Story Archive » Volume 18 » Issue 36 »

October 6, 2011

Tourism slump a wake-up call for operators

The tourism industry in Alice Springs has had two sharp consecutive drops in annual earnings.

The total spend by visitors dropped 16% from $300m in calendar year
2009 to $252m in 2010, and 26% from $360m in financial year 2010 to
$265m in 2011, according to figures from the Territory Government’s
Tourism NT.
The amounts are not adjusted for inflation.
There was a sharp drop in visitor nights and a small rise in the spend per visitor (see graph).
The industry has been flat since at least 2004 with small peaks in 2006
and 2009, and the string of unfortunate events this year – Tiger flights
halt, global recession reverberations, strong Aussie dollar – are a
wake-up call to provide better and more appropriate “product”, says the
industry. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.

Photo above: Local woman Doreen Nakamarra is hunting for witchetty grubs with tourist Jade Yang, from Shanghai. She
was in a group with prominent Chinese art dealer, Sun Kongyang, in The
Centre recently for the Desert Mob art fair, and hosted by tourism
operator Steve Strike.

This week Tourism NT is seeking to get the NT
tourism industry to provide timely information on visitation levels and a
forward looking business outlook as part of its quarterly industry online poll. FULL STORY »

Land Council boss joins Country Liberals

Country Liberals in Alice Springs have accepted the application for membership by Central Land Council chairman Lindsay Bookie (pictured).

Branch president David Koch says it is now being processed by the party’s secretariat. Mr Bookie’s surprise move – as the head of an organization usually thought to be close to Labor – comes in the wake of Alison Anderson’s joining the party. The Member for MacDonnell, a former Labor pollie, was sitting as an independent prior to joining the CL.

Mr Bookie declined to comment. Mr Koch says several other local Aborigines have joined the party or applied for membership. He says he’s known Mr Bookie for several years in connection with the Aboriginal leader’s successful tourism enterprise near Jervois, north-east of Alice Springs. Mr Koch – initially – and 4WD identity Jol Fleming have been running adventure tours in connection with Mr Bookie. Mr Koch says Mr Bookie has a strong view that Aboriginal people should be free to use their country for commercial enterprises of their choice.

Mr Bookie drew enthusiastic applause when he addressed a public meeting earlier this year discussing measures to curb anti-social behavior in Alice Springs. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. FULL STORY »

Sally Thomas new NT administrator

Former Supreme Court judge, Sally Thomas AM, has been appointed as the new administrator of the Northern Territory. She is the first woman to hold the role.

The NT Government nominated Ms Thomas for the position, and she was accordingly appointed by Governor-General Quentin Bryce  today.

Ms Thomas replaces outgoing Administrator Mr Tom Pauling, who has served in the role since 2007.

Ms Thomas served on the bench at the Supreme Court from 1992 to 2009 and recently also served as Chancellor to Charles Darwin University. FULL STORY »

Will Alice Plaza businesses turn around?

 

 

Owners of the Alice Plaza would welcome the re-introduction of traffic to the northern end of Todd Mall. Their representative, Tony Bruno, says they have always believed that the mall was too long and that traffic and some convenient, short-term parking would help bring life back to the northern end.

If that were to happen, would the Plaza consider re-orienting its business towards the street?

“Anything’s possible,” says Mr Bruno. “If the landscape changes that could be looked at.”  

UPDATE, posted October 7, 2011, 9.40am : Steve Thorne, of Design Urban Pty Ltd, who headed up the design team behind the proposals for revitalising Todd Mall, is “hugely encouraged” by the responses of Alice Plaza interests. “Unless there is a response from retailers and other businesses adjacent to the mall, it is not worth spending millions on bringing traffic back in.” Revitalisation can’t be done “half-heartedly”, he says. “There’s got to be a dramatic change in the environment. The mall has suffered ‘death by 1000 cuts’, through a  lack of transparency, activity, vibrancy. “Without those things then what you get is the anti-social behaviour that people don’t want.”

While Mr Thorne’s role in the CBD project has finished for the time being, he has been engaged by the NT Government to chair its Urban Design Advisory Panel and will be keeping a watching brief on what happens in Alice.

Pictured: Top – Musicworld with its back turned to Todd Mall. At left – Could this lively frontage, inside the shopping centre, face the Mall? KIERAN FINNANE reports.  FULL STORY »

Rain is not a simple blessing

Rain, in fact hail, helped fire crews last night when they were battling a deliberately lit fire at the inter-section of the Plenty and Stuart Highways, a 45 minute drive north of Alice Springs.

It was but the latest in the “absurd number” of deliberately lit fires along the roadsides of a widespread area of Central Australia, says Neil Phillips, Acting Senior Fire Officer for Bushfires NT.

While helpful last night, the rain may pose a problem further down the track. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

Posted Oct 4, 2011: Interesting story on the ABC about concerns in South Australia about buffel grass invading from the NT. The introduced grass species is a major contributor to the seriousness of the current bushfires. Today rain is providing relief. Search the Alice Springs News Online archive for articles about buffel grass.

Pictured: Fire alongside Stuart Highway. Archive photo. FULL STORY »

Early start to summer crime spree?

The summer of crime is hitting businesses and residents already, and it’s only the first week of October, says Member for Braitling Adam Giles (pictured).
But police say Operation Thresher, a special initiative now in its second week and targeting anti-social behaviour and property crime over the school holidays, involves 32 police officers “dedicated to high profile and covert patrols of known hot spots in the town”.
Says Mr Giles: “Last night there were three break-ins of Alice Springs businesses, and during the day two homes were also ransacked.
“Knowing one family who were the victims of a break in this week, I share their frustration and outrage about a decline in public order and personal responsibility that has swept Alice Springs due to the ineffective policies of the Henderson Labor Government.
“Relying on the police to mop up after the crimes have happened is not an acceptable response.
“Cleaning up and patching up seem to be the norm, yet what is needed is attacking the problems at the source and that starts with dealing strongly with the kids that are creating this chaos.
“Do parents not know where their kids are late at night – or do they just not care?”
Police say Operation Thresher “involves members from the Property Crime Reduction Unit, General Duties, Intelligence Unit, Dog Operations Unit,
Mounted Unit and forensics crews.
“We are also liaising with other Government and non-Government agencies that engage with youth to ensure young people are monitored and provided with support services if required.” FULL STORY »

Time to remember ‘who luv’s ya!’

 

The descendants of Myrtle McDonald have gathered in town this week for a family reunion. For once it was supposed to be just for joy, not for a funeral. At the Telegraph Station on Sunday family members focussed on that even though last Friday they’d again had to bury one of their menfolk dying before his time.

Ronda Ross, Myrtle’s daughter, was the chief organiser. She and her sister, country singer Auriel Andrew OAM, are the last survivors of Myrtle’s seven children. Pictured: Above –  Reuben Andrew, Auriel’s son, plays the didge; at right – Daughters of Myrtle McDonald, Ronda Ross (nee Andrew) and Auriel Andrew reminding their family of “who luv’s ya”.

Slide show: Ronda and Auriel reminding their family of “who luv’s ya”. • Auriel with grandson, Jake. • The Woodbury-Kellys, descendants of Jean McDonald, from left, Frances, her father Timmy Kelly, Ray Woodbury (son of Jean), his son Damien, Billy-Jo Hudson, Gillian (wife of Alan), Margaret Woodbury (daughter of Jean), mother of Alan and Billy-Jo, and Alan Henderson.  • Bob Nardoo, husband of Ronda’s and Auriel’s sister Lorraine (deceased) with Alan Henderson (right) and Ray Woodbury. • Brian McDonald (centre) with, from left, Reuben Andrew, Hamish McDonald, Edward (Ned) Kelly, Paul Ross (Ronda’s and Graham’s third-born). • Graham Ross spins a yarn. • Reuben Andrew plays the didge. • Ronda with her eldest son, Cameron Ross. KIERAN FINNANE reports.

  FULL STORY »

Alice, working its power

On a crisp and beautifully serene late Febuary morning in 1988 a young couple ventured up a rocky climb on the outskirts of town. While both were fit, healthy and familiar with the land, theirs was a particular challenge, given that one was 36 weeks pregnant.

She was my mother on her way to the very top of the MacDonnell Ranges, on the eastern side of Emily Gap. Knowing that I was not far away, both she and my father wanted to fasten an image to my birth. That they certainly did! Within a few hours of reaching the peak my mother went into labour with your honest author.  MOZZIE BITES reflects on the ties that bind her to this place, even though for now she is taking up residence in Melbourne.

Pictured: That’s me not long after, getting a big cuddle from Denis Neil. His family’s friendship with my family is part of what will always keep me connected to Alice. FULL STORY »

On the road again

Outback roads and roadhouses have cast their spell on the alt-country rock band, Rustflower. After their Outback tour in 2008, they are taking the music “further and wider” with a “Big Country” tour –  13 gigs, 18 days, 4000 kms. Playing their own brand of infectious Aussie country rock, Rustflower tell the stories of the characters and land, mixing them with the rhythm of the road. They’re always open to a “guest” vocalist or tambourine player, creating an atmosphere where everyone is part of the night. They’re in the Alice area this week, performing at Ti Tree on Thursday, October 13, and then at the Glen Helen Resort on Friday, supported by Alice muso, Barry Skipsey – under the stars in the venue provided by nature. Rustflower’s Big Country Tour is supported by the Australian Government’s Contemporary Music Touring Program. FULL STORY »

The father of the Ghan train

 

Norris Garrett Bell was born in Scotland in 1860. He was employed as the Commissioner of Railways from 1917 to 1929 and played a significant role in planning, constructing and overseeing all aspects of the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs railway link. Tall Tales but True – a series courtesy the National Road Transport Hall of Fame in Alice Springs. FULL STORY »