Notice with interest Wayne Craft’s comments. Can’t recall that he …

Comment on Krafty’s call to arms to revitalise tourism industry by Don McKenzie.

Notice with interest Wayne Craft’s comments. Can’t recall that he was particularly involved with tourism. Recall that he came to Alice as a finance man, and presume that is how he has ended up with Steakhouse (I am amazed it is still going). Having said that, I fully support his thoughts on Alice Springs tourism future marketing etc requirements. By virtue of its isolation, Central Australia has always been an adventure tourist destination. Not so isolated today access-wise but still basically the same.
This was recognised in the 80s by various tourism bodies and that market was pursued. It is mistakenly referred to as “backpacker”.
I have traveled extensively over many years throughout the world and nearly always traveled in that manner. Still at it and approaching 70 years of age.
In 2008 I traveled overland on a tour between Kathmandu and Lhasa before taking train out to Chengdu.
On the tour was a couple who talked of recently touring OZ and they had done the Larapinta trail which they thought was magnificent.
Half the other people on the tour were going to try and do the trail when in OZ as a result of this couple’s account (and – modestly – my promoting the area).
Calling them backpackers gives people the idea of putting up with visitors who spend little. This is not case, as this type of traveler spends large amounts of money on their travels. We are just tight where accommodation costs are concerned.
Another area that I think Wayne’s lack of knowledge of the tourism history of Central Australia is in the area of credit for the industru’s founders.
Whilst Keith Castle was a tireless worker, he was basically employed by TAA to come to Alice and set up a ground tour operation in opposition to the extensive local operations of the day, and of the Ansett organization. Keith was just a paid employee (who did a great job) living in normal suburban surroundings in Alice.
Bill King also gets a mention. He pioneered (amongst others) a camping style outback touring company based in Melbourne. He only became involved with NT tourism long after he had sold his operation to AAT and later was given a “job for the boys” type role on the board of the NT Tourist Commission under the Everingham government of the day.
There were plenty with their noses in the trough in the Everingham et al days. The real pioneers are the numerous (too many to list without forgetting so many) who set up as individual operators, most living in appalling conditions out in the bush (Cotterill family for instance at Wallara) and battling to set up tourist facilities out of their own pocket.
As well as those living out bush, there were many living in town but operating tourism ventures that took them out bush. The early (Pre Yulara Village etc) accommodation operators at the Rock had it tough.
The establishment of Yulara and the jet capable airstrip was the writing on the wall for Alice’s current tourism doldrums.
Prior to that most visitors came to Alice before – and after – visiting Ayers Rock. The loss of these stopover visitors has eroded visitor numbers.
Good luck in getting back on the right track and getting tourism visitor numbers back up.
Don McKenzie
Alice resident 1975 – 1995.

Recent Comments by Don McKenzie

They must be joking!
Re John Bell and lie lady lie. Sorry mate, you are not up with your music.
I would suggest it is a take off from Bob Dylan’s classic which begins “Lay, lady, lay”.
Best wishes to you.


Unseating an incumbent: not easy but not impossible
As a resident from 1976 until 1994 I can observe that although much seems to have changed, it still basically stays the same. What probably has changed is the CLP stranglehold on all and everything. That in my view was to the detriment of Central Australia up until the late 90s when the majority wised up. Everingham and his successors, whether in office or on the sidelines, all had their noses in the trough. But there you go, we / they have mostly moved on, retired, mostly back to SA (and other places) or karked it.
Nobody learns from history. We just keep on blundering along, making the same stuff-ups.
Good luck to the next generation!


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