I don’t have an argument with many of the proposals …

Comment on Cr Brown adapts Port Augusta solution to Alice Springs, calls for closer look at youth centre proposal by Alex Nelson.

I don’t have an argument with many of the proposals put forward here by Steve Brown but, as usual, I’m reminded of various attempts and proposals from the past to deal with these issues.
Steve Brown’s youth centre proposal echoes a suggestion I put forward over 20 years ago to convert the abandoned Turner Arcade at the north end of Todd Mall into a youth-oriented facility in which the young people of Alice Springs would have a direct say in its management and operation, and would expose them to real-life experience of business and commercial operation. I wrote specifically to Alderman Carole Frost about this idea – she was also the head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Alice Springs and was a prominent identity in the Alice Springs Branch of the CLP. I received a nice letter of acknowledgement in reply but the idea never proceeded.
A few years later Turner Arcade was bulldozed, along with the Shell Todd service station, to make way for the existing carpark at the north end of the mall, in conjunction with opening up that end of Todd Mall to traffic in the current cul-de-sac – all at the cost of $5 million to bring more people into that end of the town again. Hmm, sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? But I digress.
It was also in the very early 1990s that another attempt was made to create a youth complex (a Youth Multi-Function Centre) in response to the entrenched issues of youth crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour that was plaguing Alice Springs at the time. A committee was established, including Tangentjere Council, and a number of sites were listed for the proposed youth centre, including the abandoned water-slide site (now Mercorella Circuit) and the Transport and Works depot off Smith Street (from where the large shed for the Road Transport Hall of Fame was obtained). However, the timing could not have been more inauspicious – Australia was enduring the “recession we had to have” and the NT Government had enacted a program of freezing recruitment in the NT Public Service, slashing over 1220 positions in the process, and implementing wide-ranging cutbacks in expenditure all over the Territory. No prizes for guessing what happened to the Youth Multi-Function Centre proposal!
Finally, in regard to the treatment of Aboriginal people with the “gushing destructive paternalism of the past”, it’s perhaps salutory to take note of Albert Namatjira’s opinions on this issue published on the front page of the Centralian Advocate in October 1952, almost exactly 60 years ago. Namatjira was seeking citizenship rights equal to that of white Australians for himself and a few other Aboriginal people; but he expressed strong reservations about extending such rights to all Aboriginal people for he feared that “they will drink liquor like water”. In light of subsequent history he clearly knew what he was talking about.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Cr Brown adapts Port Augusta solution to Alice Springs, calls for closer look at youth centre proposal
In reply to David Chewings concerning the correct spelling of Tangentyere Council – jes, jou’re probably correct but I’m fairly sure the name was originally spelt with a ‘j’. That’s me, always living in the past! There’s nothing unusual about the evolution of spelling of Aboriginal names; for example – Aranda, Arunta and now Arrernte.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Master plan for town, reconciliation plan for Australia Day
@ Domenico Pecorari and @ Steve Brown: The first site chosen for the Anzac Memorial was to be an area set aside at the (then) new cemetery established west of town in 1933 – today’s Alice Springs General Cemetery on Memorial Drive.
There were objections to this location, mainly that it was a considerable distance out of town and access was via a very rough track.
According to an account published in 1952, a veteran by the name of Jack Novice suggested that the top of View Hill (or Stott Hill) next to Wills Terrace would be a good location for the memorial. This idea was challenged on the basis it would be too difficult and costly to transport materials to the top of the hill but Novice claimed he had been able to drive his vehicle to the summit easily enough although there was no track at the time.
Dr D R Brown tested this claim by driving his A-Model Ford to the top of the hill without difficulty whereupon the decision was taken to proceed with construction of the war memorial on that site.
The energetic Reverend Harry Griffiths became the driving force behind this project, designing the obelisk and presiding over its official dedication on Anzac Day of 1934 on the top of what now became Anzac Hill.
I’m unaware that any Traditional Owners were consulted about this project – this was an era and time when such considerations just didn’t arise; moreover, Aboriginal people required permits to enter the town area at the time and had no right to be present within the town at all after sunset each day.
If there is permission from TOs for the Anzac Memorial now, it’s almost certainly been obtained long after the fact of its existence.


Master plan for town, reconciliation plan for Australia Day
The flags were installed on Anzac Hill in 1989 as part of a major upgrade of the memorial. It was late that year the Central Land Council first suggested the Aboriginal flag also be flown there but this was rejected by the Alice Springs Town Council and met with local opposition.
It’s relevant to recall the long-running heated debate over Aboriginal affairs at the time, with many contentious issues such as the replacement of the Sacred Sites Authority with the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, excisions for living areas on stock routes, agitation for separate smaller land councils, and control of the Strehlow Collection.
All of this controversy generated public enmity that wasn’t favourably disposed towards the suggestion of the Aboriginal flag flying on Anzac Hill that was first made 28 years ago.


Hundreds of empty plastic wine bottles in Todd
@ Laurence (Posted October 10, 2017 at 4:45 pm): Your comment reminds me of an anecdote from 1969 about a major shopping centre development project for the Todd River bank beside the town centre proposed by a South Australian business consortium.
The proposed development was discussed at a meeting of the Town Management Board which was attended by the managing director of the company Allumba Development who was seeking approval for this project.
District Officer Dan Conway inquired about the origin of the name “Allumba Town Centre” for this development proposal, to which the company’s director responded vaguely that “he thought somebody looked up the name and it had something to do with water in arid places.”
TMB member and prominent local businessman Reg Harris quipped in reply: “Why don’t you call it Tintara Park after all the flagons in that part of the river?”
Ah huh, that’s almost 50 years ago.


Saving, reopening Pitchi Richi: another step forward
Pitchi Richi certainly deserves to be restored as a significant visitor attraction for its historical and natural values.
It’s worth noting this site in its former role as a nature sanctuary predates Olive Pink’s Flora Reserve (as it was) by one year – both places are contemporaneous and outstanding for their importance to the character of Alice Springs (not least for their connections with the Indigenous people of this region); and in my opinion are complementary to each other, both sharing locations on the east bank of the Todd River either side of the main range.
William Ricketts’ sculptures are immensely important for one very significant reason, in my opinion, as with some of them he captured the faces of elderly Indigenous people who had witnessed changes in their country from the earliest European encroachment to the onset of modern technological advances which in essence still remain with us. As far as I’m aware there is no other place on Earth where people witnessed and experienced such massive changes within a single lifetime – that gives those sculptures and Pitchi Richi a significance of international stature.
Pop Chapman’s significance shouldn’t be overlooked, either. For example, it was at this site he established a citrus grove and table grape vineyard and was the first to promote the potential of a viable horticulture industry in Central Australia.
Chapman was a tough man of his times but he was undeniably a visionary, and proven to be a man ahead of his time.
One correction to note, however – Chapman’s House isn’t the first double-storey building of our town, that honour goes to Adelaide House in 1926 followed by the original Catholic presbytery in the early 1930s.


Home from the fire front
A special hello to Miss Tourism 1967, Central Australia’s first tourist queen!
Wow, two months of sunshine without rain during the summer in Vancouver – meanwhile, last week we had a tantalising sprinkle of rain in Alice Springs for the first time since the beginning of February.
I bet that brings back some memories for you, Ursula.
Great to hear from you.


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