@ Mark Wilson (Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:27 am): …

Comment on Fossil museum set to return to the CBD by Alex Nelson.

@ Mark Wilson (Posted April 30, 2017 at 12:27 am): There are several points to pick up on from your comment, Mark:
• The history of the Museum of Central Australia runs thus: the original display of natural history objects (for example, specimens of wildlife) was at the Arid Zone Research Institute in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as I recall just inside and to the right of the main entrance to the then brand new office complex – where the main administration offices are now. This was a temporary arrangement pending the construction of a dedicated natural history museum. In December 1973 the Whitlam Government transferred control of The Residency to the Museums and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) where a range of natural history items were on display, together with research facilities in very cramped conditions. The Residency also was used for art displays and continued to function for official receptions (which led to the unfortunate occasion in 1977 when Prince Charles and other dignitaries suffered poisoning as a consequence of food preparation undertaken in the same room where animal specimens underwent taxidermy preparations).
In late 1987 the museum was transferred to a new and expansive space on the upper floor of the new Ford Plaza (now Alice Plaza), it was rebadged “The Spencer and Gillen Museum”. This didn’t come without controversy, as the Department of Social Security had originally applied for this space but was rejected as the developers didn’t want Aboriginal clientele in the building (they were quite frank about this). Consequently there were protests at the official opening of the new museum in March 1988.
Unfortunately the Spencer and Gillen Museum suffered from poor visitation. During a national museums conference held there in April 1991, the NT Government announced the pending closure of the Spencer and Gillen Museum (this was the same month that the government’s Expenditure Review Committee announced sweeping cutbacks right across the board for the NT Public Service). I suggested at the time to the minister responsible for museums, Mike Reed, that the government should consider relocating the museum to the Araluen Art Centre precinct, perhaps with the new Strehlow Research Centre (SRC). However, the museum remained in Alice Plaza until its lease ran out in 1998 whereupon it was indeed transferred across to the SRC, officially opened there in August 1999 and where it remains to this day. Unfortunately this is a very unsatisfactory arrangement for both the SRC and the museum.
The proposal now to relocate the fossil display to a vacant premise in Todd Mall is a very short-sighted stop-gap measure that shows a marked lack of understanding and appreciation by the Department of Tourism and Culture of the museum’s true potential – it’s a very poor decision.
• I agree with your observations in relation to the Mayor’s comments on radio recently attributing the difficulty of filling empty retail space due to competition from online purchases. The fact is that there has been difficulty in filling empty shop spaces since Todd Mall opened in late 1987 (and even earlier, as the construction of the mall also disrupted trade). This was long before online purchases became a reality. The new mall immediately suffered from crime and vandalism (this problem was front page news two months after the mall’s official opening) and high rents from landlords also became a public issue in 1988. These problems came to the fore almost exactly 30 years ago and nothing has changed since that time.
• Your final point about the cost of air travel to the Centre is correct. It’s interesting to note that amongst the recommendations of the HKF Report into Central Australia’s tourism industry released in late 1969, two points of relevance stand out: first, the report made the first suggestion to convert Todd Street into a pedestrian mall; second, it was recommended to relocate the international airport from Darwin to Alice Springs. This was a time when Central Australia was by far the greatest tourist destination in the whole of the Northern Territory.

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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