July 7, 2004.


A direction from the Parks and Wildlife Service not to climb Mt Sonder, because it is a significant site, except by the Larapinta Trial, has caused concern over the proposed hand-over of NT parks to Aboriginal interests.
The instruction, which rules out access to the summit, was emailed to Ernie Richards, treasurer and "principal contact person" of the Bushwalkers' Club, which has 30 members.
He received the email after advising the parks service of the club's winter schedule.
The email, sent on May 25 by Senior District Ranger Tim Hall, says in part: "When developing the Larapinta Trail the Aboriginal Custodians asked that walkers only traverse the mountain from Redbank Gorge.
"I therefore ask you to amend your schedule to restrict your activities to the route followed by the Larapinta Trail only."
Mr Richards says he has been walking in the Western MacDonnell national park for "close to 20 years".
He says: "We've been accessing Mt Sonder from any direction for years and years.
"Also, we do a lot of cross country and off track bush walking, and have done so for many years.
"This in itself is very important to us, but we're concerned about access to the West MacDonnells generally.
"If we're told now that one area important for us is closed, other areas may also be under consideration for similar action."
Mr Richards says in the lower parts of the West Macs he has "very rarely" seen Aboriginal people, and usually only near living areas.
Mr Richards, who in his semi-retirement now walks twice a week in the West Macs, says he has never seen Aborigines in the higher parts.
Mt Sonder, near Glen Helen, is one of the Territory's tourism icons, and the West Macs park is the focal point of Alice Springs' efforts to boost its flagging tourism industry.
Parks Minister Chris Burns last Saturday said he agreed with the directions about Mt Sonder.
However, Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne says the negotiations with Aborigines – although still ongoing – provide not only for continued access to the parks free of permits and fees, but also for a continuation of current activities.
Chief Minister Clare Martin, the principal negotiator of the parks hand-over, declined a request for comment.
But Dr Toyne says he spoke with her about the issue.
"Whatever agreement we signed off on, it would have to guarantee the continuation of current access and activities.
"That's what Clare said very clearly yesterday [last Friday, after the Alice Springs News had raised the Mt Sonder issue with the government].
"It's what the government has said repeatedly.
"The only variation on that would be if an activity was shown to be detrimental to the country, for example, causing erosion," says Dr Toyne.
"We're not going to back away from the current access and activity level."
Restricting access to Mt Sonder by just one trail "would not get support under an agreement with us," says Dr Toyne.
So would the other tracks often in use remain available?
"No agreement has been signed at the moment that would preclude that."
Senior parks ranger Chris Day and Dr Burns spoke with the Alice Springs News at the show on Friday.
Mr Day says the construction of the Larapinta Trail required sacred sites clearance.
Mr Day says there were "conditions of permit to construct the trail" from the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority.
"A specific request from the Aboriginal custodians was that that was the route that people climb Mt Sonder from."
Says Dr Burns: "There has to be a process of negotiation.
"The Larapinta Trail is the designated trail.
"There is an agreement and nothing's really changed.
"That's my advice from the department.
"These are parks and people need to respect the rules of the parks."
When Mr Day conceded the trail does not go to Mt Sonders' highest point, Dr Burns niftily switched the subject to danger and indemnity, issues at no time mentioned in the email to Mr Richards: "We're living in an era of public liability and indemnity and insurance.
"We've got a responsibility within our parks to ensure people's safety.
"There is an identified trail and that trail people should use."
Never mind that the "identification" referred to in the email concerned sacred sites, not risk.
The NT government is planning to transfer 30 national parks currently under its ownership to Aboriginal people represented by land trusts, and is assisted in their negotiations by the Central and Northern Land Councils.
The government has said this is the best way to deal with administrative shortcomings under the previous government that would have exposed most parks to Aboriginal land claims.
These, in turn, could have led to protracted, expensive and socially divisive legal proceedings.
Instead, the Parks and Reserves (Framework for the Future) Act 2003 was passed, enabling the Chief Minister to transfer ownership, and arrange a lease-back to the government for 99 years.
The deal includes the addition of land to existing parks, mainly in the Top End, which is currently Aboriginal owned or open to claim, "building the parks' ecological diversity and attractiveness of conservation areas," as Dr Toyne puts it.
The formulation of a Masterplan for all parks is now under way, and each park will get its own management plan.
This is likely to be completed by the end of the year.
Both types of plans are subject to assent from the NT Minister for Parks.
The Masterplan will provide for the extinguishment of native title over all parks, and the transfer of ownership will have the same effect as the granting of inalienable freehold under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act NT.
What remains is the vexed question of sacred sites.
There are now 11 identified sites in the Western MacDonnell national park.
Sacred sites are legislated for initially under the Federal Land Rights NT Act and complemented by NT sacred sites legislation.
Traditionally sacred sites are disclosed and protection is sought by Aboriginal custodians if and when required.
This is usually triggered by a construction or subdivision proposal.
According to Dr Toyne access to popular sites such as Ellery Bighole and Ormiston Gorge – under the proposed hand-over agreement with the NT Government – are immune from sacred sites claims because of the provisions for continuation of current activities.
But could the development of the West Macs – crucial to Alice Springs' future – be hampered by sacred sites claims on locations not yet opened up?
Should the deal include a guarantee that no further sacred sites are claimed?
Will the identification of all possible sacred sites be known before the hand-over of the parks, and be a condition for it?
Dr Burns will not answer those questions.
"This is something that's within the Chief Minister's purview," he says.
"She has carriage of the Masterplan."
Of course, further sacred sites can be claimed now, while the parks are still in public ownership.
But it seems that the present negotiations offer an opportunity for a compromise: We'll give you our parks, the government could say to the traditional owners, including those parks not exposed to land rights claims.
In exchange you guarantee us no further sacred sites are claimed beyond those agreed to during the formulation of the Masterplan.
Dr Toyne prefers to approach this by expecting that the best case, instead of the worst case scenario, will carry the day – "mutual benefit".
He says: "You can get more out of a working partnership, building the economy for all of us, than you can standing on your rights and not giving anything that you are not bound by law to give."
Although not yet on the table, he says the West Macs could be extended into a "giant national park encompassing King's Canyon and Uluru".
The current negotiations could "make this a lot easier because we now have a framework".
It's a brave expectation, given that "building the economy" has been very low on the Aboriginal list of priorities in the past quarter century, some outstanding opportunities notwithstanding.
Says Dr Toyne: "The only guarantee [for the success of the parks deal] is that mutual benefit does flow from it.
"We think that package provides enough benefit to the traditional owners that they go in there with a general attitude, let's make this happen and make it work, rather than with a general attitude of let's be blockers.
"If our partners get jobs, training, control of land care issues and general respect of their position, especially in regard to culturally sensitive areas, then that's the mutual benefit that will give it stability."
As with the recent deal with Lhere Artepe for a residential subdivision at Larapinta, "the greatest threat of them all is the welfare system standing behind them".
"Mark Latham's system of earn or learn as a replacement of getting money for non work has to be there.
"It has to be the base on which all of these plans and opportunities have to sit.
"Otherwise it's bleeding to death.
"All the energy is bleeding out of it, escaping to the welfare lifestyle.
"There needs to be the incentive to build on all these very good agreements.
"I'm very happy to hear people like Noel Pearson getting up and saying what a lot of us have been saying for a long time," says Dr Toyne.
"As long as the welfare system is there, all of this promise of a contemporary, dynamic and productive Indigenous culture, a unified community that's building the same economy, is just going to be curtailed."


The tourism lobby CATIA's Craig Catchlove says access via other tracks to Mt Sonder is under discussion by a consultant currently examining wider use of the Western MacDonnells.
Mr Catchlove says he is surprised access to the mountain hasn't been raised by the the parks service in negotiations about better marketing of the Larapinta Trail.
He says the super park flagged by Minister for Central Australia Peter Tyone – taking in the West Macs, King's Canyon and Ayers Rock – is an "exciting prospect" and he agreed with Dr Toyne that joint management with Aborigines could provide the framework to "move the concept forward".
This, however, must be "within the parameters of an improved visitor experience, as well as improved options for the traditional owners".
Deputy Opposition leader Richard Lim says the CLP has always maintained that there will be unforeseen consequences with the enaction of the Parks Masterplan.He says the Chief Minister, as recently as two weeks ago at the Budget Estimates, "refused to give Territorians an undertaking that we will continue to have unhindered access to our national parks as we all had before".
"Territorians have accepted that they will not intrude on sacred sites, and will continue to respect Indigenous custodians and their sacred sites now and into the future.
"We now see three Ministers of the Martin Labor Government, all with different views regarding access to Territory parks.
"The Minister for Parks and Wildlife says our access will be restricted.
"The Minister for Central Australia says that we will have access as before, BUT negotiations with traditional owners are yet to be finalised – so how can he be certain of such a position until negotiations are completed?
"The Chief Minister is again hiding behind a wall of silence, refusing to comment," says Dr Lim.
The CLP has always been critical about the handing over of parks, which were owned by the Territory for all Territorians, to a "chosen few", without any clear indication of what the negotiated outcomes for access might be.
"We now see the restriction of access to Mt Sonder, a place where Central Australians have had access for decades. And yet the Minister for Parks and Wildlife agrees with the restriction.
"I am calling for the identification of all sacred sites in the Western Macs so that hikers and visitors can avoid intrusion into these areas.
"The rest of the Western Macs should be accessible to all. Otherwise, bit by bit, the Western Macs will be locked away, with the announcement of sacred sites, a bit at a time."


Commercial activity in Alice Springs has dropped by a million dollars a week since the start of the Darwin railway early this year, according to Peter Goed, of the Australian Transport Association, NT.
He says 120 to 130 jobs were lost in the local road transport industry itself, and a further 400 to 500 people lost their jobs in roadhouses and supporting services in Alice Springs and "up the track".
Meanwhile a Todd Mall trader, Mike Hanlon, of the Gem Cave, says passengers on the Ghan are lured to the NT Government owned Desert Park during their four-hour stopover, given lunch and enticed to do their souvenir shopping there instead of in the town.
The Alice News asked Clare Martin, Chief Minister and Minister for the AustralAsia Railway, for a comment but she declined.
Mr Goed, who was in town last week, says there are now 60 to 70 fewer trucks operating out of Alice Springs.
He says the NT Government should support the road transport industry to the tune of $180m – the amount it has pumped into the railway.
The railway, well over half of whose cost came from the public purse – in cash and counting the value of the Tarcoola to Alice link – gained freight contracts by undercutting road transport.
However, the public – at least in Alice Springs – is getting no benefit from the railway.
Major retailers surveyed last week say their freight costs have not decreased.
Alice road transport identities Tim McBride and his father Dean (pictured) are typical victims of the railway.
In their heyday their fleet of road trains included 22 prime movers, 32 trailers, 32 dollies, eight "45" dry vans, seven tautliners (which have curtains on each side for quick loading and unloading), and eight refrigerated vans.
Now they are down to two prime movers, four flat tops, one tautliner, four dollies and one tray top.


The noise is blasting, a mixture of several popular songs from the last 12 months.
People are shoulder to shoulder in every direction.
Balloons bob about just above head level.
Those big inflatable hammers.
The continuous rant of showmen touting for their games, "Step right up!", "Every game has a winner!"
It can all mean only one thing.
The Show has arrived.
Every year thousands of Alice Springs locals flock to Blatherskite Park.
They come for the animals, the rides, the clothes, the food, the games, the prizes, and of course the grand finale on Saturday night, the fireworks.
The Show is as big an annual event in the Centre as Finke weekend.
We all know the routine: the trucks come in a few days early with the caravans and rides.
We go to the Show, spend a lot of money , all get caught in the traffic jam on the Saturday night (and somewhere amongst this are the sly comments about the weird sideshow people with their missing teeth).
But familiarity doesn't make the Show any less popular. Some 19,000 people went though the gates over two days, up on last year. So why do they do it?
Dennis Downs, 18 says he goes to the show every year and that he does so "for the rides".
He adds: "It's Alice Springs, there's nothing else to do."
The lack of permanent entertaining activities in Alice Springs was a recurring comment. Nicky Moore, 16, said, "It's lots of fun and there's not much that goes on in this town." Nicky says that the only problem with the Show is that "It's too crowded and a bit too expensive".
Her friend, Shaun Ashcroft, 17, agreed, saying he spent "about $150".
The favorite ride of all the teenagers I spoke to was the "Thunderbolt", a set of carts spinning first forward, then backward at speeds of up to 120km/h.Sam Smith, 11, said that he goes to the show because "it's sick". Pushed further, Sam said he enjoys the shops, in particular the "shirts and necklaces".But it's not all about rides and clothes. Scott Andreeson says that every year he and his wife, Liz, "run the cat section". Scott says that most people just "pass through" but occasionally cat breeders will advertise either what breeds are available or which breeds they are interested in purchasing.
Directly adjacent to the shed full of cats is the oval. On the oval are horses, behind the cat shed is an area for various breeds of dogs, to the left, birds.
Then, a little out of place, are two "minis", tiny cars equipped with roll bars and a father and son duo who make a living rolling these cars in front of audiences. The gasps as the cars approach each other head on are replaced with clapping at the near hit as both roll over almost in sync.
Dave, father of Alex, 18 months said that he goes to the Show "mainly to walk through the pavilions"."I'm too old for the rides now and he (Alex) is too young."
Dave's only complaint was the poor quality of the show bags, saying, "They've just got crappy stuff in them… and they're just too expensive,"
Dave's favorite thing at the Show is "the food".Tony O'Brian works in the members' bar and has been coming to the Show for over 20 years. He says that the atmosphere in the bar is friendly and relaxed. He says that for the last five years the Ten Pin Bowling Association have used the bar as a fundraiser and that they "try to make a bit of an atmosphere".
Sean Holdinghausen, 18, says the Show is "a happening event" and that he likes the various bars at the Show.
Allan Brown agrees but says that the ideal amount to spend at the bars is "as little as possible".
A joke perhaps, but with no doubt a ring of truth considering a can of rum costs $5.50.


Not his best side but it's what counts: the rear end of Allendale Lincoln X179 (P), a Poll Hereford fetching the highest price at the 44th annual bull sale at the Show last Saturday.
He was knocked down to Ben Hayes (at right), of Undoolya Station just east of Alice Springs, for $5750.
The two-year-old was sold by Allistair Day, from Bordertown, SA.
In all, 27 bulls were sold, with average prices as follows: Poll Hereford $3954; Shorthorn $2250, Red Angas $2330, Santa Gertrudis $3500, and Charolais $2500.
All beasts were sold to buyers in the Alice Springs district except one, which went to Mt Isa.
Sales agent Jack Clanchy, of Landmark, says the prices were at a record high.


When Maxi called me and told me that I could earn a hundred dollars by selling show bags the next day, I thought that that sounded pretty fair.
Don't get me wrong – I knew it was going to be a very long day.
When Mum asked me if I was looking forward to it, I even replied that I was looking forward to 7pm the next night.
What I didn't know was that by the end of the day (wearing my most sensible clothes, things I would usually not be seen dead in) I would have a headache, a backache, a leg-ache, a foot-ache and an every-other-thing-else-ache.
I also didn't know that I would be filthy.
Last year I went on a nine day camp with school where we had NO showers the whole time.
I think that on the last day of that camp I was cleaner than I was at the end of my day selling show bags.
When at 9.30 in the morning Maxi and I showed up at the stall, the first thing that went wrong is that we were separated, we didn't get to work together all day long. But I thought: "OK, Jacqui, get over it, they aren't paying you $100 to have chit chats." So I got over it.
The next thing that went wrong is I was left in the trailer ALL ON MY OWN!
All these people wanted me to serve them and not only did I not know where any of the show bags were (it's very unorganised in there) but I had never worked a till before.
By the time someone came to help me, I'd lost them about thirty customers.
Oh yeah, customers, I should tell you a bit about the customers.
At about five in the afternoon an American guy came up with his son of about eight years and asked his son what he wanted, but the little boy could not make up his mind.
This, perhaps, had something to do with the fact that every single time the kid said, "That's what I want, Daddy! I want the army show bag!", or the Hot Wheel bag, or the Nickelodeon bag or anything he asked for, the Dad would be like: "Nooooooo, come on you don't want that. Are you sure you want that? No? OK, good, choose another one."
And history repeated itself time and time again until the point I just wanted to scream "Let the kid choose! If he says the wants the Monster Wheels show bag then just give it to him! YOU ARE GIVING ME A MIGRAINE!"
I promise you all, the moment that they left the stall was the happiest of my life, wait I lied second happiest, the happiest was when I left.
Another thing about the customers was the HUGE amounts of money they were willing to spend on the rubbish I was selling (really, I nearly had a moral melt down), I mean like $20 for one show bag?
It wasn't uncommon for families to spend $60 for two kids just at the stall I was working on, and some spent $90 plus and didn't necessarily look like they had a whole lot of cash to spare.
And it's not like the walking robot dogs are even going to work for more than five minutes, or the "Sweet Suzie" doll pram will hold any doll without collapsing. In any case within days most of the kids will discard all but the lollies (unless they have already been eaten, more than likely, as I know for certain when I ever got a show bag I always did ate the whole lot within a couple of days.)
Yes, guilty, when I was young and naēve I did beg Mum to buy me a show bag on more than one occasion, so be sure that this is not a criticism to any parent who bought their kids show bags – it was to keep the peace, right?
I guess many families view the show as a once a year thing, they all go together and for once they can all spend what they like. Also, as it is a rareish family time they just yield to the pressure of their kids.
By the end of my day at the show I walked out with $85 for nine and a half hours of back-breaking work, needing to pee so badly I thought I might faint.
I had needed to go since about mid-day and I left at six in the evening. I'd hold it for a week rather that use the showground toilets after the first couple of hours, not that I had a chance anyway, having been given one break all day and taking another short one to grab a drink.
The lady told me to come back next year, she would happily hire me again, I smiled and nodded thinking, "Not in this lifetime!"


No question mark at all, it's a trombolina!
Ruth Emery (pictured) and husband Max scooped the pool in the produce section of the Show, taking out the grand championship and the highest aggregate (Bruce and Meg Simmons came second).
The Emerys had about 20 exhibits ("I haven't counted them," says Ruth).
The couple started their garden only a little more than a year ago on an excision from Orange Creek Station known as John Holland North or Perte Marnte.
Their venute is called Desert Gardens Produce and according to their mentor, CDU lecturer Geoff Miers, will soon turn a hobby into a business, with a large area of garden to be put under pumpkin, rock melons and watermelons, for wholesalers.
"I always liked gardening," says Ruth. "My mother taught me, on Orange Creek Station, Palmer Valley Station and Henbury."
She says the job's pretty tough: "Where we are is hard clay.
"We have to keep turning that soil over."
As fertiliser they use cattle dung, which they collect on the station, plus they buy some organic fertiliser, and use gypsum as a soil conditioner.
The Emerys' speciality is heritage vegetables. For example at the Show they had four varieties of rock melon, several of cucumber and eight varieties of pumpkins.


On this evening, I don't follow my regular route – which isn't on any path, but takes random paths between landmarks like a low quartz hill, an old washing machine, a beautiful big bloodwood tree.
I head off with the sun on my back as usual, but let the country lead me. More specifically the shows of brilliant green herbs coming up after the rain, in areas somehow still saved from buffel grass.Much of this carpet of herbs is on shallow gravelly and stony soils, too poor for buffel, or under mulga trees.
The little rises and scatters of white quartz stones set in bright green mats of herbs are quite beautiful, almost magical. I don't remember noticing them after winter rains in the past – maybe I wasn't looking.There's a nostalgia about this green stony country for me, and I realise I'm reminded of bright green paddocks down south, patches of mushrooms in them, picking these on country holidays with my cousins. We were always on the lookout for mushroom rings, which we thought of as special places even if we weren't sure about elves.I loved those holidays out of the city, and was fascinated by the black sludge our mothers made with the mushrooms, which our fathers ate.The green here in Central Australia will soon turn into masses of yellowtops and other daisies.
Already the tiny Fimbristylis is maturing. This is a little sedge, a group of grassy herbs which grow on damp ground, often in creek beds.
The fine clumps of Fimbristylis are not much longer than my fingers. It's not called eight-day grass for nothing. There are minute flowers in the reddish-brown clusters at the top of its stems.The carpets of green lead me eventually to the big bloodwood I often visit. I still think of it as the persimmon blood-wood, because its masses of large brown "coconuts" (insect galls) and thin cover of leaves always reminded me of persimmon trees.
This bloodwood was burnt in a small fire a couple of years ago, and is still regrowing.
From it you can see a long way, back towards the town and the ranges to the west.I follow the green up the stony rise behind the bloodwood. I don't come here often. There are some witchetty bushes, and the eremophilas are covered in bright red bell-flowers. I carefully pull off a few fat flowers and suck the sweet drops of nectar from them.
The top of the rise is marked by a twisted old corkwood tree. From here I can see round granite hills, fading now, and behind them the caterpillar ridge, deep red with the last of the sunset.
This curving line of red resonates in the eremophila flowers and against the green grass and white rocks of the hill I am standing on. Green, white, a touch of red. Right now that seems a perfect combination of colours.


On the weekend, the die-hards of Aussie rules gathered at Traeger Park to witness the Town versus Country Challenge.
The game pitched the best from CAFL competition against the Communities.
The physical strength of the city dwellers was expected to match the pace and endeavour of the players from the bush.
Running on adrenaline, the Country side slipped straight into gear with a 6-1 goal first quarter.
At the centre was Sherman Spencer and his four goals in the quarter set the scene.
Come the second term, it was Spencer again that allowed the Country side to produce a further four goals but the Town side matched the efforts from the bush.
The catalyst for the Town's recovery was Shane Hayes who lifted the side with his three goal burst.
At the big break the bushies were in front 10.4 (64) to 5.7(37).
In the third and usually decisive term, the Town players exerted their influence.
Tall men Kendrick Tyrrell and Kevin Bruce took control of the aerial duels and on the ground Hayes was supported by Adam Taylor and Rory Hood.
At oranges, 21 points separated the sides, with the door still open for the Town side.
In the run home, however, the enthusiasm and determined approach of the Country players won through.
At the bell the Country took it 17.7 (109) to 13.13 (91).
Sherman Spencer took the honours as best on ground, with Darryl Ryder, Jackson Glen, Galvin Williams and Derek Ronson contributing significantly. Spencer also headed the goal kickers with a tally of five.
In the Town camp Hayes was able to snare five goals, and joining him in the best players were Tyrrell, Taylor, Bruce and Nathan Flanigan.
The difference seems to have been attitude.
The Country players took the game as an opportunity to show where they are at while the Town side was missing a few key players and their training was not as intense.
In the curtain raiser to the clash, the Country under-17s defeated the Town side 7.11 (53) to 6.3 (39).
This week the Town competition resumes.
Pioneer will play Federal and South will meet Rovers while West enjoy a bye.
Federal is improving as their recent win over reigning premiers South showed.
On Saturday, coach Gilbert McAdam will be seeking another 100 minutes of "never give in" football.
Pioneer on the other hand have not produced the class expected.
Without the services of Lachlan Ross and their defeat by West at their last encounter will do little to lift their heads.
If Federal can match Eagles early and sustain their desire to win the ball, an upset could be on the cards.
South are matched against Rovers, and a percentage-boosting performance is expected.
Rovers are rebuilding, and for South the game should provide renewed confidence.


The thus far undefeated soccer kings, Verdi, suffered their first defeat at Ross Park on Sunday at the hands of Neata Glass Scorpions.The game was on from the start with both sides suffering from the absence of key players.
This led to a rather physical approach to the game. In the tense situation Neata Glass Scorpions were able to take advantage of a penalty in each half allowing the talented Steve Constable to net the ball on each occasion and so ensure the win. A less desirable outcome of the game was the need for two send-offs.
Verdi scored one goal.
In the other A Grade encounter TDC took full advantage of their second half opportunities to down S&R Vikings, 4-0. In a scoreless first half, the game came down to a fast 40 minutes of football where superior attacking around the flanks and through the middle allowed TDC to take command. Ben Adami, Richard Farrell, Owen Early and then Adam Delgiacco plugged home four unanswered goals to take home the premiership points.Central Falcons continued their run of success and secured third spot on the B Grade table when they accounted for Stormbirds 5-2.
The skills of Trevor Presley in front of goal were again on display as he goaled twice. Bradley Braun and Ben Stevens chimed in with a goal each and Stormbirds conceded an own goal. For Stormbirds Joe Fariny and the irrepressible David Stockman were responsible for their two goals.As was the case with many teams on Show weekend numbers were down and this was the case with Dragons, who despite a lack of numbers performed well to score a 3-0 win over RSL. Rob O'Brien, Noel Murteh and Pat Moore put the score on the board for Dragons.In the "cricket match" of the day Neata Glass Scorpions slammed home 13 goals to nil against Federal G&S Scorers. The Scorers were left wondering as Christian Huen again stood out with six goals. Theo Karamidis notched up three and singles went to Matt Gridley, John Spinks, Dave Hoey, and Roger Smith.In the other scheduled match Buckleys won on a forfeit over TDC.In C Grade the infamous Desert Spinach played a nil all draw with Stormbirds. The Spinach had plenty of chances but couldn't find the net to secure a victory.The young Gunnaz were on their game once again but this week went down to Neata Glass Scorpions3-2.
The Scorpions had scorers in Lachlan Farquharson, Marcus Becker, and Reece Constable. Meanwhile Kidir Calisir scored two goals for Gunnaz. This result left Scorpions at the top of the premiership ladder.

LETTERS: Let cattle eat buffel.

Sir,- The spokesman for Parks Minister, Chris Burns, who stated "the belief that buffel is set to create a monoculture in the West McDonnells is not supported by any research evidence", should take note of research by Peter Latz over several decades.
Detailed records demonstrate the extent of buffel invasion producing a ground cover monoculture in richer soil areas.
For 10 years I collected wild flowers usually within or close to Alice Springs which were sent to interstate flower shows.
Billygoat Hill, the area south of the Gap between the railway and Old Timers and the hills immediately north of town carried a profusion of various wild flowers.
All of these sites are now dominated by buffel and couch grass so that spectacular shows of native flora are but a memory.
Buffel has even eliminated the shrubs by crowding or wild fires and Imhave noted that after frosting, it recovers with vigour.
In the 50s, it was introduced to improve pasture and control erosion for the cattle industry.
Although tourism is now a larger contributor to the economy, pastoralism remains an important industry.
I propose that tourism and pastoralism should be partners, that areas of NT Parks dominated by buffel should be fenced, then cattle be introduced to graze the grass.
Buffel is a species designed to be grazed, which also reduces the fire risk.
It would allow more sunlight to reach the ground to encourage native plant species to re-establish.
By careful management it should be possible, by shifting the cattle around, to keep the grass down and have other plants visible.
Cattle are an introduced species but so is buffel so why not accept it as part of today's environment and make use of it.
The sight of cattle would be as novel to tourists as kangaroos.
Keeping buffel grazed promotes nice green shoots which would attract kangaroos.
Two years ago, slashed buffel along Colonel Rose Drive produced green which attracted roos.
Unfortunately quite a few were killed by vehicles but if grazing had been effective on neighbouring paddocks, many of the roos would have been saved.
Grazing by livestock is done by contract at certain times in national parks in the US.
So why not here?
Des Nelson
Alice Springs

All play and no work. COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.

Some people think the meaning of life is to have fun.
As we left the grounds after a whole day at the Alice Springs show, my eight-year-old asked how many days there were until the next one.
To him, you are either actively having fun or you are bored, it's all or nothing.
I don't have a problem with that in theory.
I like having fun too but I am happy to just be comfortable and generally don't need a lot of excitement.
In fact, I often have to be persuaded to go out and enjoy myself.
The other night I was invited to a movie with some of my friends.
I wasn't that keen and had planned on going home after coffee.
Once out of the house and in the company of my friends I changed my mind and to my surprise, really enjoyed the film.
Maybe it was the good company or my low expectation or that I really needed to laugh and cry and be swept away in a fantasy world.
It was great to let go and just enjoy the moment.
As a child I didn't worry about things I had to do.
I was too busy playing and making up games.
I looked forward to Christmas and birthdays and going to the fairgrounds. I was either very happy or very sad.
Growing up meant work, responsibilities and not much play-time.
The holidays I enjoyed, which used to be magic, are mostly work now.
They are still special times for my children and are enjoyed through them, like my son's happy face on the quads or my daughter's excitement in the jumping castle at the show.
I have learnt not to be bitterly disappointed over little things and to appreciate what I have.
We don't always get what we expect or think we want but we always get something.
Whether we appreciate that something is a different matter.
Sometimes in our disappointment over having missed out on something, we fail to see what we actually got instead.
It is easy to compare one's lot to the next person's and, like children, feel hard done by or jealous.
When my children get a treat, they always squabble over how much everyone's getting.
So far I don't think we've ever experienced everyone being just happy about the treat and enjoying it.
In adulthood and parenthood, we shoulder a lot of responsibility and, like Atlas, are left standing holding the world up.
We know that we cannot have fun all the time.
The chores have to get done and bills, paid.
I don't think I ever believed that life was all about having fun but there was a time when I didn't think about it at all, when I just felt happy.
Maybe the next step is to learn how to have fun again and to schedule time for play like the self-help books suggest.
I still have it in me - I just need a bit of a push.

You are in Alice now!. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.

The amount of time I spend trying to entice people to come and live in Alice Springs, otherwise known as recruitment, seems to grow by the month.
Soon, I'll be jabbering interview questions in my sleep and negotiating fringe benefits with myself in the shower.
I can already recite selection criteria in the way that I learned times tables at school.
Recruitment is like tourism marketing, but there's no holiday involved and the customers don't get to go home afterwards.
Local job-seekers are just fine, but the problem for prospective newcomers is the very permanence of recruitment.
An interview in Alice Springs is an exciting prospect if you live in the southern sprawl.
But once the glow has faded, the reality is different.
I have met people who complete an interview and a thorough look around town and then say that they can't come to terms with the remoteness of the place, like this is planet Pluto or a far corner of Siberia.
Or they suddenly realise that their families mean more to them than they first thought and that the rellies are never going to visit Alice Springs when they could pay a bit more and go to Bali.
Another setback to recruitment is the perceived lack of shopping experiences in town.
Like there's something wrong with Alice Plaza? Please explain.
On second thoughts, don't.
Yes, recruitment can be a steeply sloping beach, up which a whale must be pushed.
But push hard we do.
Recruitment is a military word and I reckon there must be a small army of people in town who have a role in recruiting staff from interstate, having exhausted the local labour market.
Sometimes I listen to myself and I sound like a walking, talking advert for the Alice lifestyle.
The climate is great, I say.
We never have a bad day.
This is in a conversation on the way to the office having met the candidate.
No response to that, so I turn to look at them in the passenger seat.
With overcoat and beanie, they can't answer because their teeth are chattering from the cold and they don't want me to think that they are nervous about the interview.
The local sports scene is brilliant, I say.
My son is off to play junior soccer in Darwin soon. We are fundraising for it. It's a real community effort. For my money, community spirit plus sports equals certain recruitment success. Then I realise that playing local competition in the Territory involves a five-day expedition. To a Victorian, this is the equivalent of playing a junior sports fixture two states away.
Then again, it's quiet and peaceful here, I claim.
There's heaps of time to think and reflect.
"Reflect on what?" I can see the candidates thinking.
But at least this one is true, so true that one candidate hit the ball right back.
"Yes, Alice Springs must be an easy place to live due to the lack of complicated choices of what to do at the weekend."
But it's best to keep trying.
Recruitment is a way of life for many companies in Alice Springs and shortages of staff are a barrier to economic progress in the region.
Someone should do a study on the subject.
Even in my time, I've seen scores of government initiatives aimed at regional Australia, but none seem to hit the mark.
Better access to information, finance, telecommunications and research are just fine, but without enough specialised staff to make use of these services, the local benefits are never maximised.
A proportion of the working population will always be transient and more so than other towns.
Our location plays a part and so does the uneasy relationship that some people develop with the Alice, even the people born here.
One day it's great, the next day it's not.
The same mixed emotions apply to recruitment.

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