60 BLOCKS: GOVERNMENT, NATIVE TITLE HOLDERS STRIKE DEAL.
Sixty blocks of residential land will be developed opposite the entrance to the Desert Park as a result of a landmark agreement between the NT Government and Aboriginal native title holders.
Up to 30 blocks will be ready for sale by early next year.
Says Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne: "Never before in Australia has agreement been reached with traditional land holders to release native title land for residential development.
"This deal is the result of goodwill and co-operative negotiations that will benefit both parties.
"It also will open a new chapter in the Alice Springs housing market."
Dr Toyne announced details yesterday of the agreement with the Lhere Artepe native title holders over the release of the land.
"This is a very exciting development for the people of Alice Springs, and marks a new era of partnership between the Territory Government and traditional land owners," says Dr Toyne.
Lands Minister Kon Vatskalis says the land will be subdivided in consultation with native titleholders, to ensure cultural values are identified and protected.
"I've instructed my department to immediately carry out an engineering report to determine what relevant public works and services will be needed to support a residential subdivision," says Mr Vatskalis.
When that report is completed, the land will be divided into approximately two lots of 30 blocks with the native titleholders deciding which half they wish to develop.
In exchange for the surrender of native title rights over the land, the government will grant the Lhere Artepe traditional owners a development lease at nil cost.
The government will release the remaining half of land at a later date, by public tender.
Dr Toyne says the agreement is yet another example of the Martin Government's policy to negotiate where possible.
"In less than two years, this government has fulfilled a vital election commitment and delivered a significant amount of land for residential development Ð something the CLP failed to do since 1990.
"Why force these issues into the courts for drawn-out litigation, when results can clearly be achieved through negotiation and a handshake," Dr Toyne says.
"This is a win-win situation for everyone Ð the Lhere Artepe will benefit from the sale of land and the Government is fulfilling a promise to the people of Alice Springs and in doing so, has formed a new partnership with traditional owners."
BIG WIN-WIN NATIVE TITLE DEAL: NO NEED FOR COURT. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
A $50m land development near Palmers-ton on behalf of the Larrakia people is the flagship of the Northern Land Council (NLC) commercial enterprises, some of which are going full steam ahead.
To start with all the Larrakia had was the Ð strong Ð likelihood of owning native title over an area of scrub, and an array of sporting facilities at Arther, without, as it was the case in Alice Springs, that claim having been tested in court.
The NLC, representing the Larrakia, went to the Burke CLP Government with a three-pronged deal, says CEO Norman Fry.
Firstly, the Larrakia wanted to keep native title over a portion of the area.
They were happy to relinquish native title over the sporting areas, including a gun club shooting range, a scout hall and a BMX club.
All of them had been set up before native title became acknowledged, but were now liable to native title claims.
In exchange, the NLC told the government, the Larrakia wanted a development lease for the remainder of the area.
The former government agreed and the present one ratified the deal.
The public Ð black and white Ð saved itself the agony of a native title dispute in court, likely to be protracted and socially divisive.
Land that would otherwise have lain idle is now being turned into useful land.
The Larrakia Development Corporation Pty Ltd (LDC) was registered a year ago, with the NLC, as trustee for the Larrakia, the sole shareholder.
The LDC undertakes all commercial operations for the benefit of the Larrakia people.
By the stroke of a government pen and without having invested one single cent, the Larrakia now have a major asset to use as collateral for a bank loan.
Westpac came to the party.
Stage one of the Darla (mangrove worm) Subdivision was drawn up Ð 57 good size blocks, half of which are already under contract, for prices starting at $60,500.
There will be further stages, ultimately resulting in a suburb of some 390 allotments for residential use and the usual public facilities such as a school, church, shopping and parks.
The NLC lured onto the LDC board Les Loy, formerly from Alice Springs, doyen of the real estate industry in the NT, and head of the L J Hooker franchise in Darwin.
Another ex-Alice figure on the board is John Nayler, formerly general manager of TIO Finance, and of Bank SA in Alice Springs.
Mr Loy's conservative image wasn't any obstacle for the NLC: "Les is a real Territorian," says Mr Fry.
He says half the profits of the scheme will be rolled over for further commercial activities.
"The main focus of the LDC is on creating jobs for the Larrakia," says Greg Constantine Ð another former Alice identity Ð now the executive officer of the LDC.
The other half will go towards education, health, sporting and other purposes for the Larrakia people. And Darwin, more particularly Palmerston, will get sorely needed residential land in a suburb that will be a monument to black - white cooperation.
WHAT MARKS FOR OUR SCHOOLS? Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
Is the Northern Territory education system as good as any other in
That's one of the questions that will be looked at in the Territory Government's recently announced review of secondary education.
The five-person review team from NTU is headed by Gregor Ramsey, a former Territory teacher who has become an education specialist with a world reputation.
Dr Ramsey has undertaken education reviews in Russia, the Czech Republic, Italy, Denmark, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates.
There are obviously issues in secondary education in the Territory that are different from anywhere else: there's our small, dispersed population; there's the concern of parents, many of whom have come from interstate, that education for their children will be as good as back home; and there's the concern with Indigenous achievement.
In schools, 40 plus per cent of the population is Indigenous.
That's quite unlike any other state where the maximum proportion is less than five per cent, down to less than one.
"Even if the actual numbers are the same the task is very different," says Dr Ramsey.
"And I think the government is well aware that large numbers of Indigenous kids at secondary level are just not having any education at all."
Responding to the issues is no easy matter.
To begin with, how do we assess where we are at? Does it all come down to marks, especially the seemingly all-important TER (Tertiary Entrance Ranking)?
Marks are important but are not the be all and end all, says Dr Ramsey. And growing up in rural and remote Australia can have its advantages."For example, the proportion of people from the country who are prepared to take on public leadership roles is much higher that you would expect from the numbers.
"There are various reasons for that. If you grow up in the city you really feel as if you can make no impact on the huge mass of decisions that are going on all around you.
"But if you are in the country, the range of decisions is reasonably proscribed.
"You can write a letter to the editor and it's highly likely to be published; you can go along to a council meeting; you know who the power points are in the community, who your members of parliament are. So you feel than you can actually have some effect. "And responsibility is often given to young people in the country which gives them confidence that they will be able to make decisions elsewhere.
"In many ways you do get better life skills in the country, but you may not achieve specific goals. For example, if you are looking to get into medicine where the cut-off score is so high, you may not make it and there you may feel you have got some disadvantage."Why do city students have the edge when it comes to marks?
One reason is that the competition is stronger, but there are things that could be done about that, says Dr Ramsey, even while the population remains small.
"You can make the competition more keen by, for example, identifying all the good students and giving them specific extending academic work. Special workshops in school holidays is an example.
"These days you can also talk to, email daily or by the minute if you want, people all around Australia.
"So you could get very bright kids here working with, cooperating with, competing with very bright kids elsewhere around Australia.
"That would not just be a matter of the city giving to the country; the country would give a lot to the city."
Another reason is that the Territory may not attract as experienced teachers as the so called "diploma mills" of a state like NSW, but there again, we have to think outside of the box.
"Very good teachers could be brought up here for short periods of time, say three months. We do it in other fields of human endeavour, why couldn't we do it in teaching?
"Another way again is that if you have a very good Maths teacher in a school, then they ought to have significant responsibility for all the Maths teaching, irrespective of the class.
"Giving the very best education to your very best students is not necessarily achieved by having a handful in a class in a single school working on its own."
Would all students benefit from a system that better looks after its top students?
"We would expect that, as long as the gap isn't so wide that those who are a little further down are not discouraged from performing."
These ideas and strategies won't necessarily be recommended in the review, but Dr Ramsey is pleased with the encouragement by the Department of Education, the Minister and the Chief Minister to look at all of the options.
NEXT: Transitions Ð why make them any tougher?
LETTER: WHY AND WHEN SHOULD ROCK BE CLOSED?
Sir,- I believe the nine reasons for closing the climb at Uluru - Ayers Rock need careful looking at.
Let's begin at the bottom:
¥ Cultural reasons: Fair enough if all the traditional owners are making the decisions. Not a few with biased opinions, as has happened.
¥ Rescue: Fair enough, if it's opened once the rescue is complete. Let those who have been involved rest. Let others be on stand-by.
¥ Darkness: Fair enough.
¥ Cloud: Closed if cloud descends to or below the summit of Uluru. Fair enough.
¥ Lightning: Closed if there is a greater than five per cent chance of thunderstorms in the next three hours.
A couple of questions need to be asked. How many people have been struck by lightning since the park opened to the public in 1956? How close are these thunderstorms? How fast are they moving? In what direction? Is this a real risk, or a made up one? It's dangerous to ride in a car or cross the road. With soft adventure, it's okay to leave a little risk there. Perhaps the five per cent should become 50 per cent.
¥ Rain: Closed if there is a greater than 20 per cent chance of rain in the next three hours.
Again, perhaps the 20 per cent could be shifted to 50 per cent. Seems better, in all fairness.
¥ Storms: Closed if there is any storm activity between NW and SW closer than 50 km to Uluru.
I trust that it is not biased public servants guessing at 50 km. Which way is the storm activity going? At what speed?¥ Wind: Closed if the estimated wind speed at 3000 feet is 25 knots or more.
Again who makes the estimate? Not biased public servants, I trust. A wind gauge is required on top of the Rock with a dial that all can read at the bottom.
¥ Heat: Closed at 8am if the forecast maximum temperature for Yulara is 36 degrees centigrade or more.
This has been in for a few years. But that doesn't change the fact that it cheats the public. First, 36 degrees forecast is only reached three quarters of the time. Second, the forecast temperature on most days isn't reached until 2-2.30pm. That leaves six hours. Two hours at least could be used by the public. 10am seems a better closure time in all fairness.
Now let's check if the public servants running Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park are really interested in public safety, or are just running their own agenda.Let's turn to page 120 in the 2000 Plan of Management: "Better ways of managing climbing or possible future closure of the climb."
It's up to the public to judge. It's your gate money. It's your taxes. Is this really about visitor safety?
The Alice News asked park manager, Brooke Watson, to respond to Mr Quinn's views. He wrote:-
Concerning the management of Uluru Kata Tjuta National Park, and specifically relating to the wish of some people to climb onto Uluru, there some comments I would like to make.All closures of the Uluru "climb" are made in line with established protocols. In relation to safety aspects (weather, moisture, wind, predicted heat, potential storms, lightning danger, etc), these protocols are based upon the recommendations of the Northern Territory Coroner's Court. Where cultural issues are concerned they are based upon the requests of traditional custodians.
We work within a network of industry partners and jointly with the park's traditional custodians. A secure framework of consultation and discussion underpins all policy and actions governing park operations.
We take the precautionary approach where closures are concerned.
That means that if we perceive there to be a danger, beyond the risks normally associated with climbing up a 900m steep ridge, we defend people against exposure to that added danger.
When there is any moisture at all on the surface of Uluru it instantly becomes treacherous, and one slip can mean death.
The winds are notoriously gusty and unpredictable on Uluru, and the local helicopter services provide us with continual updates so that we can make quality assessments.
Storms can gust through from any direction at great speed. We utilise a sophisticated satellite weatherwatch monitoring system.
Even with this system we have occasionally been caught out by fierce storms arriving at high speed, and have had to mount dangerous wet weather rescue missions to get stranded visitors down from the rock.
At all times we remind people that it is the request from traditional custodians that visitors do not climb onto Uluru, but rather take advantage of the information provided at the cultural centre and enjoy a cultural experience of the Park without climbing.
In the main visitors are respectful and do not climb, however there are still plenty of exceptions to that.I recommend to all your readers that they visit our website at http://www.ea.gov.au/parks/publications/uluru-pom.html and have a look at the Plan of Management for the Park. The sections on Tjukurpa (traditional law) and Joint Management are helpful in understanding how we work.
4WD around the bend. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
On the face of it, there are many different types of four-wheel drive vehicle Ð utes, cruisers, sports utilities, station wagons and so on. They come in various sizes (although most are overgrown), several companies make them, and they have a range of distinctive features.
But despite all this mind-boggling choice, the reality is that there are only two kinds of four-wheel drive vehicle - the kind you want and the kind you need. Or, less sympathetically, the ones you genuinely need and the ones you don't.
For years the main growth area in the motor trade, can nothing stop the march of the bulky, tall thing with differentials?
Four-wheel drive vehicles are even having an impact on international conflict. If you look closely below the surface of all the current lazy and repetitive reporting on the build-up to war, you will find an interesting tale.
According to the Washington Post, sports utility vehicles (known as SUVs over there), have become the subject of a campaign by those who have "finally connected the dots between the cars we drive, the wars we fight and the globe we warm". And so stickers are appearing on vehicles suggesting "Draft SUV drivers first" and television ads by the religious right ask "What would Jesus drive?".In other words, if you drive an oversized vehicle when you don't need to, don't complain if the weather starts acting strange and your country worries about its oil supply. Not only that, but the costs of buying oil, protecting oil and warming the globe are set to increase, making oil-based travel a future luxury. Worried about declining kilometres to the litre? Concerned about fuel price hikes? You ain't seen nothing yet.
All over the cities of Europe, North America and Australia are the kind of enormous, fuel-guzzling, multiple kilowatt, cross-continental vehicles that we use here in the Outback. The difference is that the biggest topographical challenge that most of them face is negotiating the speed humps at a suburban Bi-Lo. Yet despite their high running costs and dubious urban credentials, the market grows and grows. It's already 40 per cent of the total US car market. This would not happen for any other consumer product. Why purchase something over-sized, over-priced and totally inappropriate to where you live? Surely owning an Outback-ready vehicle for weekly trips to your local Coles in Moorabbin is the equivalent of building a boat in the Alice.
So what's going on, apart from the triumph of marketing? For my money, bulky four-wheel drive vehicles have become a cross between a comfort blanket and a fashion bauble for the urban human. A blanket because you certainly feel safer in one of these monsters, even if you are not. A bauble because they look good, especially to us boys who never quite grew up.
They even come with lots of accessories to collect. For the current generation of teenagers, it is a smooth transition from Warhammer at 15 to a 4WD at 17. And most of the baubles are far too good-looking to take off the bitumen.
Trying to be reasonable for a moment, I guess one person's man in sensible socks is another's leg-fashion outrage. One person's beaut ute is someone else's overblown monstrosity. It's a free market. Buy what you want, you've earned it. Go on Ð get your hire purchase agreement signed. I'll stop whinging. It's none of my business.Anyway, it's not like this in the Alice. This is the Territory. Most people I know would say that they need their vehicles for work and for genuine off-road experiences like getting down to Molly's Bash or camping over the Easter weekend. So we do need them in a town with more bitumen per head of population?
The faster you go the behinder you get? COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.
In 1968 (last century!) New Zealander John Rowles wrote and sang a
song called "If I Only Had Time" Ð it's a great sentiment and the
chorus went something like: So much to do, if I only had time, only had
timeÉDreams to fulfill, there are mountains I'd climb IF I had
timeÉIn November when we were visiting Mummy and Dad and others,
David went out and about, solitaire, and came back with a purchase, a
navy blue t-shirt with the words "The Older I Get, The Better I Was"
emblazoned across the front in thick bold white lettering.
The shirt has become a real conversation piece: whenever David wears it, people come up to him and make comments like, "Isn't that the truth?"
Or they say: "Ha, ha. Tell me about it!"
It's quite interesting, striking up conversations with complete strangers about nothing in particular apart from what we have in common, that constant, time Ð we're each aging day by day, different stages, same pace.
Time's a precious commodity.
We're reminded to make each day count but still they rush by at a great pace of knots Ð almost as fleetingly as the squall which took out Team New Zealand's mast last week!
It's a frustrating time for trans-Tasman yachties: there's harbour rage around Auckland as the much prized America's Cup now heads to land-locked Switzerland.
There's road rage on our streets: cars lined up, horns blaring. Registration stickers remind us that it's "Better to be late than arrive dead on time".
I can almost understand where the frustration comes from when commuters have to traverse London or Melbourne in peak hour traffic, but I'm not sure what causes it when people are cruising around our relatively quiet streets in Alice Springs. More than 20 cars queuing at the lights and it's a "traffic jam" Ð consecutive red lights could make us late Ð and everyone's in a hurry no matter what their destination.
There's even pedestrian rage as we discovered on our last trip to Sydney. David, meandering, took his brand new grandson, Harry John, for a walk in the user friendly all terrain three wheeled pram.It goes anywhere and everywhere, as long as people aren't rushing to get in front of it or pushing to get around it Ð dashing to wherever, trying to get there as quickly as possible.
Or forgetting to smell the roses or smile at a fond thought, let alone acknowledge another human being, not even noticing the sun break through a heavy cloud bank.
No wonder so many people, of all ages and from all walks of life, feel ignored, dejected, rejected or superfluous, in today's rapidly moving ever-changing world.
Many of our older friends say that age has mellowed them.
They've had time to discern what's important in life, to reshuffle priorities, family, friends and work, and there's even extra time to pursue forgotten pleasures and take up new challenges.
Friend Lori, an extremely adept time-keeper, gave me a list "Great Quotes by Great Ladies" and one of them, by Helen Hayes (observed at the tender age of 73) is, "The hardest years in life are between ten and seventy".
Another, by Cora Harvey Armstrong, tells us that, "Inside every older person is a younger person Ð wondering what the hell happened".
I've always felt that we have a relatively timeless existence in the Alice, especially compared to city cousins and counterparts.
I thought about organizing another shirt with bright slogan, or perhaps adding an extra line: "The Older I Get The Better I was" followed by "Timeless Ð What's a use by date anyway?!"
"CAN'T KILL A WEED BY TAKING OFF ITS TOP." YOUTH ON WAR AND PEACE. By TASHKA URBAN.
In an era when it seems evident that practically no one wants war, everyone wants solutions, and yet no one has them, we do tend to find ourselves in quite a sticky web.
It's a web that each of us is connected to in ways we're not always in control of, not even at home where we find ourselves powerless to influence the direction we are lead in as a country.
So it's time to look to our youth for a response Ð the future leaders of this country and planet. This is what some of them told me:-
"One thing that bothers me when you look at the whole situation," says Jaii Pry "is that they're talking about it being a war on terrorism, and using terrorism itself to counteract it, defying the whole point.
"The Middle East's reaction was a response to America being a super power, which means that America's form of action is only creating more terror and hatred.
"If you want to stop something like terrorism you've got to look at where its roots are at. Can't kill a weed by taking off its top Ð you've got to get it at its roots."
"It makes me wild inside," says Alison Picket.
"I hate the thought of war, and it annoys me that I have no control in regard to it. Mainly I'm just scared. I'm due in May. I don't want my baby to grow up in a world like this!"
Clare Bizley says: "I never thought I'd see a war in my lifetime, I'd hoped we'd progressed further than that!
"Saddam may be a scary, clever man, but he's just running his country how he does, and I don't believe a war needs to be fought Ð there's a peaceful alternative. I fear that a war now, this war, could be the end of us."
"I think there are ways of keeping the world safe without going to war," agrees Jessica Yates.
"This all may have shaken the world out of complacency, and I try not to make judgments on things I can't fully comprehend in my position, but the government is supposed to represent the people.
"I think America is more interested in parading guns and showing their direct enemy who's boss."
Deep down in our gut we know when something is right or wrong, and it seems that everyone sees other possibilities on the horizon than the one we're currently facing Ð namely war!
A major question at the heart of this whole war is leadership. True leadership strengthens the followers, yet represents a solution that caters for all. What this war surfaces is our leaders' ability to fulfill these requirements.
The spotlight on Iraq highlights much of this. Does it not seem unjust and inhumane to us when we look at the boundaries placed on the people of Iraq? We look at their culture, their rŽgime, and cringe. Equally they look at ours and do the same. Problem is, everyone wants to think they are right and will do what they can to uphold their pride.
Life teaches us differently though. When in conflict, you eventually come to a point when it doesn't matter who's right or wrong anymore. The battle could go on forever otherwise. The bigger person is always the one that rises past the level of winning individually, and pursues a win for the whole team Ð in this case, our planet!
For all the great lessons I've learnt in life I've found myself faced with difficulty at first, and have no reason to believe things are any different for the world as a whole. It reassures me to picture the world as someone who's just learning and growing like myself.
SKATERS STAND THEIR GROUND. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Six young skaters have now lodged a complaint about a policeman who, backed up by other officers, detained them in Todd Mall two weeks ago, shouting at them to "shut up" and confiscating their skateboards.
A letter to police signed by six skaters says: "We were not proven guilty but we were punished by having our boards confiscated and having to go through a lot getting them back.
"When the incident happened we were told by a police officer to shut up when we tried to explain what happened.
"One of the police officers said ÔI don't want to hear it and if I do you'll be in the paddy with your boards'."We were not skating.
"We were carrying our boards," the complainants say.Police say the complaint is being investigated.
Meanwhile Police Superintendent Trevor Bell has signalled a further crack-down on skating in the town area: "There may be a number of offences committed when skating in a public place, namely causing substantial annoyance, disorderly behaviour and when skating in and around vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
"[Skaters] can be asked to cease to loiter and leave the area.
"Police also have the option to seize anything in relation to the committing of an offence.
"Police have the power to enforce these offences but initially police would generally respond by simply asking that they stop their behaviour and leave the area, which was what occurred initially [when 11 skaters were apprehended].
Meanwhile Mayor Fran Kilgariff alleged that "skateboarders in the Mall are not only damaging public property and creating a nuisance of themselves, but they also pose a safety hazard to pedestrians.
"Pedestrians may find it difficult to jump out of the way of a flying skateboard, and while there have been no serious injuries to date, it's an accident just waiting to happen."
Ms Kilgariff did not respond to a request for details of damage, who is being threatened, nor where and when.
Ms Kilgariff did not explain the boundaries of the Mall to which certain by-laws relate.
Neither the police nor Ms Kilgariff would comment on criticisms by users of the skate park about its lack of shade, drinking water, a telephone for emergency use and security.
Mr Bell says there have been "no recent complaints received involving incidents at the Skatepark between skaters."
COMMENT: Skateboard riders just a soft target?
Are the Mayor and the police picking on skateboarders as a soft target because they aren't doing so well catching the real villains, those who vandalise, smear graffiti, break windows and attack people?
And now is Alderman Jenny Mostran opportunistically rushing to join them for the same reasons? For her troubles she became the butt of a joke in last Friday's sell-out comedy show at Araluen, the only local issue to be raised.
I know quite a few skaters: they don't sniff, don't drink, don't vandalise and generally behave well both at home and at school.
That's where they are likely to learn about some of the fundamentals of our society, including that you're innocent until proven guilty.
It was a different story in the streets where, at least once, they were bailed up by police, summarily accused and punished, without any opportunity of putting their case. They have yet to get an apology.
This is police state stuff and not proper in the kind of society we live in.
And the council, which clearly has no idea about bringing the mall to life, is ganging up with the police to hound these young people from pillar to post, although they add a bit of colour and liveliness to the otherwise dead as a doornail heart of the town.
Why are these kids not given consideration as "mall users" as much as anyone else?
Let's get some of the fundamentals straight: The council can pass by-laws and repeal those that are stupid.
How about treating the skaters like the reasonable human beings we expect them to grow up to be?
For example, why can't we allow them use of the Mall after 4.30pm when the place falls into a coma? And even earlier on the weekend?
And why doesn't the council listen to suggestions about the Skatepark, which has no drinking water (in the hottest part of the hottest continent on earth), no toilets, no shade, no emergency telephone and no security personnel.
The Mayor's answer: The kids designed the skate park, and so they only have themselves to blame.
And then the police tell us there have been "no recent complaints received involving incidents at the Skatepark between skaters".
Brilliant. Has it occurred to them that this may well be so because a large section of the skating community is staying away from the Skatepark, for the above-mentioned reasons and the now well-known threat of bullying?
Meanwhile, we hear that the combined churches are organising a skate event for Youth Week. That will be welcomed by the skaters, but they'll also tell you, I think, that if they don't practise their skills almost daily and at length they just won't cut it. It's a physically demanding sport relying on self-motivation, courage, and dedicated practice, qualities that our society sorely needs.
Erwin Chlanda, Managing Editor, Alice News.
ROARING HARLEYS AND WET T-SHIRTS. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
The promotion of the Cougar Bourbon Bike Show may well have conjured up images of long haired bikers, tattoos, dusty jeans, boots, bikes, beer and bourbon.
But in a sign of the times, the Bike Show, this year back at Feds, was an upmarket affair. Sure the bikes were there, all 95 entries. And the traditionalist bikers were there. But also among the 1100 who filed through the gates were another breed of bike lovers.
It was intriguing to see families file along the boulevard of bikes. There were also groups of middle class blokes and their wives or gatherings of either sex, casting their vote with probably more consideration than they do in governmental elections.
Jason, well known in the restaurant game, entered his blue customised Harley, and in a nut shell, it stole the show. But success doesn't come easily in this game: Jason is said to have ploughed plenty of time and money into his cup winner. By the same token Garry Prior, who grew up in the cattle industry, had his work vehicle, a less flamboyant Harley, on display.
In assessing each of the 16 categories, true treasures were discovered. Local cleaning expert Steve Walsh showed that he even takes to the polishing rag after hours, when his "very limited" edition Sturgess Harley Davidson took out the American Pre Evo class.
And to keep up with tradition Chris Ryan captured the gong for the Post Evo American machines with his Harley Softail.
True class was revealed in the British pre and post 1990 sectors, when the old favourite bitumen burner, the Triumph Bonneville claimed victory for Terry Hinton.
Adding a regal feel to the Show was Ray Jones' Royal Enfield Bullet, which besides being a class winner, proved one of the major attractions of the Show.
Turning to the European machines, the 1989 BMW R100 RS was in picture perfect condition and turned out by a bloke simply known as "Barnesy" . And as a state of the art contribution, the carbon fibred Ducati Monster proved a winner for Shane Scott.
Honda scooped the pools in the Japanese sector with Kevin Joy's green CV 750 and Alan Hart's VFR 750.
The VFR is a real limited edition, being a Winfield Racing replica, Hart purchased the machine after it had only clocked 2,500 kms and today the 1997 racer has only 4,000 kms to its name and travels on its original tyres.
Specialist bikes then had a run before the judges and Greg "Dude" Taylor proved that his Dragster is not only a legend on the Seven Mile Drag Strip, but can outclass the others when on the podium. The 1324 cc Suzuki powered machine has that label's engine, but one wouldn't want to hazard a guess at what else is inside it.
The Rat Bike category went for the second year in a row to Mick O'Neill with his Italian stallion, the Motoguzzi Californian.
A classic came to town seemingly just for the occasion, with the appearance of a Harley Davidson Ultra Classic in the Side Car category. Stu Johnson took possession of the bike two years ago, but "new additions to the family" put on hold its assembly and paint job. He finally made a start just 30 hours before the show and he cleaned up the class.
A classic from another era, Mick Hutton's Excelsior Consort, a true collector's item, took honours in the Older Bike Restoration class.
Meanwhile Terry Hinton's Jawa, a speedway solo bike, took out the Senior Dirt Bike trophy, and Chloe Rose Anderson with her Kawasaki KLX, all 80cc of it, was winner of the Best Junior Dirt Bike award.
To wend one's way through all those steel horses on Saturday certainly had the adrenaline pumping, and to add spice to the show, sideline entertainment was a plenty. A pogo stick (from the Ôfifties) was on hand for those who could remember how!
But no show is a Bike Show without the traditional Burn Out contest. With tyres worth around $300 apiece, once again there was no shortage of lairs who were prepared to put their machines in the customised pit, and send a tyre to heaven. The winner (?) was a bloke called Cameron on his Suzuki GSX 1100.
Complementing the two wheeled circus were the Wet T Shirt and Wet Jocks contests, which were entertaining but not in the true art stakes that a Tattoo contest reveals. Judged by Garry and the staff of the Todd Street Tattoos, 10 men and 10 women who practise body art took to the stage. Compared to Moses and his wet jocks, this was like being at the National Art Gallery.
RACING: FIVE EVENTS IN TENNANT. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
Racing in the southern region went to Tennant Creek on the weekend for the St Patrick's Day meeting, one of two raced in Tennant these days.
The five event card entertained a loyal band of Barkly race goers, who could participate in on course punting with the tote and Alice bookmaker Garry Owen on hand.
Trainer Kevin Lamprecht supported the day well, with a team from his stable heading to his "homeland", and with further support from Alice trainer Nev Connor and Darwin's Dick Leech the fields were good.
More significantly, however, the people of Tennant Creek, through the St Pat's Day committee, showed they are capable of maintaining racing in their town.
Last year this particular meet was not held, and had it not raced last weekend, the old favourite in the Tennant Creek sporting calendar could well have faded into oblivion.
On a further positive note, the committee of the Tennant Creek Race Club held a successful meeting earlier in the year and placed themselves in a viable position to conduct the Tennant Creek Cup meeting in May.
The first event on Saturday went the way of Darwin performer Crazy Cotton, who enjoyed a half length win over Stormy Bay ridden by Michael Cullen, with Carl the Bull three lengths away third. Promising Alice performer Sir Romeo came home in fourth place over the 1000 metre dash.
Cullen then climbed aboard Strategic Feeling for Nev Connor in the second, also over 1000 metres, and recorded an easy four length win over another Alice horse preparing for our Carnival, Soccer.
The Lamprecht trained Soccer outclassed Racing Aces into third place by half a length.
The Class D Handicap was raced over 1200 metres and it was here that the Robert Merrall trained Corruptible tasted victory. Corruptible showed the way throughout and took the money by a neck from Phil's Faith, with There's Dad completing the placings, a half head away third.
The Class Four also raced over 1200 metres and it was this race that made the trip to Tennant worthwhile for Dick Leech when he completed a training double through the agency of Original Warrior. The northerner had hoop Wayne Orbell on board when he proved too good in the run home winning by a head, defeating Solario and last start Pioneer Park winner, Ilkara. For Orbell the win resulted in a riding double.
The main event, the St Patrick's Day Cup, saw victory go the way of Lamprecht and Barry Huppatz, who timed Pelt to a tee to win by a neck, over the consistent performer Cover Gal, with El Armador two lengths away in third spot. At the turn it was anyone's race, but with Huppatz opting for a rails run, Pelt responded accordingly and made every post a winner.Racing this week returns to the Alice, where preparations are in full swing for the Autumn Cup Carnival. The carnival was formerly launched at the Rydges Plaza last Friday night, and from here on in trainers, jockeys, bookmakers and punters will be on the lookout for wise investments.
YOUNG FUN. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
Being rated the funniest young guy in the Centre has just won "Crispy Strip", aka Joseph McCarthy from Tennant Creek, a trip to the next Melbourne International Comedy Festival.
Crispy was a competitor in the local heats of Class Clowns 2003, staged at Araluen last week.
The grand final will take place in the Melbourne Town Hall before an audience of some 1500 on April 10.Crispy, 12 years old and the only out-of-town competitor, presented a tightly written stand up piece on everyday stupidity, targeting especially those who state the bleeding obvious.
He was the only competitor to keep all his material to a theme, thus "creating an act". He also earned points for originality and his "work ethic".
Runners up were Alice duo Tom Dutton and Russell Satour (pictured), who presented "The Tom and Russell Show".
Apparently it was their first shot at stand up Ð hopefully they'll do more.
Their material was local and gutsy; they weren't afraid to go for sensitive subjects like race and homosexuality, getting their laughs from a light touch and good pace.
WANTED: ONE BODY. Report by DOROTHY GRIMM.
It was a dark and stormy night ... the river was up and the men and women inside the manor house could not leave ...Sound like a familiar setting for an English comedy murder mystery?
Well it is ... and in this instance it is the setting for the next production at the Totem Theatre, with auditions scheduled for Saturday to Monday.
The play, Wanted: One Body, was found in a box in a back room at the Totem, put there some time in the past 50 years, which is how long the old Sidney Williams hut on the banks of the Todd has been used to bring live theatre to the people of Alice Springs.
This latest play is scheduled for May.
Darrel King, a seasoned director and actor of recent Totem productions, will be directing.
"We need people with all sorts of talent and expertise for this production," Darrel said.
"There are many roles for both men and women, and we need people to work the lights, be stage hands, and create special effects, among other things.
"And talented and creative carpenters, in fact anyone clever with tools, are very much wanted to design and construct the complicated set which will be a real challenge as there are numerous passageways and hidden doors."
Auditions: at the theatre, 11-1pm on Saturday and Sunday; 6.30-7.30pm on Monday; or call Darrel or Tarnya King on 8953 1149.
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