Only the week before the tragedy that befell Wilfred and …

Comment on Did Wilfred and Gisela Thor have to die? by Alex Nelson.

Only the week before the tragedy that befell Wilfred and Gisela Thor an injured German woman in her 50s (who had slipped and broken her leg) was found in the Valley of the Winds walk at Katatjuta and was physically carried out by local tour guide David Sargaent during a scorching hot day.
She was lucky, other tourists have perished there before.
Over the years German visitors seem slightly more prone to this kind of misfortune than other nationalities.
The first to suffer this fate (that I’m aware of) was Ms Iris Kadau, who disappeared soon after her arrival in Alice Springs in early November 1983. She was last seen cycling to Simpsons Gap and there was an extensive search for her as far afield as Glen Helen without success.
A witness reported having seen Ms Kadau riding back to Alice Springs which led to the search being suspended and fears that she may have met with foul play. However, in early February 1984 a helicopter pilot flying over Bond Springs Station sighted a bicycle close to the Stuart Highway about 25km north of town, and upon closer inspection found Ms Kadau’s body attached to it.
Whether she had taken a wrong turn or not is conjecture but the subsequent coronial inquiry found she had perished from exposure and heat exhaustion.
Another example, this time a 60 year old British woman perished from heat exhaustion on a 40C day on the rim walk at Kings Canyon in late January 2003.
Having written all this, it’s important to stress these kinds of events are very rare.
In addition to the obvious risks taken when venturing outdoors in extremely hot conditions, it’s probably also the case that newly arrived visitors (especially from overseas) are likely to be disoriented when they arrive.
I know from my experience what this is like – as a lifetime resident in Central Australia I don’t have any difficulty finding my way with a clear sense of direction but when I travelled to Europe in 2008 I found myself completely disoriented for the first week. That was no problem to cope with over there but here in the bush only a short distance from town this could quickly prove lethal.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Did Wilfred and Gisela Thor have to die?
We need to see this incident in perspective. It’s worth noting that over the years the demographic that has suffered by far the worst casualties in Central Australia from dehydration and heat exposure are Aboriginal people, even entire families have perished.
These incidents invariably occurred in conditions of extreme heat and arose from the bogging or breakdown of poorly maintained vehicles while travelling in remote areas, with insufficient or no provision of food and water for their journeys, however they were never lost in the sense of not knowing where they were located.
By comparison there are very few visitors to this region that have died in such conditions. By far the greater risk that tourists face are traffic accidents, they suffer far more often from road fatalities in the outback than from dying of thirst and heat. This has never dissuaded tourists from travelling here.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Sweet Country, a voice demanding to be heard
I’m looking forward to seeing this film, to study it as much as to just watch it. For this reason I will probably see it twice because there’s always too much to take in from a single viewing of a well made film.
I noted with interest Pip McManus’ observation: “The camera rarely moves above eye level, in fact it most often looks upward from ground level and focuses on rich grainy detail of flesh or rock, hand gesture or marks in the sand. Elders Archie and Sam know they are witnessing the desecration of country, the potential loss of sacred knowledge.”
I will be intently watching the landscape, especially the vegetation, to see if and how often buffel grass can be observed.
I anticipate the scenery, as much as the story, will tell us how much we really know of our recent history, of how much has changed and is still in the process of being lost.
Another point worth noting: “While Sweet Country does adhere to many of the tropes of the Hollywood Western genre – wide open spaces contrasting with close shots and dark claustrophobic interiors, silhouetted sunsets and liquor-sodden saloons – there is a determined turning of the tables.”
It’s worth remembering that amongst Aboriginal people across regional Australia for much of last century by far the most popular film genre was the Hollywood Western, of cowboys versus red indians as often as not – exemplified on February 19, 1942, when Tiwi islander Matthias Ulungara seized the pistol of crash-landed Japanese fighter pilot Hajime Toyoshima and reputedly ordered him to “stick ’em up allasame ‘Opalong Cassitty” thereby capturing the first prisoner of war on Australian soil.
A final point to keep in mind is “that signature blackfella humour and playfulness” which is as much alive today as it’s ever been, and is often deployed against the unwitting amongst us. It is used to great effect in the mainstream media, creating impressions that aren’t necessarily accurate.
None of this is to deny or downplay the conflict and confusion that did arise as Europeans encroached upon the territories of indigenous people. Sweet Country seems likely to offer much food for thought.


NT News interfered with reporting to protect ad income from NT Government: Allegation
This situation has been going on now for 30 years.
It commenced from July 1988 when the Centralian Advocate had the temerity to publish a scathing front page editorial after the CLP dumped Chief Minister Steve Hatton and replaced him with Marshall Perron.
This was the fourth leadership change in government in as many years and the Advocate didn’t pull its punches in its savage criticism of the CLP.
During this period the CLP was rocked by the resignation of Deputy CM Ray Hanrahan from all his portfolios and then from the CLP, finally resigning from politics in August 1988.
This was followed by the Flynn by-election of September 10, 1988, in which the CLP suffered a 21 % swing against it in what was formerly a safe seat.
It was clearly evident from this result that the CLP could no longer rely on any seat in the NT being safe and its hold on power was at great risk.
It was exactly at this time there was a sudden change of management of the Centralian Advocate, when accomplished reporter and long-serving editor Bob Watts was replaced by Gary Shipway and sent to do mostly court reporting for the NT News until his retirement in 2005.
(For his part, from about 1991 onwards, Shipway went on to serve as the chief media advisor to the CLP for many years – he is now a reporter for the NT News).
In the late 1980s the CLP cultivated extremely close relations with the management of News Corp in the NT, to both sides mutual advantage. It was a crucial factor for the success of the CLP during its “bonus decade” in power of the 1990s.
This situation has largely continued to the present day, with News Corp essentially prostituting itself to whichever political party happens to be in government; with the notable exception of the self-destructing Giles Government with which it was impossible to be seen in public support of it.
I am able to provide evidence to verify my claims. There is no doubt that the independence of the media in the Northern Territory (not just News Corp) has long been severely compromised to the overall detriment of good government of the Territory.


Telling the stories of war: we could do so much better
It’s worth noting that many of the plaques that “stud the walking path along the river” as a major component of the “Australian Armed Forces Commemorative Walk” might be described as “understated.”
Recently I walked along part of that pathway and found that many are now so faded they are barely legible.
All that public expense in their production and installation – only a little over two years ago – appears to be well on the way to being wasted.
Perhaps it’s in keeping with the demise of the RSL Club on the north side of Anzac Hill, which couldn’t sustain the attempt to revive its operation at the time. The whole exercise seems to have been badly mishandled.


To die for country
Two Centralian veterans of mixed race parentage, Harold and Milton Liddle, were prominent in the years following World War Two in highlighting the injustice to people who, such as themselves, who had fought in the war but were denied equal rights as citizens of Australia.
Together with another prominent Australian veteran, London-born Jim Bowditch, who from 1950 to early 1954 was the editor of the Centralian Advocate, they succeeded in gaining citizenship in 1953 for part-Aboriginal people and some full-bloods (the terminology then officially in use) in the Northern Territory.
This is an important part of Central Australian history that is largely overlooked.


Gunner ‘demotes’ Alice: art gallery options ‘lacklustre’
@ Ares Splicing (Posted January 14, 2018 at 12:58 pm): Pasted below is part of a comment in response to the story http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2017/11/02/recommendations-in-for-national-indigenous-art-gallery-site-in-alice/ posted the day prior to this story.
“I’m not enamoured of the proposals put forward by the steering committee for the National Indigenous Art Gallery, indeed to my mind it’s hard to avoid the conclusion we’ve been dudded and that it’s a ploy for this gallery to ultimately be built for the benefit of the Alice Springs Desert Park.
I’m deeply sceptical of what’s been offered to us to consider.” Wonder who it was that made that comment?
As for suggesting the Melanka site for the Indigenous Art Gallery, it was the same person who made the quote above who first suggested that site be consdered for an Aboriginal cultural centre in 2011. It was that comment (broadcast on ABC) that triggered this whole business.


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