ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
November 13, 2008. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
wants all Centre MLAs to act together on anti-social behaviour. By
“Big name, no blanket” is how Alison Anderson describes being Minister
for Central Australia, a role that she nonetheless relishes.
She loves being the front person for her home region and is determined
to keep the conversations direct – Minister to constituent, no spin.
But from there, she becomes simply a go-between, an advocate.
The Minister for Central Australia comes without decision-making power
or processes, without a budget or resources.
“It is an empty shell,” says Ms Anderson.
This view is perhaps why she added her voice, without politicking, to
the Matter of Public Importance (MPI) initiated from the Opposition
benches in the Legislative Assembly sittings just concluded.
Member for Greatorex Matt Conlan defined the MPI as “the need for
genuine consideration of and resources to be committed to the
resolution of the many pressing social issues facing Alice Springs”.
He spoke particularly about a rise in crime since 2001, about problems
with public housing, the lack of adequate land release, the loss of
accommodation beds including Melanka’s, and the inadequacy of the
Patient Assistance Travel Scheme (PATS).
Member for Stuart and Minister for Regional Development Karl Hampton
thanked Mr Conlan for the opportunity to devote attention to Alice
Springs but defended the role of his government.
Ms Anderson, however, did not. She avoided comment on what has been
done or not done, taking up Mr Conlan’s theme of anti-social behaviour
by public housing tenants.
She began by recalling the town of her girlhood: “Alice Springs was my
home when I was a youth and is a shining example of a multicultural
society which began with the traditional owners and developed over time
through the hard work and cooperation of great families from diverse
background like the Trindalls, the De Arnos, the Swans, the Hamptons,
the Abbotts, the Kilgariffs, the Necks, the Lillises and many others.
“There were also families from surrounding pastoral stations that
contributed much to the town, such as the Mortons, the Savages, the
Lalleys, the Conways, the Chisholms and the Webbs and the Greens, just
to name a few from outlying stations. Then there were families such as
Initially they were fringe dwellers, where the Yipirinya school is now.
They had come in to town because they wanted to educate their children
but also to get away from anti-social behaviour out bush, said Ms
Then they were housed at the Lutheran Church’s Mission Block.
“The Lutheran Church helped these people live in the cottages and
trained them how to clean the houses,” she told the Assembly.
“Then they applied to Territory Housing to have them put in [housing
at] the Gap ...
“We had Greek people who owned their own houses right next door to us.
But our house did not look like a Territory Housing house because we
kept the yard clean and the house clean ...
“I think that the attitude that we have had as a society, and I have
got to say this, is that we think that there is a black way and white
way to do things.
“There is one way to do things, and that is the right way to do things.
“Society has taken the step to think that [there] is a black way to
educate children; that is maybe why we have so much failure in literacy
“There is no black way or white way to educate children, but the right
way to educate children.
“There is no black way or a white way to live inside a house, but there
is the right way to live inside a house.”
Ms Anderson saw the MPI as “a great opportunity for the members for
Araluen, Greatorex, Braitling, Stuart and me, for all of us to get
together and really do something magical for Alice Springs as five
“We can only make Alice Springs grow better. Five of us, along with the
town of Alice Springs, can bring the antisocial behaviour down,” she
told the Assembly.
Her suggestion has been welcomed by Mr Conlan: “This is a great idea,
very proactive and is something Alison Anderson has been saying for a
long time. Now that she is in a position of authority she might be able
to drive somethinglike this.
“The more cooperative we can be, the better Alice Springs can be.”
Specifically, the Territory Government should resource programs to
teach people how to live in houses, she says.
Anti-social behaviour in the streets is fed by alcoholism – parents
drinking and children left unsupervised.
There needs to be a greater rehabilitation effort: “These are sick
“They need more rehabilitation centres.”
She sees little point in the move to extend CCTV into more streets of
the CBD (proposed by the Town Council and agreed to by the Chief
Minister with a promise of $1.1m in funding).
Since the installation of CCTV in the mall she has seen “a lot more
activity of underage children in Hartley Street”.
“We can’t just put CCTV into every street.
“We’ve got to get to the core of the problem – why parents are drinking
and why children are in the streets to one and two in the morning.”
She says an audit of youth services is needed – to make sure there is
no duplication of effort and that funds go towards a “continuous
service for children who are neglected”.
She says she will put a case to the government to have CCTV properly
evaluated before more precious funds are spent on extending it.
She says each Minister needs to be involved in Central Australia in
their portfolio area.
“They need to come here and see the problems for themselves.”
She says all the regional towns of the Territory need a greater focus.
Remote communities have received a lot of attention under the
Intervention but the regional towns need help too.
“They help hold the remote Aboriginal communities together, it’s a
“If these links are broken then the whole lot breaks down.”
Uranium miner Cameco gets it
A professional scientist well known to the Alice Springs News, who has
asked not to be named, has challenged the accuracy of part of the
letter to the editor from Cameco’s Jennifer Parks in last week’s issue.
Ms Parks was responding to a number of allegations in relation to
Cameco’s environment record elsewhere in the world.
Cameco, in a joint venture with Paladin, holds an exploration lease for
the Angela Pamela uranium deposit just to the south of Alice Springs.
The scientist said: “I read Jennifer Parks’ soothing words (‘Cameco
answers allegations’) with some concern: she says that ‘the spills
[were] water with tiny amounts of uranium ranging up to 35 parts per
“This is either a misprint, or a very worrying willingness to disguise
the truth: 35 parts per million is 1750 times more than the upper limit
in the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines! Hardly a ‘tiny
The Alice News put this to Ms Parks, who admitted her error.
She said: “These numbers are correct – the regulatory limit for
uranium in drinking water in Australia is 20 micrograms, or 0.02ppm.
“However, as also noted in the article the spills were contained,
collected and remediated, they did not escape into the environment and
did not involve drinking water.
“Just to put the numbers into perspective, many granites in Australia
and worldwide have about 35ppm uranium in them.
“The ore at Ranger averages about 3000ppm and the ore we mine in Canada
is generally +30,000ppm.”
A ferocious storm ripped leaves and branches off a wide swathe of
bushland, and hail punctured the barks of trees like a machine gun,
just five kilometers north of town last Friday evening.
On Saturday afternoon local residents Roland Weber and Tamara Reudink,
who took these photos, discovered one of their favourite recreational
areas on the way to Wigley’s waterhole, eerily without any greenery.
The few leaves remaining on trees were shredded and the western sides
of tree trunks were heavily scarred – Mr Weber suspected by hailstones
the size of golfballs.
Mr Weber estimated a swathe of some seven to 10 kms had been
On Friday from 2pm the Bureau of Meteorology’s severe weather
forecaster, Todd Smith, had been watching on his radar storms gathering
across the Alice district, mainly in the central and eastern parts.
In the course of the afternoon the Bureau issued a severe thunderstorm
warning for the town and the airport.
Then at 5pm Mr Smith saw the storm to the north “intensify quite
He says it continued tracking east for about an hour, though not quite
as severe, over a distance of some 50 kms.
Another significant storm struck south of the airport.
And of course the system brought with it the heavy rain that caused
most locals to rejoice and the Todd to flow for the first time in two
This is the second time a destructive storm has struck in or very close
to Alice in seven weeks.
It is the season when Alice is prone to severe thunderstorm events,
says the Bureau’s climate services chief, Sam Cleland.
He says the record shows that strong wind gusts can be associated with
thunderstorms at this time of year.
The September 22 storm had the strongest September wind gusts recorded
at the Alice airport since records began in 1941, but “only by a couple
Although Mr Cleland is no climate change sceptic, he says it is
problematic to see individual weather events as “a signature of climate
Parks and Wildlife Chief District Ranger Wayne Gaskon says the
eucalpypts in the area had probably already dropped a fair bit of
foliage due to the prolonged dry spell. He was confident that, with the
rain soaking in, they will recover from the storm’s onslaught.
How to make remote Oz tick.
FINNANE reports from the Desert Knowledge symposium.
Local history, local networks, local relationships seemed to be the
common theme in success stories about making remote governance work,
heard at the Desert Knowledge Symposium in Alice last week.
How to scale up from these examples to networked models that distant
governments will accept and fund remains the challenge.
And for the Desert Knowledge movement, if it can be called that, the
conversation has to include non-Indigenous presence and communities in
This last point was made by the chair of Desert Knowledge Australia
(DKA), Fred Chaney AO, who recognised that most of the expertise
assembled in the governance stream of the symposium was focussed on
Services and governance in a region like the wealth-generating Pilbara
in WA, where the majority population is non-Indigenous, are inadequate
too, he noted.
And when governance is not working in the Pilbara, governments can’t
fall back on the excuses that it’s all the fault of Aboriginal people
and of the lack of wealth production in remote areas.
The inclusion of areas like the Pilbara will help make the case
nationally that a web of settlements needs to be maintained across
“This is not a settled issue,” said Mr Chaney.
On the contrary, the longer term approach from governments towards
remote Australia is to “empty it out”, he said.
His view was echoed in recommendations from the forum on “Futures for
Desert Settlements and Regional Services”, where “a clear statement of
commitment to remote Australia” from governments was called for.
This means the continued survival of small communities and a
recognition of their “value for Australia”.
Behind the statement that “the desert matters” must be a commitment to
“the right decisions being made at the right place”, with “budgetary
power” to implement those decisions.
There need to be specific rules for remote Australia that suit remote
Governance needs to start with local communities and build up to “a
The conference had heard about good work at the base level.
Wirrimanu (Balgo) in WA moved out of a disheartening five year period
under administration just over two months ago.
This came as a result of several months of local governance “capacity
building”, led by Maggie Kavanagh, formerly director of NPY Women’s
Administration “by accountants in Perth” had “shattered people’s
confidence”, said Ms Kavanagh.
And during that time no new resources had gone into the community.
Few Aboriginal people were employed.
There were no aged care services, no childcare, no pre-school, no
The condition of the housing was the “worst” she’d seen in 25 years.
There hadn’t been any representative community meeting for the five
She was employed by the Wirrimanu Aboriginal Corporation to support the
community out of administration. After five months a representative
body, made up of 14 people representing 14 families – no family was
left out – had settled into a regular meeting schedule on every second
These meetings were a learning place for governance training, dealing
with “real issues” – for example, with requests from parolees to return
to the community.
“People gain competence through practice, practice, practice,” said Ms
They developed their own “rule book” (constitution) and their own
conduct code, which included a guide for visitors, asking them to speak
in clear English (no jargon words) and to leave when they had finished
with their specific business.
She said meetings have a warm welcoming atmosphere, with cups of tea
and lunch, and an unhurried approach.
Minutes are printed in large font and also read out loud, with
dictionaries to hand – “people love learning”.
Ms Kavanagh recommended this “community development” approach to
governance as “best practice”.
Fly-in, fly-out approaches could not hope to match “building up
relationships based on mutual respect” and on living as “part of the
With a new air of confidence and purpose in the community and even
though there is still a lot of catching-up to do, an immediate benefit
has been an increase in school attendance, from 30% to 70%, said Ms
After local controversy over the recent shire elections, it was
interesting to hear about the process in West Arnhem Shire, where a
reluctant Jabiru, with a majority non-Indigenous population, was
pulled into the local government reform process.
Diane Smith, of the ANU’s Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy
research, looked into the process over five years and presented her
findings to the symposium.
A “community development” approach again got a big tick.
Two officers, trained in community development work, had been employed
at the outset, one of them Aboriginal.
Working with the transitional committee, made up in part of elected
members from the old community councils, they developed “trust and
relationships” which allowed some “very frank discussions” about what
the process would deliver.
An early development was the adoption of a logo that expressed a vision
of what the shire would be about: it shows a salt water turtle and a
fresh water turtle on either side of a central motif of a white hand
and a black hand entwined.
It was a message that helped smooth the way when Jabiru was ordered to
join the process – they felt that the process had something to do with
them, that they were welcome, said Ms Smith.
The committee wrestled with roles – who was to do what, what would be
the relationship between councillors and staff. They became quite clear
about elected members making particular decisions, and staff providing
options and advice.
They wrestled with cultural issues, eventually deciding that Aboriginal
law and customs, for instance about who could speak when and in the
presence of who else, were not to be applied for the conduct of local
“This was a sophisticated way of dealing with conflict,” said Ms Smith,
“it was resolved by the people themselves making new rules.”
She said the main lesson of the process was that reform must start “on
the ground”, with communities and their leaders making informed
decisions and following through.
To the Alice News she said there was anxiety on both sides when Jabiru
was brought into the process.
Indigenous people were worried that they would be overwhelmed, that
shire headquarters would be set up in Jabiru (which in fact has
happened), that Jabiru would get the lion’s share of infrastructure
work, which would mean a loss of jobs on communities.
Jabiru members were concerned about losing the resources they had built
up, from their rate base, to a shire which doesn’t have a rate system,
said Ms Smith.
They worried too about how their cultural values would fit in with the
values of the mainly Indigenous population of the shire.
These concerns were worked through, step by step, by sitting down
together and talking.
Ms Smith commented that there were some non-Aboriginal people involved
who had “enormous good will” – “they accepted that it was going to
happen, the government had said it had to, and they reached out to
Relationships changed; Aboriginal people could see that the
non-Aboriginal people were prepared to be flexible.
Although Jabiru got the HQ, there is a commitment to decentralised
shire operations, with shire offices and staff in communities, and
conversely community residents with region-wide roles based in the
As well the shire CEO spends some time in communities each month and
there’ll be meetings in communities, similar to community Cabinets, as
shire business gets underway.
Ms Smith said it will be critical in every shire to work out how to
maintain a strong connection between the central office and the
communities, and reiterated the importance of community development
work to build governance capacity.
Despite these positive stories coming out of remote communities, in
discussion Harold Furber, deputy chair of DKA and a Desert Knowledge
Cooperative Research Centre board member, said he’d like “to declare
war on the word ‘community’”.
He said it raises expectations of Aboriginal people that wouldn’t be
raised if they were deemed to be living in a “town”. (He didn’t go into
the implications that this line of argument would logically have for
things like the permit system.)
Mr Chaney agreed that the idea of communities is accompanied by “a
degree of romance” and an expectation of people “that they become
experts in everything”, including governance.
And he reiterated that the message to government has to be about
governance solutions that are for the whole of remote Australia – “not
some for Aboriginal people and some for the rest”.
governance: Getting the show on the road.
Working models to be put to government of what effective governance in
remote Australia could look like will be developed over the next 12
months, says Fred Chaney AO (pictured).
The chair of Desert Knowledge Australia, former Senator, and former
co-chair of Reconciliation Australia and still a member of its
board, is closely involved with the remoteFOCUS project which has
dramatically described the “failed state of remote Australia” as facing
an “impending calamity” (see Alice News, October 16).
Two critical areas must be covered by the governance proposals, says Mr
Chaney: one is the flow of money (fiscal federalism) and the other is
decision-making which should be as “low down in the tiers of government
as appropriate” (the jargon word for this is “subsidiarity”).
Some decisions relevant to remote areas, such as where to put a nuclear
waste dump or how to protect the Murray-Darling, need to be taken at a
national level, he says, but others need to be made much closer to the
people on the ground. “If this was easy, it would have been solved in
the past,” says Mr Chaney.
He expects that remoteFOCUS will be able to influence the Commonwealth
as they’ll be looking to ensure that “extraordinary Interventions”
don’t have to be made elsewhere in desert and northern Australia.
“You wouldn’t need an extraordinary Intervention if the everyday
processes of government were working.”
He sees the Intervention and the many other governance experiments
conducted in the past, such as the COAG trials, as signs of the
Commonwealth’s interest in grappling with the issues.
Mr Chaney says remoteFOCUS intends to consult widely across remote
Australia about local decision-making models, but what form this takes
depends on how much money they can raise. Mr Chaney expects that to
become clear within the next month.
that gets it right.
A remote community that sounds too good to be true is tiny Birdsville,
population 115 – presented to the Desert Knowledge Symposium as
With just 300 people in the whole Diamantina Shire, one third of them
Indigenous, and 1600 kms from Brisbane, sustainability of the area is
built on relationships, said Griffith University’s Ann Ingamells.
And these relationships have been developed over generations,
accompanied by a history of strong local government planning.
This has delivered to Birdsville a town with reliable infrastructure, a
diverse economy, quality governance, a good primary school with strong
attendance, and jobs for everyone – Indigenous and non-Indigenous
The surrounding cattle stations, 14 of them, provide the community’s
Initially the industry faltered until people learnt how to work with
the country. Now there are seven million hectares involved in the
production of organic beef and the environment is “pristine”.
“People are keen to keep it that way,” said Ms Ingamells.
The area is also the gateway to the Simpson Desert and thus adventure
tourism is a source of income, although Ms Ingamells said this has yet
to be quantified.
Having a near neighbour in Bedourie, some 200 kms away, is also a plus
– the two communities are both inter-dependent and competitive.
The Diamantina Shire is Birdsville’s biggest employer, with 70 locals
mainly doing road maintenance work.
“The people know they have capacity,” said Ms Ingamells.
Apart from doing all their own road and housing maintenance, they
recently undertook their own airport upgrade with excellent results.
The council plays a central role in the community – it’s “very close to
the people” and “highly accessible”.
Aboriginal women have been elected as councillors for the last three
One of the council’s commitments is to “cherish the present”, which
means looking after children.
Ms Ingamells said there has been “something great” happening for
children every time she has visited the community.
There is a Youth Council, a mixture of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal
young people aged 18 to 24 – the “leaders of tomorrow”, who are paid
sitting fees for attending meetings.
There is a lively social calendar, again with Aboriginal and
non-Aboriginal people having fun together.
Accompanying all this positivity are the statistics to match: in
Diamantina Shire the median age for Indigenous people is 35; for
non-Indigenous 34. Contrast this with the discrepancy in median age in
the Anmatjere local government area: 24 for Indigenous people; 35 for
Median income in Diamantina is $553/week for Indigenous people,
compared to $613 for non-Indigenous. Again, the contrast with the
Anmatjere local government area is stark: $231/week for Indigenous
people; $768 for non-Indigenous.
Yet the Diamantina region historically had its share of inter-racial
violence and oppression.
How is it then that people live so well together now?
There was suggestion that it may be down to assimilation and indeed all
Aboriginal people in Diamantina Shire speak English at home, with only
a few retaining their traditional language and their culture is lived
fairly privately. But Ms Ingamells said it was more than assimilation.
Most of the Aboriginal residents of Birdsville are on their traditional
country, she said, and their parents and grandparents had good
relationships with the settlers – “as kids they played together”.
There are three or four Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal families who are
“inter-connected” in this way, through a number of generations. They
are used to working together and living alongside each other even
though those relationships were unequal in the past.
“On the whole people appreciate what’s been achieved,” she said, and
increasingly Aboriginal residents are putting forward something of
their world view into the public domain.
Artist sisters Jean A Crombie Barr and Joyce A Crombie showed the
symposium a painting that did just this, that showed aspects of the
cultural and spiritual inheritance of the Wangkangurru/Yarluyandi
people, their historical interactions with settler culture and
the way they live now.
Are there lessons from Birdsville for other places?
Ms Ingamells thinks so, in the inclusion and the layered levels of
decision-making that are practised there. “But I don’t know how you
replicate decades of leadership that has insisted that local services
be just as good for Aboriginal people as for non-Aboriginal people,”
from the crunch. By BEVERLEY JOHNSON.
Now that the economic future appears bleak in many parts of the world,
will the backpacker, our bread and butter continue to travel?
Or will they hold their purse strings tight and wait to see what the
future holds? Mixed views were voiced from those visiting the Red
Centre this week.
Five days into their travels, globe trotters Maarten Dhaenen and Leonie
Wyffels (pictured) have just arrived from Belgium. About to collect
their hire car, both “refuse to let the financial crisis stop them
having a good time”.
Had they known the current economic situation before booking their
month long trip back in May, Maarten insists they “would never have
cancelled. You have to travel now more than ever. It’s a chance to
But surely they have some concerns about the future?
“Our generation are not really bothered about the crisis. We keep on
with our lives.”
Owner of a successful catering company, 23 year old Thibault Fraust
insists his financial position back home is so secure he can easily
take six months off work to travel.
“When people want to keep their minds off a crisis it’s always food
they crave. Lucky for me, I specialise in food. People are spending
money on food to help forget their worries.”
But surely someone must be concerned back home in Belgium?
“My parents are worried but it’s different nowadays. I keep my
money in many banks unlike my grandparents who used the same bank their
whole life. Their future saving plans may suffer, but I think I’ll be
So how do travellers from other parts of Europe feel about travelling
in the future?
Mother and daughter Lucia and Stephanie Gillessen from Switzerland are
enjoying their three week vacation Down Under. Yet they have
contrasting views about future holidays. Mother, Lucia, has a fairly
secure job in government but is concerned.
“We booked this holiday months ago. If I had of known the financial
situation then as I do now, I may have reconsidered travelling.”
At 18, college student Stephanie is not so fazed: “I’m not letting
anything change my travel plans. I can’t spend all my life worrying
English retiree, Shelton Davis, almost at the end of his two month trip
around Australia, is less confident.
“When I booked this trip in February I didn’t really have money
worries. If things worsen I won’t be back to Australia again.”
Shelton blames the modern ways of the world. “The problem is people
want everything now, no one seems to work and save. Everything is
bought on credit, leading to a collapse.”
Having recently tied the knot, honeymooners Kate and Richard Bolan have
certainly felt the affect of the economic situation back home in the UK.
“It has definitely made us more stringent with our money. We are
worried about the future. The ticket for this trip was non-refundable.
We had to beg for money as wedding gifts,” says Kate.
Richard sighs: “The only thing we can do is ride it out. The worst
thing that could happen is that we lose our house.”
Trying to joke but obviously concerned, Kate laughs, “We can just buy a
Irish backpacker Joanne has found sanctuary in her travels: “I am happy
to get away from the harsh times back home.”
Two years out of college and with no responsibilities Joanne says,
“What better time to travel, than when things at home are not
financially secure. If we stay home and wait, we may not be able to
travel at all.”
The situation is slightly different for Patsy Wells on vacation from
West Virginia, USA. “We booked our trip in March, since then the
exchange rate on the dollar has risen. Shopping in Australia is a
Cattle farmer and husband John is concerned but optimistic.
“Our retirement investments have decreased, hopefully in time things
will sort themselves out. It’s getting harder to get credit back home
now, but if the value of the American dollar keeps rising, we should be
Those visiting from Asia do not appear to be worrying just yet.
“The credit crunch has made no difference at all with our plans to
travel,” says Keiko Katakana, a biology student from Japan.
“I worked hard for this holiday. I will do so again, travelling is very
Closer to home Chris, a teacher from Melbourne reckons “it’s too early
“People who are travelling now have booked their travel well in
advance. It’s the long term impact we have to watch.”
The majority of those in the Alice this week would have booked their
trips before the economic slowdown really came to light. With any
luck, those with few responsibilities back home will continue to
travel, exchange rates will continue to rise against the Australian
dollar and Alice Springs tourism will have a healthy future. Only time
The financial manager of a large organisation in Alice Springs has been
sent to gaol for stealing from his employer.
It was Satnam Dhingra’s first offence but Justice Trevor Riley said
that because the offending occurred over a long period of time (2004 to
2006) “that observatiion loses some of its force”.
Mr Dhingra was convicted on each count of stealing property worth in
The items included a television set, a juice fountain, a tent, a swag,
a trailer, which “could not be described as necessities”, said J.
Riley. There was no suggestion that Mr Dhingra was under “any financial
pressure whatsoever”, he said.
The offending was detected in the course of an audit and Mr Dhingra was
He made “early admissions” once confronted and full restitution.
There was no explanation offered for the offending, which led J. Riley
to regard Mr Dhingra’s “prospects for rehabilitation as problematic”.
Said J. Riley: “Offending of this kind, where a trusted employee steals
from his or her employer, is not uncommon in the Northern Territory.
“Often, as in your case, the offending is by people who have no prior
convictions and are otherwise regarded as reputable members of the
“In my view in all the circumstances a sentence which places greater
weight upon general deterrence is required.”
Mr Dhingra was sentenced to 18 months, to be suspended after four
His brother and wife, present in the court, wept bitterly as he was
When raging was
all the go.
KIMBER, then a school teacher, arrived in Alice Springs in 1970 and
took lodgings at Melanka Hostel. This is the second part of his account
of a memorable five years at the recently demolished hostel. (See last
week’s issue for part one.)
A major event every year was the get-together organised by Tom
Flood. Anyone who had previously lived at the hostel was invited,
so that the new arrivals could meet other young townspeople, some of
them married, and make new friendships.
Hundreds invariably attended, a team of young men manned the barbecues,
and a dance-band provided music for everything from waltzes to
Old Floody, who was very keen on promoting sport of all kinds, had
organised the presentation to the Central Australian Football League so
well that the new Melanka team was accepted into the competition.
Although an ancient boarder named Jack Cooper, said to have played for
one of the Victorian teams “before the War” (some wondered whether
“before the Boer War” of 1899-1902 was meant), gave instructions for
our first training night, they were limited.
As he and Floody sat in the old John Hayes stand at Traeger Park, he
ripped the top from a carton of stubbies and said, “Do a lap
boys!” So interested in the stubbies was he after we had run the
lap that that was the only actual instruction that Jack gave for the
By the chances of fortune I took the training from that moment on and
thus became the first captain-coach from the commencement of the first
game. While we were flogged by an average of about 15 goals every
game, I retain the fondest regard for those who played, and those who
supported us. (Melanka broadened its base support and became
Wests in 1973).
There was no television in Alice until nearly two years later, so
radios were keenly listened to for the news, music, and the cricket and
football scores. During the Aussie Rules season barrackers for
opposing Victorian teams barracked as enthusiastically as if they were
at the game, and as soon as the final siren had sounded “J.B.” would be
on the supposed emergency-only intercom.
His calls of “Essendon! The mighty Bombers!” would be interrupted by
surveyor Cal Raven scuffling with him and yelling, “Carlton won by 20
goals!” to which “J.B’s” inevitable response was, “But the Bombers had
a moral victory!”
By this time Old Floody, who had the only other connection, would
interrupt, “Get off that intercom, J.B.!”, to which there was always
one parting remark, “OK Mr Flood. Up the Bombers!”
It is a given that the three town pubs then in existence, “Uncle Ly”
Underdown’s Hotel Alice Springs with its Madison Square beer garden,
The Stuart Arms with its Bull Bar and The Riverside (now Todd Tavern)
with its Snake Pit, were regularly visited (Is the pope a
Catholic?). Men, and less often women, from the cattle stations
met there, particularly at the Stuart Arms.
The Walk-In theatre, now back-packers’ accommodation, was extremely
popular, and I remember one night when a fight began for no apparent
reason, and as the combatants fought their way down the aisle and out
into the steet, 99% of the audience followed them out. It had
been a reasonable film too.
Hatzimihail’s Tucker-box Cafe (in the then un-named Reg Harris Lane),
was also very well patronised, with fish-and-chips available and the
jukebox, with a wide selection of country-and-western and rock-and-roll
records, playing almost non-stop.
However three of the most popular places in town, regularly frequented
by all at the hostel, were diagonally opposite Melanka’s block four Gap
Farthest away was the Memo Club, where membership was required and
strict rules applied to the women, who were not permitted to approach
the bar except at a highly prescribed area.
Bob South’s The Ranch, the most popular place in town in the late
evenings, had all of the robust circular white tables and chairs
securely bolted to the floor to prevent their use in fights. Here
one could obtain a steak sandwich and a coffee, the latter sometimes
laced with whisky, and being the only place open late at night it was
bedlam after people returned from the drive-in.
Bob also occasionally tossed a coin with his customers, to see whether
they paid or he did; provided a venue on Sundays for the first Folk
Club; and was a key figure in the establishment of the original old
speedway track. As anyone who knows him would say, “A good bloke,
the old Southy.” His wife attained sainthood during these wide
Almost adjoining The Ranch was The Tropical, with an aisle from the
door to the counter, either side of which were bench-seats facing one
another over a table. Vince Sewell, an Italian who was such a
“mad punter” that he once literally lost his shirt at the races, ran
the restaurant with his wife Paula (another saint).
Normally he had a similar clientele to Bob’s, though a more substantial
meal could also be provided. One memorable night, when a monster
brawl erupted and spread from cubicle to cubicle, he came out in a
rage, wielding a meat-cleaver. As there was no point in doubting
that he was going to use it, the brawlers broke all kinds of
sobering-up and sprint records as they scattered outside.
The Centre restaurant, which used to be opposite the present Council
chambers, was also a favourite nearby restaurant for a flash
meal. Shane Parker, renowned ornithologist and genuine character,
was known to stand on a table and recite, in impeccable voice, the
bawdiest poems in the English language as part of the
entertainment. That such impromptu entertainment was not
necessarily desired by the owners or the other diners did not stop
I can hear him now: “The lady of the manor was dressing for the ball/
When she saw a highland tinker pissing up against a wall.”
Although the tinker momentarily left town “with his prick flung over
his shoulder and bollocks by his sides”, I leave it to your imagination
what he and the lady of the manor did when he returned with “his dirty
great kidney wiper and balls the size of three.”
The relatively few boarders who owned cars in those days were in high
demand, often to attend parties or, on week-ends, to visit such as
Ellery Gorge or Glen Helen for a swim. In addition they were
required for Sunday and Monday “Yippee nights”, when Western films were
shown at the drive-in, or other nights for other films.
During the warm weather from October to April the seats were taken out
of the cars and placed in front, and an Esky of stubbies drunk during
the showing of the films.
Intervals were as long as it took for everyone to be served their
chips, icecream and other confectionaries, and were the occasion for
friendly yarning to anyone and everyone else.
A few years later, during the streaker craze, one streaker wearing only
footy socks ambled about during an early extended breakdown in the
Western, “My Name is Nobody”. A crowd of delighted children
danced behind him, while he got tangled and disentangled in the speaker
cords, and had a beer and a friendly word with everyone.
While he completed the slowest streak of 200 metres on record, the
vehicles with spotlights shone them in all directions as though trying
to “spot” him, thus distracting the police.
Nubile young women joined in the act near the front, doing rapid
streaks from car to car.
November 1971 saw the commencement of the new Melanka, with Tony
Stephenson, an Amoonguna/ Souths footballer, wielding pick and shovel
for the initial trenches.
Within a remarkably short time the foyer and dining hall (convertible
into a dance floor), and a two storey extension, were built to the
south, with balcony areas being very popular.
Television had arrived in the Alice at the time of construction, only
ABC at first, and each small common room adjoining a balcony had a
set. And then the old Stott House barracks were knocked down and
rebuilt as two storey accommodation too, with the exception of block
four, which was only modified.
Enclosed within the lawn area of the southern extension was an
extremely popular small swimming pool. Further to this, Todd House
barracks were also knocked down to make way for the new library and
town council buildings.
Tom Flood retired down South after the formal opening, and life went on
much as before.
On one memorable occasion “Iany Weenie” was pulling his prostrate,
alcohol-dazed, maniacally laughing mate “Alcy Malcy” down the stairs
when he slipped and staggered backwards.
At what stage of his courting “The Shark” was up to is not clear, but
it certainly very literally ended with a bang as “Weenie” crashed
backwards through the door, and did a kind of bouncing ricochet from
cupboard to wall to floor.
“Weenie” only made things worse by apologising as he got up off the
floor, staggered towards the door, and apologised again. As I
went to help him “The Shark” was trying to extricate himself from his
unexpected predicament, and I glimpsed his bare-breasted lady, eyes
like saucers, transfixed with horror.
Although “The Shark” locked his door thereafter, it made little
difference. The air-conditioning arrangements in the new Melanka
had a cooling advantage over the old fans, but had the disdavantage of
transmitting the sounds of horizontal adventures, so there were no
secret liaisons. Being “sprung” might be embarrassing, but was
also a common occurrence.
However, the Alice was changing. As the “Space Base” Americans
had predicted, television, and later videos, almost overnight ended the
parties at which people had gathered to play records and yarn, and the
Walk-in and Drive-in theatres began to struggle for customers.
Clubs were built which began to take over in popularity from the pubs,
and Papa Luigi’s modified restaurant and bistro, and the new Overlander
Steakhouse, became the favourite places for meals.
And the units at the end of Bloomfield Street, and much other
accommodation, became available, so that in 1975 I was one of the last
of the 1970 arrivals to leave Melanka.
At about that time it began to cater for tourists, and eventually
became the place that most young people in the Alice remember more as a
gathering place for music, drinking and dancing.
Now that it has been demolished and the world economic downturn is
putting the brakes on tourism, what, I wonder, will take its
Growth in Centre
as Great Depression ravages the world. By ALEX NELSON.
By ALEX NELSON
The Great Depression was catastrophic for Australia – in relative terms
it was one of the most severely affected countries in the world – but
paradoxically it was a stimulus for growth and development in Central
The effects were both immediate and long term.
The national economy had collapsed like a house of cards – unemployment
shot to 19% in 1930, peaked at 35% in 1932 and gradually declined
In The Centre initially the signs were not promising.
The hapless Scullin Labor government had to cut costs wherever it
could, and the Northern Australia Act 1926 was repealed in 1931 as an
economic measure. Thus did the separate administration of the Territory
of Central Australia come to an inglorious end after five short years.
Despite this apparent setback, Alice Springs (as it was popularly but
informally known) had been firmly established as the major regional
service centre for Central Australia.
The second immediate effect of the Depression was cessation of all
major public works, which meant that the north-south transcontinental
railway stopped firmly in the Alice – not to be completed to Darwin for
more than 70 years.
While a railway that ends in the middle of nowhere is not a viable
economic proposition in its own right, nevertheless it converted Alice
Springs as a railhead into the region’s dominant transportation hub.
In 1934 the first roadtrain was trialed on the Centre’s rough bush
tracks to great success. The railway and advances in road
transportation brought to an end the career of the cameleers in
servicing the needs of the outback (to the great relief of some).
The camels were set free, thus establishing in Australia’s interior the
world’s last population of wild camels – and ultimately the cause of a
major feral animal problem that remains unresolved to this day.
Welfare was the province of the states during the Depression (the
Commonwealth gained responsibility after the referendum of 1946); this
meant varying and generally very poor services were available for the
many in need. Consequently many people were forced to seek work or make
their fortunes wherever they could.
The Northern Territory is the “land of the last resort”. Ordinarily
most people would not contemplate moving to this region to live but
when times are desperate and all options elsewhere are exhausted, the
Territory suddenly looks a more attractive place to come.
As in the 1890s depression, prospectors made their way to Central
Australia in the Great Depression, to make their fortunes on the
minefields. Harold Bell Lasseter was the most notorious of these,
gambling away other peoples’ finances and his own life in 1930 in
pursuit of a fabulous imaginary gold reef near the Petermann Ranges.
Alluvial gold was discovered at the Granites, 600 kms northwest of the
Alice, in mid-1932; by October some 200 gold-diggers were trying their
luck in one of the most remote and inhospitable regions of Australia.
The rush collapsed in November – the rich gold province of the Tanami
was not to be for several decades.
A very different story emerged early in 1933, when encouraging
discoveries of gold were made near the Tennant Creek Telegraph Station.
These proved substantial, triggering another rush – by mid year there
were 300 miners in the district, and 600 by 1935. The site for a town
was surveyed in 1934.
Just as the 1890s depression-era gold rush at Arltunga led to the
establishment of Stuart (the Alice), the Great Depression gold rush
prompted the foundation of the Centre’s second major town.
This was a major boost for the Alice, as all the supplies and most
prospectors made their way up via the Ghan.
The Central Australian administration, the railway, mining ventures and
the Depression combined to attract a pantheon of legendary characters
to Central Australia, many of whose names are famililar to this day: Ly
Underdown, Pop Chapman, the Kilgariffs, DD Smith, Jim McConville, and
the formidable Miss Olive Pink, to name a very few.
In 1933 officialdom finally acknowledged the inevitable – the town was
officially renamed Alice Springs.
There were many significant developments in the Alice during this
period that influenced the character of the town and the region – the
first banks, aerial services (including the Royal Flying Doctor
Service), the Catholic, Anglican and Methodist churches, and much else.
Yet, in economic terms (and placing it all in perspective) the single
largest industry in the region remained the original – pastoralism,
mainly beef cattle. And for all the development that took place, the
pastoral industry right across the NT struggled to survive.
Vital to pastoralism’s ability to do so was the low cost labour of
Aboriginal people – without them the industry would have failed. But
Aboriginal people were not officially counted as citizens of their own
The white population of Alice Springs grew quickly and substantially
during the Great Depression. Whereas the whole of Central Australia was
estimated to have 400 white people in 1927-28 (a tenth of these in the
town), by 1933 the figure was 526 for the Alice alone and it remained
stable for the duration of the 1930s.
CORRECTION: In last week’s article I mistakenly referred to Canberra as
the seat of the federal government during the First World War. In fact
the Commonwealth was based in Melbourne at this time. The federal
parliament first sat in Canberra in 1927.
tunes. By RUSSELL GUY.
Harmony James is a Tennant Creek based country singer / songwriter who
released her debut CD two years ago.
It contains only four songs, but they were all originals and quickly
established her as “a rising country star.” Her website tells the
story (google her name).
Her self-confessed decision not to cancel the Darwin concert last
Saturday, based on low ticket sales a few days out, was
I’d say fairly typical of Harmony’s resolve, but “there was a guy
coming from a long way using frequent flyer points” and she didn’t want
to do it to him.
As it turned out, the intimate studio space at the prestigious DEC
filled with an appreciative crowd as she accompanied herself, backed by
a drummer and an electric double bass.
Working her way through a collection of new songs soon destined for
recording in Sydney and a sprinkling of tasty covers, her affection for
the Barkly was obvious. She talked of its Mitchell grass, her
life as a “ringer” and how she drove over from Queensland to find
herself immediately “at home”.
Curiously, another radio friendly tune, “Tailwind”, describes what’s
moving her down the highway and away from here, but you can be in love
with a place and want to get away from it at the same time.
This restless tension is a friend of mine and one of the reasons why
her songs caught my attention.
“Somebody Stole My Horse” is a classy metaphor about being shy in the
face of romance. Some of these songs have gained international
and national focus which is proof that great things can come out of
Harmony has a voice like blue metal gravel mixed with sweet spring
water, but it’s the song-writing which has brought home the
She opened with “The Next Big Thing”, a song which first alerted her to
the fact that she “could write”.
I can hardly remember how the words go after being bowled over by its
strength, but like many of her songs, it has a catchy hook and chorus
and could even be a touch ironic. It deserves a place on the new
She was a little nervous at certain places as she opened her heart but,
perhaps inadvertently, what was on view was her soul. I kinda
wanted her to bare more of it. In these days of passing clouds,
it’s the ones filled with rain that we need so badly.
Short back and sides.
Until I was about ten years old my grandmother was the only person to
cut my hair.
We’d go to Nan’s place every fortnight or so and every other trip would
incorporate a haircut.
There was no old magazines or young men with faux mullets.
No, Nan’s haircuts were delivered in the old kitchen of her 1950’s
Nan would sit me on an old laminate stool and place an old sheet around
me like a hair dressers smock. From the bottom drawer would come a
small leather tote, full of scissors and combs and an old but
immaculately maintained Bakelite electric shaver.
I could see every snip and every brush of hair from the reflection of
the well-utilized but always sparkling oven. Nan kept a tight ship.
But as the years moved on and Nan’s poor hands became more arthritic my
Mum and Dad thought it prudent for my filial free ride to finish.
I remember my first commercial haircut with fondness. It was a rite of
passage. My father took me to the place he had been getting his hair
cut for 20 years. A father and his son sharing a manly moment and
setting a course for a lifetime of manly moments to come.
One of many rites fathers share with their sons. Like teaching him how
to ride a bike and bowl a cricket ball. Like having “the talk” and
learning to drive.
The barbershop was in a service lane behind a strip of shops in the
main street. Out the front was the old fashioned red and white pole and
a chalkboard upon which was written Haircuts $5. What a great sign.
While the days of the $5 haircut are over, a good barber shop is a
jewel in the rough of life. A manly oasis in a world of mousse, foils
Tony’s was the quintessential male oasis. Tony was a short Italian
immigrant with a thick unapologetic southern Italian accent and sported
a shock of black, Grecian 2000 laden hair.
When Hollywood thinks of the stereotypical barber, they hold up a
picture of Tony. His shop was just as perfect and filled with men and
When Tony retired he closed the shop. I was sad and my father, while
never showing it, was just as devastated. A refuge from a changing
world was shut.
It took my father and I a good couple of months but after Tony’s we
found Guido’s. Guido welcomed Tony’s customers with open arms.
I have since tried living in the world of the salon.
The seductive mistress of the world of hair. I was sucked in by the
beautiful people, the up to date reading material and the complimentary
lattes you sip while having your hair playfully jostled.
I have lived in the heady world of the salon and I was sucked right in.
Like Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate, the world of the salon looks so
terribly inviting yet under the gloss, under the exotic machines and
creams, there is a sinister world.
No man should pay $60 for a haircut. Especially with hair like mine. My
hair is a perfect symbol of my working class roots. It’s industrious,
aspirational and since about the year 2000 it has been in a slow
decline. My hair isn’t suited to the world of the salon.
It wants Tony’s with its sterilizing jars and pictures of the 1987
Italian Soccer team on the walls. My hair doesn’t want the chill out CD
playing at slightly louder than background levels. It wants TAB radio.
My hair doesn’t want “fabulous” and “Oh, my, god!” it wants talk about
footy and politics.
I sometimes think Alice Springs finds itself in a similar predicament.
Alice is a town for the making.
The only way to survive in this isolated neck of the woods is to make
your own fun. Get proactive.
I think that sometimes we try however to be something we aren’t.
Or more to the point, something we feel we should be rather than
something we want to be.
Who cares if we are a bit rough around the edges or that some aspects
of the town aren’t up to “Darwin standard”.
I don’t want to be up to Darwin standard with their beach side
nightspots and their fashionable avenues.
If I wanted that I’d go to Darwin.
I want Alice to be the Tony’s of towns. Accepting, comfortable and
Uranium, shire polls.
Letter from the Editor to Hal Duell
Dear Hal,- We welcome your thoughtful Letters to the Editor on a wide
range of subjects important to our community.
We gave you space to raise a string of questions about the Cameco
uranium mining proposal south of Alice Springs (Oct 30), and we
obtained and published the answers from Cameco (Nov 6).
But in order to remain the medium leading the debate on the issue, we
need contributions to be focused and of clear relevance to the local
We have neither the space, nor would the readers have the patience, for
a complete chronicle of mishaps that may be occurring in uranium mining
anywhere in the world, no matter how minor.
As we see it, debate here takes place against a backdrop of absolute
certainty that the current level of fossil fuels use, especially coal,
will soon kill a vast number of people around the world. We have an
opportunity to make a difference.
We know that renewable energy is still falling way short of meeting
Even Tim Flannery asserts that nuclear energy must be part of the mix
And the economy of Alice Springs would get a much needed shot in the
arm if the uranium mine were found to be safe, and went ahead.
On what expert evidence do you “question [Cameco’s] explanation of the
cleanup at their Rabbit Lake uranium processing facility [in Canada]?”
You say in your latest letter: “Routine spills are dismissed as
essentially groundwater with ‘only’ tiny amounts of uranium ranging up
to 35 parts per million.
How many parts per million were in that water before Cameco started
Why don’t you ask Cameco? They have shown themselves to be very free
with their answers.
Just putting alarmist questions out into the public arena without
seeking the answers, which seem to be freely available, smacks of fear
mongering, a troubling aspect of the current anti mining campaign here.
Why should the Alice Springs News endorse, by publishing it, emotive
language such as when you accuse Cameco of “environmental ravages”?
How would a disinterested expert source judge the company’s
performance, compared to others in the industry, and assessed on the
gravity of health and other effects of the incidents to which you refer?
The Alice Springs News is now seeking ongoing advice on the issues from
an independent expert – ideally an academic person or institution.
We’re sure this will raise the level of the debate currently skewed by
the profit motive of Cameco and the NT Government, and the often
emotion-charged positions of the opponents to the mine. The silent
majority, oddly, seems to remain silent.
We’ll keep you posted, and look forward to future letters from you.
Alice Springs News
Pastoralists not only ones peeved at
Sir,- Pastoralists are not the only voters to feel disenfranchised
after the MacDonnell shire elections [Alice Springs News, Oct
I don’t know if any formal complaints have been lodged from
Ltyentye Apurte, but many residents have told me that they
believed the television advertisements which told them the
election would be on the Saturday, and went shopping in Alice Springs
on the Friday as is the local custom.
They were then very disappointed to discover that they had missed
their opportunity to vote as the local poll was actually held
while they were away.
The Electoral Commission tells me that posters had been distributed to
alert people to the polling times, but clearly this was not an
The Rodinga ward, in which Ltyentye Apurte is the largest community, is
reported as having a voter turnout of only 35%.
Surely such a low vote is a mockery in an election where voting is
compulsory, and should initiate at the least an investigation,
and probably a new election.
While responsibility for the latest fiasco may be shared between
the Electoral Commission and the Shire, it seems to be par for
the course for the latter, which four months after its creation
appears to be shaping up as generally incompetent.
It will be very interesting to see if the new shire councillors
have any more luck in bringing their bureaucrats to heel than the
Alice Springs Town Councillors.
Unfortunately this seems unlikely, and we can expect to see the tail
wagging the dog throughout local government in the NT.
Sir,- Following news of the train derailment and subsequent fire near
Katherine we need an environmental impact studies on uranium
exploration and mining projects to include the implications of spills
and hazards caused by transportation of radioactive substances through
With BHP’s intention to send one uranium train EVERY day of the year
from one end of the Territory to the other, through Alice Springs,
right up to Port Darwin, news of derailments makes me very
These trains will be carrying radioactive uranium oxide across the
entire NT. Once mining commences the complexities of transport,
handling and spillage come into play.
For this reason environmental impact studies need to be stringent,
independent and comprehensive.
What if the train had derailed in the Gap?
The railline comes within 100 metres of the Alice Springs CBD.
The risk of derailments on the railway line and resultant fires and
bushfires is serious and more than probable.
No amount of spin can push this risk aside.
After four months Alice Springs Town Council is still awaiting a reply
from the mines minister regarding water quality and protection of our
air from the Angela Pamela Exploration and Mining project.
We should also call on the NT government for information about the
safeguards being considered against transportation hazards and spills
and I will ask Alice Town Council to request thorough responses from
the NTG on these issues.
Ald Jane Clark
Sir,- The Health Minister Chris Burns must explain how his department
managed to record a budget blow-out of almost $50million in the last
In the 2007-08 budget, more than $837million was allocated to the
Department of Health and Community Services.
But in the annual report, tabled last week in the Territory
Parliament, total expenses were more than $885million – a
substantial cost blow-out in anyone’s language.
How does the Government expect to cope when GST revenues dry up next
year as a result of the financial crisis?
The annual report also shows the Government has been paying lip-service
over response times to allegations of child abuse: 27% of
Category One abuse notifications, which require a response within
24 hours, were not investigated on time.
“Category Two notifications, which require a check within 3 days, were
responded to within recommended time-frames just 38% of the time and
just 14% of Category Three notifications, which require checking within
5 days, were checked on time.
These outcomes are unacceptable and make a joke of the Government’s
claims to be acting on child abuse in light of the Little Children are
Shadow Health Minister, Alice Springs
Zip the Lip
Sir,- Successive Labor governments have banged on incessantly over the
past eight years about being open and accountable. The facts, however,
tell a different story.
The latest statistics relating to complaints made about the release of
information under Labor’s own Freedom of Information laws are an
The latest annual report from the Department of Justice shows that just
8% of all FOI complaints were finalised within the agencies own
time-frame of 120 days.
This is clearly an unacceptable outcome and one that cuts to the core
of the Government’s commitment to openness and accountability.
As a footnote to the figures, the Information Commissioner puts the
blame fairly and squarely on the Government for a failure to
co-operate: “The office has limited control over the timeliness of
complaints and has recommended a legislative amendment to require
organisations to respond within a given timeframe.”
The Opposition repeats its call for the Henderson Government to allow
MLAs to access FOI without charge, so the prohibitive cost associated
with applications doesn’t stop the flow of information.
Shadow Justice Minister, Alice Springs
Lots to learn
Sir,- Adam Giles demonstrates that he has a lot to learn (Alice News
Nov 6, Federal Labor gets it half right).
Where’s the sense in spending $2 million on a review into the
Intervention and then ignoring its recommendations and the other 220
I have witnessed Macklin’s manipulation of media and her discourse with
Her recent example at Yuendumu highlights her shortcomings in
cross-cultural communication and cross-cultural understanding.Given the
current economic climate it is hard to envisage how the government can
justify continuing this expensive and invasionist intervention.
Macklin’s desperate haste to have all the prescribed area communities
sign over their land before Christmas must make it all worthwhile.
And, by the way, the permit system has not been reinstated as Mr Giles
seems to think.
Sir,- The justification offered by federal environment minister Peter
Garrett for reinstating access fees at Kakadu National Park that only
tourists and not Territorians should pay, raised the legitimate
question of arrangements for Uluru-Kata Tjuta.
If locals are not required to pay an entry fee to visit Kakadu and only
pay for the services or activities that they utilise, then why must
Centralians still be required to pay to enter Uluru-Kata Tjuta National
The entry fee for Kakadu was abolished as it was a deterrent for
Labor have not only reintroduced it, but increased it by a massive 40%
I have to question the motives of this especially when the Henderson
Labor Government has said they do not support the entry fee either.
It smells of another Labor Party money grab with the free entry to
locals just a cynical attempt to save the political hide of impotent
Territory Labor members Warren Snowdon, Trish Crossin and Damian Hale,.
Sir,- Araluen and the Central Australian Food Group Inc are combining
for a very special film event.
The rare classic film “Like Water for Chocolate” will screen at Araluen
at a matinee showing commencing at 3pm this Sunday, 16 November.
The movie has not been released on DVD in Australia so this may be your
one opportunity to see this beautiful film about love
The film will be followed by a cocktail reception and drinks in
Witchetty’s with the food being prepared by the Food Group’s chefs.
Tickets at $27.50 for adults and $20 for children are available from
Keller’s Restaurant or by telephoning 0418 525723.
Proceeds go to the Chefs’ Encouragement Award Fund which has been
established by the Food Group to promote the training of local chefs.
What a great way to enjoy a relaxing Sunday afternoon and support a
Rose back home
Sir,– A few weeks ago you kindly published my letter regarding a metal
rose (from an artwork that consisted of three metal roses in a metal
vase) stolen from Alice’s Secret.
I had bought the roses from the Silver Bullet two years ago and I went
back there to find out who the maker was (I had shamefully forgotten
his name) and found the Silver Bullet closed down.
I had also shamefully forgotten the name of the owner of the Silver
Bullet, but I seemed to vaguely remember where his wife worked. So I
went to the wife’s workplace, but she was not there that day.
This is how far I had gotten in my little Sherlock Holmes Metal Rose
Investigation when your reporter Kieran Finnane visited me to give me a
NEW METAL ROSE! The rose has been added to its new family of two and
they seem very happy together.
These apparently are the facts: Mike Gillam, the owner of the Silver
Bullet, read my letter regarding the stolen rose.
He contacted the maker of the roses, Simon Holding. Simon Holding made
a new rose, gave it to Kieran to give it to me. He has offered to weld
the roses to their vase so they can’t be stolen again.
Thank you Simon Holding, Mike Gillam, Kieran Finnane and the Alice
Growing old disgracefully
Sir,– The Ulysses Club for older motorcyclists is now a familiar part
of the motorcycling scene, with over 28,000 financial members in
The national committee of the club sanctioned our Central Deserts
Branch on August 25, 2007.
Recently, our AGMs have attracted 4000 to 6000 registrants to the
hosting town, a significant event for sure.
In 1994 the club held its AGM here in town – the largest ever.
I believe it could be again, if we are successful with our bid. Our
purpose is three fold:
• To provide ways in which older motorcyclists can get together for
companionship and mutual support.
• To show by example that motorcycling can be an enjoyable and
practical activity for riders of all ages.
• To draw the attention of public and private institutions to the needs
and views of older riders.
Any lady or gentleman over the age of 40, who holds a current
motorcycle licence or is a regular partner of such a person and over
40, is eligible to join, online (at www.ulyssesclub.org)
Ulysses Club Inc.
Box 4890 Alice Springs 0414 833 089
Looking for Dad
Sir,– I’m looking for my dad also called Peter Doran.
He came out to Alice Springs in 1982 and nobody has seen him since.His
date of birth is June 4, 1946.
He came over from Carnew in Ireland. I have never meet him but met his
brothers and sisters. He was last seen at his brother Martin’s wake in
1982. I just found out that he came out.
I’ve been looking for four years but not having much luck.Is there any
help you could give me?
Write to c.rebal@ hotmail.co.uk
Sir,- I am trying to trace a Tim Rogers (son of Liz and Ted Rogers) who
when he was a baby lived in Cosby in England in the late 60’s, early
Before he started school his parents relocated to Alice Springs but
havenot been heard of since.
Can you help?
Sir,- This letter is all about words used constantly on radio and TV.
The word ABSOLUTELY is so irritating coupled with the word FANTASTIC
which according to the dictionary is “extravagantly, fanciful,
A fantasy.” But the most useless words are “you know” followed by “I
mean” ALSO “and er”.
And as for catch phrases: “The end of the day, take it on board, roll
up our sleeves” etc.
Interviewees and interviewers please try to avoid this repetition and
improve your vocabulary!
No doubt once we tame these words, a new lot is on its way with
“interests rates, petrol prices, got us over a barrel and CHINA’S next
Teddy Peterson-Cairns, Alice Springs
Sir,- In 1998 I wrote a book “Nature’s Weather Watch” - a guide to
predicting the weather by observing the activities and changes in
behaviour and / or growth of animal and plant life prior to changes in
I initially had the help of hundreds of folk across Australia in
collecting the signs and observations that were reliably used in
forecasting the weather.
This was done mainly through ABC local radio and regional newspapers.
As this is an ongoing research, I am once again asking for help as I
continue to seek observations / signs that are reliably used.
I would like to hear from people of all ages and all walks of life, of
any unusual behaviour and activity or other signs that can be linked
especially to changes in weather patterns, but also to any natural
I can be contacted at email@example.com, PO Box 1345 Gympie
Q4570 and all relevant mail will be answered.