What a great event! Because my mind works the way …

Comment on Alice mountain biking classic turns 10 by Trevor Shiell.

What a great event! Because my mind works the way it does, it wandered back to a long gone trip to Japan where I watched on National TV a 100km long marathon relay for senior secondary school students from all over the country.
It was later revealed that the estimated TV audience was 80 million. Yes, million! I often since wondered why not here?
My mind immediately switched to Glen Helen to Alice – a distance of around 130km and thought why not?
I passed the idea around but it met with a wall of indifference.
This beautiful place is only limited by our limited thinking.
The bike event should be only the tip of the iceberg with a bit of thinking outside the square.

Recent Comments by Trevor Shiell

Bailed juveniles next-door to you soon?
In 35 years teaching her at all levels, there have been instances where Indigenous children have played up disrupting the learning for everyone else.
I remember taking one of these children aside and got the response “you can’t do anything to me because I’m Aboriginal”.
Another response that I remember getting was “you’re picking on me because I’m black”.
I pointed out the young woman that my own children, being part Fijian, had the same skin color to which the response was “but they’re not Aboriginal”.
This attitude has been promoted over years by professionals purportedly acting in the best interests of their clients but which has resulted in thinking that their clients are not subject to the same codes of behavior as the rest of the community.
These professionals have largely acted in the best interests of their professional careers and then moved on, leaving us with a legacy that we see now.
You reap what you sow. I feel for the parents who have their children’s education compromised.

Horror numbers in tourism stats, with a hint for a solution
Having spent some time in the Mclaren Vale area and surrounding hills is is sad to see what has happened in Alice in their attempts to attract and build tourism compared with what is happening else where in the market.
Mclaren Vale is bursting with tourism related activity.
They have a very attractive welcoming facility on the main approach to town, featuring ample parking facilities for both buses and caravans, clean modern toilets, eating, community meeting and other display areas and vibrant displays of everything the district produces, including samples, and where to get them.
We have very little if any of this. Following this line our centre should have been a custom build facility situated where the welcome rock south of the town and where every visitor either by air or road has to pass as happens in the Vale.
In May last year in two hours sitting there over 100 people had their photo taken sitting on that rock. There is your market.
Unfortunately one bus driver pointed out to me that in their haste to construct approaches rock, the entrance is so steep that some buses ground on the approach and so many bypass it.
The approach has been reactive not pro active by not noticing what is happening elsewhere.
The main road to Melbourne used to pass through Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills but has been superseded by the freeway.
Their main street now has been designated as a dedicated tourism zone based on their German heritage-food music crafts etc. and is immensely successful.
I wondered again, why it could not be copied here from the Mall to the Gap down Gap road.
An open air Indigenous art mark is so obvious and necessary.
We used to have the heritage component here but it vanished under shopping centres and is mostly now landfill.
It is noteworthy that the current CBD was mapped out nearly 100 years ago in response to the needs of the Telegraph Station. Are we really still that far behind in our thinking and is it time for a complete re think?

Spread renewables, government asked
ReNu energy (formerly Geodynamics), a pioneer in the geothermal energy field, has several solar facilities up and running in several places in SA, Victoria, ACT and NSW all of which are based on community ownership and after the meter billing.
This would be the perfect spot (Brewer) for such a facility if we can keep the red tape at bay.
For more details look at their website. Several of these are based on shopping centres, and the largest shopping centre in Alice would be an ideal site to demonstrate what is possible and what is happening elsewhere.
In addition comments about battery storage and talk of its shortcomings are quite premature and sometimes negative.
Lithium is the favorite of the month at the moment and there is some around here in the local pegmatites but this will shortly be superseded by vanadium flow batteries.
All the details of these are online at Australian Vanadium but the science is a bit complicated to the layman.
This is an ASX listed company and worth looking at to see what is coming.
Interestingly the emerging Vanadium / Titanium province at Mt Peake West of Barrow Creek brings the industry right to our front door, but not yet recognized widely locally.

Consultants with 40,000 years on the job
As a child I remember in the Riverland of SA, an APY lands Indigenous man whom we all idolised, one Jimmy James.
Remember going out onto the river flats around Berri and watch him tracking foxes, and my father showed him how to grow potatoes in a trench.
He lived at Gerard.
Some of feats also were legendary. On one occasion there was a murder at Pine Valley station, North of Waikerie.
Jimmy tracked the murderer for several days through the Mallee until his apprehension North of Renmark.
On another occasion he tracked a mentally disturbed woman for several kilometres through the streets of Berri, claiming she had gone into the river near the old pumping station.
This was dismissed by the authorities until her body floated to the surface of the river exactly where he said she had gone in.
His memory is commemorated by a plaque on the river bank near where the old ferry landing was in the town.
Jimmy was also instrumental in tracking the legendary figure known locally as “Possum” who lived a hermit’s life along the river between Renmark and Wentworth.
His story in now in a book of the same name by a former Renmark detective, Max Jones.

Community solar: the devil is in the wires
Why is it that there are around 60 off grid facilities already in operation in this country ranging from Goulburn in NSW to King Island to a complete new suburb Just North of Perth, where 20 odd houses get power from a battery bank the size of a shipping container, to Moololabank, near Melbourne, and now Chile on a large scale and Morocco where they have a solar / molten salt facility which is to power 2000 houses, with a similar facility in Spain.
One of these has been financed from Wall Street where they know a thing or two about making money, as does Lend Lease Corporation the promoter of several of these subdivisions here.
That could have happened here, putting us right at the front of the industry, with another thing to advertise the place but we did not.
Now we have three shopping complexes going off grid-Griffith in NSW and several others in SA – all being put in by a former Geothermal explorer, and to be followed by several others.
That also could have happened here but no one was looking.
Regarding the cost of infrastructure, the recent inquiry into costing revealed that 40% of the consumer cost is in the distribution system.
Once in tertiary economics classes it was taught that the electricity industry was the perfect example of cost reductions due to economies of scale.
This was partly true until the infrastructure was privatized. Spark Infrastructure, for example, which acquired the distribution network in SA and Vic years ago, showing that each entity must report to shareholders and that economies of scale suddenly went missing.
The energy losses in long distance transmission are obvious to anyone with a basic understanding of physics.
This is why Germany is moving towards carbon nano tube transmission while we live 50 years behind.
It therefore makes sense to move development to the source of generation to minimize costs and encourage industry.
I see no sign of that here.
In addition lithium storage will be obsolete shortly with the advent of nickel and vanadium flow batteries, and in the longer term thorium molten salt reactors.

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