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.

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In a previous life as a teacher I vividly remember one young Indigenous boy who made life very difficult for everyone else in the class telling me directly to my face: “You cant do anything to me. I’m Aboriginal.” Therein lies the problem.

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The mention of alternative locations appears to have been glossed over again. The fact is that the Indigenous community does not want the facility North of the gap for cultural reasons. The Govt does not want it anywhere else for economic reasons.
The obvious thing overlooked is that many people come here for an Indigenous experience and there is none better than Yirrara College which is where the Centre should be and where the students can demonstrate their cultures and training in the world of commerce at the same time, and give visitors a positive experience of Indigenous education.
This should be only one element of a new tourism precinct South of the Gap commencing with an up to the mark tourism centre at the welcome rock where every visitor from the South has to pass to get to the NT. This would be to the advantage of everyone including the Mall traders, who seem to be calling the shots.

National Aboriginal art gallery in the wide open spaces?
The town has already fallen! When will it be realised that it (CBD) is where it is through factors that were relevant over 80 years ago – vis the telegraph station and gold at Arltunga, neither of which is relevant today.
The future activity will have to be south of the gap. Caravans cannot park in the CBD, cars have difficulty, busses are impossible.
The cultural / art centre should be an integral and vital part of the new thinking and should be incorporated into Yirrara college demonstrating the best in Indigenous education and cultural values.
It should be partly run by the students themselves as a training exercise, and interpretive guides in their own cultures.
It should also incorporate the modernisation of traditional bush tucker and medicine.
The precinct should also incorporate a new visitors centre at the welcome to Alice Rock for the whole of the NT, as in Katherine, and an interpretation of the geology along with the very informative but never seen mineralogy at the ASRI geology building.
And of course the Transport Hall of Fame, and the Ghan history. The long term planning and thought has been abysmal.
That whole area should have been a vibrant display of what is possible here, including a nationwide transport hub at Brewer where we have the unique combination of three cross nation roads, a rail hub and an internationally rated airport all within coo-ee of one another.
No other locality in the country has that, but we resolutely refuse to utilise it.
Food production is going to be a major concern over the next 50 years but the research station at Old Man Plains is not even signposted as a means of attracting investment (and jobs).
In fact the previous minister told me that he thought it was near Arltunga!
The Rocky Hill developments should be on public display and the efforts to establish vines next to the radio station should be applauded – particularly when compared to the carnage on the other side of the road. Visitors don’t come here to see our housing.

Will more consultants get tourism out of the mire?
Has anyone though to ask the tourists what they want or expect?
Then meet the demands of the market.
Yesterday I watched 15 vehicles disgorge their contents onto the Welcome Rock for photographs.
Three years ago I watched 102 people in one hour do the same! Has anyone asked them what they want or what attracted them to come, or what their expectations were?
“Australia All Over” did just that four years ago.
Surely that has to be the starting point and not some interstate supposed experts with preconceived ideas as happened with Kilgarrif, and the outer metropolitan city concept of houses.
Why is the visitors reception area not there at the rock on the entrance to town as it is at Katherine, Mt Isa and many other tourist centres?
McLaren vale got it right. I tire of seeing caravans clogging up the CBD while their occupants try to visit the visitors centre, and we expect them to re invigorate that end of the mall by their presence.
Any commercial entity which presumes to tell their clients what they want is doomed to failure. Please ask them what they want or expect, and look outside the square.

Aboriginal-led ‘from the bottom up’: cultural centre
The obvious pace is adjacent to and in conjunction with the Yirrara College with the students involved in displaying their culture and what is happening in indigenous education, and experiencing the commercial realities as part of their education in a modern word.
It should be a major part of a new commercial province in the area involving a new visitors centre like Katherine near the welcome rock where the caravans can park instead of clogging up the CBD, the Transport Hall of fame, a display of bush food technology potential associated with the Cultural Centre, solar and water technology at Desert Knowledge, a display of sustainable housing as at Akinos in WA, and a mining centre of excellence as at Townsville, next to the Natural Resources building at ASRI, and there are many other attractions possible in that area, including student eco walks as part of outdoor education.
The current CBD is a thing of the historical past, and should be left to the historians.
One visitor asked me recently “where are all the verandas?” We all need to move on.
It has escaped the notice of planners and Government that in the area of Brewer we have the intersection of three major roads N/S, E/W, and soon N/W to S/E.
Then add rail and an internationally rated airport and we have something absolutely unique but never recognised as the future of the town, and the true inland capital of the country.

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