ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
June 25, 2009. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
Alice school sex probe. By KIERAN
A complaint has been made about an Alice Springs public
primary school not taking action beyond a “talk”, when parents drew the
attention of the principal to sexual behaviour among young children at
One child alleges that another “sucked his willy” and did the same to
two other children.
His information comes after months of disturbed behaviour on his part,
including verbal abuse, swearing, and sexualised language.
It also comes after he told his parents that a child had exposed
herself to him.
This information was conveyed to the school principal in May, after the
parents had already reported that his language had become more sexually
The parents claim no action was taken beyond the principal talking to
the children involved.
In particular they claim that there was no close monitoring of the
children and that the most recent alleged incident took place when the
children were unsupervised in a toilet block on school grounds.
The parents have reported the allegation to the police and FACS and
have written a detailed letter of complaint to a number of Territory
politicians and the Department of Education.
The Alice Springs News has spoken with the complainants.
We asked them whether what the child said happened could have been
imagined, especially as he was previously exposed to pornography (a
video showing oral sex) when on holidays away from his family.
That incident was also reported to police and FACS.
The parents say they have no doubt that what their child has told them
did take place.
Police investigations have commenced, says Superintendent of the
Regional Investigations Division Lance Godwin.
He declined to comment further, saying it would be “inappropriate at
this moment due to the sensitive nature of these allegations”.
The Department of Education and Training advise that all Northern
Territory schools have mandatory reporting requirements.
The school has made a report, says a spokesperson for the department
who declined to make further comment “as this matter is under police
In the Alice Springs News’ understanding of the timeline around this
matter, the police investigation began in response to a call from the
parents mid this month although matters were raised with the school,
the parents claim, in May.
Minister for Children and Families Malarndirri McCarthy would not
comment beyond advising via a spokesperson that “the Child Abuse
Taskforce and Sexual Assault Referral Centre began an immediate
investigation as soon as a notification was made”.
There have been 4415 notifications to Family and
Children’s Services (FACS) in 2008-09 to the end of March, last week’s
Estimates hearing was told.
This is significantly more than the estimated total of 3950 for 2008-09
in last year’s Budget papers.
The revised estimate for 2009-10 is 5100.
Minister for Children and Families, Malarndirri McCarthy, said there
are 41 child protection workers in Central Australia, but she was
unable to say how many new positions had been created in the last 12
months, taking the question on notice.
There is also a mobile child protection team, with “six experienced
child protection workers”, which has spent “a significant period of
time” in Central Australia in 2008-09 attending to Alice Springs’ “high
rate of notifications”.
MORE ESTIMATES REPORTS SEE BELOW.
Pistol Club aiming for more
members. By ERWIN
The Alice Springs Pistol Club is turning 50 next week and
wants to celebrate the occasion with a boost in membership.
The club is planning open days and will again be running its food stall
at the Show – but it’s a hard ask: Pistol shooting is one of the
toughest sports to get into in Alice Springs.
The club’s membership was decimated from 70 to 20 in the wake of
handgun controls introduced nationally after a man killed two and
injured five at Monash University’s Clayton campus in Melbourne, on
October 21, 2002.
And local shooters say the Northern Territory has the nation’s most
stringent restrictions, while being poorly equipped to administer them.
“We’re the people they can regulate,” says an Alice sports shooter, a
couple of weeks after two men used “unregistered and unlicensed”
handguns to kill an underworld figure in Melbourne.
“They are the ones the authorities can’t regulate.”
The club for half a century has maintained an unblemished,
accident-free record, says Lee Matthews, the president.
The shooting complex, just past the end of Undoolya Road, has excellent
facilities: a 25 and a 50 meter range with 24 stands each.
It has a relatively new air conditioned indoor air pistol range, named
after one of the club’s founders, Clarrie Smith, with 25 stands, each
equipped with automatic target retrieval.
There’s also a cozy clubroom and bar – which stays shuttered until the
day’s shooting is over.
But to join you need more than a keen eye, a steady hand and a mental
aptitude which, according to Graham Nicholls, the coach, is 80% of what
makes a good competitor.
You also need to have the patience of a saint.
To merely pop out and see what the club’s all about, and have a shot
under the supervision of a club safety officer (which is known as using
a Category H Firearm under Supervision), this is what you need to do:-
• Join the club and pay a $70 membership fee for three months.
• Nominate any other firearms clubs of which you may be a member.
• Supply details of firearms you may own.
• Provide two character references from people who’ve known you for at
least two years.
• Give “Authority to Release Criminal History” to the club.
And that’s only the start: It’s then over to the police firearms unit
to process the request, which may take up to three months.
Yet the club has turned out star members, including Christine Trefry,
who competed in the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
The club isn’t giving up hope to again broaden its membership,
according to Mr Matthews.
Sunday morning is a good time to pop in.
It’s not dear: if you’re shooting .22 pistols, it about $12 a shoot for
two boxes of bullets.
Until you qualify for buying a pistol, one can be made available.
And next year the club will again play a major role in the Masters’
Games, attracting to Alice shooters from around Australia, and even
Estimates hearings: Unpaid
fines & overflowing prisons.
The Territory Government’s record on law and order came under the
microscope in the Estimates hearing last week.
Member for Araluen Jodeen Carney harried Ministers and public servants
on fines recovery, the Alcohol Courts, youth crime and Family
Responsibility Orders, and the Territory’s overflowing prisons.
She learnt that for the current financial year there is $2.9m
outstanding in court fines – 75% of the total – and $3.4m outstanding
in penalties, 43%.
Justice Minister Delia Lawrie explained the high figure by a “lag
effect”: people make arrangements to pay the fines off over a period of
time, so percentages for previous financial years look better.
Nonetheless the figures are still high: 36% for 2007-08; 28% for
That makes for more than $13 million of fines and penalties levied in
the last three years that are unpaid, according to Ms Carney.
Said Ms Lawrie: “The 2007-08 figures are not as good as 2006-07, but
they are better than 2008-09, which is the lag effect of the time to
pay agreements that have been an effective tool for the Fines Recovery
Commented Ms Carney in a media release: “It’s not just the tens of
millions of dollars of revenue that could be used to put more police on
the beat to curb the Territory’s very high crime rates.
“It’s the message it sends to offenders that there is no will to
enforce penalties handed down by the courts.”
Ms Lawrie also finally had to answer questions about the Alcohol Courts
that Ms Carney had asked in a letter dated April 2.
Ms Lawrie produced the following figures:
• 317 individuals were referred to the Alcohol Court in the first 18
months of operation;
• 94 individuals have completed treatment programs ordered by the court;
• five clinicians are employed across the Territory to assess
offenders’ suitability for treatment and to report on their progress;
• 14 prohibition orders with no treatment and 11 with treatment are in
• another 201 treatment orders are in place, with 24 going through
Against a backdrop of 30,000 people in 2008-09 taken into protective
custody for being drunk or having problems with alcohol, Ms Carney
asserted that the regime is a failure.
“We told your government years ago ... that it would not work,”
“The figures, just from a cursory glance, clearly indicate it is not
Problems with the regime are recognised by the government.
Ms Lawrie said a comprehensive review is under way, with an options
paper being developed on “substantial changes” in order to engage with
“a broader range of offenders”.
Among the concerns are:
• a lack of incentive to comply with prohibition orders arising from a
lack of penalties for breaching such an order; and
• the exclusion of certain offenders from the regime as a result of the
requirement to enter a plea of guilty in order to be eligible for an
Ms Lawrie also said the government wants to “look at capturing
non-offenders” in the system.
On the government’s strategy for dealing with anti-social and criminal
behaviour by juveniles, it was Children and Families Minister
Malarndirri McCarthy’s turn in the spotlight.
Ms Carney homed in on Family Responsibility Agreements, announced by
the Attorney-General in a media release in February 2008 as the
government’s way to “hold parents accountable for their child’s
anti-social behaviour or criminal activity”.
Ms McCarthy revealed that six Family Responsibility Agreements (FRAs)
have been entered into, none of them in Alice Springs.
She said 38 families in Darwin and 10 in Alice Springs are “also being
Of the six FRAs none have been breached but one has been terminated.
“Was it a mutual termination?” asked Ms Carney.
“Yes,” answered Department of Health and Families CEO, Dr David
“Was that because the outcome was successful?”
“Without getting into the personalities and the confidentiality,
suffice it to say that the family’s circumstances changed,” said Dr
Ms Carney also learnt that no Family Responsibility Orders have been
made by the courts, although the Youth Justice Court did consider
whether one was warranted.
How many applications for such orders had been made by police, asked Ms
Ms McCarthy said that was a question for the Police Minister.
Ms Carney asked Ms McCarthy: “Do you accept that your youth strategy in
this area is a complete and utter failure?”
Said Ms McCarthy: “I do not accept that we have failed in regard to
youth across the Northern Territory.
“We are in discussion with 70 families across the Northern Territory
who want to see a difference for their young people.
“It does not necessarily mean that these young people have to progress
onto an order, but it is about ensuring that this department and my
staff are working with the families across the Northern Territory with
the young people who need the support to find a better road ahead.”
Ms Carney went on to pursue Minister for Correctional Services Gerry
McCarthy over the Territory’s latest prison statistics which she
asserts prove that crime in the Territory is “totally out of control”.
She asked the Minister if he was aware that ABS statistics just issued
showed a 23% increase over the year in prisoner numbers in the
Territory. He was.
Ms Carney used the figures to argue that, if the current rate of
imprisonment were to continue, there would be about 1700 prisoners in
custody by 2012, while the capacity of the new gaol at Weddell and
Alice Springs would be about 1500.
What would the Minister do about the shortfall?
Mr McCarthy said the prisoner work camp in the Barkly (taking 24
prisoners) would be piloted as “a good alternative” and the Community
Corrections pathway would also be a way of reducing prisoner numbers.
In a media release Ms Carney commented that the increase in prisoner
numbers by 112 from the December to March quarter represented “more
than one new inmate a day”.
“The Territory reported more new prisoners over the 12 month period
than Victoria – a breathtaking statistic given the disparity in
population,” said Ms Carney.
Independent Member for Nelson, Gerry Wood, also wanted to get a handle
on the Territory’s high imprisonment rate:
“Why are we getting record numbers?” he asked. “Where are they coming
“Are they coming from violent offenders?
“Are they coming from domestic violence, because the government is
saying we are tracking more domestic violent offenders?”
His questions were taken on notice.
Note: Source for most quotes is Daily
Hansard (uncorrected proof).
Araluen tourism booms. By
Araluen Galleries have attracted 20% more visitors over the last three
months compared to the same period last year, says director Tim
From March to May there were 4566 visitors to the galleries,
compared to 3852 in 2008.
The peak tourist season has not even started so the galleries are
expecting to exceed past annual visitation figures (around 30,000) by a
The increase coincides with the creation of a permanent exhibition,
Origins to Innovations, which encapsulates the history of world-famous
Aboriginal art out of the Central deserts and sits alongside the
pre-existing permanent exhibition of the art of Albert Namatjira and
the Hermannsburg School.
Visitation data does not include enough detail to determine whether the
focus on Indigenous art is the reason behind the increase but Mr
Rollason says the focus has been well received.
He also says there is increasing demand for the cultural tour at
Araluen offered by Arrernte guide, Alison Furber. She is now doing two
regular tours a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and is available for
bookings outside of those hours.
The tour offers a glimpse of an Aboriginal world view, enough to whet
the appetite, and is enriched by a number of pre-existing features at
These are the magnificent stained glass window in the foyer, designed
by the revered late Wenten Rubuntja; the painting above the foyer bar,
reproduced on the eastern facade as a mural, by the equally revered
late Clifford Possum; and the sacred corkwood tree in the
courtyard and the sacred hill behind the building, both part of the
“Two Sisters Dreaming”.
As well Araluen is using the foyer space to add relevant material, such
as the excellent painting Fertility (1992), by the late D. Mpetyane,
which represents an aerial view of Alice Springs – its grid of streets
superimposed on the landscape.
The artist wrote a poem to accompany the painting, reproduced
alongside it, which articulates his response to the development of the
town on his traditional lands:
“Alice lost her virginity / Witness[ed] by / The old man gum tree /
While the dog sat confused / Paternity licking its wounds / She gave
birth / To one stone room / Next a shed then a house.”
A gloriously detailed photograph of a caterpillar, Ayepe-arenye, by
Mike Gillam, adds to the offerings.
Ms Furber delivers her talk in a low-key friendly manner, finding ways
to translate cultural concepts.
The Alice News joined in a tour group of Year 11 students from
Templestowe High School in Melbourne.
She told them the Arrernte skin system is the “oldest genetic
engineering system in the wold”, while Kadaitcha men, represented in
the gallery by the soft sculptures of Tristan Malbunka, are like
“Indigenous police officers”, or, looking for a stronger equivalent,
the “Italian mafia”.
Although the party had just arrived in Alice Springs that day, she
oriented them to aspects of the landscape by making Heavitree Gap,
which they had passed through, their reference point.
This allowed her to talk about men’s and women’s places and stories and
laws associated with them in a concrete way.
Greek heritage alive in
Centre. SERIES by KIERAN FINNANE.
Alice’s first Greek family, the
Hatzimihails, arrived in town 50 years ago. Father Alexios (Alex) had
left their home on the Greek isle of Kos looking for work. He found it
aplenty in Alice and soon bought a block of land on Old Eastside where
he was joined by his wife Xanthippi, their four sons, George, Tony,
Steve and Michael, together with his sister, Maritsa, in April 1959.
Daughter Rita arrived in 1960, was the first person of Greek origin
born in the town. She was followed by Mina, born in 1962. (See Part One
in the June 11 edition.)
Living conditions in their early days at 59 Giles Street were humble,
but the Hatzimihails were used to that. “We didn’t have much living on
Kos,” says Steve.
Alice was a bit hotter, a dust storm for their first Christmas was
surprising, but isolation from the wider world was also something they
were used to.
Steve still wonders though what drove his father to stay, when he was
used to a place surrounded by sea, and here he was surrounded by
A good part of it was the work opportunity.
But in the course of our interview Xanthippi explains another reason
for the decision.
The Suez Crisis had erupted in 1956, the year Alex had left Kos.
Following on from all the other geo-political upheaval that had marked
his life, it made the Mediterranean look a less appealing place to be
raising a family.
“We’re learning stuff we didn’t know,” says Michael. “My dad was going
to return to Kos but with all that trouble, he felt he’d rather have
his family safe in Australia. I hadn’t known that.”
Alex started working for the builders, JB and MJ Juett. The job took
him down to the old motel complex at Ayers Rock, and he helped build
the new homesteads at Mount Doreen and Banka Banka Stations.
Later he would work for Sitzler Bros and for Transport & Works.
The older three boys, George, Tony and Steve, were sent to school, for
six months to Hartley Street before they joined the first intake of
students at Ross Park.
With their swarthy skin and foreign language they had a hard time,
particularly from the white kids, recalls Steve. They found allies
amongst the Aboriginal kids.
“We were outcasts, the same as the Aboriginal kids.
“We were wog bastards, they were black bastards. We were on the same
Says Michael: “The town was still too young to receive us. If we all
rocked up today, so what? In the early days it was a culture shock for
everyone – who were these people?”
By the time he started school it was a bit easier: “I was lucky. These
boys paved the way for me.”
Their father taught them early the advantage they had in being four
“Dad always used to say to us, ‘Take a match and break it’,” recalls
“’Now take four together’. It’s harder to break them, there’s more
“’Never forget that fact,’ Dad told us, ‘Always stick together’.
“Dad was a very practical man.”
He was determined to help them integrate but without forgetting their
“Dad always wanted us to eat together at the table,” says Steve.
“After dinner he would give us a lecture on life, he wanted us to lead
‘a respectable life’.
“He anglicised our names so we would fit in. You couldn’t be called
Stamatios, so I became Steve. His message was, when we were at home, we
were Greeks, when we went out, we were to remember that we were in a
foreign country: we had to behave well and do the best we could.
“Dad would tell us the Greek myths and relate them to life.
“He was always lecturing us, giving us example, he was a historian to
He insisted that they speak Greek at home.
“Even when we talked among ourslves, if he heard English, he’d pull us
up,” says Steve.
“He did us a favour really. Now we go back to Greece and we can
communicate. Although if I’m talking to a lawyer, I have to say, ‘Slow
As the boys grew older there was still friction with the white lads of
“Like when we played football,” recalls Michael.
“Other players would sing out, ‘Kill that wog bastard’.
“But I can’t remember friction when we went into clubs.
“We had a lot of Italian connections in town, especially because of Dad
“And Dad had friends who were Anglo-Saxon, they’d come home, drink
coffee, when we had a party they would all rock up.
“I didn’t feel friction other than with the young men of the time.
“There’d be those circles of young men and we’d be fighting one of them
in the middle, that sort of thing happened.
“But today the racism has disappeared. My daughter plays basketball and
she’s never felt any kind of friction.”
Says Steve: “We were going forward regardless. We were pushed forwards
when people were trying to hold us back.
“We used others as a benchmark, if they could do it, we could. We tried
to achieve more, not so much financially but in personal growth.
“That’s how we saw any discrimination towards us as wogs – it was food
The friends the Hatzimihails made in their early years have lasted the
“We have a strong friendship with those part-Aboriginal families to
this day,” says Steve.
He doesn’t want to start naming people in case he leaves someone out,
but the names Ross, Bray, Abbott come up.
Rita adds the Trindles and the Campbells.
“We could write a whole page of the Aboriginal familes we’re friends
with,” says Rita.
Some of these friendships were built later, when the family started up
a fish and chip shop, at first in Todd Street, later on the site where
The Lane is today, and later still further down Reg Harris Lane.
It had been Kon’s Tuckerbox when Alex bought it in 1968. Now it became
Says Michael: “It was very successful, the food was good, mostly Dad’s
recipes, great roast chickens, milkshakes, our own hamburger patties,
and it was the only place open late at night.
“I was the potato peeler. I used to peel four big bags of spuds a
Steve had also done a stint of potato peeling before Michael was
recruited; then he progressed to hamburger cook.
“Mum and dad were generous,” says Steve. “If kids didn’t have money one
day, they’d give them something to eat. They’d always pay it back
“They don’t forget,” says Michael.
Alex worked hard to keep the family’s Greek Orthodox religion alive for
He would bring Greek Orthodox priests to Alice for family baptisms,
which led to him being dubbed “The Lion Heart of Central Australia” by
the archbishop of the Australian Greek Orthodox Church.
When church or other Greek dignitaries visited, Alex would hoist the
Greek flag as well as the Australian one outside their home in Giles
All the Greeks in town would congregate there and Alex would play the
Greek anthem as the dignitary walked up the garden path.
“Dad was very patriotic but he loved Central Australia,” says
NEXT: What was it that he loved?
Touch of light. KIERAN FINNANE
Light Touch, the title of Christine Godden’s exhibition of photographs
at Araluen, has lovely layers of meaning: her subject in good part is
about the touch of light on bodies and objects; her photographs
themselves have a seeming effortless grace; they induce in us a desire
to touch, to brush our fingertips across the complex of surfaces she
brings within a single frame and across the show; they evoke memories
of touch, whether of taut skin, wet glass, long hair, animal fur, a dry
leaf, lush grass, the crunch of snow.
Entering the small gallery feels like entering a light-filled room
opening out onto a sunny field.
Godden takes us with her through the space, as her gaze alights at a
moment, in a place – on the sudsy glass and cutlery in a porcelain
sink, on the vase of flowers at the window sill, on the bread spread
with marmalade just bitten into and placed back on the board where it
was spread, and moving outside, on the packed earth beneath a horse’s
hooves, on a springtime meadow, on frozen ground thick with the snow.
And as it dwells sensuously, erotically on the lithe young bodies that
inhabit this delightful world, often utterly complicit in the sensual
charge of the moment, offering themselves without inhibition to her
gaze, to the camera, appearing to anticipate its touch with their own
touch or stance.
Sometimes though the gaze is more covert, probing, intensely focussed:
the fine down on a young man’s back, the course hair under his arm,
caught in the sunlight as he bends over a car engine; the laconic
spread of a young woman’s legs, the fall of her flowered skirt over
them, as she grips a steering wheel; the extreme truncation of a young
woman sunbathing so that the gaze homes in on wet strands of hair,
droplets on skin, the sheen of wet canvas, the sun dazzles on water.
These photographs were taken in the mid-seventies, though there are not
many definitive clues in their subject matter about their date. It’s
more a matter of mood – they project an optimistic vitality, a
light-hearted sensuality that has perhaps gone missing in these
seemingly more fraught times.
In showing them again now Godden has taken advantage of digital
technology to print them on art paper and in a larger format than the
originals, allowing their fine detail – down to individual hairs – to
This show offers an alluring excursion to another time and place,
located not historically or geographically, but in moments, glimpses,
revelations in amongst light and shadows.
Post 9/11 terror. By POP
VULTURE with CAMERON
The future of music distribution lies in USB sticks and vinyl.
When you purchase freshly pressed records you also receive a free
download voucher of the same album.
I believe that when Einstein made a statement that after the Third
World War humanity would return to sticks and stones, what he was
really saying is that we would return to memory sticks and vinyl.
Pop Vulture’s review of “The needle and the damage done”, a performance
demonstrating the top ten worst albums of all time (part of the Araluen
birthday celebrations on the weekend), will be written in the
style adopted by maverick French writer, Pierre Guyotat.
Fiona Scott-Norman. Host. Dressed like liquorice all sort.
Archaeological dig into the world of bad music. Anthropology looking
like a delicious roll of lifesavers. Shoes off. Can’t put feet up.
Araluen seats too far apart. Not like Alice cinema, feet up there.
Talking. Playing music. MP3. Vinyl. Performance. Stand up. Cabaret.
Lecture. Original. People get it. People don’t get it. People who don’t
get it, ooooh and ahhhh in false recognition like they do get it.
Qantas collection of in flight music. Giving new meaning to post nine
eleven terror. Swinging sexism. John Laws a kamikaze to new lows. Back
in those days it was simpler and more confused.
Racism. Subliminal racism. Accidental racism. Battering ram in your
face racism. Open racism. Best kind of racism. I didn’t know it was
racism, secret song racism.
I’m not racist but ... Rolf Harris’s original version of “Tie me
kangaroo down sport” has verse saying, “Send me Abos away mate, send me
Abos’ away, they’re no use anymore mate, so send me Abos’ away mate”.
Edited from ‘eighties greatest hits. Mr Harris misses the point.
Simpler and more confused.
Show original and magnificent. Show too short. Honky Tonk amnesia. More
punters needed. Faex Mohawks fashion before music. Having a
notebook, clipboard at shows mimics being important. Go for the sake of
going. Like people who take their own pen to the bank. I took notes
with a pen I took from that person at the bank.
Thievery DJ, Fiona Scott-Norman has bad music passion. First
shoplifting them in the ‘seventies. Stealing the tackiness and selling
it to the audience. Her show too good too short. Short sharp jabs
punching above their weight in cool.
Worst album of all time. The Shaggs. Three young children severely
tempo and melody challenged. Taken from school by their delusional
possessed father believing them to be competition for the Jackson five.
Home schooled into ridiculousness.
Sad, funny, need more.
Happy birthday Araluen, one degrees, need to advertise though. Put
finger back on pulse. Many in the cold. One degree cold.
“What ten worst record thing?” skipping records of disappointment.
Saturday spinning vinyl. Warm. Inside warm sound of the record,
duplicated sound. fun with snap, crackle and pop.
Success against the odds.
SERIES by ALEX NELSON.
In the fourth part of his series on
the McEllister Method for establishing shrubs and trees in the Centre
ALEX NELSON looks at working with hard clay, saline soils. This follows
the June 4 installment which reported on the longevity of a number of
fruit trees established with the method, two of which are still alive
after 20 years of almost total neglect.
In 2006 I was given charge of the new plantings program at the Olive
Pink Botanical Garden (OPBG) for that year.
The soil varies considerably across the six hectares of planted ground
at the OPBG, from highly permeable outwash from the hillsides,
wind-drifted sand and silt through to hard saline clay earths towards
Prior to becoming a reserve in 1956, the site had been heavily
overgrazed (mostly by goats) and suffered extensive erosion. The
nutrient quality of the soil, despite its proximity to the Todd River,
is very poor overall.
Establishment of plants, all Central Australian native species, has
been slow and incremental over the years. Most have been planted in
holes a little larger than their root balls, with some slow-release
fertiliser and, for heavy clay soils, some gypsum to help soften the
soil. Generally the rate of growth of the plants is slow, and the
degree of successful establishment varies greatly with the different
In 2006 the garden was also suffering under the impact of drought.
To maximise the chance of success for the new shrubs and trees, I
decided to use the McEllister Method. The planting season extends from
autumn through winter to spring, the favoured time in the Centre –
easier on both the labourers and the new plants.
The excavation of the holes was the most arduous task, all done with
manual equipment – shovels, post-hole augurs, and crowbars.
Blood-and-bone fertiliser was coated around the sides and bottom (after
perforating the sides), then added with each subsequent layer of soil
Slow-release fertiliser (Osmocote or similar) was also stirred into the
soil with a garden fork, together with small quantities of any nearby
leaf litter, sticks and dead buffel grass clumps.
After the settling in period of the backfilled soil, each new plant
location was ringed with a rim of soil to create a shallow crater to
retain water during irrigation. The new plants were then put into
The overall rate of survival was high, and the growth rate for most of
them was good despite the difficult dry conditions.
However, some did not respond as well as anticipated; my assessment was
that I had erred too much on the side of caution by not including
enough organic matter into the back-filled soil.
Once the fertiliser in the poor soils was depleted, some plants grew
slowly or died. I resolved to increase humus levels in the soil for the
new plantings of 2007.
The first new area for planting was inside the main front entrance of
the garden next to the road – and in close proximity to the two Salt
The daunting nature of the ground could be judged by previous plantings
that had done so poorly over the years.
The new plants were three species of Eremophilas (native fuschias), one
Senna species (formerly Cassia), and a border row of alternating
tussocks of lemon-scented grass and kangaroo grass. The McEllister
Method was used for all although the grasses only needed smaller holes.
Substantial quantities of organic matter were incorporated in the
back-filled soil, with lashings of blood-and-bone fertiliser, slow
release artificial fertiliser, and gypsum.
The leaf litter on the ground was quickly used up, so I raided from
nearby several barrow-loads of old weathered wood-chip mulch, ideal for
mixing into the soil.
After all the new plants were in, watered and mulched, there was one
more task. Pegs were hammered into the ground next to each new shrub to
help deter the euros, or hill kangaroos, from indulging in their
occasional pastime of boxing new plants.
As the metal pegs normally used were in short supply, jarrah timber
garden stakes were substituted. This was to prove serendipitous.
The area was completed by the end of April 2007; it was now a matter of
time to see whether all the effort for this very difficult part of the
garden would pay off. If the plants grew well nobody could have any
excuse for failure in their own gardens! NEXT: The contribution made by
LETTERS: Alice needs to
outshine negative impressions.
Sir,– Living in Alice has given me an easy way of living; I have a
great job which allows me to interact professionally and socially with
different cultures from around the world.
Now I’m just an Anglo-Indian from the South of India who blindly made
her way to Alice after living in Melbourne for a year, and this
exposure does wonders for a person who can enjoy all kinds of flavours!
In my last year here I must say the energy that this place gives out is
From the dance floor and swinging doors of Bojangles to walking under
full moon dingo-howling nights at Palm Valley to the emotional swing of
the community that rallies together when a loved one passes away or
when they have achieved. The small opportunities are endless and
the learning is gigantic.
What I do find hard to swallow is the fact that amidst all this runs a
chase for money, and fear with a hint of rage between the ‘white and
black man’. I have been witness to many a discussion of who needs to
change and who’s in the wrong.
Life is too short to have such suspicious minds and the walls we are
building will only suffocate us!
We all have capabilities, whether we are black or white, yellow or red,
to do anything we set our minds to.
Hence, instead of trying to destroy each other and the land we live on,
why not WAKE UP and start moving forward without the nagging and
Let go of things that make us feel negative, sad, alone and miserable.
Let’s give a little more love to ourselves and share it with others.
What’s the worst that could happen?
I know there is more that goes on and it is not easy to create change
with a snap of one’s finger but when I read letters to the editor from
people who have holidayed here from other parts of Australia who hold
Alice in such low esteem it annoys me because I know that a little bit
of effort would go a long way.
Let’s bring back the fun and zest in life! We need more music and
social gatherings in order to create oneness among us.
Alice has the potential to make a niche for itself without any effort
as long as we the people can prove that our hospitality,
open-mindedness and outback experiences can over-rule and out-shine the
negativity we have created.
Inspiration to voice my thoughts from reading Adam’s columns – I think
they are good.
Esther van der Veen
Sir,– A Regional Economic Development Fund Grant of $20,000 [will]
assist the Alice Employment Campaign.
The grant will be used by the Alice Springs Town Council to develop a
marketing strategy aimed at attracting workers to the Centre.
A marketing strategy including a website will be developed that will
allow local businesses to advertise job vacancies.
This will help to elevate Alice Springs’ profile in the labour market
and attract potential skilled workers.
The Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Committee are also
taking steps to better position Alice Springs’ attract and retain
Minister for Regional Development
IAD court action
Sir,- There has been a change in the battle to fix up the Institute for
Aboriginal Development (IAD).
As the current chairperson, Janice Harris, has blatantly ignored IAD
Rules we will now take action in the courts under the NT Associations
A Special General Meeting called for Thursday, May 28 had to be
boycotted by our Institute’s concerned members because ... many IAD
members were not notified about this meeting [and] there was [alleged -
ED] rigging of the Register of IAD Members, the new membership
application process and members’ proxies.
There was no quorum of 20 members present. Clearly, Ms Harris could not
even raise a quorum of 20 members from her own supporters for this
meeting.Ms Harris and her [supporters] should do the decent thing and
resign now to avoid any further damage to IAD.
Former Chairman and Public Officer, IAD
ADAM'S APPLE: Tragedy &
I have a secret love of the dramatic.
Many men do. Men are meant to appear as though not much disturbs the
austere manliness of their inner mind, but I know quite a few that cry
at the sight of their team losing the Grand Final.
Sport however is not the sole outlet for such displays.
Scattered around the lives of men are little pockets of indulgence,
windows into a world that is generally ascribed to women.
Women have no qualms about swimming in an ocean of the dramatic.
Industries have been built for the delivery of that particular service.
Paperback books and soap operas keep thousands of people gainfully
I do know of a few men, men of importance, men of genuine stoicism,
manly men that have a secret fetish for daytime soap opera. Many an
awkward moment has resulted when the wife tapes over the weekly
indulgence or when the boys drop in unannounced.
I know a couple of roguish types that cry at the Kleenex moments in
films and I know a few more that secretly read the latest Fabio bound
I don’t do much of those things. Sure I’ve been known to cry in a
movie. (In the interest of full disclosure the two most embarrassing
have been Adam Sandler’s “Click” and Steve Martin’s “Father of the
Bride 2”. Both instances came as a shock at the time.)
My indulgence of drama comes in the form of the tourism commercial. I
know it sounds naff but I love them. The big budget, sweeping vistas
bled of all contrast for maximum colour. There is something about the
drama of a pan shot from a helicopter over a gorge or an ocean set to
something written by a long dead Austrian that makes me watch as though
very little else exists.
There was even a time when I wanted to be a director of these types of
commercials but I never really wanted to know how the sausage was made.
The magic of all that colour, all that space, is a scene I’d rather not
ruin with budget restraints and catering vans.
I do have to wonder though if my favourite outlet for the drama fix
doesn’t give the outsider a skewed view of life in these places. What
do people think about the Territory when all they have as reference is
the Tourism NT image?
Now I’m not having a go at Tourism NT here. Without those images the
only thing left at the moment is the Intervention.
Look at our own perceptions of other places. Without having been to New
Zealand my view of the place is basically Lord of the Rings and their
Last week the story of Liam Jurrah made headlines around the country.
It is a wonderful story.
I don’t care what your take is on Yuendumu, I think it safe to say that
on the scale of human experience in this country, this young man didn’t
have a life of privilege.
It’s a story of a kid who dreamed of playing football at the highest
level from a place where that dream seems as remote a possibility as
the place is itself.
It’s a story of talent, tragedy, toil and triumph and it’s a story
everyone should know. But there is also the equally impressive story of
those talented people from around Central Australia who might have been
given a glimpse of the prize but stayed at home and raised a
The memories of the elderly are full of stories about humanity’s
capacity to overcome adversity and it is a crying shame that it is only
there where you can find them.
When people from the cities ask me about Central Australia, sure I
might start with Uluru and Palm Valley but it is the stories of triumph
in the face of failure, success through hard struggle that I like to
They are the true reflections of Central Australia and I think they are
just as dramatic. Maybe we should start telling them more often.