September 25, 2002.


CATIA says comments from top international incentive travel managers, that promoters of Central Australia ought to lift their game, should be taken very seriously.
Craig Catchlove, manager of the local lobby group, says incentive travel has "certainly been identified for a very long time as very strong market we should be working for.
"If that hasn't been happening, or not happening adequately, it is a major worry."
This follows a lame response to the criticism from Maree Tetlow, the new manager of the NT Tourist Commission, which has an annual budget of around $30m: "Realistically, the Northern Territory will never be able to compete with some of the major cities on the east coast for major meetings and conferences.
"But the unique experiences that we offer mean that we can look forward to groups Ôadding on' a few days in Central Australia."
Ms Tetlow could give no details of incentive travel to The Centre in the past 10 years, nor exactly what the commission's agents and offices abroad had done to promote that branch of the industry.
Mr Catchlove says it is a mistake to throw together convention and incentive travel: "They are two different beasts," he says.
Two participants in last week's Dreamtime 2002, attended by more than 100 international agents for incentive travel, praised The Centre's attractions but said they were little known.
"If you rely on the Australian Tourist Commission alone, the American market particularly is not going to think beyond that Sydney experience, maybe Cairns on the outside," said Jim Adams, of Performance Strategies in Indianapolis, Indiana.
"I'd strategically place people in foreign markets who would work for me and my locale."
Said Alan Rogers, of the UK based Red Carpet Group: "Central Australia is very rarely promoted in the UK, and I think that's something you need to be aware of."
He says the focus is on Australia's main cities "and Central Australia really doesn't get a look-in."
Mr Catchlove says: "We need to hit the distribution chain.
"If this hasn't been happening it would really need to be rectified.
"Promotion has to be very targeted."
Says Ms Tetlow: "It was great to see so many of our international business tourism buyers and media enjoy their experience in Central Australia.
"It is very important to promote our regions, both as leisure and business tourism destinations, within the international source markets.
"That is why we have both NTTC offices and public relations officers in each of our major markets, doing just that.
"Events such as Dreamtime are also very important ways of exposing our products to the key people in business tourism.
"That's why the NTTC worked hard to secure this event for Central Australia, and the NT Government committed more than $150,000 toward assuring its success."


Why does Alice Springs have a Strehlow Research Centre? Because the Country Liberal Party goofed?That's what it looks like, although no-one has made a full and frank admission to date.
The 1976 Land Rights Act (NT) had just come into force and life as we knew it in Paul "Porky" Everingham's lucky (and you need to say the next word very slowly) Teeerrietooorrreee was about to come to an end.
His and later CLP governments saw themselves called to arms, to stem the black tide, unleashed on us by Canberra.
NT governments were beginning to spend a fortune of taxpayers' money on litigation, opposing land claims left, right and centre, getting absolutely nowhere with all this, yet gaining spectacular support from the frightened urban electorates, and the cattle barons "out bush".
Antagonism between black and white would play a large part in keeping the CLP in power for an astonishing 26 years.
In the southern NT, a million or so square kilometres, the lawyers and anthropologists of the Central Land Council, recruited from Ð shock horror Ð the left wing hotbeds of universities Down South, were having an easy time convincing a succession of land commissioners that vast tracts, ultimately half the land mass, should be handed back to Aborigines.
It was time for unusual measures.
Standing out from the untrustworthy academia was Theodore Strehlow, of German stock but born and bred in the Territory, on the Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission, and after his death, the vast body of his work, which was in the hands of his widow Kathleen.
The Lutheran Church itself wasn't playing ball with land rights: in time it would hand over the mission's land to traditional owners, under the Federal law, but in accordance with its own assessments of traditional attachments.
In a lifetime working principally with Arrernte people Ted Strehlow had amassed a collection of sacred objects, including tjuringas, carved stones or pieces of wood, handed down from generation to generation as the keys to secret knowledge and the control over land: their misuse carried the death penalty.
More importantly, Strehlow had compiled meticulous family trees of Arrernte clans, and written down the "songs" which are the "land titles" in Aboriginal society.
There were comprehensive lists of sacred sites.
It was the stuff at the core of land rights claims.
Could it be used to prove wrong at least some of the assertions put before the land commissioners?
Could it be a spanner in the works of land rights?
Strehlow has become a grumpy old man, alienated from his academic peers, distrustful of younger Arrernte people, steadfastly opposing calls from black activists for the return of the secret objects, and passionately supported by a much younger and exceedingly ambitious second wife, Kathleen.
She carries on the fight after Ted's death in Adelaide in 1978, on the day the Strehlow Research Foundation is launched, with the help of Western Mining, which had added social activism to its extracurricular activities.
Kathleen was even suspected of planning to ship the objects off shore, in contravention of Federal heritage laws.
Cut to 1991: the opening of the Strehlow (not Arrernte) Research Centre in Alice Springs.
The NT Government has spent $3.2m (ATSIC went halves) on a building in the Araluen grounds and passed an Act requiring the protection of the great man's good name, "to honour the memory of the later Professor T. G. H. Strehlow".
(The centre now has four staff and costs $370,000 a year to run.)
The main hall features a photographic display of the anthropologist and perspex cut-outs of anonymous Aborigines.
Kathleen, in the opening crowd, is the first director of the Strehlow Research Centre.
She is at pains to keep her distance from the Strehlow children from Ted's first marriage, to Bertha, who'd shared his arduous early days in the bush.
The vault in the belly of the building will soon hold the controversial sacred objects, bought by the NT Government for an undisclosed sum, and Ted's writings Ð later to be explored, under the watchful eye and full vetting rights of the centre, by author Barry Hill, for his 818 page book Broken Song launched last week after 10 years of sometimes frustrating research.
John Morton, a speaker at last week's Strehlow Conference in Alice Springs, takes an unblinkered view of the great man.
He thinks history will need to make up its own mind about any recruitment of Strehlow into the anti land rights campaign.
But if that's what did take place it didn't work Ð though not for want of trying.
Morton says Western Mining took a direct interest in the Strehlow Foundation's activities, together with figures of the right in South Australian politics, and they liaised with at least one Aborigine with mining connections.
"[The foundation] allowed, with Kathy's consent, to copy all the diaries, because Western Mining basically swallowed the mythology that Strehlow's material was somehow going to be the key to Aboriginal land rights, not just in Central Australia, but everywhere."
But they drew a blank with the material recorded up to 50 years previously. It became clear it was good background for the situation current at the time, but had no direct relevance to it.
"Those records, while they were important, were of limited use," says Morton.
"That was the first main indication that somehow this stuff has been politically compromised.
"The NT Government showed a lively interest but of course it had a history of fighting land rights claims.
"I don't know of any direct evidence that says they acquired the collection in order to be better informed about land rights issues.
"When they did buy it, they did with it what was right and proper.
"They originally stored it in the NT Museum in Darwin."
However, with an Act of Parliament they created "a special shrine not so much to Arrernte people but to Strehlow".
On the other hand the NT Government may not have had a choice: "In order to get that stuff it probably had to make that agreement" with Kathleen Strehlow.
This certainly further poisoned relationships between them and the Central Land Council Ð "until recently the only effective political opposition to the Government in this part of the world".
Says Morton: "The Strehlow Centre is an NT Government organisation.
"This place has never been trusted by the CLC until recently."
At the time of his death Ted Strehlow had alienated himself from the scientific community, displaying a paranoid possessiveness of his collection.
Other anthropologists had also been collectors but had disposed of their collections.
Baldwin Spencer's collection was donated mainly to what is now the Museum Victoria.
Donald Thompson's was housed at the University of Melbourne and is now also in the Melbourne Museum.
Ronald Berndt's huge collection is at the University of Western Australia.
But, says Morton, "Strehlow was so alienated from all these networks that he tried to go it alone, with second wife Kathy's assistance".
Significantly Kathleen was not present at last week's gathering.
Instead of placing his work with public institutions, universities, museums or, for example, the Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Strehlow "would never have let his stuff be submerged in any of these places," says Morton.
It remains a mystery why the NT Government would reward a man so unwilling to play ball, by passing a law "protect" his memory.
"It's a very funny thing to have embodied in the constitution of a public research institution."
However, after initial restrictions, the Strehlow Centre Ð under the directorship of Brett Galt-Smith Ð is now becoming more accessible and has even allowed "a degree of public criticism," says Morton.
And about half of the building has been turned into a very well presented Museum of Central Australia.
"But it would also be fair to say Ð and I'm not quite sure whether this is just the culture of the organisation or whether it's a direct result of the Act of Parliament, that the institution is still a little bit defensive about Strehlow.
"I think what Brett Galt-Smith has done is terrific, opening it up to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal access."
Flying in the face of current political correctness is that the keeper of the objects is board member Gary Stoll, Lutheran lay preacher, long term Central Australian Ð and a white man.
Morton says the reasons are the Aboriginal "rules about not dealing with other people's stuff".
That means Stoll, as a "trusted mediator" and fluent Arrernte speaker, can have access to all the objects whereas Aboriginal people may see only those belonging to them.
Stoll's role, and that of the predominantly white board, stick in the craw of the "many whites in the town who've ridden the wave of the self determination policy.
"The kneejerk reaction of people dedicated to that sort of program is to say, you must have Aboriginal representation."
Significantly, it's not a worry to the owners of the objects who, says Galt-Smith, visit the Centre at an average of three to four a week, seeking information about their families, their stories, as entrusted to Strehlow by their ancestors.
Morton says Strehlow took the objects "often enough under voluntary agreements between himself and the original custodians.
"It's also true that they did hand them over to him with the expectation that he would look after them for posterity.
"Accusations that he stole the stuff are pretty wild.
"The other side of this is whether he didn't betray the trust of that keeping role, the way he dealt with access later on, particularly by Aboriginal people who he thought had no rights in the collection any more."
Morton is also on record as describing Strehlow as an "avaricious collector, casting the net widely".
The"handing back" can be fraught with difficulty as the objects signify "authority over country", according to Morton.
He says it's occasionally hard to "make decisions about whom, if anybody, you're going to give the things to, because there quite often are counter claims."
On the other hand there is Ð among some Aboriginal people Ð a "great deal of mistrust" of the Centre.
"It's a magically dangerous place, just because of what's here, and because of Strehlow's reputation.
"Those objects are magically dangerous.
"People fear coming here.
"Strehlow's possession of them turned him, to an extent, into a man who embodied these magical powers" Ð and now these are transferred to the centre.
"There are a lot of women who won't come near this place."
The centre needs to "get the word out there that this is an open forum that people can come to safely and people can get information without treading on other people's toes." And this, to a large extent, was what last week's conference was all about.


"Ted Strehlow has got the biographer he deserves," said Professor John Mulvaney, launching Barry Hill's Broken Song at last week's Strehlow Conference in Alice Springs.Hill has "emphasised the poetic, the dramatic, the songs, not so much the anthropology", he said.
Is this the right assessment of Strehlow, the Hermannsburg-born son of Lutheran missionaries, controversial collector and translator of Aranda culture, or is it due more to Hill's own literary interest?
Hill is a nationally recognised poet, and poetry editor of The Australian. His most recent collection, The Inland Sea, was published last year. He is also the author of The Rock, Travelling to Uluru. This book brings his 12 years' work out of The Centre to a close.
Prof Mulvaney said Strehlow's peers judged him "as a linguist and as a poet, rather than as a social anthropologist", yet the profile of the Strehlow Research Centre (SRC) and the receding controversy over Strehlow's collection of sacred objects has emphasised in the popular mind his anthropological role.
Prof Mulvaney quoted and concurred with Hill on Strehlow's achievement: "With Spencer and Gillen we had a picture drawn for us of [the Aranda as] gesticulating ethnographic objects.
"Thanks to Strehlow, the same people have been fully rendered as highly cognisant celebratory subjects, poets and artists of their life, makers of their culture, rather than doomed aspects of nature."
For Hill, it was the poet in Strehlow and his deep personal involvement in the culture that enabled him to respond to the magnificence of Aranda songs, and leave to the world, in Songs of Central Australia (long out of print), a great English translation of this "treasure trove of poetry".
Says Hill: "I've tried to show the wholeness of his unavoidable personal enmeshment in Aranda culture, in flesh and blood, heart and head and spirit."Hill's project initially was not so much a biography of Strehlow, but to essay on Songs of Central Australia: "to ask not so much who wrote it, but how did this book come about."That meant asking "what is Aboriginal poetry, what is its place in the culture, what was the business of translation in Songs, how did this English poetry arrive from the Aranda?".It became a biography by default.Once it was possible to read Strehlow's diaries, after protracted negotiation with the SRC, "I had no choice but to bite the bullet".
INVESTIGATION"I had gone far enough down the track of biographical investigation, I realised I had to tell Strehlow's life story reasonably fully in order to get to my main project, which was still the business of poetry and translation."
Along the way, Hill takes the reader on Strehlow's "long, rich journey, his rough and passionate journey Ð physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually".
There is plenty of gritty narrative of the well-known and less well-known features of Strehlow's life: as a Patrol Officer of Central Australia when economic and sexual exploitation was rife; as a public intellectual with things to say about religious rights, assimilation, Max Stuart's conviction, the NT Land Rights Act, the "Aboriginal industry", customary law and Aboriginal futures; and finally Ð ironically and tragically for this "friend of the Aborigine" Ð as a betrayer of secrets.
So, does the beautiful title of the biography evoke the man, his work or the Aranda culture that was his subject?
Hill: "The title sprung into me when I heard Neil Murray sing his ÔBroken Song', one of the great songs written about this area.
"It took me back to passages I had already written: Strehlow is sitting up at Barrow Creek in 1932 with an old man, who is trying to sing a song to him and he can only find fragments, and the man says to him tearfully, ÔThis song is broken'.
"The title works both ways. Strehlow's field work showed how much the songs were breaking. He was meeting men all the time in the Ôthirties, getting songs from them, being shown their tjuringas, being taken to their secret places."As often as not the men were giving him their tjuringas because they thought their culture was broken Ð some he also bought or solicited.
"And at the same time Strehlow was invested in the songs being broken, because that allowed him to say he had the collection of them, that helped make his work even more unique than it was.
"He was quite possessed about being the possessor of songs."
And ultimately it was that, at the end of his life, that broke him. The title works in that way too.But also, says Hill, "there's a broken song in Strehlow".
"His song was one about the yearning for consolation" which he expressed most fully in his memoir, The Journey to Horseshoe Bend.
Hill's is a thematic biography, moving emotionally as much as argumentatively.
"My first and most powerful thought was here was a man who lived in two cultures, during the day translating from Aranda into English, entering the world of the black man, like Shakespeare's Caliban; and by night É doing Luther's work, and his father's, translating the New Testament into Aranda.
"He was a Gemini and came from a place of [Aranda] Twins' Dreaming, there was an enormous split in him, a division that he worked out of.
"This was a life spent in translation, both ways Ð that's the heart of the book."I'm trying to create the right stage for [Strehlow's work] to be discussed which is the history, the field of endeavour of translation of poetry and scripture.
"It is always the case that there are three components in translation: the host language, the target language and the activity of the translator, with their attitudes towards the original language.
"I've made the simple move of placing Strehlow in that arena, putting him on a universal canvas as a translator at work and try to take the reader on his long, rich journey towards doing that."


Establishing a tourism facility at the Desert Park has good spin-offs for the environment, say its managers.
The Territory Government recognises this in its funding of the park's non-commercial activities, such as the creation and maintenance of a botanic gardens (which also have a commercial spin off, as tourists like to visit them).
In the last budget the government paid $950,000 for the upkeep of the gardens Ð out of a total $4.32m for the park.
Plant propagation material is collected from the wild in order to establish and maintain the botanic gardens (which seek to replicate the main habitats of the entire region Ð from sandhills to woodlands).At the same time specimens are "vouchered" for the herbarium which has existed in Central Australia since 1954. The presence of the park has been a plus for the herbarium, adding 16 contributors, where there were three before.
A herbarium is basically a large collection of pressed plant material.Says Desert Park manager Graham Phelps: "It's a really important resource for understanding what species you have in an area, providing the base material for species identification.COLLECT"The information is collected in such a way that you start building up a picture of what plants grow where, what communities of plants grow together, how the botanical component of the environment works."The base resource within a herbarium are properly collected plant specimens: you know exactly where they come from, you have good habitat description, good descriptions of the plant, properly recorded pressed specimens of leaf, flower and fruit.
"When the specimen goes into the collection it is said to be Ôvouchered'."
How can that knowledge be applied outside of the park?Says Mr Phelps: "Without it you have no way of knowing whether the environment is changing, what effect weeds, feral animals, fire, drought are having, what species are endangered, what we need to look after, what we don't need to look after.
"You simply can't advance the knowledge of how we look after Central Australia without that base grade knowledge, the nuts and bolts which enable you to build the picture."One way that knowledge is being applied is in the rehabilitation of landscapes altered, for example, by mining.
Normandy Mining is funding research at the park looking at seed stores.
How long does particular seed live?
When you move top soil from a mine site and later put it back, what species are likely to have survived in that soil?Which ones haven't and how are you going to propagate them?
What plants will grow in the salty conditions created by tailings dams?"That fits in very well with our ability as a botanic gardens to grow the plants of this region," says Mr Phelps."We obviously need to advance our own knowledge and the Normandy funding has enabled us to employ two honours students and soon we'll be starting a PhD student looking at seed biology."
As desired, the park has also stimulated interest by individual gardeners to grow plants native to the region.
This has led to establishing a wholesale nursery, run on a commercial basis, to supply the local nursery industry.At present, demand is outstripping production, says botanical curator, Mark Richardson.
People are especially keen to grow wildflowers, which are on beautiful display at the park even during this dry winter.
But isn't the park about getting people to understand the environment as it is?
Yes, and also how it can be as long as we look after it, says Mr Richardson."It's important for visitors who are only here for a short time to realise what's under the ground as well; that in dry conditions it might look like a patch of dirt but when you add a little water, it blooms.
"This is the understanding we need to counter the kind of attitude that says we need a nuclear waste dump, why not put it in the desert?"
How is botanical science at the park contributing to broadscale land management? Are we in danger of seeing a pristine example of the desert environment preserved at the park while, around Alice Springs at least, land is ravaged by fire and buffel grass?
Mr Richardson says, with the removal of fire threat and weeds, the park, and in particular study plots within it, provide a baseline against which changes outside the park can be measured.
He says there is a danger of looking at these changes in 25 years' time, and seeing that the worst has come to pass, as expected.
"That's one of the problems with science, that information needs to be collected over a period of time.
"But in any case, what to do about land management on a broad scale in Central Australia is a much bigger question than scientists at the park alone are able to deal with."NEXT: Looking after our furry frinds.


The car market in Alice Springs is up about five per cent in the last 12 months as the local economy is benefiting from strong tourism numbers, a string of new business ventures, high cattle prices coupled with a good season, and low interest rates.
This is the view of Peter Kittle, head of the dealership that has around 80 per cent of the region's car trade, and which has just been crowned Toyota's Northern Territory Dealer of the Year as well as winning for the fifth year in a row Toyota's top prize, the President's Award..
"The town is buoyant," he says, "a lot better than Darwin.
"If you talk to people from Darwin you think the world is about to end.
"They've been relying on government money for a long time and they've been getting the bulk of it and probably still get the bulk of it.
"We have been missing out for the last 10 years.
"But at the end of the day I don't think that's been a bad thing because the economy of Alice Springs is more self reliant.
"There are a lot of good business ventures in Alice Springs, a lot of new things to come.
"Obviously in our industry low interest rates are a big help, allowing us to stock a lot more vehicles.
"And it makes it easier for the buyers.
"Go back the last 12 months É it's the cheapest a car has ever been in Australia," says Mr Kittle.
And people in Alice are even better off because their average wage is higher than the national benchmark.
Mr Kittle says much of the five per cent increase is due to demand for "soft" 4WDs, "but that is on the back of two previous years where the market actually dropped off."
Tourism has provided "a huge year from our point of view.
"There have been a lot more drive-through tourists with the Year of the Outback, in campervans, caravans and 4WDs.
"It usually starts at Easter and goes to the end of July.
"This year it didn't start until a couple of weeks after Easter but they're still here now.
"There have been a lot of main events in town, the Last Camel Train, for example.
"People travelled up in groups when that was on, and there were a lot of Ôbash' events this year."Mr Kittle's dealership includes Toyota Ð which has just launched the new Camry Ð and Holden.
Both companies will feature in flood of new releases before Christmas, including also the new Falcon.
"It's never happened in Australia that three major manufacturers released a key model all in a four to six week period."
Mr Kittle says the Camry is now 85 per cent made in Australia, making it less susceptible to the fluctuations of the Australian dollar.

Colourless characters need not apply. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

Hundreds of books and articles have been published about Alice Springs over the years. I have picked over a few of them recently looking for words that might strike a chord. For example, the first page of Songlines by Bruce Chatwin describes the town as "a scorching grid of streets", which is a perfect description, at least in summer. A few lines later Chatwin notices the number of people wearing long white socks and climbing in and out of four-wheel drive vehicles. Well, relief all around, at least the socks have gone.
And then there's A Town Like Alice. A French friend of mine wrote to me recently saying that she knew nothing of Alice Springs except that classic novel which described the squalor and the painful struggle of people living in the desert. Now what was it called? she asked. And has anything changed since it was written? I'll answer that later, I thought, pouring another beer and turning up the air conditioning.
If heavy books make for heavy going (and Songlines did after a few chapters) those people wanting a short cut to the essence of a place can always fall back on the guidebooks and the websites. I have read quite a few along with the midnight cocoa.
One book described Alice as "not so bad". Talk about damning the place with faint praise. And one of the websites reviewed movies showing at the Alice Springs Cinema, a helpful service for Hollywood-starved international visitors. If I was an adventure cyclist, for example, setting out across the most challenging expanse of arid land in the world, I feel certain that I would want to know if there's a period costume drama starring Hugh Grant or a dinosaur movie on the cinema when I reach halfway. This is sad, but true.
Anyway, through all this pointless reading about internet cafes, where to buy swags and what David Attenborough thinks about the Desert Park, one phrase stays with me. It was the book that described Alice Springs as being a perfect place to find "colourful bush characters".
I don't really know what a colourful bush character is. So I tend to think of it as a person who is completely the opposite of me. I am a colourless non-bush non-character. So I was interested to see if I could find some people not like me.
The trouble is that people who are presented as being colourful often disappoint when you get to know them. Take politicians, for example. A colourful politician in the newspapers is one who amuses sleep-starved journalists with schoolboy jibes at his pompous opponents.
Meet him in person and he somehow transforms into a small balding man in an ill-fitting suit.
Or take Mickey Rourke, the actor. a once colourful character reduced to a parody of himself. He used to cavort with Kim Basinger in stairwells and find inventive ways to eat cling peaches. A few years later he's got a face like an overripe tomato and is beating up the son of Julio Iglesias in a trashy pop video. My family is large and supposedly full of colourful personalities. To an impressionable child growing up, they certainly seemed that way. But the colour paled once I reached a certain age and started talking to my uncles and aunts as equals. It is as though someone described by your dad as a "real family character" only manages to be one for five minutes at a time before they return to dreary auto-pilot.Anyway, seeing one of these uncles doing his inebriated impression of Frank Sinatra and another waking up in his backyard one summer afternoon surrounded by boxes of stolen toilet paper delivered by a friend was more slapstick comedy than colour.
In the same way, meet a bush character buying a new head for his mop in K-Mart or taking three bites to eat a frozen yohgurt outside Wendy's, and all the colour seems to drain away. Colourful personalities shouldn't be as mundane as the rest of us, should they?
I used to think that the characters in town hung out in Scotty's. Then I walked past one day and couldn't find it anywhere.
And so I respectfully conclude that colourful characters never quite measure up. Give me a bland nerd with thick-rimmed spectacles any day. Either that or I need to look harder for the colourful bush characters in Alice Springs.

Choking on coffee. COLUMN by GLENN MARSHALL.

I was swanning around a coffee shop in the mall the other day with good friends Simon and Bradley, sipping long flat whites and commenting derogatorily on the undesirables that were filing past.
Simon ruined our fun by saying, "Did you know that coffee crops cover 11 million hectares of tropical land where lush rainforests once stood?". We agonized over this for a moment and glanced guiltily at our steaming chalices.
Bradley saved the day by blurting out, "Hang on, we have counter-balanced that because we attended the ALEC tree-planting day a few months ago!". We celebrated this foresight by partaking heartily in our addictive booty.Imagine our despair though when Bradley raised the vexed issue of Ô"sweatshops in the fields" Ð agricultural workers toiling in the hot sun of Latin America for only a dollar or two per day to bring us our daily drink, being exposed to cancer-causing chemicals in pesticides, fungicides and weedicides.
This brought on another bout of self-concerned reflection but I managed to ease the tension by saying, "Fear not my friends, the chemicals do not penetrate the outer pod of the bean and besides, any residue is burned off in roasting".We moved on to more important topics like sanitizing the streets of Alice Springs, when a trouble-making tourist at the next table leaned over and said, "Did you know that global coffee prices are at an all-time low at present, resulting in poverty and hunger for thousands of small-holding growers and their families but increased profits for giant multinational coffee processors who haven't reduced their selling prices".
We stared daggers at him and were about to add him to our list of undesirables, but then recalled that tourism brings significant income to our town. "Thank you for that tidbit," we said in a terse but amiable chorus and signaled our solidarity by pouring some more of that sweet vital liquid down our throats.The ambience, however, was ruined as I flicked through my Good Weekend magazine and alighted on a horrible tale. The leader of a small coffee cooperative in Mexico had been assassinated when he succeeded in raising the prices paid to local farmers. He had been nobbled by the "coyotes" Ð a group of predatory coffee traders resisting pro-active change through violence.
"But surely Pine Gap is hunting out the coyote terrorists who did this," said Simon. None of us were quite sure, but we immediately set about writing a letter-to-the-editor in support of Pine Gap, because we knew that America was the biggest importer of coffee in the world and they wouldn't let terrorists compromise their lifestyles.In one last effort to appease our consciences we called over the waiter and demanded he scour the labels of all the coffee tins in their kitchen. He was a little slow in understanding our request and we lamented in front of him that you couldn't get good hired help anymore. Finally he was made to understand and reported that one of their fifteen brands was certified organic and was grown in the shade of native forests by a cooperative of Javanese peasants.
"I tried it once and it tasted a bit funny. I doubt I'll try it then," I said indignantly, rapidly mirrored by Bradley.Tiring of this conversation, we headed off to drinks at Niara's house, trying to avoid eye contact with people in the mall who were different from ourselves.

Alice put on show. COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.

Another superb week in the Alice!A few days ago, Les, Marie, David and Heidi, Alicephiles who now live in Darwin, flew in to join the rest of the Loy clan and dozens of friends to celebrate a very special family occasion hosted at the golf club.
It was a super opportunity to catch up with people we hadn't seen for a while Ð all here to help Michael celebrate, which he is still doing, with Virginia in Greece somewhere.
To all the singers, great effort, but don't give up the day jobsÉ.David and I joined hundreds of people at Midnight Oil's concert on the lawns in front of Lasseter's Casino.
Peter Garrett made a point of welcoming all his friends from remote communities he'd visited with the Warumpi band and then he acknowledged the rest of the audienceÉ I thought that an advocate of social change would practise anti-discriminatory tendencies.
Whilst some were at the concert, others were out enjoying the hospitality of the JDSRF at Pine Gap. A few "Close Pine Gap" protesters tried to interrupt proceedings but attendees tell me that it was, as usual, a good night.
Whilst I people watched, tapping in time to a few familiar beats, I wondered what happens to aging protesters and agitators Ð we're told that old golfers never die, they simply lose their balls É old protesters never fade, their messages simply become a bit too tediousÉ
Who will ever forget the opening ceremony at the Sydney Olympics? Midnight Oil, their shirts, the slogans, their rendition of "Beds are Burning".
A huge thank you to management and the organising committee of Lasseter's Casino, because, in spite of Peter Garrett's comments about turning the job down when it was revealed that the gig was to be played on the lawns adjacent to the casino (and Garrett doesn't support gambling), it is quite obvious that money does talk.
As Anna Ð fund-raising with Alison, Precy and others for Greengates and Drug Awareness Ð said in between selling chilli hot-dogs and pies: "It's all about dollars and double standards."
David and I didn't stay for hours, just long enough Ð the music, the messages, sounded better from a distance.Friends interstate couldn't believe we had seen Jimmy Barnes in concert, also free of charge, thanks to casino management.On Friday night I met friend Caroline's Mum, June (here from Nhulunbuy) and her daughter, Jennifer, from Brisbane.
We joined dozens of visitors up at Anzac Hill Ð one night off a full moon and the countryside looked spectacular.
TOUTINGI drove them around the town Ð it's been 12 years since June last visited, and Jenny, a nurse, hasn't touched the Centre for over 20!!
They had a great time sight-seeing around Alice Springs, enjoying Henley on Todd, and caught the Ghan south yesterday: they both commented on what they saw as positive changes in town.On the side of one of the articulators carrying the Oils' sound and stage equipment was written (by a company obviously purporting to be the best): "Why us? Because your reputation is on show É"In Alice we're always on show, more particularly during 2002 the Year of the Outback.
We need to ensure the positive trend continues into 2003É and beyond.


After a lapse of 20 years, West Football Club took an A Grade Premiership flag home to Milner Road on Sunday, revelling in having won the game fair and square.From the outset it was an atypical grand final. Both teams seemed pensive and the expected fire that ignites many a big game just didn't eventuate.The overwhelming force in the opening quarter was the West half back line. They proved to be an almost impenetrable force as Pioneer pushed into their forward line early.
In those first minutes it was the drive of Wayne McCormack off the eastern wing that provided the Eagles with scoring opportunities. Alas they rushed a behind and then had gun goal sneak Trevor Dhu miss from a seemingly elementary range.
In reply Westies took the ball through to their forward line and a kick from the boot of Darryl Lowe saw big Justin Bentley take the ball unopposed in the goal square. He goaled and ignited the West pack.
The Bloods' Curtis Haines, who would later prove to be an absolute handful for the Eagles, then took possession at half forward and goaled, followed by a further major from the veteran Jamie O'Keefe. In response the Pioneers had a red headed Joel Campbell mark cleverly off a Craig Turner disposal to register a goal.At the first break the game was best described as tame, with both sides making the ball their object. West held a lead 3.1 to 1.5, and probably Pioneer's inaccuracy was the only notable difference between the sides.In the second quarter it was again the dominance of the Bloods' half back line which counted. They restricted the Eagles to a mere 2.4 while their forwards were able to add 3.2 and lead by 12 points at the big break.For Pioneer both goals came off the boot of Norm Hagan, while the West majors were all due to an inspirational performance from Haines. It was late in the term that the only card for the match was raised, when Lachlan Ross was asked to take a rest for 10 minutes.
In the premiership third quarter it seemed the real game was about to reveal itself. Nathan Peperrill, after missing a set shot, produced a magical goal out of the pack in the scoreboard pocket and put the Eagles in marching mode. But try as they may, inaccuracy cost the reigning premiers plenty as they posted 4.4 for the quarter to Westies' 2.2. Steven Renehan, Trevor Dhu and Simon Djana each scored majors and gave Pioneer a two point lead at three quarter time.In the West quarter it was that man Haines and then Crispe who kept the fire alight. Otherwise, late in the quarter, the Bloods looked as though they had spent their energy and were destined for another limp home.
In the huddle at three quarter time Roy Arbon beseeched his players in an intriguing fashion and had them seemingly on the road to sure victory when they took their positions for the last term of footy for six months.
West however had tasted defeat in the second semi final and literally took the game by the throat.
Gun recruit Jarrad Berrington came into the game and had Jarrad Slater (the recruit of the year) continue to make use of every opportunity in the forward lines to set the likes of Haines up for more goals. In an inspired effort the West team drove deep into their hearts and produced a brand of football that was not going to be toppled. In the run home they booted 5.3 to 3.1 with Haines capping the day off with a bag of six goals.
The Everingham Medallist, Sean Cantwell, as well as providing dominance in the ruck , kicked the sealer for West, a wobbly but accurate punt through the middle. Then less than minutes later the same player was deep in the West defensive zone taking a telling mark as the never say die Eagles surged for a late score.
Cantwell's performance was well supported by Haines and Slater across half forward. Labistida and Flattum were trump cards throughout and Berrington proved a match winner in the run home.Pioneer had Joel Campbell in fine form. Craig Turner made a welcome return. Once again it was the fleet of younger players who kept the dream alive.
At the end of the day the honours went the way of Wests,13.8 (86) to 10.14 (74).The Bloods also took home a flag in the Under 18s, while South celebrated in the Reserves.

LETTERS: Bastardised replica of parody.

Sir,- Whoo hoo ! "A mock Henley on Todd at Simpsons Gap" for Mr Rogers and Mr Adams and Co., as reported in your front page story on the Dreamtime tourism trade show.
How brilliantly apt for them and their ilk.
A bastardised replica of a parody.
Where do you start? What is tourism? At its best, visiting a place to experience the beauty, culture and diversity of the world.
At its worst? Going some place you didn't really want to go, free of charge because you were the best arselicker in the company, to, as Mr. Adams said "just party, party, party".
Otherwise known as "incentive tourism".
Why ? "You can reap some very good benefits in a very short time," says Mr Rogers.
But you've got to have a "Killer Resort", says Mr Adams.
"Some place that people would stay in and not even go into your town."
Yeah right, just what we need.
"We'd sell it as a kind of Retro Palm Springs." Er, why ? What happened to the real one? Perhaps these replica retro killer resort places don't have much of a shelf life? Perhaps someone has already done one?
But then, as Mr Rogers says, perhaps they are only interested in the short term. Like the next years's bottom line.
Can I suggest, Mr Adams, that the kind of place you're thinking of is a bit of a Hollywood vision ... and perhaps that's the ideal place for it, Hollywood. Think what you'd save on the air fares. You wouldn't even need passports.
But of course Mr Adams wants "some kind of cattle ranch deal, some kind of barbeque, you know." Wow! Unique innovative stuff.
Mr Rogers "had yet to see a kangaroo, or Aborigines playing didgeridoos" but "he'd have to make it happen to satisfy his clients".
"There's not many things in the world you can't organise."
Anybody here heard of sustainable tourism?
Would the people who conceived and authorised this stuff (presumably with my money) please identify and justify themselves Ð publicly?
Charlie Carter
Owner / Operator, Trek Larapinta
Alice Springs


Documentary-maker Steve McGregor, after two years at the national film school, has just finished shooting his first television drama, produced by CAAMA's Priscilla Collins and backed by SBS Independent and the Australian Film Commission.
Wild Turkey tells a story of sibling rivalry, says McGregor.His characters are initially two brothers. The older one, Shane, is determined that the younger Robbie will not move out of his sphere.
A job offer in Coober Pedy represents Robbie's chance to leave town.
The brothers' farewell "piss-up" lands them in gaol and Shane makes his move Ð involving a mysterious third man Ð to keep hold of Robbie.McGregor is careful not to give much of the plot away.
He has cast Indigenous actors in all the roles Ð WA players John Moore and Kelton Pell in the roles of Shane and the third man, the lesser known Wayne Munro as Robbie. Yet McGregor says it is a universal, rather than a specifically Indigenous story.
"It's about your Ôbrother boy', if you lose him, you lose part of yourself. It's about your sense of security, power," says McGregor, an older brother himself.
McGregor says he'll return to documentary-making early next year with a project in the Top End about the influence of the wet season on family life.
This has been pre-sold to the Canadian Broadcasting Commission and SBS Independent.He's also looking forward to later making a half-hour drama for the ABC.He's equally at home in both modes, he says.
A director on the move.

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