August 7, 2002.


Power and Water - the former PAWA - has no idea where one fifth of its water is going.
Mark Skinner, regional manager Water Services says it is not possible to split up the "unaccounted for water" between leakage, theft and slow meters.
He says the 2000 megalitres represents a loss of $300,000 in income and "Power and Water is working hard to reduce this".
Says Mr Skinner: "Considerable amounts are being spent on leak detection and hydrant replacement.
"Last year alone over $200,000 was spent on replacing hydrants with the underground variety and it's likely the same amount will be spent on this project in this financial year."
He says Power and Water has also engaged a Northern Territory company to carry out extensive leak detection work in Alice Springs this month.
If any underground leaks are discovered, they will be repaired immediately.
Theft is also thought to be significant at some times of the year, and Power and Water has recently instituted a Revenue Protection Unit for enhanced detection of theft and recovery of monies.
"Every water supply has a level of unaccounted for water.
"As part of our water efficiency program we are striving to achieve best practice in minimising the unaccounted for water."
Mr Skinner added that while Power and Water was on the job continuing to monitor and reduce the unaccounted for water, the public are encouraged to report locations where water leakage is suspected by calling 1800 245 091.
The loss is a worry especially as reserves in the current Mereenie bore field are running low and the government is preparing to spend about $50m developing a new resource at Rocky Hill, south of the town.


At least a dozen police prosecutions of fire bugs and a heightened awareness of bushfire risk created by a cold and dry winter should prevent a repeat of last year's devastating bushfire season.That's the fervent hope of The Bushfires Council NT and the NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services.At last Friday's launch of a bushfire awareness campaign, Police commander Gary Manison admitted that policing of bushfires "wasn't a high priority" before last year's fires."There was a lack of communication between police, pastoralists and Aboriginal communities," Mr Manison said.Last year's fires had prompted a change in the focus by police."Around town there have been at least a dozen prosecutions, including some young people sent to diversionary programs," Mr Manison said.There have also been a number of successful prosecutions of people responsible for illegally lighting fires in remote areas, including a 29 year old women who was successfully prosecuted and fined for lighting a cooking fire during a gazetted fire danger period, and allowing it to get out of control.The resulting fire burnt out almost 100 square kilometres of land on Pine Hill Station, near Ti Tree."The critical thing is for people to come forward and report fires that are illegally lit," Mr Manison said."It's about changing the culture of society as well as the culture of the police."This is easy and effective in the police force because of our organisational structure, but more difficult in the community."Bushfires Council regional manger Neil Phillips agreed that education was a vital part of bushfire prevention."We're not just using the Ôbig stick' approach," he said."We also need education. It doesn't matter how much burning off and fire prevention is done, we need to reduce the number of fires actually lit."
Mr Phillips said that while the economic costs were great, it was also important for people to remember the social and environmental costs to the community.
"The fire risk is worse than last year," he said.
"At minus four, five and six degrees, fires are still not going out overnight Ð there is no moisture."
The gazetted fire danger period for the Alice Springs Region begins on September 1.People in Alice Springs are reminded that preventing bushfires is also their responsibility as a number of fires threatened the town last year, and smoke from remote fires also drifted over the area. The Alice Springs Volunteer Bushfires Brigade spent 780 man hours fighting fires last year. The brigade is responsible for fighting fires in a 50 km radius from the town boundary.
Information about the volunteer brigade, and about fire prevention, can be obtained from the Bushfires Council, 8952 3066 or at

More Todd trees killed. COLUMN by GLENN MARSHALL.

Last week we lost another four mature river red gums to fire in the Todd River, this time opposite the Commonage Road turn-off to the dump.
Like many before them, the fire was started in the couch and buffel grass along the river bank and then got into the hollow trunks of the old trees, creating a chimney effect that sustained a hot fire for hours until they burnt through, fell over and started dying.
All the trees were probably around 100 years old and are a critical part of the town's cultural and natural heritage. Yet every year we are losing more and more of these old giants to fire and neglect. We have to do more to save them.What can and is being done about it? The obvious first step is not to have uncontrolled grass fires along the Todd by undertaking controlled burns, grass reduction measures and fire-lighting education.
Until recently, there have been few controlled fuel reduction burns along the town portion of the river due to people complaining about the smoke and the danger of obscuring traffic.
In the past two years, controlled burns have been jointly conducted by the Alice Springs Town Council and Tangentyere Council as part of a couch grass eradication program (where the regrowth is sprayed with Roundup).
Disruption and inconvenience seem to have been minimized by the fires so it seems reasonable to conduct ongoing burns to keep grass loads down. The council's' spraying program is a short-term scheme to see if it helps free up sand that is supposedly being trapped by grasses rather than flushing through when the river flows.
This program has reduced the grass load in the riverbed but does not extend beyond one metre up each bank or beyond the Gap to where the trees were killed last week and is unlikely to extend beyond the current grant term.Greening Australia has spent the past few years whipper-snippering grass from around mature gums in the Todd & Charles Rivers, specifically to reduce the chance of them being killed by fire.
This is a direct recognition that the trees are valuable to our community and Greening Australia deserve high praise for this work.
The wet summers have meant grass has regrown very quickly and thick, and it is a big task for them to keep up this role. There are currently moves underway by Waterwatch and others to develop an "Adopt-a-river" program where land-owners and businesses along the town section of the Todd will be encouraged to take actions along their own river frontage. This could include grass slashing, weed removal and tree protection and would be a great initiative to increase the care of the river.
How do we discourage people from lighting grass fires? It is a question that is being tackled by the Alice in Ten Todd and Charles River project but I'm not sure of where they are up to with that.
A lot of the grass fires in the Todd and Charles Rivers are lit by non-Arrernte Aboriginal people who are in town for a while from their outlying communities and end up camping in the river. Arrernte people whom I've spoken to don't like these people abusing the river with their alcohol, rubbish and lack of respect for the many sacred sites that are present, yet they have found it difficult to stop people using it as a temporary camp.
Young drinkers are causing similar problems in the Todd away from town where they drive regularly to camp and party, with many gums being lost to their fires.What are the control options when a fire has already started in a hollow tree? The town fire brigade is the obvious first place to ring and report it but they have made it clear that they do not regard tree fires as a high priority, and also say it is very difficult to put out an established fire in a hollow tree. They attended the fire that killed the four trees last week and say they pumped 3,000 litres of water onto those burning trees without being able to put them out.
For the sake of the future of the Todd River gums, a more proactive approach needs to be taken by the fire brigade and those who resource them to come up with workable solutions when a tree is on fire.Meanwhile, the Todd River remains an extremely important site for Arrernte people, with many dreaming tracks from all through Central Australia converging on or passing through the river and surrounding ranges.
Many of the mature gums are sacred sites that play an important role in those dreaming stories.
For non-Aboriginal people the Todd is also a major icon that is known Australia-wide Ð how often do we see tourists stopped halfway over the Stott Terrace bridge gazing down the dry river bed?
From an ecological perspective, mature gums in the Todd River provide a critical home, food and shelter for a great diversity of plants and animals. Parrots, owls, black cockatoos, bats and lizards nest in branch hollows, insects gain and provide sustenance to others and the trees absorb carbon dioxide and breathe out oxygen. The Todd loses an important part of itself when it loses a tree.Unfortunately most of us locals only have a fleeting association with the town section of the river as we cross the causeways or gaze at occasional flows. There aren't many of us who wander down the riverbed, shoes in hand and stop under the shade of a big old gum to have lunch or watch the birds.
Somehow the town needs to regain ownership and pride in the river, rather than turn our backs so we can hide from the unsocial behaviour in its bed.

Waiting for the bus. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

In the words of the song, it is a long way to Tipperary. But it seems even further from Sadadeen shops to the CBD if you miss the 8.15 bus and have to walk. The next one doesn't come for nearly two hours.
As an inveterate public transport user, I have known good times and bad times. Come to think of it, I can only remember the bad ones. Those painfully long hours on windswept railway platforms waiting for the delayed southbound train while counting the bricks in the wall opposite. Or hanging around at a bus stop that has no timetable, wondering whether there are any buses today or even this week. Or whether the bus company are deliberately depriving customers of information about their services. And, at the same time, watching dozens of cars speeding by.
But for better or worse, public transport is the greatest thing. Especially in Alice Springs where the buses might be infrequent, but they are friendly, modern and rarely late.
On a bus or a train you can read books and newspapers while you travel. You sometimes meet interesting people. You speed along calmly and safely. And from time-to-time, like a Christmas cracker, the public transport experience can even be entertaining.
I was on a local bus in Queensland last month driven by a man who sang. And I mean he sang loudly, clearly and tunefully. Through whole songs with verses and choruses, he warbled. He did a cover version of "Rivers of Babylon" by Boney M and a sumptuous "It ain't necessarily so", the Gershwin classic.
Before leaving the bus at their stop, passengers patted the driver on the back in appreciation of his performance. When he stopped the bus at the kerb to pick up people, he would pause, issue a ticket, say "That'll be a dollar fifty" and then pick up the song at the same place.
It was truly beautiful and worth the dollar fifty admission alone. Lulled into a serene state of gormlessness, I almost missed my stop while waiting for a rendition of "Moon River" or perhaps something by S Club 7. The show was so good that I almost stayed on to the end of the line.In life, few things compete with public transport for sheer satisfaction. But the entertainment ends abruptly when a jabberer gets on board. A jabberer is the opposite of a warbler. Where the singing driver makes you forget your troubles, the jabberer brings them into sharp focus.
The bus trip jabberer is a loud talker with a lot of ideas that they share with anyone who will listen. Some jabbering passengers may be suffering a mental illness and so we have to make some allowances.
But others are like mobile phone users without a phone to fiddle with. They don't know what to do with themselves. So instead of reading a book or thinking about the weekend's footy, like normal people do, they pick on anyone within earshot. Which is most people on the bus.
You know when a jabberer is on board because the person on the seat next to you shuffles and then focuses intently on their shoelaces. They realise that eye contact would be fatal because then you have to listen to them for the whole trip.
Anyway, a few days before the wonderful singing driver experience, I had an incident with a jabbering passenger. He approached me at the bus stop, where he held forth about his new website and the fact that the profits from it were going to save the world's forests.
That's funny, I thought to myself, you must be mistaking me for someone who is remotely interested.
After 10 minutes of this (I didn't get a word in), the bus arrived. I am not very nimble, but with the agility of a young fawn I nipped to the front of the bus while my tormentor looked for his next target. Meanwhile, the person on the seat next to me shuffled and stared at her shoelaces.
To my relief, he found someone else. Having finished with the planet-saving website, the next line of reasoning was about the state of the nation.
Our man had the notion that Australia is a third world country but that the authorities are conspiring to keep the truth from us. I will come back to this in a future column. Anyway, he carried on at length about this shining light of insight that he had brought to our miserable lives. Meanwhile we wondered whether the United Nations measure of the per capita number of swimming pools and shiny four-wheel drive vehicles in Australia made us inhabitants of a developing country.
Getting back to the point, nothing quite compares with the richness of the public transport experience, despite what anyone says. Margaret Thatcher may have driven many of us half crazy for the best part of 15 years, but she gave some great quotes. One of the very best was when she claimed, "Anyone who, at the age of 29, still uses public transport should consider themselves a failure."
Crikey, what does that make me? An abject disaster? A friendless loser? A menace to successful people just by associating with them? Whatever the answer, I'll keep taking the bus.

Master passes on. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.

Everything was OK now for Cassidy Possum Japaltjarri: the body of his famous brother was on its way to its rightful final resting place.
He was doing his last 300 km journey from Alice Springs over a dusty road in a simple coffin, in the back of a Toyota Troopcarrier.
White man's law had delayed the funeral by two weeks in a court action inexplicable to Cassidy and so hurtful, according to a friend, that one senior man of Yuelamu had died of grief.
But now Cassidy, in his 80s, was sitting on the tiny community's football oval, which doesn't have blade of grass, talking freely about that "little one" whose name tradition forbids him to speak. He had brought world fame to his Anmatjerre family with striking his Western Desert dot paintings, and had shaken the hand of the Queen at her garden party.
Sorry camps had sprung up around the oval with mourners from as far as Papunya and Hermannsburg, who were now drifting into the centre of the playing field, sitting down in the dust.
Aged less than 10 Cassidy was a survivor of the Coniston Massacre in which his father was shot by a posse of white police officers and cattlemen, forcing his family to flee and hide in the West MacDonnell Ranges to the south.
Today Cassidy is a Lutheran Evangelist and he is glad his brother will get a Christian funeral.
Another brother was buried in nearby Yuendumu where "they take them into the bush. Plant the body. Like a dog. That's not right."
The oldest of the four brothers, Cassidy is the last survivor because he's "not doing anything drinking grog".
"Only wine in the church, holy communion. That's it.
"No smoke, not alcohol, not beer.
"Not anything. Only water, cool drink, tea É that's all.
"I'm a clean man. I'm still here."
It was grog that killed his brother, he says, and "big money, all that people coming".
"Women. Young girls. White women, coming up.
"Rich men. That's trouble."
But today, after three weeks of sorry business, the mourning for his little brother will come to an end, and his spirit will go back to the possum dreaming in a hill near Yuendumu.
"Let 'em go fast way," says Cassidy.
Explains Peter Alleman, a friend and former community clerk at Yuelamu for two years: "They let them go quick.
"When someone passes away here people go into sorry camp.
"Once the body is buried it's over and forgotten.
"They have their ceremonies, and then do the wailing and the screaming, everyone says sorry, and they get it out of their system.
"They have it in one session, then it's over and done with.
"When the body is buried it's finished.
"It's different to white people who go on and on with their mourning."
NT Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne and Senator Trish Crossin sit with Cassidy in the dust.
The children of the close family are in black pants and white shirts.
The Toyota's load has been placed on a table.
The wailing reaches a crescendo as the women walk up to the coffin and put their hands and their faces on it.
Men silently place flowers on it.
Pastor Murphy Roberts Tjupurulla reads from an Arrernte Bible, from time to time lapsing into English: "God created the world. He is with us."
The coffin is placed back into the Troopie. The cortege of four wheel drives and beaten up bush cars sets off for the cemetery in the bush under the now hot winter sun.
Four young men descend into the grave; four men on top lower the coffin to them.
There is more wailing.
Cassidy throws a handful of dirt into the pit.
And then it's over.
Children play among graves that are simple mounds of dirt with plastic flowers stuck in them.
The mourners leave behind the fresh grave whose simplicity belies the many millions of dollars generated by its occupant, who on the day before he died had to borrow $50 from an Alice Springs art dealer and friend, Michael Hollow.
He says it's almost impossible to estimate Possum's earnings.
He started painting in Papunya in about 1973, producing a painting almost every day, no less than 250 a year: "He was a compulsive painter."
In the early days he would have received as little as two dollars for his works, for small boards.
Large paintings from that period are now sold the world over for up to $80,000.
Later a 40 centimetre square painting would have yielded the artist around $100, a large one, $2000 to $3000.
The art dealer's best estimate of the painter's total body of work is 4500 to 5500 paintings now owned around the globe, worth perhaps $100m.
The painter himself probably earned $3.5m to $4m.
His only possession when he died was a bag containing a pair of trousers, a shirt, a picture of Jesus sitting on a cliff overlooking a city, and the text of the Ten Commandments.
But that's not a worry for Cassidy: his little brother had come home.


"Do it yourself" was the motto of the Gap Youth Centre in its early days, with volunteer workers ranging from Catholic clergy to politicians, pastoralists, entertainers, boxers of national repute, to the mums of the "street kids" Ð by no means all of them black.
At the centre of the organisation was Graham Ross, who with the support of his wife Ronda roped in people from all walks of life.
The kids themselves were doing odd jobs around town, earning a few dollars where they could, helping to make possible a string of adventurous activities ranging from weekly hunting trips, fishing off Vanderlin Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria, horse breaking and learning to box to, well, just having a great time.
It was a far cry from the current organisation built around funding submissions which are based on "knowing the current social trends in Canberra and plugging into them," for a string of programs approved by distant Federal bureaucrats and run by paid staff (Alice News, July 10).
Graham Ð still today involved in volunteer youth work around town Ð every Saturday took some 30 "happy Gappies" on camping trips on Yambah cattle station, owned by the late John Gorey, shooting kangaroos and hunting rabbits with spotlights and sticks.
It was the kind of activity that today would make officials conscious of public liability contingencies throw up their hands in horror.
While Gap Youth Centre is today relying on government grants totalling $600,000, mostly Federal, a quarter of a century ago Ted Egan and Bloodwood would put on a concert when money was needed.
Or the kids would clean up the yards of politicians Grant Tambling or Bernie Kigariff who would pay a $70 fee and then throw in a $300 donation.
The "Gappies" would clean the Flynn Church yard or the St Philip's College grounds for a fee.
"The kids were not bludging off society," says Graham.
Under Graham's supervision, they helped demolishing buildings to make way for the Coles and Woolworths shopping centres.
Wheelchair bound Michelle Castagna helped run bingo evenings at the centre.
"You must be very brave going into the Gap area at night," people used to say to Michelle, as Graham recalls.
"I'm safe as houses," was the stock answer. "The Gap kids are my bodyguards."
Johnny "Doughy" Moore would donate 16 loaves of bread every Thursday. When Greg Dick took over the bakery he kept up the custom.
The centre owned no vehicles: transport and fuel was provided by the volunteers, in their private cars.
Graham was helped by the "two Peters", Lorraine and Dr Fitzpatrick, by Catholic priests, Marist Brothers, and by teachers Tony Casey and Stuart Traynor.
Former Alice Springs Mayor Lesley Oldfield served as president of the committee, and remained on the committee once she became Mayor.
Prominent Aboriginal woman Betty Pearce was another long-term president and committee member.
Other Aboriginal mothers and grandmothers Ð Amy Swan, Peggy Campbell, Betty Carter, Lynette Willis, Christine Palmer, Eva Woods, to name a few Ð did important voluntary work even while they were raising their own children."They were heavily involved, they didn't just leave their kids there," says Ronda."They thought of the centre as an extension of their home," says Graham.
Graham also remembers the sometimes riotous cooking lessons given at the centre by Kath Blair, Joyce Giles and Trish Fenton, as well as the commitment of Noel and Isabelle Fullerton, and Ian Conway and Tim Landers to offering kids work opportunities out bush.
"They were terrific those fellers. For many, many years they took kids Ð some of them, but not all had been in trouble with the law Ð and grew them up into men."
Ronda says the Gap Centre started with Graham and Father Adrian Meaney becoming aware of kids boxing "in a little shed Ôround the back". After representations to Bishop John O'Loughlin, the Catholic Church donated the land where the centre stands today. Marist brother, Brother Aidan Smith, became a key organiser of the centre's activities.
Boxing remained a big thing for many years, with national fighters such as Bob Liddle and Lutheran minister Max Stolzner honing the kids' skills.
Ronda says instruction also came from Fred Spurling, the first trainer of national star James Swan, himself an ex-Gappy.
With the help of police sergeant Dick Ð Graham can't recall his surname Ð a water skiing trip to Lake Elliott was organised once a year.
The lessee of Vanderlin, Steve Johnston, set aside a square kilometre on the island for a camp.
Graham and the Gap kids built a small village there, spearing barramundi by torchlight at night.
On several occasions they also headed south to Bute on Yorke's Peninsula, learning leatherwork at the local tannery, owned by the Ross' friends.
In The Alice the NT government's Arid Zone block was open to Graham and the kids "seven days a week," courtesy manager Jim Boatwright, where they could learn cattle work, including horse breaking, fencing, blood testing and a range of other skills.
Graham recalls his vision of the centre: "I wanted to unite the whole community of Alice Springs, black and white, in voluntary service."
"There were not a lot of funds available at that time," says Ronda.
Some money came from the NT Government's Department of Sports and Recreation and the Commonwealth Department of Aboriginal Affairs but "there were not all those programs that you could tap into," recalls Ronda.
"It was just a good place for the kids to be.
"We called them street kids but they weren't living in the street. They were kids getting into mischief up town.
"We gave them somewhere to go."
Graham recalls the collaboration of the town Youth Centre, Giles House and GYC.
"Joan Higgins, Helen Daff and Brother Aidan organised a three-way get together.
"Each centre would take its turn once a week to host the kids, all playing sports with one another."Ronda used to take her own video player to the centre and on Fridays and Saturdays the kids watched videos "just about all night, I think.
"The bush trips were a big thing.
"It kept the kids' culture alive.
"The kids from the town camps always took Ôroo home for their families.
"So that was a big thing because they became little providers as well."
The centre had permission to take kids to John Gorey's Yambah cattle station, north of Alice Springs.
"They had a good understanding with John because Graham and the kids looked after the country, never stirred up bullocks or anything."
At all times the motive was self-reliance.
"We'd never feed a kid," says Graham. "That would be teaching them the wrong way.
"They had to cook for themselves.
"We'd never break in a horse for them."
Graham now works part time with "Good beginnings" based at Congress, and although no longer employed as a youth worker, still keeps in touch with kids, usually while he's riding his pushbike around town.
"He tells me there are a lot of kids who hang around," says Ronda.
"There are a lot of young men who come from the bush, as well as really young children from the town camps, some as young as seven.
"I picked four of them up down near the Lutheran Church.
"They were just playing around at the side of the street.
"I thought they might have been beating up on another kid so I stopped and asked what they were up to.
"They said we're trying to get a lift."
She took them to her home and found they hadn't eaten all day.
"They'd probably been roaming around bored all day, it was Sunday. They weren't even at the footy, so that didn't appeal to them."
Ronda gave them food but they didn't eat, instead wanting to take the food home, "maybe for little brothers and sisters, maybe for the next day".
"So I gave them containers and they took the food home.
"I knew their families. It was obvious the grandmothers were having the responsibility. These kids were town camp kids.
"This is where Tangentyere, Arrernte Council, the Gap Youth Centre and Arrernte House should be cooperating," says Ronda, "instead of competing for funding.
"These kids don't go to the Gap Youth Centre but their parents used to go.
"I don't know why. They feel they don't belong there any more.
"It may be because of a different structure, or because kids do have a sort of ownership of a place.
"The Gap kids I knew, none of them are employed there now," says Ronda.
The Ross' applaud the work that the Gap Youth Centre is doing today Ð times have changed, and kids need different things, they say Ð but they remember the wonderful community spirit of the centre as it was, and the pride in being Aboriginal that it generated.


When young Rotarian George Scott Brown was given the position of historian for the Rotary Club of Alice Springs shortly after becoming a member in 1965 he asked: "Why me?""Because you're young and you're going to be around for a long time," he was told.Tonight George's book, "The Rotary Club of Alice Springs, Forty Years of History", is being launched by Dr Bruce Walker, a Paul Harris Fellow recipient, at the club's regular weekly meeting.
"I was made the club's bulletin editor almost as soon as I joined," George said, "since I was an artist/signwriter and my classification was publicity."And I drew a lot of cartoons for the bulletin.
"In those days club membership was based on classification with the idea that people from different professions would meet and work together for the benefit of the community."In those days too, it was considered an honour to be asked to join a Rotary club."People were nominated for membership based on their contributions and commitment to the community in their professional fields."We had people from a variety of professions as members, from automobile mechanics and electricians to bankers, teachers and government administrators."And the club would pool the expertise of all these people when working on a community project."People made their commitment to Rotary for life; people stayed for 20 years or more."I've been a member for 37 years."There are not many long-serving members any more."As club historian George saved the club bulletins, club minutes, newspaper articles and various other documents related to club activities.
He also kept photographs and made scrapbooks of them by year or by special event.
George wrote the club's first history for their 21st anniversary and another one for the club's 25th but both were photocopied documents while the 40th one has been professionally printed and published.
"I was going to write one for the 30th anniversary but I never got around to it," George said."When the 40th anniversary was about a year away, I panicked."I sat down and looked at the figures, at what the club had accomplished over the years and the projects still on-going, such as Henley-on-Todd, the Bangtail Muster, the Melbourne Cup Sweep and the John Hawkins Memorial Scholarship."The big question was what to put in the history and what to leave out."I had never seen a history of a Rotary club before except one in Sydney which was cleverly written but was just photocopied stuff."As it was the Forty Years of History has taken a lot longer than expected, two and a half years as various volunteers did various preparations in their spare time.
"And the editor [this reporter] seemed to bring back more pages than I gave her in the first place."
George said that in writing the history he has become more aware of some of the changes that have occurred over the years.
"In the early days we used to have working bees almost every week," George said."Community groups would write asking us for our help for their various projects."Now we get lots of letters asking for donations of money but not for practical help for a community project.
"The Ly Underdown Memorial Project in the Old Alice Springs Cemetery a year or so ago is the first community project attempted by the club in years.
"I can remember one years ago when Riding for the Disabled asked the club to erect a shade area so riders had shade for themselves and their horses."Another project which was very popular in the early days was the Outdoor Art Show for amateur artists.
"Also there used to be a lot more social get-togethers among members with barbecues or trips to such places as Boggy Hole."
Asked if he were game to write another history for the club's 50th anniversary celebrations in 2011, George said he'd "give it a go".
"I have a ton of stuff," George said.
"When Kay Hawkins left town in June she gave me a lot of Rotary stuff which belonged to her late husband, including pictures.
"Dr Hawkins was a member of the club from 1962 until his sudden death in 1979.
"We've been a lucky club; we've only lost three active members, Hector Alfred Griffiths in 1970, Dr Hawkins, and Ian Truelove in 1989.
"And there are things I left out of this one which I could put in, such as some of the funny things that various Sergeant-at-Arms did during fine sessions."I have a lot of ideas and have already started thinking about them É if I live long enough that is."


Spectacular natural landmarks such as Uluru, Kata Juta and Kings Canyon have put Central Australia on the world tourism map. But locals have always been aware of the profound beauty and wildness of the country that lies between and beyond these icons.
In fact the environment offers a wildness and remoteness not easily matched elsewhere in the world or Australia. This makes it a very special place, and we in Central Australia have it right on our doorstep.
Whether you've got a few hours to spare or a lifetime, the opportunity for outdoor activities in Central Australia is second to none.
Four wheel drivers are well catered for, with long journeys into remote country being the staple diet for these people.
Then of course there's the dirt bike riders who have made a world class event out of the Finke Desert Race.
But the opportunities for outdoor pursuits do not stop there; in fact they are becoming increasingly diverse.
Take the Larapinta Trail for example. This recently completed walking trail takes you on an epic 220km journey from the Alice Springs Telegraph Station into remote gorges and spectacular ridges of the West MacDonnell Ranges, finally ending on top of the spectacular Mt Sonder in the West.The Larapinta Trail is rapidly establishing itself as one of the great walks of the world due to the unique beauty of the country and its remoteness. Many seasoned adventurers have sung the praises of this trail in media all around the world. People's lives have been changed by a few days alone or in a small group on remote sections of the Larapinta Trail.Tour operators on the trail are reporting unprecedented bookings for their operations, and support services such as drop off and pick up at points along the trail are beginning to be developed by local operators.Bushwalkers, though, aren't limited to the Larapinta Trail. There's the Ernest Giles walk, an overnight walk in Watarrka National Park, and myriad of superb day and overnight walks all around the region.
Even close to home a couple of hours will get you away from town and into the sights, sounds and smell of the bush. Pack a bit of water and a snack and 10 minutes later you're out there!Mountain bike riders too have found that Central Australia offers riding experiences unique in the world. There are many kilometers of superb riding on rough bush tracks and tight single tracks. The Alice Springs Mountain Bike Club together with PWCNT have established a dedicated mountain bike track out of Alice Springs, which explores remote sections of the Simpsons Gap section of the West MacDonnells National Park.Then of course there's the ever-popular Simpsons Gap Bike path for more sedate riders, which winds through the different land types between town and Simpsons Gap.Rock climbing? A handful of locals know that not all of the rock faces around the region are loose and unpredictable. The actual climbs may not be world class but the climbing environment is spectacular.
The indoor climbing wall at the YMCA is a good place to start out and make contacts if you think you may have an interest in this high adventure pursuit.
Exploring expansive salt lakes in a boat after rain, sailboarding, and sandboarding, sitting on top of Mt. Gillen Ð the bush beckons. And as for the climate Ð at this time of the year it is perfect!


If you are going to take a trailer ÔBush' here is a list I have prepared that has helped me in doing so. Firstly how much Ôstuff' is going to put in the trailer - meaning how heavy is it going to be? Secondly what are you going to tow it with?
Thirdly I consider the weight distributed between the car and trailer, better than having all your eggs in one basket, with all the weight in the car.
¥ Make sure your trailer is an OFF ROAD trailer or off-road camper, not the box garden trailer with big wheels and slipper springs.
¥ The A frame should be very strong and made of box section or RHS not angle iron.
¥ If it has leaf springs they should be with rear shackles not slippers and if your really smart you'll use the heavy duty off road trailer springs from industrials. They use nylon bushes, this will cushion the ride better and absorb vibration. These can be bought as weld on kits for your present trailer.
¥ The bearings should be the larger type and the axle at least 50mm, the parallel axles are better than tapered ones (bearings are the same size).
¥ If you wish to get any other type of suspension get it from a reputable maker and make sure it is the heavy-duty type, capable of carrying at least 1200kg.
¥ Most trailers don't have brakes. This is because they are rated to gross a maximum of 750kg. Even at this weight brakes make a lot of sense. I prefer brakes; even the Ôover tide' types are OK. An unladen heavy duty trailer with camper weighs in at around 500kg bare, and by the time you put your water and fuel food sundries etc. it's going to be up around 800kg to 1000kg. Without brakes, in an emergency you just don't stop in time.
¥ You could argue about shock absorbers on a trailer until the cows come home. Have you ever driven a car without shock absorbers? It's not pleasant. I use shock absorbers on my trailer.
¥ Tires and wheels should be the same. The tires should be at least the same size, the stud pattern of the rims should be the same as the tow vehicle and the offset of the rims should be the same as the tow vehicle, making them interchangeable. The rims do not have to be a fancy alloy rims the same as a vehicle but the offset has to match.
¥ The track of the trailer should be the same as the tow vehicle; this will help when towing in sand as the wheels follow correctly in the footprints of the tow vehicle.
¥ Tyre pressures play a VERY IMPORTANT part in your ability to tow a trailer "off road". As the load varies with your trailer, so should your tyre pressures. Get advice! Lower the pressure in sand.
¥ Tow balls can cause problems. A ÔTreg' coupling or ÔOrac' are good. This will allow a trailer to do a full turn with out any resistance, and the movement up and down is ample.
¥ Remember a vehicle uses approximately 50 per cent more fuel when towing a camper or trailer.


Imagine my surprise when I ventured down to my favourite restaurant last Sunday only to find that it had been turned into a theatre.
As the curtain lifted on the first show the stage was filled with Demons. "Excellent, a horror storyâ" I thought. And so it was, but not in the way I had imagined it. The Demons turned out to be not very scary at all. That description belonged to a pack of ravenous Eagles.
The main interest in the story was whether the Demons would be completely destroyed. By the end of the second act it looked like the inaccuracy of the Eagles' attack might have saved the Demons from annihilation: Eagles 9-15 (69) to the Demons 0-1 (01).
The third act saw the Eagles' attack become deadly efficient. The star of the show was the veteran magician Trevor Dhu, conjuring up eight magnificent goals in the third act alone.
Craig Turner, Ezra Bray, Robert Taylor and Aarron Kopp were also excellent in supporting roles. By the end of the third act the scorecard read Eagles 23-19 (157) to Demons 0-2 (02).
The final act contained a surprise twist that I did not see coming. The Eagles did continue to attack but the Demons actually managed to score three major attacks. Ralph Turner was the hero of the fight back with two majors, one a great running effort and Shelton Palmer finished off the other successful attack. Unfortunately that was as good as it got for the Demons with the final score showing Eagles 32-22 (214) to Demons 3-2 (20).
I must admit I found this show to be a bit dull. The Eagles were spectacular to watch and the Dhu magic show (with a total of 15 major tricks) was fun but overall the plot was fairly predictable and the Demons failed to scare me. Worthy of special mention were the young Campbell brothers, Joel and Eric, who played off each other beautifully and both should look forward to a long career on centre stage.
The second feature had me hooked from the opening scene. It was a war story with two armies coming face to face. The background was that the Roving Double Blue army had already been weakened, due to some of its best warriors leaving to fight another battle in faraway Yuendemu. As a result it was expected that the mighty Red & Black Army from the West would use them for cannon fodder. But the Double Blue Army had other ideas. Private Glen "Holby" Holberton emerged from the ranks to score three major attacks and it looked as though the Red & Blacks had a dose of stage fright.
Then as the first skirmish neared its conclusion a piece of theatrical brilliance lit up the stage. Soaring high over the floorboards, stuntman Martin Patrick came from nowhere, rode the back of an opposing soldier, twisted mid air and snatched the big red bullet from the sky.
The effect was made even more stunning by the fact that the wires could not be seen. It looked as if he actually flew. With thunderous applause the first act ended with the Double Blues 5-1 (31) to the Red & Blacks 3-4 (22).
The second act began where the first left off. Martin Patrick performed another clever stunt, this time by slinging one of the opposing soldiers to the ground. Again he won the big red bullet which allowed him to score a major attack.
No sooner had the applause died from this effort when the audience was once again sent into raptures by a piece of amazing stuntwork. This time it was stuntman Sean Cantwell who flew high, again seemingly without wires, to seize the red bullet.
This was the turning point of the story, as the Red & Black army began to gain control of the battlefield. In the remainder of act two the West soldiers scored nine successful attacking raids to none. As the lights came on for intermission the scorecard showed the Double Blues 6-4 (40) trailing the Red & Blacks 12-8 (80).
The final half of the second show never reached the great heights of the first half. The storyline became a bit monotonous as the Bloods flowed freely over the battleground. There was little the Double Blues could do to stop the bleeding and tempers flared as some of the actors did not enjoy being upstaged.
With the show in danger of spiralling out of control, enter the stage manager. Resplendant in white he took control and sent a number of the actors to their trailers. This included the director of choreography for the Double Blues, Senator John Glasson. When star actor Jamie Tidy limped off with an injury it was curtains for the Double Blues.
The remainder of the show was a procession of Red & Black. Rory Hood, Jarred Berrington, Karl Gunderson and Adam Taylor all put in polished performances, without any one actor stealing the limelight. And although the entertainment value of the second half of the show was down on the first, the ending was very impressive.
With seconds left and the audience restless and ready to leave, enter Curtis Haines. Flying higher than a Mariah Carey scream, he brought the red bullet to ground and in an instant sent it to Rory Hood. The amazing stunt left the audience breathless. Hood sent the bullet through the big white sticks as the cutains fell, West 25-16 (166) to Rovers 8-7 (55).


The Dingo pack who have been pounding the pavements of Alice Springs for some months now under the guidance of Loie Sharp will be facing their crowded hour when they line-up in the National Cross Country Championships later this month in Sydney.
A complement of seven athletes form the Alice Springs contingent of the touring party coached by Darwin's Martin Trouw, with local Bev Adams as manager.
Nine year old Jonathon Schmidt will represent the Territory in the two kilometre run for 10 year old boys. Cousins Sam Page and Jack Brown, both 11, will contest a three kilometre course for 12 year old boys.
In the 13 year old age group will be Josh Burgoyne, Matthew Forbes and Emmalyne Schmidt, who will also run three kilometres.
At the helm of the team will be 16 year old Kenneth Parsons who will stretch out over four kilometres.
In preparing for the cross country events the Dingo runners have gathered of a Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon. Basic to their training have been "fartleks" (yes, it's a runner's technical term) over a base loop at Anzac Oval.
This requires the runner to sprint a given distance and then slow to a trot, only to sprint again, and slow again around the course.
From there the runners have tackled Anzac Hill itself with four hill climbs. In conclusion a training session is completed with speed work and drills on the oval.
In the case of Emmalyne and Jonathon Schmidt, the Saturday meetings conducted by the Alice Springs Little Athletics Club, have supplemented the Dingo training.
Throughout the training regime the budding champions have received tremendous support from Deb Page, mother of Sam, and fitness fanatic Sharp.
As a bonus the group have also attracted a newcomer to town who could well prove to be an invaluable asset to athletics in Alice Springs.
Eli Melky is an elite athlete who represented South Australia as a junior in Cross Country, and has the respectable credential of completing 10 kilometres in 32 minutes. Eli's input, particularly in terms of improving technique, has been valued by the squad.

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