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

Centre of attention: Glory days of Anzac Oval in the 1950s
@ Peter Bassett (Posted February 19, 2019 at 7:33 pm): Appreciate your comment, especially about the old high school, Peter.
Contrary to what has been reported in the some media, the old school building is a very well constructed building with enormous inherent heritage value.
There has been – and is – a deliberately false and misleading campaign initiated by the NT Government, amplified by vested interests through a complicit and compliant print media, to denigrate the worth and value of that old education complex.


From mud, dust to grass: The beginning of Anzac Oval
@ Dr Ongo (Posted February 14, 2019 at 8:08 pm): You raise an interesting point; however, your observation applies equally well to other listed heritage sites, eg. such places as the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, Alice Springs Heritage Precinct (including Stuart Park, old hospital, old Alice Springs Gaol, and several houses in Hartley and Bath streets), and the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct.
There are histories, stories or law applicable to all of these places since time immemorial but other than to acknowledge previous Aboriginal occupation or use of such sites, I’m not qualified or knowledgeable enough to comment about them.
In regard to “untyeye that once grew there” at the Anzac Oval site (referring to corkwood trees – Hakea divaricata), only one still survives just inside the boundary near the Senior Citizens Club. It’s the same tree on the right of the photo, framing the new school, taken by Prue Crouch’s father in the early 1950s.
The heritage statement for the nomination of Anzac Oval does state: “The Anzac Oval Precinct contains several sacred sites.”
Thanks for your comment.

 

Corkwood


Home owner bonus: New build sector bleak, says CLP
The situation generally in the Northern Territory is giving every indication that it’s rapidly spiralling out of control.
I suspect the NT Government’s reactions are too little, too late; and this latest scheme will likely end up being home owner bogus rather than bonus.


West Macs fire mitigation critically inadequate: Scientist
Such a shame, Steve, that we’re unable to harness your sprays to put the wildfires out.


Government fails to protect major tourism asset
My recollection is that the major wildfire years in the earliest period of this century were 2002-03, and again in 2011. Both of those periods closely followed years of exceptionally high rainfall (2000-01 and 2010 respectively).
This isn’t unusual in itself – there were significant wildfire years in 1968 (following the breaking of the drought in 1966) and in 1975 (following 1973-4, the wettest period on record in Alice Springs).
What’s different now is that this major wildfire event has occurred after a very dry year, with a record set at Alice Springs in 2018 for the longest period without rain being recorded, although (as I recall) this wasn’t the case further west of town.
In the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel west and east of Alice Springs a number of times and also to fly frequently to Darwin and back with clear views of the area around town.
The clear impression I’ve gained on every trip is the extent and dominance of the spread of buffel grass in the ranges.
It’s like a blanket hugging the ground as far as the eye can see. It’s spread is overwhelming, and the ecology of this region is forever changed.
There are often comments about the need for protecting Alice Springs from major floods but that’s the least of our worries.
It is major wildfire that poses the most serious risk to our town, and the recent disaster in the West Macs demonstrates this risk can occur at any time.


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