It’s a shame I missed this event, unfortunately work commitments …

Comment on Developments today are the heritage of tomorrow by Alex Nelson.

It’s a shame I missed this event, unfortunately work commitments intervened.
Frankly, I regard the debate about Stuart is done to death but the impact of Pine Gap (or the Space Base as I originally knew it) on Alice Springs is hard to overstate.
It’s one of what I consider to be the five major developments that have influenced the character of Alice Springs – in order these are the establishment of the Overland Telegraph Station in the early 1870s, the Central Australian Railway in 1929, military occupation and control during World War Two, the establishment of Pine Gap in the late 1960s, and finally the Memorandum of Understanding that financially underpinned the NT’s economy at the commencement of self-government in 1978.
All of these were government-financed and caused massive changes and boosts to the growth of Alice Springs.
The “American presence” in the latter history of Alice Springs is immensely influential, but commenced well before Pine Gap was established.
The Joint Australian-US Geological and Geophysical Station at Schwarz Crescent started in April 1955, more than a decade before the lease for Pine Gap was negotiated.
It was originally described as a “weather station”, much to the amusement of locals at the time. The Americans of Detachment 421 quickly became an accepted part of Alice Springs society.
There’s an interesting twist to the establishment of Pine Gap, too, as initially it was intended to be a Fly-in Fly-out operation, with American staff and families housed in Adelaide.
This provoked consternation in Alice Springs, and a concerted campaign by local politicians and business people convinced the Federal Government to provide housing and services for the Americans who were to come to Pine Gap.
This was a major reason for the expansion of Alice Springs in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the town’s population growth was as high as 10 per cent annually at one stage.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Centre of attention: Glory days of Anzac Oval in the 1950s
@ Peter Bassett (Posted February 19, 2019 at 7:33 pm): Appreciate your comment, especially about the old high school, Peter.
Contrary to what has been reported in the some media, the old school building is a very well constructed building with enormous inherent heritage value.
There has been – and is – a deliberately false and misleading campaign initiated by the NT Government, amplified by vested interests through a complicit and compliant print media, to denigrate the worth and value of that old education complex.

From mud, dust to grass: The beginning of Anzac Oval
@ Dr Ongo (Posted February 14, 2019 at 8:08 pm): You raise an interesting point; however, your observation applies equally well to other listed heritage sites, eg. such places as the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, Alice Springs Heritage Precinct (including Stuart Park, old hospital, old Alice Springs Gaol, and several houses in Hartley and Bath streets), and the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct.
There are histories, stories or law applicable to all of these places since time immemorial but other than to acknowledge previous Aboriginal occupation or use of such sites, I’m not qualified or knowledgeable enough to comment about them.
In regard to “untyeye that once grew there” at the Anzac Oval site (referring to corkwood trees – Hakea divaricata), only one still survives just inside the boundary near the Senior Citizens Club. It’s the same tree on the right of the photo, framing the new school, taken by Prue Crouch’s father in the early 1950s.
The heritage statement for the nomination of Anzac Oval does state: “The Anzac Oval Precinct contains several sacred sites.”
Thanks for your comment.



Home owner bonus: New build sector bleak, says CLP
The situation generally in the Northern Territory is giving every indication that it’s rapidly spiralling out of control.
I suspect the NT Government’s reactions are too little, too late; and this latest scheme will likely end up being home owner bogus rather than bonus.

West Macs fire mitigation critically inadequate: Scientist
Such a shame, Steve, that we’re unable to harness your sprays to put the wildfires out.

Government fails to protect major tourism asset
My recollection is that the major wildfire years in the earliest period of this century were 2002-03, and again in 2011. Both of those periods closely followed years of exceptionally high rainfall (2000-01 and 2010 respectively).
This isn’t unusual in itself – there were significant wildfire years in 1968 (following the breaking of the drought in 1966) and in 1975 (following 1973-4, the wettest period on record in Alice Springs).
What’s different now is that this major wildfire event has occurred after a very dry year, with a record set at Alice Springs in 2018 for the longest period without rain being recorded, although (as I recall) this wasn’t the case further west of town.
In the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel west and east of Alice Springs a number of times and also to fly frequently to Darwin and back with clear views of the area around town.
The clear impression I’ve gained on every trip is the extent and dominance of the spread of buffel grass in the ranges.
It’s like a blanket hugging the ground as far as the eye can see. It’s spread is overwhelming, and the ecology of this region is forever changed.
There are often comments about the need for protecting Alice Springs from major floods but that’s the least of our worries.
It is major wildfire that poses the most serious risk to our town, and the recent disaster in the West Macs demonstrates this risk can occur at any time.

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