This month (April 2017) will be the 25th anniversary of …

Comment on Melanka development break-through: Work starts next week by Alex Nelson.

This month (April 2017) will be the 25th anniversary of the official opening of the Scouts Hall on Larapinta Drive; in fact, it’s on Anzac Day.
The Scouts previously had their hall at the base of Billygoat Hill, on the corner of Stott Terrace and Bath Street. The Scouts were granted their new lease of land on Larapinta Drive in October 1984 (courtesy of then Member for Araluen, Jim Robertson), however they continued to occupy their old facility in the town centre until 1992.
The NT Government had long-standing plans to widen Stott Terrace into a six-lane road and this meant acquiring leases on the southern side to allow this widening to occur.
This process started in the late 1980s, with the dismantling of the original CAAC building and demolition of the abandoned Sunny Centre building on opposite corners of Hartley Street – these blocks remained vacant for many years afterwards.
(Material salvaged from the former Congress building was used in the construction of the Old Ghan station and museum at the MacDonnell Siding south of town, now a part of the National Road Transport Hall of Fame complex).
The old Scout Hall at Billygoat Hill was demolished, and the property on the opposite corner – the Repco Building – was also destined to be removed (today’s Red Hot Arts centre).
The only southern corner that couldn’t be acquired for the Stott Terrace widening was at Todd Street because one three-storey wing of Melanka Lodge was built close to the property’s boundary.
That was no problem, it just meant that Stott Terrace had to swing to the north side and acquire the necessary land from KFC – which is the reason why KFC itself is built well away from the Stott Terrace boundary.
All of this planning was associated with the proposed expansion of Alice Springs towards Undoolya, formally announced by the NT Government in July 1987. Stott Terrace was to be the main road link with Undoolya Road near Centralian College (now CDU) and then on towards the long-anticipated Undoolya urban satellite development.
None of which came to fruition, of course; and not least due in part to the national recession that hit the Centre hard in the early 1990s.
The planning for the the “Undoolya Option” was suspended and eventually dropped; and likewise the same occurred for the six-lane development of Stott Terrace.
The former Scout Hall site at Billygoat Hill was converted into a small park in 1993, landscaped with native plants and lots of sand rather than lawn (I worked on the project).
In the mid 1990s Repco moved across to its current premises in the new light industrial development that replaced the former railway housing precinct; its former property in Bath Street varying between vacancy and serving as a base for various art enterprises.
The two long-vacant blocks on the corner of Hartley Street were taken up in the early 2000s with new office buildings that mirror each other.
And then the ultimate irony began in 2008 when Melanka Lodge was demolished to make way for bold new multi-storey developments – which like the multi-lane Stott Terrace widening planned some two decades earlier, have never proceeded.
To top it all off, the Scouts have “commandeered” the only vacant lot by Stott Terrace – the Melanka site – exactly 25 years to the month since they left their own lease at Billygoat Hill.
Well done, Alice Springs, I love it!

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Raw deal for Alice from NTG & Murdoch Advocate
It’s one thing for the NT Government to promise “first class facilities [for rugby] – indeed far better than the current ones – that will be built when the Gallery is built” but it’s a tall order to expect the proposed new playing fields will match the quality of the existing turf at Anzac Oval anytime soon.
Anzac Oval is reputed to be one of the best playing fields in Australia for the rugby codes; and one well-placed informant told me last week it is actually regarded as one of the TOP THREE in the whole of Australia!
Given both the history of this site – the base for the Darwin Overland Maintenance Force during World War Two, an immensely important link to the national war effort – and the current national-standard playing field (incidentally, the first turfed sports oval in the Northern Territory), it seems to me a very strong case can be made for Anzac Oval to be the site of the NRL Match of the Day annually for Anzac Day.
How about it, Alice Springs?


CLP propaganda courtesy of a Senate office?
Lobbying for sealing the south Stuart Highway began in 1953 when the Alice’s first tourism association was formed.
Bob Rumball raised the subject and former Brigadier, Noel “Tommy” Loutit, made the first representation to the Federal Government about it.
The south Stuart Highway was finally sealed in 1987, so it took 34 years to achieve.
To my knowledge, the first call for upgrading and sealing the Plenty Highway and Tanami Road was made by the newly elected Member for Stuart, Tony Greatorex, in July 1966.
In the following month a similar call was made for the Petermann Road (now in part the Lasseter Highway) by a touring party from WA.
So that was 52 years ago – over half a century – and still counting.
The current “Outback Way” effort was preceded by the “Reef to Rock” campaign that began in 1984 and carried on into the 1990s, especially under former Mayor, Andy McNeill.
The Member for the Northern Territory was granted full voting rights in Federal Parliament in 1968 (that was Sam Calder in his first term) and we got two senators in 1975.
Seems to me a case can be made that getting this increased Federal representation has not resulted in any significant advantages for Central Australia over this time.


‘Anzac Oval not for sale’: govt under pressure on gallery plans
I will simply point out to everyone concerned that the old school complex at the north end of Anzac Oval has by far the greatest heritage value of any school campus in the Northern Territory – repeat, the Northern Territory.
I have come to this conclusion after months of gathering information, commencing well before the end of last year.
It would be unconscionable for the NT Government to proceed with any development on this site without first undertaking a properly independent and professional assessment of the history and heritage values of this location, including genuine public consultation.
This has not happened.
If this Government decides to proceed with this developnment in disregard of the heritage values of the old school site, it will lose all credibility that it may currently have and demonstrate it cannot be regarded as any better than its predecessors in office.


Youth crisis: broken window of tolerance
This is a brilliant article, Rainer, a valuable contribution to public discourse that will stand the test of time.
Much of what you have written has been observed before, and much of what you describe is instantly recognisable from the time of my own childhood here in Alice Springs.
However, when I was young there was a sense of the corner having been turned when the NT achieved Self-government and there was great hope for the future. Things were about to change for the better for everyone.
I feel a sense of deep disappointment combined with great anger that nothing has improved for so many people in the Territory, and generation after generation of young people born here find themselves “coping” in life conditions no better – and, in many cases, far worse – than the supposedly “bad old days” of Commonwealth control.
It’s equally profoundly disappointing that the energy and intellect of young people such as yourself, Rainer, are left to pick up the pieces of a failed legacy of earlier generations.
But it’s wonderful that you are doing so, and that’s why hope survives.


Alice may follow Wadeye’s lead on street kids
This seems to me to be precisely the concept that Maya suggested and I supported for the old high school at Anzac Oval.
Today comes the news of increased GST cutbacks to the Northern Territory but the NT Government seems hell-bent on spending taxpayers’ dollars it’s not going to have on capital works projects both here and in Darwin that are not supported by the majority of people (VOTERS).
In the NT election campaign of 1977, virtually a referendum on impending Self-Government, Labor’s slogan was “First things first – statehood comes later.”
In this year of the 40th anniversary of Self-Government, I say “First things first – focus on the kids.” Forget about underground carparks for public servants, four-lane boulevards cutting through public parks, a new museum to compete against MAGNT, or a national indigenous art gallery on the wrong site.
We all need to get our priorities straight, not least the NT Government.


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