside the Fringe Theatre where she
performed in July.
“We got a marvelous reception, every show was sold out,” says
“I never hankered for an international career but I’ve had a lot more
opportunities open up in the past year.”
The News managed to snatch an interview before she boarded a plane for
Cairns to do a show that night: “I’m a shocking traveller.
“My son refuses to travel with me now. I leave a trail of possessions
in my wake, it’s a chronic disorder,” she says.
“My worst travel tale? Losing my ticket and passport at Heathrow with
two pounds in my pocket and no mobile phone.
“I lost my wallet in Sydney last week.
I lose it on average once a month. And I have to buy a new winter
coat every year.”
O’Loughlin has had to cancel her two dates at the Alice Festival
because she’s been called to film a pilot show for a major television
CAMP DONGAS: MORE QUERIES.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
“Tell Mal Brough to take his rubbish back to Woomera!”
At Monday night’s council meeting Alderman Samih Habib was having none
of an apparent reconciliation to the Commonwealth’s gift of ex-Woomera
demountables to solve the crisis of short-term accommodation for
visitors to Alice from bush communities.
However, Ald Melanie van Haaren, a previous strong opponent of the
demountable solution (see Alice News, August 17), does feel reconciled
after attending a meeting last Friday between Commonwealth officials
and representatives of
the Territory government, the town council, Lhere Artepe, and
Ald van Haaren says the Commonwealth recognises that the hostile
reaction to the proposal arose because of lack of information and that
they now need to “retrieve the situation”.
She says the community will be consulted about location of the “short
term accommodation facility” and there is a commitment to not put it in
residential areas, neither in town nor in the rural areas.
“It will not be a Woomera-style arrangement with a whole row of
demountables behind a barbed wire fence. They will be refurbished and
the whole area landscaped.”
It is most likely that the facility will be located at the northern end
of town and it appears that at this stage there will only be one
“A facility to the south seems to have dropped off the agenda,” says
Ald van Haaren. It will be commercially run on “rateable property”.
Expressions of interest have been called and Alice has “some successful
models like the Sid Ross and Mount Gillen hostels which could be
It will be linked to services: places will be set aside for people with
specific needs, such as renal patients. There will be a “user pays”
She says the facility is designed to relieve pressure on the town
camps, rather than to draw greater numbers of people to town.
She acknowledged, however, that the strategy is catching up rather than
planning for increased urban drift, which she regards as inevitable.
“But it gives us a little more room to breathe.
“It will have a beneficial flow-on effect for the town camps and, most
importantly, it is seen as just one of a raft of strategies.”
These are, she says, action on alcohol and other substance abuse; a lot
more emphasis on on linking education and training with employment; and
“big shake-up of the town camps”.
However, aldermen and officers expressed concern on Monday that the
Return to Country program, formerly run by Tangentyere, is defunct due
to lack of funding, and Tangentyere no longer has wardens patrolling
The river runs, moving on illegal campers and drinkers, at present are
being conducted by council rangers supported by police.
Ald van Haaren says there was support at Friday’s meeting with the
Commonwealth to review the funding decisions for these two programs.
“Return to Country features among the recommendations of the Town Camps
Taskforce,” she says.
Meanwhile Eddie Taylor has handed back the keys for two vehicles used
by the Youth Night Patrol, a feature for many years. Mr Taylor, who has
moved to Tennant Creek, says to his great sadness, he could not find
volunteers in Alice Springs to keep going the service which took kids
at risk to safe places – usually home – at night.
Mayor Fran Kilgariff on Monday urged aldermen to defer taking a stance
regarding the demountables until they receive a briefing from the
Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination, which she will try to arrange
for the next committee meeting.
Ms Kilagriff also reported that the implementation committee for the
town camp “normalisation” process has been convened and will meet for
the first time this Friday, although work on three town camps has
She said council will not take over less than adequate infrastructure,
and any delivery of municipal services to the camps will have to be
She said a report on the site selection for the short term
accommodation facility will go to the implementation committee. She
said the controversial site list was commissioned from a consultant by
the Territory Government, not the Commonwealth.
The NT Government has made no comment about the site list, despite the
alarm it caused in the community.
Many of the demountables currently in Alice – about 40, with more to
come – will go to bush communities, said Ms Kilgariff.
DEMOLITION OF RIEFF BUILDING NEW LOW FOR GOVT. HERITAGE PROTECTION.
By DOMENICO PECORARI.
The demolition of the historic Rieff Building this week marks a new low
in the on-going battle to save what little CBD heritage survived the
re-development push of the 1980s and the fight to preserve the fast
character of our town.
For many of us, the loss of heritage creates a great deal of sadness.
That loss is bad enough when it is accidental, such as the fire that
destroyed Panarama Guth, but unforgivable when it results from a
conscious decision of government.
No-one can argue that the Rieff Building was not a heritage place for,
despite its outward appearance, the building was assessed to be of
heritage value by the Heritage Advisory Council (HAC), the body of
experts set up under the
Act to advise the Minister for Heritage. Nor can anyone pretend that a
decision somehow diminishes that heritage value.
The destruction of the Rieff Building rests squarely on the shoulders
of the Minister and is the direct result of her decision to override
the HAC’s recommendations to heritage-list the place.
In announcing her decision on ABC Radio, the Minister cited “economic
reasons”, claiming that the town would benefit from the construction
work generated by the project but, when pressed, could not explain the
evaluation process she used to reach that decision.
She remained unswayed by the protest letters from some of our town’s
most prominent citizens, heritage organisations and professional bodies
such as the NT Chapter of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects,
who argued for the retention of the Beni Burnett building and its
contribution to the streetscape and the town’s character.
A 600-strong petition, collected in the space of just one week, and a
protest on the steps of Parliament in Alice did nothing to convince the
Martin government to reverse the minister’s decision and produced only
time-buying promises which were not kept and served to wear down
The Martin government even silenced its own local branch, which had
argued for the building to be saved from demolition.
No, the distinct impression that has emerged from this sorry saga is
that the minister placed more faith in her gut feeling and lack of
empathy for the building than on the considered recommendations of her
own advisory body or, as one letter to the local paper suggested, that
the decision was part of some electoral payback.
The demolition of the Rieff Building is more that just a local issue,
for it speaks volumes about the current state of democracy and
governance in the
Territory which, sadly, is also reflected nationally and
The disregard that centralised government shows towards its
constituents outside of a capital city.
The short term interests of the few over-riding the longer-term
interests of the broader community.
The overwhelming sensation that the proverbial “bucket of money” will
always win out.
For me personally, the protest will not be ended by the destruction of
the Rieff Building. I will continue to make the Yeperenye Centre my
“shopping destination of last resort” and look forward to the next
Territory Elections where my vote will reflect my disillusionment of
the last five years.
Domenico Pecorari is a local architect involved in heritage
conservation and current president of Heritage Alice Springs Inc.
FINDING GOD IN THE DESERT: THE RISE AND FALL OF RELIGIONS IN THE CENTRE.
“Many people come to Alice Springs looking for something.
“The old image of God and finding him in the wilderness and the desert
is true here.
“There is a new generation of people in their twenties who are seeking
spirituality. They try to find it at the Rock or in the Centre.
“They aren’t interested in the trappings of the world like perhaps the
baby boomers were.
“We see our church as a place where people can ‘stop the world and get
So says Reverend Jeff Murnain, who 10 months ago with his wife Ruth,
was called to Alice Springs to carry out “intentional ministry”: to
work with a taskforce of nine people from the congregation to make the
declining Anglican church viable again, both financially and
Their approach has worked. In less than a year the congregation and
income of the church have more than doubled, with up to 140 regulars
attending Sunday services.
The Anglican Church has joined the Baptist and Christian Community
Centre churches and Islam, all growing in Alice Springs, while the
congregations of the Uniting and Catholic churches are declining.
This series of articles by ELISABETH ATTWOOD looks at what’s working
and what’s not amongst organised religions in Alice Springs.
The Anglican church building, grounds and rectory have all been
refreshed and refurbished and “there is a growing sense of community
and purpose,” says
“We know better who we are, what we are doing and who we are reaching
“We have a larger number of professional people such as nurses and
paramedics in the congregation now.
“Those who were disillusioned with the church or who have tried other
alternatives are returning.
“People are finding a community here away from their home town.”
Rev Murnain says the church is listening hard to what people’s needs in
modern Alice Springs are.
“We’re combining tradition with a more contemporary style of worship,
particularly at our 10am service.
“The Christmas midnight service was a real turning point for us.
“We used a data projector screen for the service rather than hymn books
and used a lot of candles. We produced an atmosphere that was very
“At Easter we held our services outside in a courtyard. It was
wonderful. People were outside, by the fire: we want to do more of that
sort of thing.
“The church is open seven days a week now from 7am to 6pm and people
are coming in and sitting and reflecting.
“I’d like the community to see the church as a place of creative
expression for everybody, not just people worshipping.
“We’re right in the centre of town: the choral society perform here and
I’d like to see groups such as classical musicians or Indigenous
or musicians come too.”
Rev Murnain leaves Alice Springs in October but says the church has a
“We’re building a bridge for the church and we’re looking for a new
leader to take it forward.
“The future lies in the church developing into a creative venue and in
children’s ministry. The Sunday school is growing.”
Rev Murnain says that the Anglican church recognises the shift in the
attitudes of the general public towards religion, which has seen a
decline in the numbers of people worshipping regularly.
The last National Church Life survey (a national survey of churchgoers)
shows that worshipping in a particular denomination is less important
people than finding a church that they personally connect
“People are looking for a loving community, a living faith and a moral
system: the denominational barriers are less important now.”
A former pathologist, Rev Murnain says as a scientist he found it
difficult to take to Christianity at first and understands people’s
current fascination with other religions, such as Buddhism.
“I tried Hinduism and followed Buddhism, and I did yoga and martial
“Although I don’t agree with the thinking behind them, I respect their
“For me personally, my faith is founded in Jesus and him only.
“However, we can all embark on social change for the community and
respect our differences.”
Rev Murnain says all churches in Alice Springs are working for the same
“We’re not in competition. The ministers from all the Christian
churches work together as part of the Alice Springs Ministers
“We meet regularly, sharing ideas as well as supporting each other.”
The head of the Fellowship is Pastor Mark von Blanckensee, the minister
for the Christian Community Centre (Assemblies of God) on Undoolya
Like Rev Murnain, Pastor von Blanckensee has had a deep impact on his
church, helping it grow from 80 members three years ago to its current
congregation of 320.
Around 120 are under 16, and a typical member is a parent in their 30s.
The National Church Life Survey suggests that pentecostal churches like
the Christian Community Centre tend to have bigger congregations but a
higher turnover of members.
“The church is for all ages and everyone is valuable but we focus on
kids and youth in particular,” says Pastor von Blanckensee.
“It’s a hugely important focus for a church in Alice Springs. Some
people say there is a lack of options for young people, they get bored
and perhaps do things they regret later.”
The church has a “hub” and games room for young people to meet, and
offers its junior members (and non-members) two Friday night programs
as well as a thriving Sunday school and youth group. During the school
holidays, a group of children went to a youth camp at 7 Mile, on the
outskirts of Alice Springs.
“Youth today want to be connected and be passionate about something and
this is something they can be passionate about, just like sport,” says
Pastor von Blanckensee.
“If the church is alive and passionate, it helps younger people connect
“That’s why we think so many young people are coming.”
He says young people are the future of the Christian faith.
“There is a saying that Christianity is one generation from extinction
and one generation away from revival,” says Pastor von Blanckensee.
“We have a responsibility to the next generation. I’ve heard that 80
per cent of people have decided whether to follow the Christian path by
the time they’re 18, and something like 75 per cent of people go into
university believing in God but only 17 per cent come out believing in
“We want to give people options and the best opportunity to embrace the
Pastor von Blanckensee says the attitude of the church is as important
as the activities it offers.
“We hear lots of people say they didn’t think church could be like ours
is. We are geared to having fun and so that people enjoy coming. It’s
a show or entertainment but the style of music and preaching is all
people having a good time and making good friends here.
“We don’t believe quietness is the same as reverence and you can still
have fun and have respect for God. There isn’t a dress code here and we
the building as sacred.
“It’s the people who make the church, not the building.”
Patricia Bird has been a member of the Christian Community Centre’s
congregation for 20 years. She joined the church from the Salvation
Army where she also belonged for 20 years.
“People are draw into relationship groups rather than buildings and
rituals these days,” she says.
“And if you look at the Bible, that’s how people used to meet: they
would go to the temple but would meet daily in homes with each other.
“People have got to have a cause and a purpose. They like meeting with
like minded people. Some may join a sports club, some may join a
“The cause of Christ gives people a purpose in life.”
Meanwhile the number of people attending the Catholic church in Alice
Springs has declined over the past five years, says Father Brian Healy,
who has been a priest at the church for 17 years.
“There are not as many coming as there used to be, the number attending
mass on weekends has dropped from 700 or 800 down to 500 or 600,” says
“There are still about 6000 Catholics in Alice Springs and we have five
masses each weekend.
“Sport has taken up a great amount of weekend and the shops are open
through the weekend so unfortunately church misses out a bit.”
But Father Healy maintains the orthodox church still holds its place in
“We’re still very highly respected and people don’t hesitate to make
contact, for example for funerals and baptisms or when someone is sick.
“We’re really part of the life of Catholic people in Alice Springs,
even though it’s not quite as obvious as it used to be.
“We still have two priests, myself and Father Raass who has been here
for three years.”
Surprisingly the church doesn’t hold a Sunday school.
“It’s because we have three Catholic schools with almost 1000
enrolled,” says Father Healy.
“Unfortunately there is no youth group at the moment. We’d love to have
one, and the parish council is hoping to get one going.”
The Catholic church in Central Australia has a history of commitment
from Indigenous people, and there is a special Aboriginal church on
“There is a resident priest, four resident brothers and two nuns,” says
“Some people object to Aborigines worshipping separately but when they
worship on their own they tend to get a lot more involved. My
experience is they’re shy and quiet in a white community. When they do
come from time to time to the main church, they are very quiet and sit
in the back seats.
“In South Terrace, they get hold of the microphone to speak or do a
reading. I think they feel more comfortable doing that in their own
The Catholic church has four brothers attached to the three campuses of
Our Lady of the Sacred Heart college, three of whom are Marists. There
also 12 nuns working in the community – with Aborigines, the poor, in
hospital, the jail, leading religious instruction in government schools
working at Charles Darwin University and Batchelor College.
NEXT: Lutheran, Baptist and Uniting churches as well as Baha’i and
COMMUNITY BANK TO LAUNCH PROSPECTUS.
Promoters of a community bank in Alice Springs have been told by the
sponsoring Bendigo Bank that their project’s feasibility study “has
A member of the steering committee, Rosemary Wiese, says the target of
$600,000 in “pledges” has been well exceeded, with $770,000 promised to
be turned into
shareholdings once the bank becomes a reality.
It is likely that a prospectus will be launched soon.
Ms Wiese says the unofficial HQ of the bank will be 4 Polana Centre in
Smith Street. PICTURED above are Cyril Morton (left) and Noel Thomas at
the project’s stall during the Mall Markets last Sunday. INSET: Ms
Voyages and the government-run Tourism NT seem to continue to be close
Tony Mayell, the former managing director and CEO of the Northern
Territory Tourist Commission (now Tourism NT), has been appointed as
the general manager of Voyages Ayers Rock Resort.
And Grant Hunt, the former CEO and managing director of Voyages, is now
chairman of the Northern Territory Advisory Board of Tourism NT.
TALKS ON FLIGHTS FROM OVERSEAS.
The Chamber of Commerce is seeking talks with Voyages Hotels, which
owns the Ayers Rock Resort, about an arrangement for Alice Springs to
continue to be the only international airport in The Centre.
Local chamber chairman Terry Lillis says he would like to discuss some
trade-offs with Voyages.
The national hotel chain has steadfastly denied that it is gearing up
for overseas flight direct to The Rock.
However, some local tourist operators view moves to upgrade the Yulara
runway for bigger planes with suspicion.
Mr Lillis says another major objective of the chamber is to entice
mining companies to spend more money in Alice Springs if roads
currently in very poor repair are fixed.
Mr Lillis says the chamber has found it difficult to get an appointment
with Chief Minister Clare Martin to discuss the issues.
TOYNE NOT A BIG LOSS.
COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
MLA for Stuart Peter Toyne won’t be a great loss to our political
I’m sad to say so, especially if his departure is linked to health
issues vaguely alluded to by him.
I’ve known Peter for decades, to begin with as a man of outstanding
integrity. As a teacher in Yuendumu he performed well beyond the call
of duty, becoming a key figure in the development of the Tanami
Network, a video communications link joining together people in
incredibly remote communities.
Some of these people later became his constituents during 10 years as
the Member for Stuart. He was a tireless worker in the complicated,
of Aboriginal advancement.
Peter was an excellent conversation partner, as a knowledgeable, fair
and committed Central Australian.
He was the kind of bloke you hope would play a key role developing a
vision for the future, now that his party had broken the quarter
century domination of Territory by the CLP.
As Minister for Central Australia he appeared superbly placed to stand
up for his home town and the region around it. But within a couple of
became a – sadly passive – victim to the way Clare Martin is running
Peter was subjected to the control of minders, instructed to keep his
mouth shut unless told otherwise, trotted out on stage-managed “media
less and less accessible.
He was burdened with matters generally other than what locals perceived
to be his job – being a champion of The Centre, just as it entered a
traumatic phase of economic stagnation, racial tension, ballooning
crime and government neglect.
For Ms Martin to limit Peter in that way was a disgrace.
For him to subject himself to those constraints was deplorable
Where to now for the Electorate of Stuart?
Office of Central Australia staffer Karl Hampton, regarded by some as a
done deal, and former Alice Springs alderman Des Rogers, both say they
considering their options.
One rumor had Mayor Fran Kilgariff putting her hand up but she said
this week she’s definitely not.
It’s hardly relevant whom the CLP is standing in the hugely safe Labor
seat, but the candidate last year, Anna Machado, says she’s on her way
back to The
Centre, with a new landrights permit to live at Willowra.
She ran the store there but was driven out of the community by the
Central Land Council with apparent flagrant disregard for the kind of
rights regarded as fundamental in a free society.
BRING YOUR HAT!
By KIERAN FINNANE.
The steel structures supporting grape vines in the mall are under
threat of immediate removal, as they are rusting through beyond repair
and dangerous to the public, according to town council director of
technical services, Eric
Aldermen opposed the move on Monday, as the structures provide
important areas of shade as summer approaches.
Ald Murray Stewart suggested the imminent heat and lack of shade
represents a greater danger to the public.
Ald David Koch asked Mr Peterson about his replacement strategy.
Mr Peterson talked of alternative cantilevered shade structures but
admitted there are no funds available to pay for them.
Ald Melanie van Haaren asked if businesses in the mall, some of which,
like The Lane (ABOVE), use the structures to shade al fresco patrons,
have been consulted.
Mr Peterson said the structures are an advantage to the businesses, not
an entitlement, and there has been no consultation.
Ald Samih Habib took the matter in hand, saying he would accompany Mr
Peterson on an inspection of the structures and devise a suitable
method of repair. This was supported by aldermen.
COUNCIL’S ANTI NUKE DUMP POLICY UNDERMINED.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Five aldermen have undermined, if not effectively overturned, the town
council’s opposition to a nuclear waste facility being located in the
Northern Territory, most likely within the Central Australian region.
Aldermen David Koch, Samih Habib, Murray Stewart, Geoff Bell and Robyn
Lambley voted down a motion by Ald Jane Clark to ask Local Government
Association NT President Ald Kerry Moir to present on council’s behalf
a paper at the annual National General Assembly of Local Government in
Canberra at the end of November.
The paper would have protested against the location in the NT of the
In support of her motion Ald Clark had written to her fellow aldermen:
“I feel that it is the responsibility of all tiers of government to
point out the injustices the NT has suffered politically because of our
status as a Territory.
“If we do not fight this issue, then it opens the way for the
Australian Government to use us as a pawn whenever they like,
overriding our decisions and ignoring our residents.”
Her motion wanted Ald Moir to “point out that the Australian Government
did not give the NT access to the same avenues of consultation as the
While she attempted on Monday night to confine the debate to the issue
of process, the dissenting aldermen used the occasion to state their
support for a nuclear waste facility in the NT.
Ald Koch said council should be doing “as much as we can to capitalise
on the opportunity”.
Ald Habib said fossil fuel is worse than nuclear energy in its impacts,
especially on third world countries, and said the NT should ask for a
facility next to the dump.
Ald Stewart said “whichever way we go, it should be with the business
He didn’t want to be seen “doing a waltz with the point three per
centers”, referring to people, presumably men, “with long hair and
Ald Bell, while declaring he is against nuclear weapons proliferation,
pointed to the value of nuclear medicine and also believes “we missed
out on an opportunity”.
Ald Lambley did not speak on the issue but, when a division was called,
made her position clear.
Supporting Ald Clark were Mayor Fran Kilgariff, and Alds Meredith
Campbell and Melanie van Haaren.
Ald Clark, shocked by Monday’s debate, says the official position of
council, defined by a motion last year, is still opposition to the
location of the facility in the NT.
The motion would have to be rescinded and then a new motion voted on.
She says the issue will come up again soon when she tries to have
council declare Alice Springs “a nuclear free zone”.
“I will put my case very strongly and it will show the holes in the
arguments put forward last night.
“There is no evidence that the Australian Government will be paying the
Territory one red cent to put their waste facility on their own land.”
FISH WOULD HAVE LOVED IT.
By ERWIN CHLANDA.
Terry Michael “Fish” Gill, aged 44, died at dusk on August 23, 1998.
He was riding his Harley Davidson motor cycle about five kilometers
east of Ross River, in that awful light just after sundown.
Going quite slowly he might have glanced into the rear vision mirror,
to see where fellow biker Trevor “Poodge” Packham was, when Fish hit a
camel, was knocked backwards and most likely had his spine snapped when
it struck the number plate mount sticking up from the rear mudguard.
When Poodge, who’d seen the sparks of the crashing bike ahead of him,
got to Fish seconds later, he was lying dead by the side of the road.
“He’d passed away,” Poodge last Saturday told 200 people on the spot
“where Fish had his accident”, as his brother Bryan “Beez” Gill puts
“There was nothing we could do for him,” recounted Poodge.
Fish’s orange Harley Shovel Head 1978, only slightly damaged, was
restored and Beez rode it on Saturday to lead a pack of more than 80
bikers in the eighth Fish’s Run, a social phenomenon in The Centre, and
proof that Alice is still a small, caring community.
The crowd, some having arrived in cars and utes, stood in sad
silence as Beez played “High” by the Lighthouse Family, one of the
songs played at Fish’s funeral.
“He’s here,” said Beez: the cairn on the accident site is a mock-up
bike, only the handle bars and petrol tank coming from the crashed
Half of Fish’s ashes are in the left-hand fuel cell.
And the Gill family buried Fish’s dog, Sleepy, which was 16 years old,
behind the cairn last week.
But the moving service each year is only part of what the Run is all
about: the other part is a boisterous celebration of the life of Fish.
The odd thing is, it’s not only his many friends who’re attracted to
the Run. There are many who didn’t know him at all, but are motivated
to join in by the devotion of this biker’s mates.
The one thing they all have in common is a love of motorbikes, not just
Harleys, which made up about half the rigs.
And it’s a night out for people from all walks of life, from all social
backgrounds, income ranges and ages, who want to be, well, bloody wild.
Riding in a pack of more than 80 bikes isn’t for the faint hearted.
You’re doing up to 120 km/h, riding in two lines, and with about three
bikes within five meters of you.
Don’t suddenly run out of gas!
Political correctness is left at the gate of the Ross River Homestead
campground which becomes the playground for kids aged five to 80.
The dress code is strict: generally black from helmet to boots.
Beer bellies are proudly worn like well-earned trophies, encased in
tight-fitting T-shirts, black of course, some of which have seen better
Tats are highly desirable, but nothing’s obligatory.
Beards are an advantage, the bigger the better. Grey is OK. Bandannas
One biker wore a death mask over his face. I was told it’s to spare the
public the view of what’s underneath.
Grown men on $30,000 bikes compete with 10-year-olds for the
The kids try to roll paddy melons into a helmet on the ground.
Then the adults say, it’s our turn.
Kids ride push bikes.
Adults compete in a slow race on Harleys: the second out of two across
the finish line, without putting either foot on the ground, is the
Cheeky banter from MC Poodge is acceptable, nay, applauded as the
ladies compete in the sausage sucking competition: it’s girls grabbing
Frankfurters dangling from a string with their teeth while riding
The f-word’s OK but there’s not a harsh word spoken all night. No
If more proof is needed that these bikers have a heart of gold, $3000
says so: that’s the amount raised by this year’s run for the Butterfly
Connection, headed up here by Rachel Haines, supporting kids who need
medical treatment away from their home town.
The money was raised through sponsorship, an auction, raffles and the
sale of Fish’s Run merchandise.
Cash and prizes came from Fish’s stepsister Robyn and husband Randy
Nash from Boise, Idaho USA; Bojangles, Todd Tavern, The Overlanders
Steakhouse, System Homes, Kurlben Painting, Alice Springs Electrical
and Red Sands Concrete.
TEN CANOES’ SECRET.
By ELIZABETH ATTWOOD.
Ian Jones, director of photography of the Cannes-winning film Ten
Canoes, will share his secrets with audiences in Alice as part of the
Other leading film makers taking part in the festival include the
screenwriter for Lantana, Andrew Bovell.
Ian Jones returns to Alice after shooting several of his past films
here including Evil Angels, Last Frontier and The Slim Dusty Movie.
The workshop, held at 2pm at Witchetty’s at Araluen on September 3, is
free for members of the Cinematographers Society.
Then at 7.45pm at Araluen Mr Jones will show Ten Canoes and share the
secrets of how it was made.
But the movie maker hopes he won’t end up in the same state he did
while he was filming Slim Dusty in Alice.
“I visited the hospital for a week after a piece of equipment collapsed
in the Todd River [when we were setting up before] one of Slim’s
He will reveal to Alice film makers cost cutting ways to make movies.
“Low budget film making is a topic that everyone loves to discuss, and
I’ll also be talking about simple lighting and camera techniques.”
He hopes to inspire locals to develop the genre of story-telling shows,
following the success of his latest television project, RAN - Remote
“RAN opened our eyes to the world in our back yard, and golly gosh, we
loved it! “I think there is a need for a continuation of this style of
Later in the evening at Araluen he will show clips from RAN, Ten Canoes
and The Tracker and explain how they were made.
Does he have any plans for filming again in the NT or in Central
Australia? “Not at this stage, but ask me and I’ll be there,” says
Jones, who first came
to Alice as a tourist and then most recently with his wife on
The events are a number of film-related activities happening at the
festival. Another highlight is when the screenwriter of Lantana, Andrew
Bovell, will share his movie secrets in conversation with John Romeril
who wrote One Night The Moon, the film which will be shown after the
talks at 6.30pm on September 8, upstairs at The Lane.
They will be joined by local film maker David Curl who says: “Hopefully
the events will create a better understanding of our industry and the
enormous value it has to our culture and economy.
“It’s massively undervalued within the NT.”
Mr Curl has lined up some of Australia’s other leading cinematographers
to speak at the festival in the future including Don McAlpine
of Narnia, Mrs Doubtfire, Moulin Rouge) and Andrew Lesnie (Lord of the
Two nights of cinema in the Todd River will also be shown, with films
from local people including Mr Curl’s latest, the music videos of Chris
Tangey that have hit the national country charts and the award-winning
films of Warwick
Thornton and CAAMA.
On September 7 and 9 from 7.30pm in the stretch of the Todd near Anzac
ALICE DESERT FESTIVAL LIFTS OFF.
By ELIZABETH ATTWOOD.
Sudan and Alice Springs have an unlikely connection, thanks to two
musical stars which will unite brightly together this Saturday at the
Alice Desert Festival.
A refugee from southern Sudan of the Dinka tribe, Ajak Kwai will sing
with Tecoma (Amira Pyliotis), whose older sister is the former
girlfriend of one of Ajak’s band members. Amira and Ajak are pictured,
“The folk scene is small in Australia, it was inevitable we’d perform
together,” says Amira. Now living in Tasmania, Ajak says cultural
diversity is what makes
her band unique.
“We’re like the United Nations! We’re all Australians but with Irish,
Indian and African blood. But we shouldn’t focus on what makes us
different, but what brings us together as humans, like music.”
After Sudan slid into c war, Ajak moved to Egypt then came to Australia
in 1999 as a refugee. Her wide smile fades when she speaks about Sudan.
didn’t have a choice, I had to leave. There are so many problems in the
But we all belong to one planet, no matter what colour we are.”
Finding healing in singing, Ajak writes most of her material, singing
traditional and contemporary music. The band accompanies her with
traditional African instruments like the oud (a lute-like instrument)
and the kora, like a harp.
“Some songs are sad, some are happy, some are for peace. My background
contributes to songs.
“I love for people to have a good time. People are unhappy in my
country. I like people not to forget about the problems but to enjoy
will perform with local musicians Tecoma, Tashka Urban, Laura White and
Castle on Saturday at 8pm at Araluen.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Snake Eyes, the title of an installation by Cassandra Schultz opening
this Friday at Watch This Space as the inaugural event of the Alice
Desert Festival, suggests at the very least a watchful presence, at
worst a threat.
It sets up a state within the viewer, the watcher being watched, a
heightened awareness of one’s own position in this often rather passive
activity – viewing art. That’s a good move on Schultz’s part because
she needs the viewers to do some work, to make meaning for themselves
out of the relationship between the things she has installed in the
gallery – a collection of bones, fragments of stories bound into
precious books, lightboxes presenting juxtaposed images (some her own
photographs, some archived, pictured bottom right), plinths made from
The way this assortment is presented is, even more than usually,
integral to the work. Schultz’s concern is with how we make meaning,
within our cultural traditions and concepts, of this country we live
in. We collect, we mythologize and fantasize, we record and make links
between like and unlike things, we preserve, fetishize – this list is
just a beginning. Her concern is also with
how these cultural activities might order and constrain our
those of women. The female characters in her engaging, slightly strange
battle the odds to claim a different type of experience than the ones
for them, as described in the lightboxes.
They see beauty, make connections where there were none before. Schultz
invites you to do the same with her collection of bones.
WE NEED GLITZ!
BY columnist ADAM CONNELLY
A movie based on the Falconio mystery is currently in production.
Should be great. Sure it is being shot in Broken Hill, a place that
takes at least a day and a half to get to from where the actual
incidents took place,
but that’s just a minor detail.
Sure the lead characters are played by unknowns, sure the budget is
about the same as a kilo of bananas, but I’m sure it will be a cracking
Cue the spooky music…the Northern Territory, steeped in harsh mystery.
A desolate place of intrigue and wonder.
I find it strange that people who don’t come to the Territory think of
it in such mysterious ways. I don’t think of Central Australia as all
that mysterious. In fact one of its good points is the fact that most
of the time what you see is what you get.
But there is an aura of the unknown here. The vast space between places
leads the mind to wonder what exactly might happen there.
And we aren’t short of a myth or gripping yarn to spin either. From
Falconio to Wolf Creek to Lasseter’s Gold the small population of the
NT is batting well above the average for stuff of legend.
Even the less known tales are well worth the listen.
Sit next to an old bloke at any pub in town and ask him for his theory
about what happens at the Base and sit back ready to take in all the
glorious ruminations of a world’s best practice conspiracy theory.
I’ve heard pearlers, like the Base is set up to monitor extra
terrestrial activity. (It’s dark here so you can see them at night.)
And then there’s the bloke who thinks it has something to do with the
ability to follow every person anywhere in the world via GPS. Well, if
they are following me around they need a pay rise. How boring!
The old tales are worth a listen, but are they going to bring in the
The one thing that binds these mysteries together is the isolation of
the NT. If there were an incident like Falconio in a metropolitan area
we wouldn’t be making a film about it five years later.
I have nothing against the myths of our history, but I reckon we need
to sex them up a bit.
If we want the high budget movies to come here we really need to dust
off the old image of the barren wilderness with danger lurking in every
corner. That has small budget independent written all over it. Nothing
but chump change.
What we need is a professional job done by a professional PR company.
Not the “Territory Proud” people. School kids singing slightly off key
with poxy lyrics. That might get the families in but not the big
spenders. No the world is crying out for mind-numbing glitz.
Less gruesome slayings and deadly animals, we need glamour, and the
promise of beautiful people.
We need Ferraris and champagne (not together of course). Sounds like
the Cannonball Run, doesn’t it?
But the cannonball run is still a bit grubby. How about a cannonball
style race that ends in a casino and fireworks.
OK that’s a start but there needs to be something more. Political
espionage perhaps … and explosions!
Think of it less as letting go of history and flannelette and more as
an investment opportunity. I think it’s time, Central Australia. Well
either it’s time or I’ve been watching too many Bond films.
Back to frontpage the Alice Springs News.