The future of Alice Springs and its tourism industry should …

Comment on PART TWO Food for Thought: Transport Hall of Fame bucks downward trends by Trevor Shiell.

The future of Alice Springs and its tourism industry should revolve around an entirely new tourist precinct based around the Transport Hall of Fame. There are at least eight (possibly more) tourist targets south of the gap including such diverse targets as Yirrara College demonstrating the positives of Indigenous Education, Desert Knowledge, Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) demonstrating what can be done on arid lands utilization in the light of climate change, the Old Timers, their history and their museum, the CSIRO and satellite technology, the geology section at Arid Lands (I am frequently asked about the local geology and where is it displayed? They have done this brilliantly in Nth Qld.)
Where is our equivalent of Sovereign Hill or the main street of Hahndorf, or Loxton historical village? We have as much to offer as they have, but have failed to use our imagination, and relied on the same old same old. There is a desperate need and huge market for an environmental and outdoors education facility to cater for southern schools which have these in their curriculum but nowhere to demonstrate these things. Where is our equivalent of Geelong Grammar’s Timbertop? The land at the rear of the Hall of Fame has all these attributes but now looks like becoming another industrial estate!
We also need an open air Indigenous art market as at Kuranda where local artists can hone their commercial skills and not be subjected to exploitation. This should be one of our strengths instead of having it presented in a grubby way on the lawns in the mall.
Where can the growth and husbandry and utilisation of bush foods be demonstrated now? All these things and more should form the basis of a completely new precinct south of The Gap, and based around the Hall of Fame. Having just spent time in the Mclaren Vale district I am somewhat ashamed of the way we present to tourists in the town centre and suggest that someone come down here and look at the tourist centre at Mclaren Vale. This is what we need at the junction of the Stuart Highway and the airport road as an introduction to the town. We have surrendered our combative advantage and instead can only offer guided tours of our shopping malls the same as any other regional centre in Australia, and an entrance into a unique part of Australia through a housing estate just the same as the northern approaches to Adelaide.

Recent Comments by Trevor Shiell

The long and the short of an accountable council
Talking about waste management. I recently replaced two tyres in Adelaide. Disposal fee? $3 each. Alice Springs price at the tip ? $39 each. Does it really cost $36 to place a used tyre on a truck and get it to Adelaide?
The Adelaide tyres are aggregated into containers, and back loaded to China where they are doused in liquid nitrogen which makes removal of the rubber easy, and they come back to us as new tyres! The current Council policy is simple encouraging the dumping of tyres away from the tip. I also saw the concrete slab of a large unused factory broken up, and recycled as road metal. The contractor actually paid for the slab! Here it costs $90 a ton for the tip to deal with it. No wonder there are odd concrete piles appearing on the outskirts of town.


LETTER: New recycled water whets appetite of large businesses in Alice Springs
How much did it cost is a moot question. There can be nothing more ridiculous, costly, (and futile) than using water to remove human waste in a desert and I applaud the efforts of water smart and its officers. But the problem lies directly at the feet of Governments. That technology has been around for along time.
There was once a public Australian company named Memtec, which had far better than current technology, but which was subsequently brought up by American interests and used to re cycle waste water in the Gulf war. Such is our loss because of our shortsighted approach to so many things (including Kilgariff, which should still be world class research facility into carbon farming).
It might be too late but still relevant to note that IDE Technologies in Israel is currently producing potable water from waste at the rate of 50 to 10000 cubic metres a day, in transportable units, without the use of chemicals.
It recently opened the world’s largest desalination project at Hadera in Israel. They have on the market now a portable unit (think Indigenous communities) as well as a large scale unit producing potable water at a cost of around 57 cents US a cubic metre and producing 150 million cubic metres a year. When completed, over 50% of household water used in Israel will come from desalinated sea water.
Once again we have to ask where were we when all this was happening. Perhaps seeking non existent low cost housing? As with the tourism industry, we need to open our eyes and look around.


LETTER: Scrapping of educational facility
Apparently very easily Ian. Add to that the appalling decision to turn what should be a world class arid zone research facility and repository for species that are in decline in other parts of the world, but vital for our food security, into a low cost housing estate.
While we scream about the impending food shortage and food security, China is seeing it the other way, while we ignore the science fields in so many other areas. There are no visionaries left, only developers and short sighted politicians. The lack of scientific knowledge in the community is appalling and getting worse. While we give great credence to racing motor bikes etc. our northern neighbours are bounding ahead of us. They simply work harder and look further into our future needs. What is happening now is reminiscent of the ancient Roman games and will inevitably have the same result.


LETTER: Sports tourism is money in the hand!
Spot on! A few years ago I witnessed in Japan a marathon relay for senior school students from all over the country. From memory it consisted of 10 legs of 10 km through I think, Nagoya, and attracted a national TV audience of some 80 million viewers. Now think of such an event from say Glen Helen to Alice open to all secondary schools in Australia, and Rob De Costello’s Indigenous marathon project, and you have a boomer and millions of $ worth of free advertising. Problem: Up until now, too much blinkered tunnel vision in the tourism industry.


Downward spiral or shuddering readjustment?
The short-sighted planning evident in this town is deplorable. The Federal Government has just received a report from the Professional Planners Association on national food security and foreign ownership of agricultural land. It found that five times more agricultural land was being lost to urban sprawl than to foreign ownership. Food security will become a national issue. So what do we do? At AZRI – Kilgariff we cover what should be a prime facility and national showcase for producing more food with “low cost” housing and bow down to the real estate industry. Don’t get over-excited when you are buying Italian tomatoes, rice from Laos and beef from Africa, and sugar from China because we were too short-sighted in our planning to look into the future. It’s no co incidence that big companies (BHP Billiton) are buying into fertilizer production all over the world to meet the need for increased food production, wile we cover a huge asset that should be productive with houses. The planners must have had dust in their eyes, or approaching an election, where pollies were only looking for votes from unthinking people.
That whole area should have been a brand new tourist precinct showing what can be down with arid land, starting with a Mt Isa style tourist display area at the welcome rock South of town. Tourists won’t come here to see a replica of Adelaide’s Northern suburbs.


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