A major reason why we enjoy so many old river …

Comment on Old tree danger: council was told two years ago by Alex Nelson.

A major reason why we enjoy so many old river red gums in our urban environment today is due to a command forbidding Arltunga-bound miners and prospectors, camped on the flood plain that was destined to become our town, from cutting them down.
That order was made by Mounted Constable Bill South, based at the old police station next to Heavitree Gap.
Often described by historian Stuart Traynor as Alice Springs’ first greenie, Bill South is appropriately remembered by the road that bears his name along the west bank of the Todd River from Heavitree Gap up to the intersection with Stott Terrace (also named after a benevolent early policeman).
Many years later trees such as the Parsons Street river red gum beside the Stuart Arms Hotel and those opposite the (then) new Memorial Club were saved from destruction through protest by local residents of Alice Springs.
The NT Administration decided these trees posed a significant hazard to traffic (the Parsons Street tree, and also one in the middle of Todd Street, were nicknamed The Silent Policemen as they were uncannily efficient at abruptly halting drunk drivers) and determined that they should be cut down.
Some were lost but not all of them. That work was performed by the municipal branch of the NTA, and many on the labour force were Aboriginal.
In the days of heavy local overgrazing, dust storms and no air-conditioners, the big trees dotted around early Alice Springs were highly valued for their shelter.
Not only that, but many more river red gums were planted as street trees, especially along Gap Road where most continue to grow to this day.
In fact, in 1963 Olive Pink lobbied to have the name “Gap Road” replaced with “Van Senden Avenue” in honour of former Municipal Officer Dudley Van Senden (he left the Alice in 1954) who oversaw the first widespread street tree planting scheme in Alice Springs.
So let’s not have so much of this bunkum that settlers in the early history of Alice Springs didn’t care for or respect this country.
Undoubtedly most didn’t have the same perception or understanding of this country as the traditional owners of this land but it’s far too easy for the new chums of today to re-interpret recent local history to uncritically suit their own preconceived notions of what they think occurred here.

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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