MT SONDER FIASCO DIMS HOPES FOR PARKS STRATEGY. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
The fiasco about access restrictions to Mt Sonder because Aboriginal custodians say it is of "cultural significance" bodes ill for the proposed joint management of national parks, and their ownership by Indigenous people.
In fact the custodians have not asked the NT parks service for an order to restrict access.
Neither is such an order a condition contained in certificates issued by the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority for the construction of sections of the Larapinta Trail.
It's clear that by drastically restricting access – including barring going to the summit – parks managers have vastly exceeded what the authority stipulated as conditions for a permission to carry out the work.
Yet the parks authorities claim they made their draconian orders so as comply with custodians' requirements.
Mt Sonder is an icon in the West MacDonnell national park, the cornerstone of efforts to boost flagging tourism to Alice Springs.
The area that the orders by the parks service are making off-limits could be as much as 100 square kilometres – or even more.
Parks Minister Chris Burns has since sanctioned the actions of his department.
This raises questions about the NT Government's proposed handover to Aboriginal interests of 29 Territory parks.
And this is the third week in which Chief Minister Clare Martin – the chief negotiator of the handover – is dodging questions on the Mt Sonder issue (Alice News, July 7), saying – via a spokesman – it is for Dr Burns to respond.
Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Lim has accused Ms Martin of "deliberately refusing to deal with the issue".
"She is the Minister with the responsibility to negotiate the handover and lease back conditions under the Parks Masterplan," says Dr Lim.
"Clare Martin is either incapable of understanding the issue and thus not prepared to speak about the matter, or she is staying [away] from the issue so that her image is not tarnished by the errors of her government in giving Territory parks away to a chosen few."
The Opposition says the Government should be dealing with Native Title issues in parks by compulsory acquisition rather than by transfer of ownership to Aborigines.
The value of the native title claim would be established by the Native Title Tribunal.The NT would then need to pay compensation, but three quarters of that, according to Dr Lim, would come from Canberra.
The row started when the NT parks service – a branch of the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment – told the Alice Springs Bushwalking Club on May 25: "When developing the Larapinta Trail the Aboriginal Custodians asked that walkers only traverse [Mt Sonder] from Redbank Gorge.
"I therefore ask you to amend your schedule to restrict your activities to the route followed by the Larapinta Trail only."
The bushwalkers' Ernie Edwards expressed "dismay" and said: "This is the first time that access within the Western MacDonnell [national park] has been restricted.
"Mt Sonder is an icon in bushwalking circles and it has been climbed for years in many different directions.
"To restrict its access to just the Larapinta Trails denies a large area of park as well as the true summit as the trail only goes to the lesser southern peak.
"One can only ponder what the future plans are in relation to access in other areas of the park and it is certainly generating some alarmed discussion."
Sacred sites are defined in the Federal Land Rights Act 1976: "Sacred site means a site that is sacred to Aboriginals or is otherwise of significance according to Aboriginal tradition, and includes any land that, under a law of the Northern Territory, is declared to be sacred to Aboriginals or of significance according to Aboriginal tradition."Aboriginal means "a person who is a member of the Aboriginal race of Australia".The NT Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act is supplementary to the Federal Act.
The Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, operating under the NT legislation, issued two permits in relation to Mt Sonder, both relating apparently to the same sections of the trail, about seven kilometres long, running roughly in an east-west direction, from Red Bank Creek to the lower summit.
The certificates were issued in September 1993 and December 1997, respectively.
The issuing officer in both cases was David Ritchie who, ironically, now works for the parks service.
He is one of the key negotiators of the parks handover and joint management.
Both certificates give permission to carry out certain works on the trail.
Neither of them relate to any areas other than the trail.
The conditions are binding only on the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the NT (now part of the Department of Infrastructure), and not any other person, including bushwalkers.
Only the second certificate appears to have been acted upon, but both have a clause about Aboriginal expectations of the mountain's public usage.
Significantly, neither certificate obliges the parks service to bring in access restrictions.
The more recent certificate simply requires the service to make known, under some circumstances, that Aborigines regard the mountain as a sacred site.
It may be a situation similar to Ayers Rock where some Aborigines voice their objections to climbing it, but the (Federal) parks service does not prohibit climbing.
At Mt Sonder, however, the NT parks service has – clearly of its own volition – brought down restrictions that are unnecessarily draconian.
Clause 5 of the 1993 certificate says: "Construction of Section 12 [of the Larapinta Trail] is free to proceed under the following condition: There is a sign placed at the start of the trail giving the Aranda name of Mt Sonder (Rrwetyipme), and stating that the site is highly significant to Aranda people, and that no fires should be lit or any camping occur on the summit or slopes of Mt Sonder."
That certificate was apparently superseded by the 1997 one in which Clause 5 says: "The proposed works may go ahead as planned.
"Any information published or displayed, such as signs or pamphlets containing information for the visitors, shall include a request that walkers do not stray from the walking trail within the Mt Sonder area.
"Such a request could be worded as follows (or else use equivalent wording): ‘The custodians of the Rrwetyipme sacred site (Mt Sonder) advise that this is an area of cultural significance and request visitors to follow the route marked.'"
Again, while the certificate referred to a "request" from custodians, the parks service used that as its authority to turn the access restriction from optional to obligatory.
In reality, says authority regional manager Andrew Allen, the certificates mean exactly what they say."The conditions are reflecting the wishes of the custodians.
"We have not been asked to consult with custodians about the whole area [of Mt Sonder].
"The certificate applies only to the walking trail.
"The certificate is issued in relation to the work.
"It does not cover other areas."
In fact, the custodians' request needs to be published only if signs are put up and pamphlets issued.
If the parks service continues to second-guess the custodians the consequences could be significant.
Mt Sonder is a described as a sacred site in the 1997 certificate.
The NT Act makes it an offence to "enter or remain on a sacred site".
The certificate also refers to the Mt Sonder "area".
Where does the sacred site start or finish?
The mountain is about 10 km long and 10 km wide – that's 100 square kilometres, all of which could be considered off limits, except for the walking trail.
However, a spokesperson says the government will soon talk to custodians about the use of other routes up Mt Sonder.
CLP RESPONSE NOT MUCH HELP, EITHER.
What's the best way to stop Aboriginal interests limiting public enjoyment of national parks in the Territory?
One answer is to forcibly acquire native title rights.
This would mean paying compensation, but the beauty is, says Deputy Opposition Leader Richard Lim, that Canberra would be paying three quarters of it.
Trouble is, that takes care only of part of the problem.
So far as the West MacDonnell park is concerned, there are three kinds of rights Aborigines can assert.
• Native Title rights over the whole park.
• Land rights over most of it.
• Sacred sites protection rights potentially anywhere.
In exchange for the handover of the parks to Aboriginal ownership, and a 99 year lease-back with joint management, the NT Government is confident it can reach an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) that suspends native title claims.
The land rights claims are a curlier issue. At present there is a claim over all of the West Macs, lodged before the sunset of the Land Rights Act's land claim provisions in 1997.
The West Macs claim is likely to succeed only in a few small areas, a result of administrative bungles in the past.
These failed to properly declare these areas as parks, leaving them "unalienated Crown Land" and exposed to land rights claims.
These locations happen to be the most popular ones, the jewels in our tourism crown.
Included are Arltunga, Chamber's Pillar, Corroboree Rock, Emily and Jessie Gaps, Ewaninga, Finke Gorge, N'Dhala and Trephina Gorges, Simpson's Gap, Ellery Creek Big Hole, Ormiston Gorge and Pound, Serpentine and Glen Helen Gorges, Redbank and the proposed Alice Valley extension.
As part of the parks handover deal the Government demands that all these land claims are dropped.
Once they are they can't be reinstated.
Yet there is a fly in the ointment: even if native title is suspended and the land claims are dropped, the ability of Aborigines to demand protection of sacred sites, even to declare them off limits, will continue.
Says Dr Lim: "Under sacred sites legislation traditional owners can continue to seek registration of any piece of land and if approved, may lock up that piece of land."
That right is enshrined in the surviving provisions of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.
It applies now, and it will apply after whatever agreement the Chief Minister and Aboriginal interests are hammering out now.
That agreement, should it come to pass, will not put an end to events such as the ones causing the current row over Mt Sonder.
That ongoing uncertainty will go away only if the Federal Government changes the Land Rights Act, the "Head of Powers" for the NT sacred sites laws.
SUPERJESUS TO HIT ALICE.
The Superjesus, Adelaide's foremost rock export, will headline the bassinthedust concert, a highlight of this year's Alice Springs Festival.
The all ages concert is set for Saturday, September 11 outside at the Memo Club, starting mid-afternoon and going into the night.
Participation by the concert's five interstate acts was confirmed on Monday.
The others are Resin Dogs, Hilltop Hoods, Koolism and TZU.
Festival organisers were looking for big-name acts that hadn't been to Alice before.
Apart from The Superjesus, who also performed at Darwin's bassinthegrass, they are not as mainstream as the Darwin line-up, but are expected to be just as exciting for the fans.
Expressions of interest for local acts close this Friday, with four to be chosen next week.
The Superjesus have sold over 240,000 albums since they formed eight years ago.
Their latest album, Rock Music, released last year is regarded by lead singer Sarah McLeod as "our first": "It's what we've always wanted to do and we've finally captured it."
Lately, the band have been taking a break, with McLeod reported to be preparing a solo album for release next year, but this won't stop them heading to the Centre for the big date.
Brisbane-based Resin Dogs (also known as 2 dogs) are a seven-piece outfit with a hot blended sound of cut and paste sampling, funk, hip hop, breakbeat, and frenetic live playing.
Hilltop Hoods, out of Adelaide – the centre of Australian hip hop – are described as having made the definitive record for Australian hip hop culture, The Calling. Released last year, it has just gone platinum.
Canberra was the unlikely meeting place for hip hop duo Koolism, one of Australia's most popular and pioneering crews, who have recently finished a tour of Oz and took part in Triple J's one night stand competition.
The three-member TZU hail from Melbourne.
Currently on high rotation, they generally have laid back beats and rhymes but take the gloves off for some political spits.
Tickets ($30 presale) will go on sale shortly.
OIL ROYALTIES SHORT-PAID? Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Traditional owners of the Mereenie oil and gas fields are calling for a production audit because "we cannot be satisfied that we are in receipt of the correct amount of royalty payments".
Ansolem Impu and Kunatjai Impu, both from Hermannsburg, have written to the Central Land Council (CLC) asking for "a full and comprehensive audit of the field", which should include the total amounts of hydrocarbons produced since the start of the field, the total revenue, total payments to the NT Government and to the CLC.
The Impus say the audit needs to be independent and they want to be involved in the selection of the auditor.
"We must have a favourable response [by August 3]. If not we will have no alternative but to call on the Commonwealth Ombudsman for assistance."
The Impus say members of their family have been trying to get production figures for 15 years. As far as they know there has never been an audit of the operations.
The letter says a lease agreement was signed in 1981 with the Magellan Petroleum Groups which include Santos as the operating partner: "Since then a 10 per cent statutory royalty has been paid the NT Government … and a 1.5 per cent extra royalty … to the CLC for the benefit of Mereenie traditional owners."
The NT Government has recently extended the production licence for the field by 21 years.
Meanwhile Member for Solomon, David Tollner says under any reforms proposed by the Australian Government, an end must be put to the clear conflicts of interest in the distribution of royalty monies by Territory land council members.
"Millions of dollars are distributed each year on a ‘grace and favour basis' by Aboriginal leaders whose families are direct beneficiaries," Mr Tollner says."It was exactly this sort of conflict of interest that brought ATSIC down – and unless it is stopped it will also bring down the Land Councils.
"I understand that the Commonwealth is about to announce reforms to the Land Rights Act – and removing those conflicts are fundamental to successful reform."In a speech to the Bennelong Society in August last year Mr Tollner said it was wrong that the Chairman of the Northern Land Council, Galarrwuy Yunipingu, was also the Chairman of the Gumatj Royalty Association, a recipient of royalty money from the Northern Land Council."As long ago as 1996, reporter, Elisabeth Wynhausen, wrote that Yunipingu ‘as the boss of the Gumatj Association' controls the distribution of close to $2 million a year in royalty payments from the federal government'."She quotes ‘friend and political consultant' Jamie Gallagher (now a senior staffer in the Martin Government) as saying: ‘If you're part of the family you never have to worry – he'll provide for you. But you have to do as he says.'
"This was not even then a revelation.
The person commissioned by former Aboriginal Affairs Minister, Robert Tickner, to look at the question of breakaway land councils, Dr David Martin, reported that the NLC Chairman was seen by many as having a conflict of interest because of his role as Chairman of the Gumatj Association – a major recipient of royalties."
Santos has indicated it will provide a comment for next week's edition, and the NLC has been invited to respond to Mr Tollner's assertions.
MORE AUSSIES VISIT CENTRE.
The NT is popular with interstate residents planning their holidays.
Since the Brand NT launch in June last year, there has been a 16 per cent increase in interstate visitors especially from Victoria and Tasmania, and a 21 per cent increase in spending.
"We have also had positive feedback following the second release of tracking data from the current domestic marketing campaign that began in November 2003 and goes through to the end of this month," says Rita Harding, of the NT Tourist Commission.
"There has also been an increase in the intention of people to travel to the Territory within the next three years, especially from regional areas, up from 3.2 per cent to 4.5 per cent.
"For metropolitan areas, it rose from 2.5 per cent to 3.4 per cent.
"Our advertising awareness recall has also been strong in key markets such as Melbourne and Sydney with the Croc and Camel ads being very well received and recalled by focus groups.
"Only Queensland achieved a higher level of ‘top of mind' recall with the NT coming second in front of NSW and Victoria, all of which have larger advertising budgets," says Ms Harding.
"The final phase of our current marketing campaign is nearly complete and aims to extend the busy season and further promote season activities and destinations throughout the Territory.
"Last year the NTTC was given $27.5m additional funding over three years and we have been able to utilise some of this money on additional marketing.
"We are now seeing the results."
Ms Harding says current campaign activity includes extended Croc and Camel TV ads that have more Territory footage, cooperative marketing activity with industry partners, emails to over 8000 subscribers and ongoing press ads and editorial travel features.
SEWAGE: RECYCLED IN UNDERGROUND TODD RIVER. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
Infiltrating water through soil to underground storage, then extracting it later – "soil aquifer treatment" or SAT, the system being proposed for the Alice Springs water reuse project – is "not rocket science".
In fact the technology has been around for decades and is widely in use in the United States (1500 major projects) and Europe.
So explained Paul Heaton, manager of water facilities for the Power and Water Corporation, on site at the Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) last Saturday.
Septic tanks, in use throughout Alice Springs rural residential areas, are a form of SAT.
The rules for their safe use – such as how far below the surface and above groundwater the French drains are located – are established by the Department of Health and Community Services. One objective of the water reuse project is to figure out the safety parameters of the much larger system to be established at AZRI.The Alice Springs town basin is a natural SAT system, recharging through the bed of the Todd River a groundwater supply that is then used for irrigation of public areas in town.
As floodwaters infiltrate the riverbed, the sand and gravel clean the water. Although it is no longer used for drinking, the basin did supply the town's potable water until the 1960s.
Floodwaters are a bit different of course to treated effluent, which is what will be used at the AZRI site.
The two basins there will cover just two hectares, in contrast to the 50 hectare area of the sewerage ponds in Ilparpa Valley.
The effluent pumped from the sewerage ponds, to prevent dry weather overflows into the Ilparpa Swamp, will be first treated in a dissolved aeration flotation (DAF) plant. This introduces a lot of fine air bubbles into the effluent, floating the algal matter to the surface to be skimmed off.
The DAF treatment will produce reasonably clean water, free of offensive odours, to then be pumped to one of the two SAT basins at the AZRI site.
The basins will be alternated on a seven day wet-dry cycle to prevent mosquito breeding.
The water will infiltrate through the sandy soils, being further purified, to an old channel of the Todd River where it will be stored for up to three years before extraction to irrigate, hopefully, a flourishing table grape crop.
Graham Ride, regional manager of resource development with the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Environment (DIPE), explained the complex multiple aquifer structure below the surface of the soil south of the Gap.
Much of the research that he and DIPE hydrogeologist Anthony Knapton have been undertaking for the reuse project has been focussed on finding and testing old channels of the Todd for suitability as storage.
Luck has it that a suitable "paleochannel" moves in a southerly direction away from the rural residential area adjacent to the AZRI site.
Although modelling of the water's movement in the channel has not yet been completed, Mr Heaton says there will be no lateral movement towards the residential area.
Mr Heaton says above ground storage of 300 megalitres of water at the AZRI site would cost about $5m, compared to the proposed below ground storage of 1800 megalitres, costed at $1.5m, and also delivering better water.
Mr Heaton has recently returned from a Churchill Fellowship study tour in Arizona, where SAT systems have been in use for 20 years.
Arizona has a similar climate to Central Australia's.
Mr Heaton visited systems with two different sources of water.A couple, including the Sweetwater SAT Plant in Tucson, were being recharged from the Colorado River, over 460 kilometres away.
Most though were being recharged with treated effluent.
At one of these, the City of Gilbert Water Ranch Park in Greater Phoenix, a "value added" approach was taken at the request of the community.
The seven infiltration basins were designed as artificial wetlands with walking and running tracks, picnic areas and parklands plus a recreation lake stocked with trout and other fish for the local fishermen.
Even the public library has been located at the wetlands, which have also become home to an endangered species, the burrowing owl.
Mr Ride says such a wetland could one day be considered for Alice.Salinity has been a problem at some sites in Arizona. However, Mr Ride says the Alice Springs SAT will actually decrease the salinity of the groundwater it mixes with. The treated effluent has 1000 mg of salts per litre, while the groundwater tests at 1600 mg per litre.
The infiltration process flushes salts down so they do not expect any surface salinity problems at the basins.
The Public Environment Report, whose draft guidelines are out for public comment, will require the project to report on, among a number of environmental impacts, how it will deal with the salinisation of soils being irrigated for cropping by the extracted water.
Guidelines are at http://www.lpe.nt.gov.au/enviro/default.htm (and follow the links).
FENCES AS ART: HILLS IN STEEL. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
A recent visitor to Alice Springs remarked on the proliferation of corrugated iron fences, some in Colorbond, some in Zincalume, some in whatever comes to hand.
Perhaps it's particularly noticeable here because there are many private dwellings either fronting or backing onto arterial roads.
Perhaps it also reflects a cheap, quick response to the need for security and privacy.
But the impact on the streetscape can be harsh.
Architect Susan Dugdale, a member of the Alice in Ten Built Environment Committee, says the committee has discussed the possibility of setting parameters for fences on major roads to try to establish some visual consistency.
The discussion so far has been around limiting the palette of materials, colours and heights.
The downside, of course, would be the restriction on individual solutions, which can lend style, character, even humour to the streetscape.
Ms Dugdale herself lives on a corner, in a house where the only suitable space for outdoor living was completely exposed to the street.
Needing privacy and protection, yet also wanting to avoid a fortress-style wall and to contribute a pleasing visual statement to the street, she designed a fence that creates a boundary but also "engages with the communal space of the street".
Its form, a series of curved shapes of different dimensions, looks like she took her cue from the hills around Alice Springs, but she also likes the possibility of other interpretations, such as waves or eyes.
The varied height of the fence teases passers-by, she says, with the possibility of a glimpse inside. She had thought that this possibility would disappear as the bougainvilleas – planted strategically in the troughs of the curves – grew.
This isn't quite working out, however, as they keeping getting knocked back by frosts.
Partly, it's out of nostalgia for her native Queensland but partly also because local vegetation does not offer a thick screen.
She suggests that this is why many people wanting privacy make the choice of a high solid fence.
Lightweight materials such as corrugated iron, as opposed to masonry, have the advantage of not holding heat, however architect Brendan Meney argues for regulation against completely solid fences as they prevent and redirect the flow of breezes across the landscape.
He says it would be easy for government to stipulate that fences have 40 per cent void for airflow.
(As reported previously in the Alice News, the Fencing Act is silent about type, style, colour, appearance to the street.
Where there are consent use applications before the DCA, they can make comment about fencing and even require a fence type, for example, to limit noise, to provide sightlines for incoming and outgoing traffic, to improve amenity.
But with existing developments, no matter how dilapidated or unsightly, there is at present no possibility of regulation.)
Stipulating 40 per cent void would still allow for creativity and diversity using cost effective materials, says Mr Meney.
Air gaps could be created by using perforated corrugated iron or metal, weldmesh, or a variety of lattice type materials.
"There is also lots of potential for handy people to create their own designs such as we see at spasmodic locations around our town," says Mr Meney.
He proposes that the void areas be strategically placed so they allow breezes to flow over wet/green landscape areas, cooling and filtering dust particles at low level, and helping to flush out hot air from inside the house.
The solid parts of the fence should also be located to reduce cold winter breezes, suggests Mr Meney.
This may be more relevant for internal courtyard walls closer to the house rather than the boundary fence, depending on the design of the yard and the placement of the house on the block.
In more rural locations the fencing regime would have to allow lighter stock and industrial wire fencing styles, but consideration of habitat should form part of the fencing assessment process to ensure wildlife and drainage are accommodated.
In his own home Mr Meney has built on a sloping site and has been able to use the design of the house, the shape of the land and native landscape to provide his family with the privacy, security and visual outlook that they require without the need for any fencing.
"But this is difficult to achieve on the majority of residential building sites around town, especially where neighbour relations are less than desirable," he says.
Ms Dugdale argues that completely solid fences act as an effective barrier against dust and unpleasant winds and suggests that if yards are reasonably big, they get enough ventilation.
Her interest is more in the contribution a fence can make to the streetscape, as well as the way its serves the needs of the people living behind it.
One nice thing about her own fence is that it has had offspring.
Right next door, Fiona Walsh and Ilan Warchivker discovered the need for a fence when their son Tahl started toddling.
The previous owners of the house had established a mound, planted with native bushes, as the front boundary to the block.
That wasn't enough to stop Tahl, of course, whose playmate Jasper Edwards lived tantalisingly just across the road.
With such an eye-catching fence next door, they didn't want to do something banal.
But neither did they feel the need to create a solid barrier. Their north-facing front yard, which gets winter sun from 10 in the morning till early evening, is used as a living and children's playing area (they retreat to the shady backyard in summer) and the family generally welcome interaction with passers-by.
Borrowing the curved shapes – Ms Dugdale says she is happy for her fence design to become a public idea – they designed a transparent fence using weldmesh, encased by rolled steel. The weldmesh is intentionally angled in different directions, reflecting the angles in local rock formations.
For them, the curves are a definite reference to Spencer Hill which they can see just a couple of blocks away to the north.
The fence keeps small children in, gives Tahl and Jasper endless climbing pleasure, and still allows exchange with people on the street.
They've discovered that even this very open fence, perhaps combined with the mound, does lend privacy to the front yard. There's flexibility about talking or waving to people as they go by.
The wide hinged gate is an added pleasure, reminding Ms Walsh of the Western Australian sheep property of her childhood, and it has a useful squeak that alerts her to any comings and goings.
Across town in Gillen, builder Peter Walsh, who had constructed both these Eastside fences, decided to do something similar at his own home.
For the front yard, the low, transparent curves suggest a boundary but mainly serve as a pleasing visual statement.
To the side of the house the curves are raised above eye level and are filled in with Colorbond to lend privacy to the family's outdoor living area.
Mr Walsh (no relation to Fiona) says he's had "heaps of comment" and many requests to build "exactly the same kind of fence".
He declines though: "I won't build one exactly the same. People should design their own."
For him the curves relate to Mount Gillen, which rising steeply in the southern sky above Gillen.
These aren't cheap fences – working with curves is "labour intensive", says Mr Walsh – but they give a good return in pleasure.
FROSTY FOOTIE WARMS HEARTS. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
Federal continued their winning ways defeating Rovers 23.17 (155) to 8.4 (52) at Traeger Park on the weekend with good attendances despite bitter conditions.
In the late game however there was no cricket score difference as league leader West had to pull out all the stops to record a five-point win over reigning premiers South 9.10 (64) to 8.11 (59).
West established a two-goal break in the first tern thanks to Peter Ryan and Keith Durham.
The Roos, despite not scoring a goal for the term were productive and seemed to settle in.
In the second quarter South hit their straps scoring 4.3 to Wests 3.3.
Sherman Spencer and Max Fejo dominated and the game plan was no doubt to seek lethal runners in the attacking zone.
In the West camp Kevin Bruce was able to snare two of their goals for the term and with Andrew Wesley, Adam Taylor and Andrew Crispe, was able to keep the Bloods cool under pressure.
West held a six-point lead at the big break and with an even third term both sides took oranges with the difference still being one straight kick.
In the run home, South made every post a winner but in recording 1.4 to 1.3 just couldn't come up with a win.
The West win leaves them well in control at the top of the ladder.
South again showed they can be a real danger.
Shaun Cusack is far better positioned to get the most out of his players.
Best for West were Bruce with four goals, Taylor, Wesley and Crispe, well assisted by Mark Bramley and Mick Hauser.
For South credit goes to Ali Satour, Lloyd Stockman, Charlie Maher, Fejo and Spencer.Federal won well over Rovers recording a 103-point victory.
They scored seven goals in each of the first two quarters and a further nine in the second half.
Adrian McAdam was again a powerhouse with five goals and an inspiring performance.
Daryl Lowe and Darryl Ryder were prolific ballgetters, sharking the packs and delivering the ball with dexterity.
Others to perform well were Sheldon Palmer, Chris Forbes and Jason McMillan.Rovers in scoring 8.4 were not disgraced.
Tim Story led the charge with a bag of three goals.
Karl Hampton played an inspiring game, Hamish McDonald contributed effectively and Richie Morton, Ross Jefferies and Ryan Secker were also worthy of mention.
SOCCER: VIKINGS GO ON THE RAMPAGE. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
The S&R Vikings positioned themselves in second place, only one point behind Verdi, on the local soccer table when they put in a fine 3-1 performance against the Federal Strikers at the Ross Park on Sunday.
In bleak conditions, Kevin Friaut scored against the run of play in the 25th minute, deceiving the Federal goal-keeper.
Minutes later Vikings extended their lead when Damon Vandershuit found the net. Resting at half time Vikings held a 2-0 lead but soon extended that when Vandershuit scored again in the early minutes of the second half.
It wasn't until the 64th minute that Federal could make any in road when Luke Bosio opened their scoring.
TDC then drew 2 all with Neata Glass Scorpions. TDC's play-maker Chris Langeland was the saviour for his team when in the last minute of play he goaled to save his side from defeat.
TDC opened the scoring through the agency of Fabio De Marco in the first 10 minutes of play.
It wasn't until the 54th minute then that the score changed.
Scorpion's Simon Harrison equalised, then in the 77th minute Lee Morgan put TDC in the lead 2-1.
It was then left to Langeland to weave some magic to force the draw.
Scorpions continued on their winning way in B Grade with a 5-1 win over the Stormbirds with James Gorman responsible for two goals and singles going to John Spinks, Neil Smark, and Herby Hartung.
In response David Stockman scored for Stormbirds.
Central Falcons scored a 4-3 victory over Dragons.
Falcons created several chances against the depleted Dragons but could not put the game away.
Trevor Satour and Ben Stevans each scored two goals, while for Dragons Colby Young and Noel Murtagh kept their side's chances alive.
TDC proved too strong for RSL, winning 1-0, thanks to an early goal from Peter Clarke.
Buckleys scored a 2-0 win over Federal Scorers.
Good team-work resulted in goals by Brandon Dienes and Colin Monroe while impressive performances from Ella Carmichael and Josh Wiles kept Federals' chances alive.
Desert Spinach proved their worth in the C-grade when they scored an impressive 4-1 win over Scorpions.
All four goals were scored in the first half for the Spinach thanks to Patrick Heskey, Sally Ward, Rory McLeod and Jackson Bethune.
Scorpions' Rhys Constable put Scorpions on the board in the second half but by then the Spinach had stitched up the game.
Gunnaz and Stormbirds fought out a 3-3 draw in their fixture.
It was an attacking, opportunity-laden clash with Tom Treagust, Eddie Tikoft and Kirdir Calisar scoring for Gunnaz.
In the Stormbirds camp, a hat trick from Eli Waterford ensured the saving of the game.
Departures and arrivals. COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.
My son and I went to visit Albert during the school holidays.
We had never been to the Alice Springs Memorial Cemetery before.
It is very open with not much shade and I was surprised at how few graves there were.
Apparently it is actually "fully booked" but many of the travellers have yet to reach their final destination.
We stopped for a while to admire Namatijra's headstone and to read the plaque about his life and think about his legacy.
Then we wandered around reading names and ages of many other less famous people.
My son seemed to find all the little children's graves.
Brief visitors to this earth just touching down before they departed.
The old airfield is close by and it's an interesting coincidence that the new cemetery too is near an airport. So many died before they had done much living. It seems such a tragedy, such a waste. Yet there is a lot to learn from that and I have always found graveyards fascinating.
There you are reminded of life's finity, that it will come to an end no matter who you are, whether you are rich or poor, well known or unknown.
Democracy in death. We find death a difficult topic today, having learnt to divorce it from life.
Although we are exposed to a lot of death and dying through the media, it is superficial and detached from our own life experience.
It is numbers of dead or horrific deaths, blood and violence – death without its context, without life.
The tragedy is not in the actual dying but in the loss of a life of another fellow human being who walked this earth like you and me, who laughed and cried and lived.
When you walk among the headstones and read the names, you can see into the future.
One day you too will be just a name on a stone.
Reduced from flesh and blood to a memory which in time like the writing on the stone will wither and fade away.
It is a sobering experience and it makes you appreciate this life which may often seem a struggle but is ours for now.
Whether it is for a few days or a hundred years the life we get is a precious gift, a ray of sunlight, a star in the night sky.
In suffering, grief and pain we sometimes see things more clearly.
People who have had cancer and survived often say it was the best thing that ever happened to them because it made them realise what really mattered and to enjoy every moment.
It is not until it is about to be taken from us that we see how much it is worth.
Through his paintings, Albert Namatjira captured the beauty of central Australia and showed us the multitude of colours the light creates through the day.
He had the magical ability to make visible the fleeting beauty of the moment.
When I see the ranges glow in the early morning light I often think of another artist, the poet Robert Frost, who wrote:
Nature's first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold
Her early leaf's a flower
But only so an hour
Then leaf subsides to leaf
So Eden sank to grief
So dawn goes down to day
Nothing gold can stay
FEED THE MAN MEAT. COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
Gazing dreamily out of my bedroom window on a Sunday, I noticed a domestic tabby cat locked in mortal combat with a snake.
It could only happen in Alice.
Or could it?
If you manage to travel to any other remote town, one small pleasure is to compare it with the Alice.
It's a bit like school lessons about the difference between the rise of civilisations.
You know the sort of thing; you had to find out when the Chinese first used handwriting compared to the Incas and when the Egyptians first built boats? The remote Australian equivalent is counting the malls in Wyndham or Katherine, searching for pavement cafes and working out whether they get more television channels than we do.
The conclusion is always that Alice Springs is a far more advanced civilisation because we have Baskin-Robbins and an arts centre.
On a trip to Queensland, I had the pleasure of visiting Mount Isa for the first time.
Before I went there, people told me that Mount Isa represents the Alice Springs of 20 years ago, before the Alice became all pretentious and stopped being a proper outback town.
I was quite looking forward to the visit.
What could be more interesting than the quirkiness of Queensland, already well-documented in this column (drive-in tattoo parlours, exotic pie shops, or is it the other way around?) combined with some time-travel.
I wasn't disappointed.
I saw queues outside Subway on a weekday evening.
I noticed that the Isa equivalent of Anzac Hill was a little careworn and world-weary, as if nobody in their right mind would actually want to climb it.
And I gained the impression that the whole physical structure of the town was oriented towards the mine.
It was like a collection of iron filings that forms a swirling shape if you move a magnet towards them.
The mine was the magnet.
Mount Isa was reminiscent of a Welsh mining town, except it wasn't raining.
Don't get me wrong, I liked it there.
What the place lacked in flair, it more than made up for in solid, no-nonsense character.
Vegetarian food was in short supply and I was too terrified to ask for some, but that's my only complaint.
I grinned at local people and they grinned back.
I even spoke with some of them and was surprised that they said "no worries" and "howya going" like everyone else on Earth.
The only exception was an elderly man at the airport who was struggling to use the payphone.
As he fed coins into it and peered confused into the handset, I tried to help. He explained his predicament in threadbare English with a heavy Spanish accent.
I noticed that his belongings formed a round bulge in the bottom of a plastic carrier bag.
Ah-ha, I thought, this man must have recently arrived from southern Europe to work in the mines – an authentic outback migrant.
Then he put together a sentence in Spanglish to explain that he had lived in Mount Isa for 23 years.
I couldn't believe this.
I thought everyone developed a rising inflection in their sentences after only 23 minutes in Australia.
Where had he been all this time?
The answer may have been "working in the mine, stupid".
I asked a Mount Isa resident what the locals called themselves.
Were they, for example, desert people or Western Queenslanders or some local affectionate nickname like Isees?
None of those, she replied.
We're just the people who are miles away from anyone else. Now that's a good answer.
I put a tick in my notebook in the column marked "advanced civilisation".
Walking around with my little book and raincoat, I felt quite at home.
Night fell on the desert town and the neon sign of the cavernous Buffs Club flickered into life.
Cockles warmed, I wandered back to the motel, clutching a salad sandwich in my hand.
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