We need to see this incident in perspective. It’s worth …

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

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.

Alex Nelson Also Commented

Did Wilfred and Gisela Thor have to die?
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.


Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Turn rock-throwing into backflips: how community can help
I smile at the circularity of Rainer Chlanda’s preferred location of a youth hub without walls at the “courthouse lawns” (DD Smith Park), adjacent to the Alice Springs Police Station (the former Greatorex Building) and across the road from the local magistrates courthouse.
I say “circularity” because the first drop-in centre for youth on the streets at night was located in the old police station on that corner where the courthouse now stands. Established in 1976, it was named “Danny’s Place” and lasted all of no more than a year when it was forced to shut down to make way for the said courthouse.
And from that time on, youth drop-in centres, real or proposed, have bounced around from one site to another all through town; including an old house in the north end of Todd Street that was demolished to make way for an office block (now called Eurilpa House), the empty Turner Arcade – the last shop there was Grandad’s icecream shop, a once popular hang out for kids of my generation, also in the north end of Todd Mall (that was my suggestion, nearly 30 years ago) which was later bulldozed to make way for expanding Alice Plaza and new carparking spaces; and even the abandoned waterslide site in the early 1990s, which instead was demolished to make way for infill real estate development (Mercorella Circuit, near the YMCA).
We have decades of recent history of kids in trouble (or causing it) being shunted from pillar to post. As a society, history shows we’re not really fair dinkum about resolving this issue.
Sadly, there is nothing new in any of this – Rainer’s father and his colleagues were reporting on these kinds of issues 40 plus years ago, and it continues unabated to the present day.


Wakefield insists on Anzac Oval, ignores majority
@ 5 Minute Local (Posted June 14, 2018 at 5:41 pm): Definitely living up to your pseudonym. Your suggestion is not a new idea – it’s been raised several times since the early 1970s.
The last occasion was when the construction of the railway north to Darwin was being finalised in the late 1990s-early 2000s when there was significant lobbying of the NT Government to re-route the railway around Alice Springs, including by the Alice Springs Town Council.
I also took up the cudgels on this issue as an individual and was publicly criticized by a local CLP member, notwithstanding the same member several years earlier had himself advocated the removal of the rail yards out of the town centre and to re-route the eventual railway to Darwin via west of the town.
These pleas were rejected by the government as being too late or too expensive (it would have added about three per cent to the overall cost, from memory). There’s no prospect of this happening now.


Wakefield insists on Anzac Oval, ignores majority
@ John Bell (Posted June 13, 2018 at 7:51 pm): John, the only sacred trees on the Melanka site would be (or are) two old river red gums near the southeast corner adjacent to the intersection of Stuart Terrace and Gap Road.
None of the other trees I’m aware of on that site are local native species nor predate the construction of the Melanka Hostel.
This includes the towering lemon-scented gums of which the majority are now dying or dead as a consequence of lack of care and the extended dry conditions.
Consequently the trees don’t pose any significant issues for redevelopment of most of that area, at least as far as sacred sites are concerned.


Wakefield insists on Anzac Oval, ignores majority
@ Hal Duell (Posted June 12, 2018 at 7:59 am): Hal, I’m still in the process of collating information. Gathering the history pertaining to this location is rather like measuring a piece of string but it all adds up to demonstrating the considerable heritage value of this site, the extent of which I think will surprise many people.
The nomination for heritage listing of the oval and school will definitely proceed.
The fact that this issue has blown up in the NT Government’s face demonstrates the stupidity of over-reliance on advice from vested interests (with no regard for anything except their bank accounts) and overpaid outside “experts” who have no background in local knowledge.
Once again we see the consequences of the corporate amnesia that afflicts this town and Territory, and history shows it makes no difference which party is in power.


Cemeteries could be turned into parks
There is another method of burying the dead which is also held to be environmentally friendly, it is called “promession”.
According to the Wikipedia entry on this subject, it’s a system of disposal of bodies of much more recent origin (two decades ago) than alkaline hydrolysis (19th century).
It involves cryogenic freezing of bodies in liquid nitrogen to -196°C (in effect, crystallising them) after which vibrations are applied that shatter them in minutes into fragments.
This material in turn is freeze dried and all metal or other non-natural components (eg. fillings, artifical joints) are removed.
The final stage involves “the dry powder being placed in a biodegradable casket which is interred in the top layers of soil, where aerobic bacteria decompose the remains into humus in as little as 6 to 12 months.”
Invented in Sweden, it’s a method already expressly adopted in South Korea and has expressions of interest from up to 60 other countries.
I think promession also deserves consideration as an option for burials.


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