Thank you Kieran for (dare I say it) an illuminating …

Comment on Conflicting stories for Parrtjima’s lights on the hill by Alex Nelson.

Thank you Kieran for (dare I say it) an illuminating report. Your good work provides many insights into circumstances here affecting local people in our midst of which many of us – myself included – are often only dimly aware.

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Gunner rewrites the record on gallery consultations
Michael Lynch, one of the members of the Steering Committee for the “iconic” National Indigenous Art Gallery, was interviewed on ABC radio this morning (May 16, 2018) and confirmed what has been stated in Kieran Finnane’s article – indeed, he was damning of the Chief Minister’s statement and the NT Government’s handling of this project.
Is there not another elephant in the room now, namely that Chief Minister Michael Gunner has misled the Parliament? He is the leader of a government that promised a much higher standard than its predecessors in office but, on this count too, it appears the public was misled at the last election campaign.
Alice in Wonderland is alive and well, and Tweedledum and Tweedledee seem to be the only options we’ve had for “good” government.


A bridge too far? A tunnel may be the answer.
All of this was discussed and researched in the mid 1980s, with the (then) NT Department of Works conducting tests in the bed of the Todd River at Heavitree Gap for suitability of construction of a four-lane flyover.
The NT Government announced in May 1986 that it would proceed with a roundabout at the north entrance to Heavitree Gap, alterations to South Terrace, and a new bridge just downstream of, and replacing, the Casino Causeway (Taffy Pick Crossing).
Public consultation was undertaken during 1987 about road developments through Heavitree Gap, with ultimately a model of a four-lane flyover displayed for public comment late that year.
Then we got hit with the Easter flood of 1988 and the NT Government completely changed its priorities in favour of a full flood mitigation dam at Junction Waterhole north of town. We all know where that ended up.
Moreover, Alice Springs failed to grow anywhere close to the extent originally envisaged 30-plus years ago, so the pressure was off the government to continue with any of these plans with the exception of the Tom Brown Roundabout and nearby road alterations built in 1994.
A tunnel or tunnels through the main range isn’t a realistic prospect, and I doubt it makes economic sense. The Heysen Tunnels near Adelaide were probably the most cost effective option for road transport in that vicinity.
The fact is that the west side of Heavitree Gap has long been compromised and can never be returned to a “pristine” condition. It’s also the path of least resistance for practical and economic reasons for any future developments, as far as I can tell.
I can’t see the point in “restoring” Heavitree Gap into a “pristine” condition by punching tunnels through the ranges. It’s a nonsense proposition.
In the long run there will probably be a need to widen the road through Heavitree Gap, and I expect that will most easily be achieved by a bridge structure that perhaps could include the existing laneways.
However, it’s difficult to see any chance of that happening for a very long time.


A bridge too far? A tunnel may be the answer.
A tunnel through the main range (including on the eastern side, too) is an idea almost as old as the hills 🙂
Conversely there have also been a number of proposals over the years to dam Heavitree Gap; and indeed, in 1952, it was suggested that all the gaps and gorges should be dammed to create an enormous reservoir stretching through the MacDonnells.
That idea was suggested just over a decade before the discovery of the Mereenie aquifer.


National Aboriginal Art Gallery: Anzac Oval off the table
@ Local 1 (Posted May 2, 2018 at 9:24 pm): Interesting you mention the Stockmans’ Hall of Fame at Longreach; as did Dave Batic at the public forum.
Again, another example of the lack of corporate memory that afflicts our town and Territory.
In the mid 1970s Alice Springs was in the front running for hosting the Stockmans’ Hall of Fame. Several places were considered for it, including the the Old Telegraph Station and the Farm Area (Ragonesi Road) but – as I’ve mentioned in a previous comment – the decision was taken to build it in Longreach.
Reason? It was strategic, intended to intercept tourist traffic making its way up along the eastern side of Queensland, and redirect that flow to western Queensland and on into the Centre. Concurrent with this concept was the push to seal the Plenty Highway.
I’m not so certain about the wisdom of placing an “Arrernte Living Cultural Centre” at the Desert Knowledge Precinct. My ears pricked up with a reference to this site being of high cultural significance.
I lived out there, at AZRI from 1967 to 1975 and then at CSIRO (now Centre for Appropriate Technology) from ’75 to 1988. I continued to work at AZRI until 1993.
I knew all that area like the back of my hands and I can assure there was no significant sites on that area where the Desert Knowledge Precinct has been built.
A claim to that effect was made in 2002 at a public information display for the Desert Knowledge concept which was the first I’d ever heard of such a thing.
I checked with an old friend, a member of a strong traditional Eastern Arrernte family that was living at AZRI when we moved there in 1967, and he confirmed what I suspected, namely there are no sacred sites in that vicinity.
However, he told me the whole vicinity is spiritually significant because ancestor beings are said to roam that area, but again emphasised there are no specific sites.
Watch this space, I reckon.


Will gas royalties save the NT? Read the fine print.
@ Mark Fraser (Posted April 30, 2018 at 8:58 am): Your comments ring a bell.
Consider these quotes: “In the interests of Northern development, it seems vital that gas from Mereenie should first be utilised to exploit the astonishing industrial potential of the Territory only awaiting the advent of cheap power, before any interstate claims on the gas are recognised.
“No company would be prepared to undertake the cost of full exploitation of such a vast field of natural gas without some assurance of a long range and continuous demand. This demand exists – within the Northern Territory.
“The provision of cheap power through the Northern Territory must result in rapid development. And besides bringing large-scale mining operations into early production, a pipeline from Mereenie could well transform Darwin from a ‘Public Service Town’ into a thriving manufacturing centre for South-east Asian markets.
“For natural gas is not only a source of cheap power. It is a raw material from which fertilisers, plastics and synthetic fibres are manufactured.
“A pipeline would give Darwin a manufacturing potential backed by heavy industries and, most important, provide fertilisers for a high rainfall region where the economic development of low fertility soils demands extensive use of fertilisers whose import costs are prohibitively expensive.
“Above all, it would mean cheaper power and low-cost domestic gas for the man in the street, and produce an agricultural as well as an industrial revolution in the Northern Territory from Alice Springs to Darwin – and beyond.
“And now is the time for long-range, constructive planning to decide how this tremendous reservoir of natural gas could best be utilised in the rapid development of the North. It can be done.”
Thus wrote local editor Paddy Ethell in November 1964, the year following the discovery of natural gas reserves in Central Australia.
Of course, 20 years later construction of the gas pipeline from Mereenie to Darwin did commence, and the project was completed in 1987. How was the Territory’s future envisioned 30 years ago?
“The Amadeus Basin to Darwin natural gas pipeline was the first chapter in the Territory’s unfolding energy story, Chief Minister Steve Hatton said last week.
“Mr Hatton was speaking at an official unveiling ceremony in Darwin to commemorate the completion of the pipeline. He told about 400 guests at the Darwin City Gate Gas Station the Territory was shedding the energy shackles of the past and stepping into a high-tech, gas-powered future.
“The use of gas would enable electricity costs to be stabilised and more flexible pricing arrangements to be introduced. Predictable pricing will allow energy-intensive industries to plan for the future, Mr Hatton said.
“An assured and realistic supply of energy will mean that the Territory will be able to produce manufactured goods at a competitive price and fulfil yet another of its ambitions – to become a major trading partner in South-East Asia.”
History clearly shows that, when it comes to natural gas exploitation, the rhetoric far exceeds the reality; and there is good reason to be wary of contemporary visions of great promise from the mining and energy sectors.
Shauna Mounsey is clearly well-grounded as evinced by her excellent article, and I appreciate her viewpoint very much.


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