I keep coming back to the middle photo. It intrigues …

Comment on The risks in taming the river by Hal Duell.

I keep coming back to the middle photo. It intrigues me, the way it’s framed, what it shows and what it leaves out. It’s a bit like asking if the glass is half full or half empty.
As seen, it would appear that a copse of young trees is growing on an expanse of mowed lawn bordered in the background by a city street. The area looks manicured and inviting, offering a soft and shady seat on a hot summer day. And prickle free, another good service from an oft-maligned Town Council.
And yet if taken from the other side, the same copse with its mowed and prickle-free lawn would be bordered by a pedestrian / bicycle path (again thanks are due to our Town Council), then a strip of shoreline with an apparently healthy variety of eucalypts in various stages of maturity and then the Todd River as it winds its way through town. The lawn has become native growth and buffel.
Two sides of the same coin.
Taken from a slightly different angle again, would it be possible to get the old-man river gum featured in the bottom photo in frame? He’s not far off, biodiversified understory and all.
Continuing downstream, under the bridge and around the point of Myers Hill is the Olive Pink Botanic Garden with its 16-hectares of plants native to central Australia. Some 300 species are cared for ensuring a vigorous biodiversity will always remain a living part of urban Alice Springs.
The companion to the old-man river gum I mentioned before might be the tree down in front of the Desert Palms. We’ve lost so many in this year’s brutal fire season it can be difficult to remember exactly where I saw the last one go down. He was grand, now he’s not. Hopefully someone will be allowed to clean up the mess.

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The risks in taming the river
Taking the photos from the top, the first shows a stretch of parkland along a riverbank. Has the parkland and its upkeep caused the riverbed in the background to be without trees?
I suggest not necessarily as I can clearly remember walking down some of our major waterways and coming upon stretches of open, clear riverbed in country where the “wild” isn’t necessarily and understandably compromised by being in the middle of an urban setting.
This is also the stretch of the river that gets the most use by both families and from civic events. We are very fortunate to have access to this open space in the heart of Alice.
The manicured riverbank parklands in this picture are not riverbed, but they do offer the residents of Alice a wonderful space from which to enjoy an open view of the Todd River. If it’s decided that the exotics have to go, hopefully they will be replaced by acceptable trees with a dense canopy so we can continue to enjoy a shady park.
In the middle photo what appear to be young eucalypts are without understory and therefore have a good chance of growing to maturity without the danger of being burned down by itinerant arsonists. The open lawns at the Telegraph Station offer something similar but with older trees. There are about 200km of wild river south of Heavitree Gap where biodiversity reigns as the uncontested natural order. Nothing is being lost by claiming this short section for the town.
And finally to the money shot, the bottom photo, and what a magnificent, hoary old man he is! And so vulnerable. When the pictured understory dries off, hopefully the private citizens mentioned, or the Town Council if necessary, will remove it before it builds up into an ignitable fuel load that an arsonist could send roaring up into all those character revealing dead limbs.
I think it was along this stretch of river that one of the pictured tree’s equally venerable and vulnerable companions didn’t make it through this year’s fire season. The arsonists struck, the fire took hold and the tree either fell or had to be pushed over. When I last rode down that bike path I didn’t notice the carcass so unless I missed it, I assume it has been removed.
This debate brings the story of Pandora’s Box to mind. Alice will never again be what she was. By denying that we merely prevent her from becoming all she could be.


Recent Comments by Hal Duell

Kids in the justice system: The stark numbers
“But nobody seems to be able to work out why.”
Could it be because so many of the offenders are raised in overtly racist households where they are taught from when infants that all things Indigenous are superior to all things mainstream? For the child, the first casualty of this would be schooling and a respect for the possibilities that schooling offers.
And then when they get a bit older and come hard up against the unavoidable absurdity of what they have been taught, and realise that they are not only uneducated and ignorant but likely to remain uneducated and ignorant, anger and resentment give rise to a lashing out and a pathetic if understandable attempt to cry the victim?
“You owe me.” No, lad or lass, we don’t owe you, but your parents and early childhood mentors surely do.


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Last Saturday my wife and I went to a matinee showing at the Alice Cinema.
On exiting the cinema, our two hour free parking limit had expired so we went into Alice Plaza to pay the fare.
On coming out we were met with a ring of aggressive youths bristling with attitude whose gauntlet we were forced to run to gain access to our parked car.
Steve has it right. We are getting back to those days of Claire Martin levels of social dysfunction in Alice.
And from what I have seen, Darwin simply couldn’t care less.


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There was talk at one time that Nigel Scullion was getting tired of being a Senator, and that Jacinta was in line to take on that job. Something happen?
Anyway, now she says she wants to take on Snowdon in Lingiari? Good luck with that. Warren has done nothing for thirty years except win an election every three years. He’s good at it.
The $100,000 price tag for a by-election is an own goal. There are ways around it, if the Minister in charge of local government would care to consider them. Such as, offer the job to the last excluded candidate polling at least 3% of the primary vote at the previous election.


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Further to my first post, if the Alice Springs Town Council could combine with the MacDonnell Shire, Barkly Shire and the Central Desert Shire to present a united anti-fracking stand, their combined voices might carry a bit more weight.
I don’t know what the other shires stand on this issue is. Have they debated it? Anyone?


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Maybe I should start going to Council meetings again, if for no other reason than to enjoy the fireworks.
Reading the preceding comments, I am once again convinced that the whole Facebook phenomenon is a truly nasty piece of gear.
Why anyone would go there, would pay it the slightest bit of attention, is beyond me.


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