In 2011, as I recall, I put forward the suggestion …

Comment on Cultural centre – think big! by Alex Nelson.

In 2011, as I recall, I put forward the suggestion of the Melanka block as a site for an indigenous cultural centre.
My thoughts were that it is located exactly in line between Billygoat Hill and Meyers’ Hill at the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, both locations long recognised as significant / sacred sites to the local Arrernte people.
It’s also immediately adjacent to the town centre and on a major route (Gap Road – Todd Street) into town. (Incidentally, there was an attempt in the late 1980s to establish a local indigenous cultural centre on Gap Road).
I’ve been dubious from the start about the prospect of the “Melanka Towers” (and other previous high-rise proposals) being a viable development option for Alice Springs.
As I’ve mentioned several times previously, proposals for high-rise developments in Alice Springs always coincide with the onset of economic downturns, and I’ve no reason to believe that’s going to change now.
(Incidentally, last year I read with interest the recommendation of the 1969 HKF Report into future tourism development in Alice Springs and Central Australia that the proposed redevelopment of the old Stott House site into a much larger hostel accommodation complex should be relocated to another site. That recommendation was ignored, and construction of the new Melanka Hostel commenced in 1971).
However, while we wait for something to happen, it’s interesting to observe that two of the large Eucalypts (non-local species) on the Melanka site have perished, and others are in serious decline.
So whatever development may eventually occur there, it’s unlikely that most of the existing trees will be in a condition to be incorporated within the design and landscaping of that site.
I had a long conversation yesterday with a senior TO in Alice Springs, and she favours the Desert Knowledge precinct for the location of an indigenous cultural centre.
Her reasoning is that in the past (pre-European settlement) it wasn’t possible for people to enter Mparntwe (Alice Springs) through Heavitree Gap without first gaining the consent of the local Arrernte custodians.
Locating the cultural centre south of town would be an acknowledgement of that old custom.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

‘Bring back school based constables’
Oh, I don’t know about that, Evelynne – I recall there were a lot of ratbags during my time at school, and quite a number of them were the students 😉

‘Bring back school based constables’
@ Phil Walcott (Posted March 17, 2018 at 2:55 pm): Interesting comment, Phil, because when I was a student at the Alice Springs High School in the late 1970s there was a school counsellor employed there. Her name was Glynnis McMahon, if my memory serves me right, a highly regarded person who worked at the high school for many years.
She passed away in 1989 as I recall, and maybe wasn’t replaced at a time of increasing budgetary constraint. That’s speculative on my part but given you arrived here in 1993 not long after massive cutbacks to public expenditure including significant attrition of staff positions, that’s probably the reason there were apparently no school counsellors employed here by that time.

Federal study casts light on future source of town water
Our family visited the Rocky Hill lucerne operation in the early 1970s when an open day for the public was held there. It continued to operate throughout the 1970s but was long abandoned by the mid 1980s.
I still have in my possession the Primary Industry flow charts for the development of the horticulture industry in Central Australia from the mid 1980s onwards, courtesy of permission from then Horticulture Senior Technical Officer, Frank McEllister.
One aspect stood out for me, there was no mention of potential horticulture development at Rocky Hill.
I inquired of this with Frank, and he told me that area was excluded from consideration because it was reserved as the future water supply for Alice Springs.
This was at a time when it was still expected the town’s population would reach 50,000 by the turn of the century and the NT Government had officially announced the development of a satellite town on Undoolya Station would proceed.
All of this is now forgotten but history always comes back to bite us in the end.

Cops hush up dangerous joyride
I witnessed a similar incident that evening too, which I think was the same vehicle.
I was walking on the footpath next to the ANZ Bank along Parsons Street when this utility came screeching around the corner from Todd Street and raced towards the Leichhardt Terrace intersection.
The utility turned left and charged up towards Wills Terrace where I lost sight of it.
When I got to the corner of Leichhardt Terrace, I observed the utility speeding over the Wills Terrace Causeway where it spun around the Sturt Terrace roundabout, tyres screeching, and then charged back along the causeway onto Wills Terrace past the Todd Tavern, when I again lost sight of it.
Despite being a block away from most of the action I witnessed, I had no difficulty hearing the young hooligans yelling and shouting. They were clearly defiant and rebellious, and deliberately challenging authorities.
Presumably they felt they had nothing to lose by indulging in this behaviour and were heedless of the possible consequences of their actions.

A good spot for the art gallery?
Hal, this is just the latest attempt to re-purpose Anzac Oval as a village green, first proposed by the Alice Springs Town Council in 1979 and firmly resisted by the rugby codes (and especially by John Reeves, then ALP Alice Springs branch president, rugby league president, elected as alderman on the town council, and not long afterwards elected as Member for the Northern Territory. He is now a Federal Court judge.).
The village green concept was tried again in 1994 when the ASTC attempted to relocate the rugby codes to the Ross Park Oval, enticed there by the promise of lighting to facilitate games at night; and stoutly resisted and defeated by local Eastside residents, led by the Eastside Residents’ Association of which I was then a committee member.
And now here we go again …
Quite apart from the old high school complex, Anzac Oval itself is of considerable historical value as it is the first turfed sports oval in the NT and it was established entirely as a community effort over the summer of 1951-52 – no government assistance involved.
Part of that work was done by the town’s children who were organised by the new Youth Centre into an emu parade on one weekend that cleared the whole area of rocks and sticks.
Ah yes, the bad old days of Commonwealth control.

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