Welding masks were better than nothing but not really a …

Comment on Tourism promoters sit on their hands as Alice feeds Venus transit images to the world by Mike Gillam.

Welding masks were better than nothing but not really a substitute for telescopes – some-one has calculated that Venus, the black dot covers only about 3% of the disc of the sun.
The 2012 transit of Venus, with all its historical resonance for Australians has been a much publicised and anticipated event. As some-one with an unrefined interest in astronomy I’ve been intending to take photographs for about a year – nothing special – just a bit of fun (see above). Doubtless this public awareness spurred local institutions, schools, hotels and other pockets of enthusiastic residents into action however the transit was not really embraced as a community wide event or one with a special potential for tourism. I’m not sure what the weather was like in Sydney or Melbourne at the time but it was probably fairly depressing in the preceding weeks. It’s hard to imagine therefore that an organised event, complete with lecturers, historians, an astro-physicist or two and NASA links would not have attracted a significant fly in crowd for Alice Springs. I’m not sure if conditions will be as favourable for Alice Springs in 105 years time but I’m hoping the next generation will have the confidence and initiative to seize such a remarkable opportunity.

Mike Gillam Also Commented

Tourism promoters sit on their hands as Alice feeds Venus transit images to the world
Steve, your comments about Charles Todd are timely. He is not well known or appreciated by the local population despite his huge scientific and engineering achievements and the fact that earlier generations made sure his name was attached to a number of significant landmarks. How quickly we forget the substance. He was also a meteorologist who saw the great potential for a system of telegraph stations (established by him in SA, NT and part of WA) as weather reporting stations. So in addition to his role as an astronomer Todd is one of the pioneering greats of Australian weather forecasting. With a little inspired preparation and promotion Alice Springs could still organise a transit of Venus symposium linked with the achievements of Todd, the pioneering scientist. Artistic responses to the transit could be sought and displayed as a one off curated event. The sky is the limit. Todd’s birthday is 7th July but perhaps that is a bit too soon – maybe next year!

Recent Comments by Mike Gillam

Melanka building would obscure unequalled backdrop
While I broadly support the views of the writer, I’d like to correct what is clearly a typo.
The building height limit in the CBD is 14 m. not 8.5m, and for the record, I won’t be making a submission to the NT Planning Commission, a Statutory Authority advising the NT Government on planning matters including building heights in Alice Springs because I don’t regard the public consultation process as genuine.
Recent calls by the Chief Minister for expressions of interest in the development of land at Whittaker Street, just outside the western boundary of the CBD and in an area with a LOWER height limit, makes a mockery of this public consultation.
The artist’s impression shows a building that dramatically exceeds the stated limit for this area, from memory, not even 14 m but currently 8.5m.
Of course, the nature of legislation, regulations and town plans may be subject to the extraordinary powers granted to the responsible Minister who can always find some justification.
In closing I would give credit to the NT Planning Commission for its recognition of the value of protecting some critical east west sight-lines across the CBD.
However the town’s future shape and collective massing of buildings will be determined to a large extent by the uncoordinated actions of individual developers and politicians in the decades ahead.
Ultimately this is a game of chance and DESIGN, that elusive collective vision for Alice Springs, appears to be taking a back seat in the process. As a struggling tourist town we can and should do much better.

Festival broadens ambitions of Alice Cinema
At a time when the town’s commercial centre is under great stress we are very fortunate to have such dynamic and progressive people directing the cinema complex.

A funny thing happened to me on the way to the tip …
Delightfully zany, elegant, rigorously conceived and resolved, an asset to the landfill and the town. Congratulations to the artist for her uncompromising effort and those on the Town Council who placed their faith in her and dared to make this happen. I hope the obvious quality of this public art has raised the confidence of decision makers and they feel vindicated to do it again with equal rigour. Perhaps in time, as the town’s artistic side is further highlighted and revealed we may regain some of our reputation as a tourist mecca.

Dancers take over after dark
Not denying there is an equivalent need for the hard core stories but surely this is the Alice Springs News at its very best.I’m kicking myself for missing the event.

Residency is at risk, says heritage group
Hal, where to start…If you peddle misinformation some readers might hyperventilate. But I think you’re ignoring the elephant in the room here…no-one likes their time being wasted and that’s how I feel trying to unravel your torrent of opinion and innuendo. Time prevents me from responding to more of your posts. It’s not simply that you distort reality by describing The Residency as “…current inactive state…” or that it’s preposterous and insulting to say, “Have you considered that Heritage Alice Springs’ dogmatic approach to these matters contributed to the Old Riverside not being given Heritage listing?” What an outrageous example of shoot the messenger by some-one who has not seen the nomination by HAS. But wait there’s more, “…I often think the heritage crowd exceed their brief…” Really? They’re the main reason you can cite the example of the Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame at its fantastic heritage location. And again, “…We don’t have very many buildings worth listing. Too many tin sheds, and who really cares…” Your regard for vernacular architecture including sheds is out of step with rising national interest and ignores much of the development history of Alice Springs.
PS Re. leasing the Residency for use as a cafe, I reiterate the issue of onsite car-parking. From memory, 6 parks are required for every 100m2 of net floor area and any alfresco dining areas – so I’m guessing this site would have to at least double the existing parks – this reasonable condition may be waived by the Minister BUT it’s in the best commercial interests of cafe owners to provide viable parking to lessen the impact on the street during periods of peak trade. And no, the idea that a new venture would be allowed to free-load on existing public car-parking is unlikely to win much support. The RFDS has it all, why try to replicate that experience with less at the Residency?

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