RAIL FREIGHT: NO BOOKINGS. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The $1.3b Alice to Darwin railway will be completed early next year but still has not one single contract to carry freight.
Bruce McGowan, who heads up Freightlink, gives proposals of two mining ventures as examples of the line's viability.
But while one of them, if it goes ahead, seems certain to use rail, the other is seriously contemplating road transport.
Freightlink is the operating arm of Asia Pacific Transport Pty Ltd (APT).
Mr McGowan says he is "confident" that Darwin-bound freight that now comes to Alice by rail, and from here is transported by road, will become the first major business for the new line.
This would amount to 350,000 tonnes of fuel and general products, 40 per cent of the line's capacity.
"It has the potential to increase capacity to more than 800,000 tonnes during the first two years of operation, especially when double stacking is introduced, requiring the construction of "well wagons".
Initially there will be one train, 1.8 km long, north and south, five days a week.
The trip from Adelaide to Darwin will take 43 hours.
A recent high level "market awareness" delegation to Asia, led by Chief Minister Clare Martin, was an "awareness program," says Mr McGowan, "to let the key players in the potential markets know that the railway will be built by the end of the year, promoting Darwin as a gateway into and out of Asia."
The people the group talked to had been "very supportive", but it came back without signatures on the dotted line.
The construction of the line is a bonanza for the NT: ADrail says of the $961m spent so far, $587m has gone to Territory companies.
However, once the job is finished, the railway's benefits remain a matter for conjecture and hope.
Mr McGowan isn't losing sleep over the absence so far of clinched deals: "We're not taking bookings as yet," he says.
"This is a 50 year project.
"We're doing our marketing and talking to prospective customers.
"We're talking to the freight forwarders where most of the general freight will come from, and that's about 80 per cent of the freight.
"No-one underestimates the many challenges ahead, particularly in persuading freight forwarders to make the switch."
He says the main freight forwarders are Toll, NTFS, Northline and FCL.
Other prospective customers include defence, fresh produce, petroleum companies, automobile and base metal producers, vehicle transfers and furniture, people who are doing feasibility studies on mining projects, and the offshore liquid gas producers.
Trevor Tennant, managing director of Bootu Creek Resources, says his mining project on Banka Banka Station, north of Tennant Creek and 50 km east of the line, would not be feasible without the railway.
By road the tonne per kilometre cost would be seven to eight cents, while rail freight would be one third to one quarter of that, "depending on final discussions".
Mr Tennant says: "Without the railway we would have no interest in the area."
Extensive exploration since 2000 would not have taken place.
Bootu and OM Holdings are planning to mine manganese for ferro alloy production to be used in the steel industry in East Asia, including China.
Mr Tennant says a conservative estimate of production is 300,000 to 400,000 tonnes a year, with a 20 year life expectancy for the mine.
It's a different story with Olympia Resources, which in the Harts Range area, north-east of Alice Springs has a proven deposit of three million tonnes of garnets, used for sandblasting, abrasives and water filtration around the world.
Olympia's logistic partner is Darwin based Perkins Shipping, whose CEO Peter Hopton says 60,000 to 100,000 tonnes a year would need to be moved, to some 50 ports around the world, with mining starting in 2004.
(The world demand is 500,000 tonnes a year, currently met mainly by India and Western Australia.)
Mr Hopton says the "generalised margin" between rail and road is narrow: around 3.5 cents per tonne kilometre for a road train compared to 2.5 for rail.
"The rates are highly dependent upon volume and capacity.
"A back loading rate could be lower."
Mr Hopton says the ore will need to be transported 128 km from Harts Range to Alice Springs, transferred to rail, taken to Adelaide, and transferred to road trucks again for transport to the bagging plant.
He says in view of the expense, time loss and risks (including industrial disputes) of two trans-shipments, it may make more sense to take the ore by road all the way from the mine to the bagging plant.
However, Mr Hopton says rail has a far greater capacity to up-scale.
"If you want to go from 60,000 to 100,000 tonnes rail can do it overnight, but it's an issue with trucking," he says.
HERITAGE REVOLT. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
The National Trust looks to be in trouble in Alice Springs: three out of six local councillors have resigned and its once vibrant office is all but closed.
However, its heritage cause has not been deserted: a new organisation, Heritage Alice Springs, is being formed, with key former National Trust figures nurturing its beginnings.
They include Domenico Pecorari, still chairman of the McDouall Stuart branch of the National Trust but who tendered his resignation as branch councillor last week; Mike Gillam, who also recently resigned as councillor; and Margaret Baker, who served as councillor from 1994 to 1996, and was a founding member of the trust whose Territory presence began in Alice Springs in 1958.
They are joined on the steering committee by former trust councillor Barry Allwright, and Bev Ayers, who ran the local trust office for seven years.
Mr Pecorari and Mr Gillam, having been constrained by a virtual "code of silence" for the last three years, are now expressing their extreme frustration with the structure and operation of the Territory Council of the National Trust, whose full-time director is based in Darwin and which is dominated by Top End interests.
They want their new organisation established in a positive atmosphere and say it can operate alongside the National Trust, but it is obviously painful for them to have to turn their backs on some hard-won gains for heritage in Alice, which will remain in the hands of the trust.
These include the 1940s Les Hansen House, on the corner of Hartley Street and Stuart Terrace, gifted to the National Trust by the Commonwealth.
Three years ago, the property was unlettable and in danger of serious deterioration, from both neglect and vandalism.
Local trust members put in the legwork to find appropriate tenants. This done, the property needed $25,000 worth of repairs before a lease could be signed.
Out of the branch's own carefully-managed funds, they arranged an interest free loan for the essential repairs which permitted the trust to then secure a four year lease at $20,000 a year.
This income, as with all trust rental properties, goes into general revenue of the Territory body, which also gets around $200,000 a year in grants from the Territory and Commonwealth Governments.
Les Hansen House and the other Alice Springs properties Ð Catherine House on Hartley Street and the sub-let offices of the Old Hartley Street School Ð bring in some $65,000 per year.
Other rental from trust properties across the NT amounts to around $10,000 in total.
The Territory body doles out about $4500 for management, maintenance and repairs to the Alice properties Ð nowhere near enough for their upkeep, says Mr Pecorari, a heritage architect.
As well, it has been allocating funds for a part-time coordinator's position, to keep the local branch office open. Located in the Old Hartley Street School, the office doubles as a visitor centre for tourists and has excellent potential for generating income through merchandising, which the branch has been developing.
The funds for the coordinator's position have been progressively decreased, from about $23,000 in 2001-02 to a mere $6000 for the next financial year.
It was the straw that broke the camel's back.
The dedicated and experienced coordinator was forced to seek other employment, and long-term work that she and volunteers have been doing has had to be shelved.This includes the development of a schools program that would have brought in local school children for classes at the Old Hartley Street School, and design work on merchandise such as a cross-stitch kit and historic postcards.
The coordinator also did the more mundane but vital work of organising the roster of volunteers that keeps open as a tourist attraction the Stuart Town Gaol.
You might think that the McDouall Stuart branch was a model for others to follow, but apparently that's not how the Territory trust council sees it.
The director, Elizabeth Close, referred questions from the Alice News to trust council president, Jan Hills.
Dr Hills says that neither she nor the council wish to see a down-grading of the McDouall Stuart branch but "people need to realise that change needs to come about".
She says the McDouall Stuart branch " has had a good run and a lot of funding" but that situation was only ever supposed to be "for a certain time".
She says other branches in the Territory are run without any financial aid and that policy has to be "readdressed".
Mr Gillam and Mr Pecorari say that other trust properties, including the beautiful Myilly Point houses in Darwin, have been put to low usage and low return functions, yet the trust appears happy to take Alice Springs' not insignificant revenue while refusing to return to its branch anything like a fair proportion.
Dr Hills does not see any special case for Alice Springs. She says rentals belong to the trust as a division, as they do throughout Australia.
She says other centres, like Katherine and Tennant Creek, do not have the advantage of income-earning buildings to the same extent as Alice Springs has. Yet these centres have active branches run by volunteers with museums, open days and the provision of information.
Mr Gillam and Mr Pecorari say the trust has suggested that Alice Springs use its reserve funds to run the branch office. That would deplete the reserve in less than two years and leave nothing for campaigns and the kind of emergencies it faced with Les Hansen House.
They say the McDouall Stuart branch is also accused of parochialism.
"That is our strength," declares Mr Gillam. "We live in an isolated town with determined, resilient people who have interesting ideas and care about our heritage passionately."
He says the structure of the trust organisation, with a Darwin-based controlling body and paid director, is inappropriate.
He argues for a northern and southern regional structure, with two paid coordinator positions.
Ms Baker says she has been arguing for such a structure for more than a decade.
The idea has been consistently opposed from the Top End Ð they would certainly have a lot to lose.
Dr Hills says such a structure would not work. The main reason she gives is the director's role in representing the Territory trust on the Australia Council of the National Trust and on other committees.
Dr Hills says she does not thing there is a good grasp of "the comprehensive tasks the director undertakes".
She also says a regional structure would cost more, not be as effective and would deprive the Territory of its single voice.
The News asked her if she is concerned about the future of the trust in Alice Springs.
"I am always concerned if people get the wrong ideas," says Dr Hills."I like to see organisations go ahead and I don't like to waste time."Re-structuring has to occur.
"Ultimately I hope people will come forward to fill the vacancies in Alice Springs.
"I feel confident that we will get people who will want to work with us."Mr Gillam and Mr Pecorari say Darwin-based control of the McDouall Stuart branch has extended even to authorisation of the most minor repairs, like fixing a ceiling panel (that means written notification from the right person to the right person).
More insidiously for a community-based organisation, a code of conduct effectively silences councillors. It was introduced after a Darwin vs Alice tussle over the relocation of Alice's archives to Darwin (they ultimately remained in Alice).
In contrast, the mantra of Heritage Alice Springs is "we will have no secrets", says Ms Baker.
Mr Pecorari says they want a truly transparent, member-driven organisation.
As soon as the incorporation process, advertised last week, is complete, they will call for a public meeting, elect a committee and start a membership drive.
They are confident of a strong base from disaffected National Trust members Ð "the town is full of them", says Ms Baker Ð and they hope to link in with other heritage organisations like the Ghan Preservation Society, the Road Transport Hall of Fame, the Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame and so on.
The focus will be broadly on conserving the town's and region's heritage but won't necessarily be focussed on buildings.
Heritage is not necessarily very old, they argue, and is as much to do with how people live as with the objects and constructions they leave behind.
Revitalising the drive-in, even if it were only to present occasional screenings, could be seen as a heritage activity.
Doing field trips to sites of significance is also a heritage activity that many people enjoy. Some people might go along for the ride and the company, but others will get a bit more serious and document the sites, adding to our knowledge base, says Mr Pecorari.
"This is how we can run in parallel with the trust," says Ms Baker.The Centre's heritage will be the winner, they say, with many more people involved.
On this point, Dr Hills agrees. She says she has no problem with the new organisation: "Let's move on Ð there is plenty to do for everyone."But what will Heritage Alice Springs do if they see, for example, Les Hansen House falling into ruins. Have they completely washed their hands of the National Trust and its properties?
"We will do what we have always done, we will try to find a solution," says Mr Pecorari.
Alcohol measures: It's crunch time. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The well meaning amateurs, consultants, academics, bureaucrats,
politicians and regulators, they've all had a go and they got it wrong.
The one year liquor trial now drawing to a close is a failure. More, not less alcohol is being bought and presumably drunk in Alice Springs. People continue to die. More hungry children continue to be driven to stealing. And the ugly effects of grog abuse are in our face every day. Now it's crunch time. The fiddling around the edges of "The Problem" won't do any longer.
Let's stop kidding ourselves that education and self control will work. And let's stop passing the buck: Opposition leader Denis Burke is very cute calling for food vouchers to replace welfare cash.
That idea is not new (among others, local Magistrate "Dinny" Barritt put it up 20 years ago), but has never been taken up by Canberra. Why does Mr Burke not propose measures available to the Territory Government, which his party was running for a quarter of a century, during which grog abuse and anti social behaviour escalated so dramatically?
Let's try this for size, because as the long history surely shows, nothing else has worked. Let's leave unchanged access to alcohol in pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs.
But let's introduce a drastic curtailment of take-away liquor sales, particular on those days of the week when welfare payments are freshly available.
Let's exempt people who, by showing a passport or a driver's licence, prove that their domicile is outside a 1000 km radius from Alice Springs. They can buy take-away 24 hours a day. That's a lot better than tourists are getting at the moment.
Women, kids and sober people must have first call on welfare payments Ð the principal source of cash for public problem drinking. They must have a chance of using the money for what the taxpayer provides it for: food, clothing, shelter.
I've bounced this idea off about 50 prominent local people over the past couple of months. Their responses are interesting. Almost no-one said they themselves wouldn't be able to manage their grog purchases under such a regime. "I know what day it is and what time it is," said one.
This suggests the liquor trade would be reduced only by the quantity purchased by the problem drinkers: being a responsible industry it wouldn't have any difficulty with that. Would liquor traders wish to make money from people who deprive their families of basic necessities? Surely not.
But almost all of my respondents claimed "the man in the street" wouldn't wear it: "Why should he be inconvenienced by a minority?"
I say to them: "Let's ask the man in the street. Would he not give the same answer you just did? And what if the current trend isn't arrested, the town goes further down the gurgler, and in five years your house is worth just $20,000?"
A contemplative silence usually follows.
Let's make "them" drink on their own communities. Bring in wet canteens in the bush.
I don't think we can tell other communities what to do. But we can absolutely set down rules for conduct in our own community, and enforce them. It's time for our leaders to lead. And that means principally the Territory Government and the Town Council.
There would be a national outcry about racial discrimination; the lower case "l" liberals wouldn't wear it.
Firstly, that's too bad. They don't live here. Secondly, if we told that mythical Chardonnay set about the mayhem caused by drinking that is funded by their money, and that the great majority of Aboriginal people, including many traditional owners of Alice Springs, are solidly against alcohol abuse, these liberals would soon change their minds. And if they don't, I wouldn't lose any sleep.
Taxi drivers would run grog.
The maximum penalty for running grog into a restricted area is $1000 or six months for a first offence, and $2000 or 12 months for a second, plus forfeiture of the vehicle or aircraft. Parliament can, of course, increase these penalties.
People would break into houses to get booze.
Alice has a police force three times greater than the national per-capita average. The break-ins by juveniles looking for food would decrease.
We have a right to buy booze any time we like.
Oh no, we don't. Convention gives us the right to freedom of speech, assembly and religion, among others. It doesn't give us the right to drink ourselves into oblivion, and to default on obligations to our community. Our laws put alcohol sales under extensive regulations. A string of them are in place now. Trouble is, they are quite obviously useless. We have every right to bring in conditions that work for us, for our town.
In fact, I think we must. What do you think?
Cleaning up Alice Springs! COLUMN by ANN CLOKE.
I've got stacks of newspaper clippings which I've collected over the years Ð subjects of interest, strange happenings, words which could jump-start my own thought process somewhere along the line É and I've also got hundreds of photos I've taken whilst travelling Ð advertising boards often feature.
When David and I visited South Africa in March, National Water Week was celebrated Ð this is a strategy to ensure all water resources, rivers, streams, wetlands, estuaries and dams are protected, developed, managed and controlled and it is being called South Africa's "Blueprint for Survival".
Most countries are trying to practice sound water practices. What I found interesting is that National Water Week was running in conjunction with a programme called WASH Ð the United Nation's water, sanitation and hygiene campaign. Government bodies have recognised that without hygiene education there will continue to be a high incidence of cholera and other water borne diseases.
Estimates suggest that almost half of infant deaths are caused by lack of hygiene. And there it was Ð a full page advertisement in one of the daily papers with pictures of Africans washing and smiling.
A special road show, Youth in Water, aims at promoting healthy living for sustainable lives within the community, by using indigenous education methods such as drama, music and poetry. The message: stop spreading germs; enjoy a healthier life; wash your hands after going to the toilet, changing babies' nappies, before handling food or cooking, with soap (partnerships have been formed with some of the larger soap manufacturers in what could be seen as a "win/win" situation).
Schools are also actively promoting WASH programs.It would seem that some African authorities have recognised lack of hygiene as a key health concern and they are attempting to tackle the problem by getting the message out to the community at large. It may be a long slow process but at least there is acknowledgement that a large percentage of the population isn't cognizant with standard hygiene practice.
Is it about time the Northern Territory introduced its own WASH program? Certainly around the Alice, the mall and environs particularly, could do with a huge clean up, preferably with suds and disinfectant.
Last week, school holidays, I took my niece, Lesley-Ann and nephew, Bart, to see a movie. Traders in the CBD may be quiet but the Alice Springs Cinemas were doing a roaring trade Ð there were people queuing for tickets.
Later, we went for a wander along the mall Ð as usual, dozens of itinerants were in evidence. Talking to other moviegoers, I was told, "We never go right into the mall Ð why would we?" "It's filthy!" and "Why subject our children to such brazen anti-social behaviour?"
The mall is the centre of our town: it should be the hub.The introduction to Alice Springs in the CATIA's Visitor Guide, the promotional literature upon which many intending visitors rely, describes Alice as a modern town providing all the up-to-date amenities of any city. It continues: Alice Springs is proud of its links with the past whether they be with the most ancient of cultures of all or with the more recent influx of European settlement, and there is a hope that the tourist will leave with good memories, an appreciation of the area and a desire to return.
Everyone knows that repeat business is great business. Virgin Air obviously, together with CATIA and other active tourism agencies, also has high hopes for the future of Alice as a tourist destination.
It's been a few weeks since I've touched upon anti-social behavioural problems in Alice. I was brought up with a few mixed messages perhaps. Mummy said if I kept "harping on about something, it probably wouldn't happen". Then again, she also said, "The squeaky wheel gets the oil". So here goesÉA certain sector of our population's behaviour is still offensive, and it's not acceptable.
It's one thing to recognise there are problems, it's another to initiate policies which will work. It has always been said that education is the key to a better life for all.
Has it yet been decided whose job it is to ensure that young Indigenous children do in fact attend school?
At what point is someone, hopefully a respected Indigenous statesman, going to stand up and be heard. Policies tried during the past 30 years haven't worked. When does anyone accept responsibility for what is and stop blaming past events and "own" the respective problem.
There are countless people out there with issues: part of the mending process is acceptance that there is a problem and a need to change.
It's time to integrate all Australians Ð this is likely to require affirmative action which is being applied now, successfully, in many spheres of life.
It won't work, however, unless the beneficiaries of the proposed action accept that they also have to change to some extent.
It's time to clean up our act: to ensure a bright future for all people in the Alice.Have a happy, healthy and safe Easter interlude.
Up the garden path. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
Caterpillars are fine by me.
They are important to the local Indigenous stories and history of the Alice Springs area and they make a change from ants. They don't bother anyone, so long as they keep away from my broccoli.
Cockroaches are also fine because they scuttle and are not big. They don't fly. Or at least the ones that come through my back door don't. And they are crunchy when caught by domestic cats.
The most exotic species of native wildlife that I expect to see in my garden is a plastic gnome. So to find a King Brown in the kitchen was something of a surprise. Or should I say an absolute horror.
Anyway, when we had climbed back down from the kitchen chairs, we noticed something. The snake was drowsy. Or sleeping. Or maybe stunned or even dead. It must have hit its head on the sides of the catflap on the way in. A quick sweep of the broom and it was gone back out into the backyard. Not a drama.
This could never be a gardening column, but let me say something. Drip irrigation is a wonderful invention. You buy lots of little parts and you join them together to form your own plastic design. It's like Lego, but with water.
Then there's rock mulch. Try rolling around in it. If you have hair on your head, let the mulch run through it. If you are bald and sweaty, you'll end up looking like one of those ice cream cones with sugary bits that you get from Wendys. Believe me, I do know about this.
Bark mulch is even better. Have a bale of it delivered to your house. Then spend three hours shovelling it into wheelbarrows before the rest of the bale is light enough to drag around. It fills up your flowerbeds and it absorbs those empty periods between live sports coverage. The whole family develops a shared sense of achievement. Mysteriously, only a few months afterwards, all the mulch has disappeared so you start all over again. It's great.
I borrowed a magazine about arid zone permaculture. I thought permaculture was about creating synergy between plants so that you develop a little benign ecosystem in your backyard. But this was about keeping trees alive when there's no water. More drippers. Great!And then there's hydroponics. I have heard that people who buy parts for their hydroponic systems park their bikes 200 metres away from the garden centre, wear dark glasses and affect a disguised voice at the checkout.
Don't know what that's all about but my beetroot looks tasty. It's not organic and may end up a bit woody, but the fun you can have with the pumps, pipes and nutrients makes it all worthwhile.
If drippers are Lego, hydroponics is Meccano. The perfect technical toy for the engineering nerd who doesn't get out much.
The best of the lot is shadecloth. Concrete a post. Put two anchors into your walls and then ratchet the triangular cloth until it reaches just the right tension with one of those clicky thingies. Putting up shade cloth was the best fun I had for ages. It kept me occupied for hours. Which brings me back to the start. Drip irrigation is a wonderful thing. It keeps drips off the street.
So there you have it. Suburban life is not as mediocre as popular belief would have it.
To be cool, you don't need to be Eminem rapping on the mean streets of Detroit. There's always scrubbing your patio in the cul-de-sacs of Sadadeen. And if you think this column is becoming irredeemably homely and domesticated, wait until we get to the life of Loppy the Wabbit, how to teach a chook to lay eggs and the story of the pixies who live under the compost heap.
Talking of irrigation, why is politics so arid these days? Next week; please, please can someone do something about the state of political discourse.
SEWAGE PLANT: HUGE NEGLECT? Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The Power and Water Corporation (P&W) says over the past two years it has cooperated with both the Department of Health and the Alice Springs Town Council in a "successful program of reducing mosquito numbers".
A walk through parts of the sewage plant not normally visited by the public puts that into serious doubt: any "success" may well result from lower rainfall than careful maintenance by P&W.
The council monitors mozzies by counting insects in five traps in and near the plant, and one in Bloomfield Street.
On March 6 Ð after rain in late February Ð mozzie numbers in the traps skyrocketed from 112 two weeks earlier to 7266.
Of these, 7075 were the Culex annulirostris species, potentially carriers of the deadly Murray Valley encephalitis and of Ross River Fever.
The plague, while well below the level during recent high rainfall years, was bad enough for the council to fog six weeks in a row.
P&W takes no responsibility for any of that.
In roughly the middle of the sewage complex is a tree farm irrigated with effluent.
Last Saturday night I found
¥ a swarm of insects (top, left) in a stagnant pond in a channel used for irrigation;
¥ dense grass Ð ideal mozzie breeding conditions Ð along the channels;
¥ waist high grass in the stand of gumtrees;
¥ water standing motionless in the channels;
¥ stagnant water in muddy areas amongst the trees;
¥ the sides of channels eroded Ð a likely place for effluent to stand;
¥ channels blocked by grass.
P&W replied: "Since the channels are intermittently filled and emptied, breeding opportunities for mosquitoes are limited to the time that it takes for the channels to dry out, since mosquito breeding is disrupted by flowing water.
"The channels dry out over a period of four to five days which is generally less than the breeding cycle of the problem species of mosquito according to the Department of Health and Community Services.
"If mosquito numbers are considered by the Department of Health and Community Services or Alice Springs Town Council to be increasing, then those areas are treated by Alice Springs Town Council Environmental Health Officers."Power and Water presently has engineering consultants looking at the overall question of irrigation efficiency in both Blatherskite Park and the tree farm, and if the consultants recommend any modernisation work, then that will be carefully considered."
Another mystery is why an extensive sprinkler system - underground pipes, four surface filters (picture below, right) and dozens - possibly hundreds - of sprinklers are not used.
The idea was clearly to create an additional way of disposing effluent (now mainly removed by evaporation): Water would be sprayed over the ground and seep away.
As it has been a routine procedure to drain effluent into the nearby swamp, from where it crosses beneath Ilparpa Road and flows into the St Mary's Creek, any way of properly getting rid of the fluid would seem a good idea.
Says P&W: "The sprinkler system is not in use.
"This system was set up two and a half years ago as part of the investigations for effluent reuse.
"It was a trial to evaluate the performance of sprinkler systems using the existing quality effluent. However, since it was only set up as a trial, the amounts used were not material in the overall quantity of effluent used."
Why didn't it work? No answer is given.
NATURE AND HUMOUR IN CRAFT SHOW. Report by DOROTHY GRIMM.
Used teabags continue to be the foundation of successful work for Alice Springs textile artist Philomena Hali.
Her teabagged piece, a wall hanging titled "White With One Ð Universal Ritual", was acquired by the 28th Alice Craft Acquisition, which opened at Araluen on Friday night.
Michael Keighery, Chair of the National Association for the Visual Arts, a ceramicist and senior lecturer at the University of Western Sydney, advised Territory Craft on the acquisitions.
Other pieces acquired included:¥ "Accepting the Journey", another fabric piece by Hali;
¥ "Lost and Found", a necklace by Alice Springs artist Bronwyn Beesley created from both found organic matter including Kurrajong pods, and beads, crystal and glass and copper wire;
¥ "Beyond the Bush Fires", a handwoven, hand-dyed shawl by Kay Faulkner from Queensland;
¥ "Out of the Ashes", a set of four pieces, each with black background depicting ashes, leaflitter, tree shoots, and grasses, by Trudy Newman from New South Wales;
¥ "Ningaloo Reef 2", a framed porcelain tile by Anita McIntyre (ACT);
¥ and, "Mt Morgan Wattle Ð Acacia podalyriifolia Ð Queensland Silver Wattle", a botanical study in hand and machine embroidery by Lynne Stone from Victoria.
After his announcements, Mr Keighery challenged the audience to go through the exhibition asking themselves and each other, "Why did that guy pick that; why didn't that guy pick this?"
When advising on acquisitions, Mr Keighery said that he is very conscious of testing himself, as well as conscious of what the collection is and what the criteria for selection are.
He also felt there was a need to make changes to the acquisition, which he would discuss with the committee.
"The Alice Craft Acquisition is one of the longest running, most prestigious events in Australia, but things need to change.
"Among these are that more money needs to be spent and the guidelines need to be addressed.
"But Territory Craft does have the ability to evolve."
Mr Keighery also commented on the number of textile pieces and jewellery items in the exhibition, compared to the few glass and ceramic works, citing the high cost of shipping as a possible reason for the imbalance.
The acquired works all deal with the subject of nature, with ecology, bushfires, regeneration and so on.
The pieces also convey a feeling of reflection, of the calming, meditative response many people feel when in natural settings.
Territory Craft representative John Fuss also spoke briefly on Friday about the 28-year history of the acquisition and the 180 pieces which form its permanent collection.
"Criteria for acquisition include technical excellence," Mr Fuss said.
"The pieces should also reflect trends in contemporary craft as well as complement what is already in the collection.
"And if another piece by a previously acquired craftsperson is selected, the new piece should reflect the further development of that person and/or a new direction."
It was Mr Keighery's first visit to Alice Springs.
He said: "I didn't have any expectations as to what I would see in the acquisition but also I did not expect to see the large number of textile pieces.
"The textile pieces jumped out at me.
"So many of them reflect the landscape, and the bushfire theme is represented in many of them.
"I guess that is not surprising considering the number of large scale bushfires which have occurred in all parts of the country."
Mr Keighery was also struck by the diversity of the jewellery Ð "from small exquisite items to those with a playful, joyful combination of found items and traditional precious jewellery materials".
"This acquisition is an excellent survey of the breadth of interest of jewellers throughout Australia," he said.
Among the unique pieces he pointed to a collar made of silicon pieces; a ring for four fingers with a "bizarre collection of items" as the centre "stones"; and a table setting of what looked like broken dishes."Pieces such as these reflect a craftsperson's sense of humour."People are suspicious of artists who reflect humour in their work, while actually humour can add another dimension to a piece."
Mr Keighery said the acquisition's permanent collection, a selection of which is on display in Territory Craft's gallery adjacent to Araluen, is an historical overview of craft."It is interesting to see what judges or advisors selected and when."By looking at the work others have selected, one is able to get a better understanding of one's own mind set and learn more about one's self as to what to look for.
"Technical excellence is not the only thing to consider; it is also important to look at what the work is doing.
"A highly skilled piece is fine but it still needs to go that little bit further."
COOKING OUTBACK STYLE: UNI'S PUSH FOR BUSINESS. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
The amalgamation of Northern Territory University and Centralian College is now official, with the new institution re-badged as Charles Darwin University.
A lot more than a new name evoking a great scientific researcher and thinker is involved, however. The institution should significantly contribute to the economic and social development of the Territory, according to the Chief Minister.
Specifically, a lot more Territorians should be able to undertake TAFE and university studies at home, with a university presence in all the main regional centres.
As well, an Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) will be put in place, formalising historic links with the Australian National University, and leading to high calibre researchers from that institution undertaking projects in the Territory, including teaching.
The Territory Government announced last week that it will provide an extra $1.5m a year towards the establishment of the IAS.
Alice Springs has already seen the expansion of university degree offerings this year in the areas of nursing (see Alice News, April 2), education, business and information technology. Depending on enrolment numbers, Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Science (Biology) courses are ready to kick off in second semester.
The mode of delivery for these degree courses is the model for what will be done in the other centres like Tennant Creek, Yulara and Nhulunbuy. The students are classified as external, but there is face to face learning support and some face to face intensive study blocks.
Like Centralian College, the Katherine Rural College is being amalgamated with the university, although it does not appear to have the partnership status that Centralian does.
Executive Director of Centralian, Don Zoellner has been appointed as the Pro Vice-Chancellor of TAFE in the university.
He will remain based in Alice Springs and says there will also be Alice representatives on the 13 member Board of Trustees, although he could not yet say how many.
He says during the college council negotiations on the amalgamation, it was always "part of the deal" that there would be no "siphoning off" of staff or money from Alice Springs.
Mr Zoellner will have overall responsibility for TAFE throughout the Territory Ð which delivers three million hours of instruction each year Ð as well as responsibility for delivery of university programs outside of Darwin.
The amalgamation will achieve some economies of scale. For instance, there will only have to be the one process for becoming a registered training provider in a number of areas where both institutions have offered training in the past.
There will eventually be only one library system and so on.
However, in actual course delivery, there has never been a lot of duplication, says Mr Zoellner.
"There was almost an unwritten agreement about who would offer what on what patch."
The Territory's small population is a challenge for the university. One of the strategies to deal with it is to ramp up international activity. The amalgamation has seen the creation of a full-time senior position, aiming to triple this.
A foundation already exists. The university has several hundred "on-shore" students from countries like Malaysia, Hong Kong and Indonesia; and, for instance, Centralian College has been delivering an accounting course off-shore in Singapore.
Outside of formal courses, the college, through Training Solutions' Edtravel, hosts about 40 study tours each year, which have proved remarkably resilient to the downturn in tourism.
There has been a demand from clients to extend these tours into the Top End, which the amalgamation should make easier to achieve.
Ideas abound for new initiatives. For instance, the Tourism and Hospitality school is looking at marketing to North America an outback cooking course, which would have formal delivery on campus both in Alice and Darwin and practical experience in the resort hotels at Yulara and Jabiru."We tend to overlook that these facilities are world standard and they are on our doorstep," says Mr Zoellner.
"This is just one of the possible ways of working together.
"Another area worth investigating for this kind of approach would be Indigenous art."
The university will also have to work harder on responding to industry needs, says Mr Zoellner.
The Territory's oil and gas industries, for example, are expanding and skills training especially for their operational phases will be vital.
And what about government response to the university's needs? The Territory Government seems to be doing its bit: their $1.5m a year for the IAS comes on top of an existing $5m annual commitment.
Mr Zoellner says the Commonwealth has supported this transition phase to the tune of $1m. The long-term picture should become clearer after the release of the Review of Higher Education and the forthcoming national budget.
In relation to the senior secondary school functions of Centralian College, Mr Zoellner says the amalgamation has no real implications for delivery.
He says the clear pathway through to higher studies should be a plus, with hopefully many more students able to remain in Alice Springs.
The university for the first time has set a TER (Tertiary Entrance Ranking) of 60, a commitment to setting standards.
It has also made a major effort to rationalise its offerings, says Mr Zoellner, "to do fewer things, but to do them better".
As for staff, he says there will be no Central Australian redundancies related to the amalgamation, and "no one will be worse off".
Ultimately there will be improved professional opportunities for Alice Springs based staff, with a few heads of schools based here.
RACING HITS BIG TIME. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
The big time in Central Australian racing is finally on our doorstep with the Young Guns Day kicking off the Cup Carnival on Saturday.
As a forerunner, however, last weekend's racing certainly gave astute punters an insight into possible winners over the big money month.
Paul Denton came back to town, as he does for the April racing, and immediately slipped into gear with a win in the first, The Gardens Stakes Maiden 1000 metres.
Denton climbed aboard Greg Carige's Hunter Roar. The dash was set up when Sarason's Girl dictated the pace, with Hunter Roar settling well in third spot on the fence. At that stage the favourite Upton was midfield.
On the turn Sarason's Girl began to find the going tough and Hunter Roar raced past her to steal the run of the race. The Hunter then proceeded to cruise to the line a winner by three and a half lengths. Upton actually ran on well to fill second spot and the tiring Sarason's Girl completed the placings a further length and a half back.The second race, another 1000 metre sprint, the Bond Springs Class Two Handicap, had the fancied Make Me A King centre of attention. The eventual winner Covet's Gem led the field, after jumping from barrier four, and had Make Me A King apply pressure.
The favourite, however, wilted on the run home and 150 metres out had little more to give. Covet's Gem ran on to win by three quarters of a length over the fast finishing Soccer, who as a three year old still has plenty of time to cash in. Phil Crich held on with Make Me A King to take third place a further three and three quarter lengths in arrears.
The 1400 metre Deep Well Class D Handicap saw the Will Savage stable gain some well deserved kudos. Their hope for the Carnival, Bletchy entered the race with a series of bridesmaid's results to its name, and this week broke through to take the winner's money. There's Dad led the race with Credit Wise keeping the pace honest, while Bletchy was able to claim a spot on the fence and race without distraction. The calm run did the world of good as on the turn Barry Huppatz was able to set him with a task, to which he responded.
In the run down the straight Bletchy proved his worth as favourite and ran out the winner by two lengths. Credit Wise held on to second place, with There's Dad picking up a third place cheque a length and a half behind.
Lust No More entered the ring for the second last race and with nine wins from 29 starts should certainly have an impact of Centralian racing. In the 1200 metre run of the Orange Creek Open Handicap, Paul Denton perched him handily off the speed, with King's Twig taking up the running from Lust No More, and favourite Pelt in the running. In the run to the line Lust No More proved his class, winning by a length and three quarters from King's Twig. Old Binoculars once again put in a reliable run to take third, another length and three quarters back.
This win should place Lust No More right in contention for a short price in the Pioneer Sprint. Interestingly the race also revealed a possible winner of the Alice Springs Cup. Vitelli really caught the eye by making up plenty in the run home. Vitelli was 15 lengths off the pace in the running but steamed home to be a handy sixth and only four lengths out of the money at the line.
In the last of the day, the Undoolya Class Four over 1200 metres the Greg Carige trained La Mexa saluted again. Compass Boy led with La Mexa on his ginger. It became a two horse war and La Mexa was able to show a bit more ticker on the line to prevail by a short head. Shadow Boxer further back was third.
This Saturday the show starts in earnest. It is day one of the Alice Springs Cup Carnival and to celebrate the Young Guns have their chance to go racing. While the Turf Club is turning it on for the youngsters, there's a place for everyone at the meeting. Top fields, friendly bookmakers and cordial entertainment will make it the place to be this Saturday.
AUSSIE RULES: MCADAM AGAINST MCADAM. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
What happens when three brothers get together, anywhere?
Sibling rivalry is bound to take over and the unexpected can well eventuate.
On Sunday the CAFL kicked off its season with a free day, and a match touted by many as a challenge between the brothers McAdam, Greg and Gilbert. The South and Federal Clubs have appointed each respectively as coaches.
And just for something different, rather than playing the traditional one game fixture on Show weekend this year, it was decided to play a game the weekend before the traditional season pipe opener, the Easter Lightning Carnival.
As a draw card the free admission carrot was not a huge success. But the true believers in Aussie Rules at CAFL level turned up and footy kicked off for the year successfully.
Feds were given an adrenaline boost after the Under Eighteens game when their colts recorded a victory. The B Grade was then a whitewash affair for the Roos.
Hence, by the start of the A Grade game with each club having a win a piece under their belts, the McAdam versus McAdam challenge was eagerly awaited.
Greg took his place in Souths' coaching box, aware that his playing days are well and truly a thing of the past. Gilbert on the other hand, placed himself at centre half back in the red and white colours. A mere 20 metres behind him loomed a third McAdam, Adrian perched at full forward for the Supers and not in the media spin in the build up to the game.
In the opening minutes Kelvin Maher, who in recent years has ventured to Darwin and won a Nicholls Medal as well as to Glenelg and played A Grade SANFL, opened the scoring with a calculated kick to record a six pointer and get the Roos on the board.
Minutes later Feds replied with a goal by way of Shane Forrester, before Adrian McAdam burst on the scene. He booted two successive majors, showing the crowd how a star can put it together. On his day he still shows the capability of an exceptional AFL player, and Sunday was no exception Ð he went on to kick 14 goals!
In Feds' arena Daryl Ryder and Bradley Turner each goaled but were no competition for the Roo machine. Through the agency of Shane Hayes and three more goals to Adrian, the game was in Souths' keeping at quarter time. The scoreboard read 7.1 to 3.3.In the second quarter Feds continued to give of their best but Souths simply ran amok. They booted 10 straight goals to the Demons' three behinds.
In the quarter the real venom of South was revealed. In their forward line they had Adrian McAdam at full forward; Shane Hayes at centre half forward; and then a string of the best assault players in the league. Kasmin Spencer, Kelvin and Charlie Maher and a first game player Aaron Reid set up an offensive zone that was awesome.
From the ruck also emerged a player who last year was identified as having potential. On Sunday Malcolm Ross was everything and more than what he had promised. Over the summer he has filled out, and now runs as a big man with the skills of a rover. His two goals were pearlers, and he will be a big influence on the South machine as the season goes on.
With Souths holding a 72 point advantage going into the second half, Feds were certainly behind the eight ball. In the third term they had little to cheer themselves up as South piled on another 7.7, in what could have been more lethal had poor kicking not entered their game. Indicative of this was the performance of Trevor Presley who revelled in a forward posting and after missing two easy goals, was rewarded with a 50 metre six pointer. In reply Feds mustered 1.1, the goal coming off the boot of Dudley Campbell.
In the huddle at three quarter time Gilbert McAdam continued to impress upon the players their need to gain respect through performance and in the early minutes of the last quarter his words were converted to action. Jason Swain epitomised the Feds' resurgence. He had played at full back in the Reserves. The A Grade then called him up to stand Adrian McAdam and then Shane Hayes in defence, before he headed to the goal front in the final quarter.
In the opening minutes of the last hooray, Feds accelerated, and at the end of the feeder line towards goal was the blonde bombshell, Swain. He booted three successive goals and then a behind to lift the Feds' confidence.
Then, to add to their claim as revivers, Farron Gorey picked a ball off the ruck and with one step launched an enormous kick out of the centre which seemed to pass through the posts for a major.
Alas it actually smudged the protective covering on the post and hence only gained the reward of a behind.
This session of play, however, showed Feds that they have the capability to be competitive. While Feds actually scored 4.3 for the quarter, Souths didn't rest on their laurels. They added 6.2. Adrian McAdam finished off his performance with pizzaz, and the Roos ended the day on 30.10 (190) to Feds 9.10 (64).
This weekend Traeger Park becomes the dreamtime of thousands. Some 23 teams will converge on the MCG of Central Australia and play out the real festival of the boot.
FRENCH SKATING COOL. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
French pro skaters were in town over the weekend, showing the locals how it's done by some of the world's best and helping to judge the comp held on Sunday as part of Youth Week activities.
Skateparks in France are very small compared to those in Oz, they told the Alice News.
But on the other hand, street skating is basically tolerated and at times encouraged.
Marc Haziza (right), who holds French and European titles and is sponsored by top brands like Quiksilver, Etnies and Cartel, says the mayor of his town Ð Creteil, 15 kilometres south-east of Paris Ð is "so cool".
"Sometimes we organise a contest on the main place of the city, not the skatepark. He was absolutely happy for this and he's going to make some more. He's into a lot of sport also, but in France we do less sport than you do in Australia."
Luy-pa Sin (left), sponsored by Volcom, DVS and Lordz, says people can be "a bit sketchy sometimes", especially about noise.
"Some old people are afraid about the noise we make on the skateboard, they are scared about it when we are close, so we put the board under the arm and walk, we don't roll in front of an old woman."
Haziza says he can skate anywhere in Creteil until maybe 11 or 12 at night.
"You go in the street, have some fun on your skateboard, find your spot, make your creation on the spot.
"You get your own feeling because you are going to try your own trick on a different spot which is stairs, rail É"Sin, who lives in central Paris, says he skates everywhere: Palais de Tokyo Ð an art museum whose smooth marble surrounds would be the envy of skaters the world over Ð , Montparnasse, Bercy, Creteil, La Defense É wherever his fancy takes him.
It's apparently a no-no to skate in front of banks; in the city of Nancy there's a "no skateboarding" sign in front of the Palais de Justice (courthouse), which threatens a fine.
And, like anywhere, "you can get stupid cops". Haziza says he was stopped on his board early one morning on his way to work and was fined the equivalent of six bucks. He thinks the cop had had a problem with his wife.
Other cops will encourage skaters.
Haziza: "They say, ÔCool Ð yeah! Can you do these tricks?' And sometimes they say it's better to do that than drugs, or kids wasting their health Ôcause they don't do no sport."
Pictured at left is Rowley Hill doing an "Indy Grab" . In Sunday's comp Rowley came first in his age group, under 13s; Kyle Kruger took top spot for the 14 Ð19 year olds; and Matt Price triumphed in the Open.
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