OLD TIMERS TREASURES. Report by KIERAN FINNANE.
Historical treasures of national significance have been unearthed at the Old Timers Traeger Museum and there may be more.
David Kaus, a curator with the National Museum of Australia, recently in Alice for other research, was asked to visit the Old Timers Museum to provide information about its collection of Aboriginal artefacts.
Almost immediately he pounced on soapstone carvings on display in the cabinet of Johannsen family memorabilia.
There are four carvings, two by Ottilie Johannsen, who came to Hermannsburg with her husband in 1909, and two by an Aboriginal man whose identity was unknown.
According to local historian Megg Kelham, Dr Kaus is certain that the man in question was Erlikilyika, also known as Jim Kite, the "first-class black boy" who assisted Spencer and Gillen in their 1901 trek across Australia.
Erlikilyika was an Arrernte man from the Charlotte Waters area who went on to become a significant artist and sculptor, well known during the period to 1920, and one of the first Aboriginal artists to make art addressed to a European audience.
All of Erlikilyika's works are today valued collectors' items, with the South Australian Museum housing the most significant collection.
Ms Kelham has been working for the Old Timers Museum on a project, funded by the Regional Museum Support Scheme, to find out the historical significance of its many holdings.
She took Dr Kaus's information to Ottilie Johannsen's surviving oldest daughter, Trudy Hayes (born 1912), who confirmed that it was the Aboriginal man who had given her mother the soapstone and he had probably taught her how to carve it.
He had a supply of the soft stone in the area but never disclosed its location.
Comments Ms Kelham: "Together, the carvings and the story, including the original label, tell a story about European and Aboriginal relationships, and about mutual influences."
Such an exciting discovery may not be repeated, but every object has its story – who owned it, who made it, who used it, what for – and together, object and story gain historical significance.
A bread tin is a bread tin, but when you know that it was first used at the Oodnadatta bakery, then by Mrs Heffernan at Ti-Tree Station from the late ‘thirties till 1958 when she gave it to Ruby Hamlyn, who went on to use it for another two decades, then you've got quite a special bread tin that has its place on the museum's shelves.
Talk more to Mrs Hamlyn, who donated the bread tin and whom you may find "sitting" the museum (when she's not off hiking in the hills and ranges of the Centre), and you'll learn how her loaves, baked in a wood stove, used to win prizes at the Alice Springs Show.
When she moved to town and got an electric stove, she found the results disappointing and gave up baking.
"It makes you think about whether electricity necessarily improved lives," says Ms Kelham.
Unlike the bread tin, many of the objects at Old Timers have scant provenance (history, including prior ownership) or none at all.
A visitor to the museum last Saturday identified a puzzling tool as an early sheep shearer's handpiece. A former shearer himself, he'd never seen one in a museum before.
"How did it come to be in Central Australia?" asks Ms Kelham.
The answer could tell a story of failed attempts to establish sheep flocks in the Centre; or perhaps the story of a shearer heading north in hard times.
To date Ms Kelham has recorded stories about a fantastic variety of objects; the recordings will be transcribed by NT Archives and will eventually be used to develop interpretive materials for the museum.
However, she is starting to run out of leads. The museum committee are appealing to people who have donated objects to contact Ms Kelham.
She'll be at the museum all day next Saturday, fete day, or phone her on 8952 8024.
SACRED SITES IN TERRITORY PARKS: ACCESS IS NO WORRIES, SAYS TOYNE. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Commonsense and the wish to benefit from national parks, and from the tourist dollar they attract, will discourage Aboriginal custodians from using sacred sites to restrict access.
That is the view of Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne.
But asked whether current government negotiations to transfer most parks to Aboriginal ownership will result in guarantees that sacred sites will not interfere with visitation, Dr Toyne said: "If someone was bloody minded enough and they wanted to wreck things, they have [sacred sites] provisions that they could use as the base for legal action.
"But it simply isn't happening with any regularity at all.
"Through one way or another common sense prevails and in most cases there is benefit going to both parties."
Dr Toyne says he is "absolutely certain" about this, "based on a quarter of a century of these issues being handled in the Northern Territory."
He says: "Some people might be terrified of access being lost to an area, like the Mt Sonder issue, but equally the traditional owners might be terrified that new activity might destroy or devalue sites that up to now haven't been affected by other people's activities.
"It's going to be a dynamic situation where things will happen as they happen and we'll have to deal with the Mt Sonder type situations.
"What should be signed away on is some working protocols which commit everyone to a search for that kind of pragmatic balance point, not leave it up to chance as to how people are going to interpret the working arrangement that needs to be put in place.
"We have all got to agree that we want to have extensively used parks and reserves, by both tourists and locals.
"We've all got to agree that cultural sites and practices are going to be respected in the joint management."
Dr Toyne says there is no evidence of "people wanting to play a blocking role".
"We stated Territorians need to have reliable access, active use of parks and reserves, and good conservation practices."
Dr Toyne's comments follow a ban by the NT Parks Service on climbing Mt Sonder by any route other than the Larapinta Trail.
The service said it imposed the ruling because the mountain – a tourism icon in the West MacDonnell Ranges – is a sacred site (see reports in the past four editions of the Alice Springs News).
The joint parks management proposal, involving Aboriginal interests and the NT Parks Service, is likely to trigger crucial developments.
While the transfer of ownership would resolve land rights and native title issues, the ability to register sacred sites would continue.
Subject to rulings by the Territory's Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA), which consults with custodians, entering and remaining on a sacred site is an offence.
And despite Chief Minister Clare Martin's assurances that public access to parks will not be diminished, it is impossible to forecast the impact of sacred sites.
They are disclosed and registered only in response to a possible threat.
Says Dr Toyne: "That's been a standard process.
"The land councils' approach [to sacred sites] has been, we are not going to tell you where they are.
"We're going to tell you where they are not.
"In other words, they are giving access to areas which are OK.
"For lots of reasons they don't want to publicise some areas because there have been cases of deliberate or inadvertent damage when sacred sites are known."
Alice Springs' troubled tourist industry has made it clear that developing national parks – principally the "West Macs" – is a key strategy.
While on the one hand the industry would benefit from new land contributed by Aborigines to the parks estate, accelerated commercial development would necessitate the disclosure of sacred sites which could block the development.
Even in the dealings by a Territory Government authority much secrecy – or deliberate obfuscation – surrounds sacred sites.
In a comment on the Mt Sonder fiasco the AAPA revealed to the Alice News that custodians had applied for registration of several sites on Mt Sonder, in Ormiston Gorge and the Mereenie Valley.
When we asked the AAPA last week where these sites were, we were told the information could not be made available because the NT Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act prohibits it – except as permitted by the Authority.
Dr Toyne says custodians are "not naēve, nor bloody minded, by and large."
They are unlikely to block activities from which Aborigines "could get some employment, or some sense of involvement with other users".
"I don't think they are going to be so stupid as to say we're not going to let anything happen there even if we're doing ourselves in by it.
"In the overwhelming number of cases in the past, whether it's mining exploration or mixed use of areas, tourism or pastoralism, generally speaking you can find a pragmatic way of dealing with it."
Dr Toyne suggests Aboriginal people want to "get some employment out of, or some sense of involvement with other users" from a joint development of parks.
This is only partly borne out by the experience at Glen Helen, at the foot of Mt Sonder.
The small resort, in one of Australia's most beautiful locations, is owned by the Ngurratjuta Corporation, whose activities include investing royalties from nearby oil and gas fields on behalf of Western Arrernte.
After buying Glen Helen – whose restaurant was once judged Australia's best – the new owners closed it down for some five years.
Trevor Cox leased it 18 months ago. He says none of the 14 people working there are Aboriginal. He says it is not a lease condition to employ Aborigines, and he has never had any Aborigines working for him at Glen Helen.
Dr Toyne says it is short-sighted to see sacred sites a handicap.
He says there are advantages in a "usage similar to Uluru where traditional owners, from time to time, want to have some privacy for ceremonies.
"That authenticates the spiritual meaning of the place and makes it that much more attractive and mysterious rather than just a lump of rock that looks pretty in the sunset.
"It's a whole new layer: ‘I went to a place that's really sacred. Sometimes they close it. They still perform real ceremonies here.' It's a status you wouldn't want to be lost."
LINGIARI, WHERE THE DOLE RULES. Snapshot by ERWIN CHLANDA.
Lingiari - the Federal seat taking in all of the NT except Darwin - in March this year had a workforce of 47,521 people. That's people in jobs or people seeking jobs.
Lingiari's official unemployment rate was 8.2 per cent. That amounts to 3896 people looking for a job.
There were 7986 people on the work for the dole program CDEP in Lingiari, or 16.8 per cent of the work force, more than twice as many people as are officially regarded as unemployed.
In March 2004 the Australian workforce was 10,110,800 people. At the end of the last financial year there were 36,550 people participating in the part-time job scheme nation-wide.
That's one-third of a per cent of the national workforce. The CDEP participation rate in Lingiari is nearly 47 times that number. When the CDEP participants in Lingiari are added to the number of the officially unemployed, the total would be 11,882 people, or 25 per cent of the workforce, nearly five times the national unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent.
There is some overlap as some CDEP participants – their number is unknown – have full time jobs through a wages top-up from other sources, but they are likely to be a small number.Despite strong anecdotal evidence that CDEP is scandalously inefficient, widely rorted, a dead end for most participants and doing little more than hide real unemployment, NT Employment Minister Syd Stirling has, for a whole year now, been declining requests from the Alice Springs News to be interviewed about the issue.
Lingiari MLA Warren Snowdon, one of the scheme's founders some 30 years ago, continues to defend it.
Meanwhile Shadow Minister for Employment Services and Training, Anthony Albanese, says the number of "very long term unemployed" in the NT – those claiming benefits for more than five years – has increased by 204 per cent to 3607 since 1999, the largest increase in the country.
In fact this is three time the increase across Australia, 68 per cent.
Meanwhile some of the rest of us are doing pretty fine.
In 2001, of the 73082 people in Lingiari who disclosed their income range to an ABS survey, 13833 people, or 18.9 per cent, were earning between $800 and $1500 a week.
THUMBSCREWS: WE QUIZZ TERRITORY POLLIES.
In the lead up to the Federal election, the Alice News will be putting questions on key issues to our Federal representatives on both sides of the political fence, MHR Warren Snowdon (Labor) and Senator Nigel Scullion (CLP, sitting with the Coalition).
We begin this week by asking them if they subscribe to the principle of "innocent until proven guilty in a proper court of law"?
Mr Snowdon: This is a foundation principle of western justice and a basic human right. I support it fully. The alternative is an arbitrary, totalitarian system that doesn't work on the basis of evidence, which will hopefully never be acceptable to Australians.
(Senator Scullion did not reply directly to this question.)
Alice News: If so, what do you think of the level of assistance the Australian government is providing to Mamdouh Habib and David Hicks, two innocent Australians, currently imprisoned by the United States in contravention of most proper legal processes and, according to recent evidence, subjected to torture by their captors?
Mr Snowdon: I can't judge Mr Habib and Mr Hicks, nor should any politician. This judgement should only be made by an independent legal process. It is entirely wrong that their right to access such a process has been denied for two and a half years. Unlike the British Government, our government has failed to support its citizens.
Sen Scullion: It must be remembered that the Government understands Mr Hicks and Mr Habib trained with Al Qaeda. The Government understands Mr Hicks undertook extensive training with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan over a period of months in late 2000 and early 2001, including weapons and surveillance training.
We have been advised Mr Hicks also trained in Pakistan with Lashkar-E-Taiba, a listed terrorist organisation under Australian law. The Government understands Mr Habib trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in the latter half of 2001.The Government believes Mr Hicks and Mr Habib should be tried in relation to their activities. However, neither man could be tried in Australia under Australian laws which applied at the time of those activities.
In these circumstances, the Government accepts Mr Hicks and Mr Habib could be tried by the US, provided their trials are fair and transparent while protecting security interests. We are satisfied that US military commission trials would satisfy these criteria.Alice News: Pine Gap is in your electorate. The base is run by the same military organisation that is allegedly torturing Mr Habib and Mr Hicks. Do you therefore have a special role to speak out on these issues and others concerning our relationship with the United States and the impact of its actions on Australian interests? Do you think the base could be used as leverage by the Australian government in order to achieve Australian goals, including acceptable treatment of these two Australian citizens?Mr Snowdon: No, it would be wrong to jeopardise Pine Gap, because the intelligence it provides is too important for our security. Instead, our government must learn to be more forthright with the United States. Close friends should be honest with each other and be able to accept criticism and advice.
Sen Scullion did not directly answer the question about Pine Gap, but had more to say on the treatment of Mr Hicks and Mr Habib:During a recent visit to Guantanamo Bay by the Australian Consul-General in Washington, neither Mr Hicks nor Mr Habib raised any allegations of maltreatment.
Nonetheless, [upon the Australian Government's request] the US has agreed to carry out a formal investigation into Mr Hicks' and Mr Habib's treatment at all times they have been in US custody.
The government is also willing to listen to anything Mr Hicks' or Mr Habib's lawyers have to say. At our request, the US has lifted restrictions in military commission instructions upon Mr Hicks' defence counsel talking directly to the government about Mr Hicks' treatment. We are making arrangements to meet Mr Hicks' legal team as soon as possible.
Given that Mr Habib has not yet been listed as eligible for a military commission trial, his family lawyer has never been restricted by the US from talking to the government.
Alice News: The proposed free trade agreement does little for the pastoral industry in your electorate.
The restrictions on beef exports to the USA will continue for a long period. What is you view on that? How are you representing the interests of the Territory in relation to the free trade agreement?
Mr Snowdon: The FTA is far from perfect, which has been recognised in the Senate's report. As a result, Labor has moved a number of amendments to improve the agreement. But despite the flawed outcome on beef exports, our cattle industry has welcomed the FTA. I will respect their decision.Sen Scullion: The AUSFTA is the most important bilateral economic agreement ever undertaken by Australia. It will build on our $40.9 billion two-way trading relationship, and deliver real benefits to all sectors of the Northern Territory economy.
• immediately eliminate over 97 per cent of US tariffs on Australia's non-agricultural and manufacturing exports;
• immediately improve access for Australian agricultural products, eliminating two thirds of US tariffs from the day the agreement takes effect, and cutting a further nine per cent to zero within four years;
• provide unprecedented access to the $200 billion US Federal Government procurement market and those of key US state governments;
• guarantee market access and non-discriminatory treatment for Aust service providers;
• deliver a $6 billion boost to Australia's annual GDP within a decade, according to independent analysis.
Based on the size of its economy, the Northern Territory is expected to benefit by approximately $70 million each year.
Alice News: By many reasonable opinions CDEP is counter-productive and discriminatory, fails to lead participants to meaningful work and conceals the real unemployment in Lingiari. What should be done about CDEP?Mr Snowdon: CDEP has been operating since the 1970s and has very strong support across northern Australia. But it needs to be developed to provide better education and training outcomes. This used to happen under the Hawke-Keating Government, when CDEP was linked to other employment programs. The fact that the current government dropped these links is a matter of great concern.
Sen Scullion: The Australian Government has been concerned about the direction of CDEPs for sometime. When the Australian Government made the decision to abolish ATSIC and to mainstream ATSIS services, CDEPs were transferred into the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations.
DEWR already runs an Indigenous Employment Program whose focus is to put Indigenous jobseekers into the private sector and has had many successes.
The government is already implementing more accountability measures and is looking at a range of policy options into the near future.
The task to turn around many of the CDEPs towards mainstream labour markets will be difficult, especially in areas remote from strong labour markets.
Nevertheless I am confident that the government's successes in Job Network, Work for the Dole and the Indigenous Employment Program indicate that more accountable CDEPs whose focuses are more on economic development is possible.
Currently 6126 CDEP participants are registered in the electorate of Lingiari.
LETTERS: Bushlight shows 'respect and interest'.
Sir,- I recently read your article entitled "ATSIC's solar millions: they came and they went" (Alice News, July 28) and could not help but disagree with your appraisal of the Bushlight project.
I work at one of the small communities where Bushlight is currently working and I have to say I have been very impressed with the way they have gone about things.
The people I have met and talked with from Bushlight have shown a great deal of respect for and interest in the people living in the community and have taken their time to get to know the actual power needs of the people who live there.
They have consulted with people as well as educating them about different types of electricity generation and the amount of power needed to operate everyday household appliances.
The Bushlight team, in my opinion, have sought to avoid the trend of "dumping" things on bush communities and then leaving them without any support to sustain the new technology.
I am encouraged by their way of operating and look forward to seeing the results in the community I am connected with.Lisa Hall
Sir,- We are frequent visitors to Alice Springs and regularly receive copies of your newspaper in Sydney.
We are particularly enjoying the insights being provided by your new "through the looking glass" correspondent, Viktoria Cormack.
Her column has a very personal context to it in the mobile and ever changing community that is the Alice, and we are enjoying her unique perspectives.
Pat and Robin Graham
Sir,- It is always interesting from this distance (Sydney) to read about the current goings-on, both in and around The Alice.
The issue of access to Mount Sonder, which has been raised by the Alice Springs News in recent weeks, is an issue which the wider Australian community should pay greater attention to – as what happens in the Northern Territory's national parks could become a template for parks in the rest of the country.
Just over two years ago, Paul Toohey writing in The Weekend Australian (April 20, 2002), noted that Austrak's factory at Tennant Creek was only 100 metres from an important sacred site.
The factory was then at full production and churning out 2240 sleepers a day – a rather noisy process I would have thought.
The same article said that the railway was authorised to operate in close proximity to some 67 sacred sites.
"I suspect ... railways are pretty friendly objects in everybody's thoughts," John Avery of the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority was quoted as saying.
If a factory and a railway can exist "comfortably" in the same vicinity as sacred sights, it is difficult to comprehend how an occasional group of bushwalkers venturing to the real summit of Mount Sonder are going to have an injurious impact on that "sacred site".
It would really stretch credulity to suggest that it could.
Sir,- Congratulations to Jim Brown for his excellent letter to your paper about the benefits of buffel grass (Alice News, July 14).
In the past many species introduced into Australia have proven to be disastrous. How can we be sure that the introduction of another, a caterpillar [which destroys buffel grass], may not prove to be the same?
We three sisters were all born here in Central Australia and can remember that in the 1920s and ‘thirties settlers deliberately burnt off vast areas of spinifex which covered a great proportion of the land, hoping that native grass would replace it. This was a complete failure.
Is buffel grass, which is better than sand and dust storms, to be branded a noxious weed after saving Central Australia from becoming part of the Simpson Desert?
In the 1930s our father [Gerhardt Johannsen] was given a number of bags of different Australian grass seeds by a professor at the Adelaide University and was asked to plant and monitor them for a couple of years.
We all helped when he did so on a block of land he once owned near Heavitree Gap, and later gave to the Lutheran Mission.
This proved a failure however as only a few varieties survived a couple of years and then vanished, due to the unreliable rainfall.
Buffel grass has replaced what in the past was called Spinifex Country. We feel that these modern experts have failed to do their homework.
Trudy Hayes (b. 1912)
Mona Byrnes (b. 1923)
Myrtle Noske (b. 1926)
Sir, - As public comment on the Government's Secondary Education Review Report draws to a close, it is time to consider what it says about the changes to our public secondary education system.
Pre-schools, primary schools, schools for special needs students and remote schools will be grouped into what the report calls "Learning Precincts".
The Department of Education will devolve responsibility for staffing and facility management from a one-line budget.
School councils will cease to exist as the stages of schooling will be changed and parent involvement will occur through a new precinct advisory body.
Under the new stages of schooling, teachers will be selected from a central pool, and will have to apply as Primary (Transition to Year Six), Middle School (Years Seven to Nine) or Senior Years (Ten to Twelve, with new job descriptions.
School leaders, including current principles, will have to apply for new positions that do not currently exist.
Students will move between locations in the Learning Precinct to access specialist subjects. New agreements with Charles Darwin University, Batchelor Institute and other training providers will mean submission writing for VET in schools, with Learning Precincts competing for limited resources.
Secondary students in remote areas will have more "face to face" teachers, although at the expense of the closure of the NT Open Education Centre and jointly managing distance education delivery from Darwin and South Australia.
Are these changes going to affect all students and their families? Yes, it's the widest ranging set of recommendations since self-government, and if it is endorsed by the Government in August, it will come into effect in two years.
Some Territorians may be left wondering why they haven't heard about this minor detail. If you are a teacher, school assistant, or a parent of pre-school or primary school students, you may have heard of the review, but thought it wasn't going to affect you or your children because of its "Secondary" title.
However, you do need to contact your local school very soon, or speak to your union or local member of Parliament to express your opinion about the future directions of education.
Most bush schools don't offer any secondary trained teachers, adequate facilities, houses for local staff, or sharing of resources.
If you live rurally and can't see how any change from the present conditions could make things worse, you need to ask the question; "Will the Territory and Federal Governments get serious and provide funding to confront the disadvantages our children face?"
President, AEU NT
Sir, - We are a group of Alice Springs residents who are concerned about building and maintaining healthy relationships with the people of East Timor.
Our particular concern at the moment is the disputed ownership of the Timor gas and oil fields.
We are concerned about the way the Federal Government seems determined to proceed with its claim on the area despite the claims made by the East Timorese Government.
We are, like most Territorians, happy about the prospect of jobs and revenue for the Territory as Wickham Point and the pipeline are in the process of being developed and later coming into service.
We believe however that the overriding concern of the whole project should be about the ownership and the question of who should control various segments of the development.
It seems to us our Federal Government is avoiding resolution differences with the East Timorese Government by delaying talks between the two governments.
It also seems significant that the Federal Government removed the possibility of the differences being resolved by the international legal system.
This appears to have been a pre-emptive move made before the East Timorese Government could begin to act in its own right about how they might choose to make use of their own natural resources.
We are concerned that the refusal to meet with the East Timorese Government on a more regular basis is a blatant tactic to grab resources as quickly as possible; perhaps some other influential international group brought some pressure to bear.
I would prefer if our Federal Government were more concerned about building supportive and positive relations, particularly with our close neighbours.
As concerned Territorians we believe the Territory Government should be prepared to foster good relations with East Timor and not allow the Federal Government to place us in a position of "receiving stolen goods" and making a profit from them.
Alice Springs Friends of East Timor
BUILDERS COME BACK: MINISTER'S INVITATION. Report by ERWIN CHLANDA.
"Come back" is the call from Minister for Central Australia to builders and tradesmen who left town during the slump induced by the shortage of building land.
Dr Toyne says the Larapinta 40 block residential development by native title holders is now only weeks away.
An adjoining development by the government will follow, set to proceed after Lhere Artepe, which represents Alice Springs traditional owners, has got its scheme under way.
Dr Toyne says he understands Lhere Artepe has received several applications from interested developers.
The government gave the traditional owners a head start of six months from the signing of the agreement in mid-April, a deadline now extended by about four weeks, says Dr Toyne.
He says the government will turn off 45 blocks at Larapinta early next year.
Meanwhile the government is "pushing through the process as quickly as Lhere Artepe is happy with" to get an agreement for opening up Mt Johns Valley for housing land.
That area is between Stephens Road and the MacDonnell Ranges, south of the golf course – prime land which under the current zoning would provide 500 to 600 bocks.Dr Toyne says private sector housing may get a further shot in the arm with 60 dwellings proposed for the current Red Centre Resort on the North Stuart Highway.
The government is also spending $11m on Desert Knowledge Stage Two, says Dr Toyne, aiming to let "small tenders to spread the work around and make sure local people have a very good swing at it."
There will be a requirement for indigenous employment in the Desert Knowledge works whose Stage One head works are almost complete.
Another big project is the start of the sealing of the Mereenie loop road, says Dr Toyne.
"The message to the industry is, watch this space.
"There will be a lot of calls for tenders," he says.
John Baskerville, the head of the Department of the Chief Minister in Alice Springs, says NT Government spending in The Centre during 2004/05 will be about $56.8m.
At 10 jobs for each million dollars this is likely to create 560 jobs, he says. The projects are:-• Mereenie loop road: $10m.• Desert Knowledge precinct: $15.8m.
• Alice Hospital – additional work to fire protection: $2m.
• Upgrade beef roads: $2.5m.• Tanami Road upgrade: $1m.
• Larapinta subdivision services: $1.5m.• Mt Johns Valley services: $1m.
• Traeger Park grandstand: $1.7m.
• General purpose housing: $1m.
• Upgrade power facilities in four major communities: $1.3m.
• Installation of additional power generation at the Ron Goodin Power Station: $20m.
Show, don't tell. COLUMN by VIKTORIA CORMACK.
In the last couple of weeks Alice Springs and the Territory have had more media coverage than usual, and not the horrible kind this time concerning missing people and violent acts.
It was, but positive promotional stuff like on "Burke's Back Yard" where Emily Gap, Corroboree Rock, the Silver Bullet Café and bush tucker featured.
While I missed ‘The Alice', the movie that may turn into a TV series, I was fortunate enough to see Ted Egan on "Enough Rope" last week. He talked about his life and work in the Territory, especially the Top End.
What impressed me the most was his story about his time as appointed superintendent for the then Aboriginal reserve of Yuendumu in the ‘fifties. During his time there they established a cattle station and market gardens, excellent school attendance and good health care. All of this happened because Egan was the man with key to the store. The one in charge of the food. The one to please if you wanted to eat.
He recalls that soon after he left, the wheels fell off the projects. The motivation for keeping them going was not there. They had been successful for the wrong reasons. What he did leave behind that has remained is Aussie rules football.
In trying to help and teach others we often come in and tell them what to do, seeing as we know best and have already worked it all out. They may listen to us and "learn" the things we feel are important for them to know. Not necessarily because they see the value of our knowledge or our ways, but in order to get something else that we have and will give them if they comply.
The missionaries know what they are doing when they translate the Bible into local languages. You must find common ground and a way to communicate if you want to share your knowledge.
The best teachers don't tell you, they show you and there is nothing as motivational as enthusiasm. Our education system is realising that the way children have been taught for the last hundred years may not be the best way to do it.
It is now being recognised that boys, in particular, learn by doing, by being involved. It would appear that they are seen as a minority group with "special needs" although they make up half of all our children.
If something isn't working we have to ask ourselves why and go further than saying they are different, whether we are talking about Aboriginal people or boys.
Could we be doing something wrong although we have all the answers?
I have noticed that when my son plays with his friends and they play a fighting game they often argue and come inside crying, but when they build things with duplo or build a cubby they cooperate. Boys and girls are different.
When women rule in the schools boys' behaviour is commonly seen as being deviant.
Their behaviour is different, often upsetting the order. They are not female so their behaviour is wrong. Female thinking is more us-oriented, fitting into the group. Male thinking is more hierarchical.
Boys know where they stand with other males but are lost in a group environment where everyone has to do the same thing and conform to a female social structure. When trying to educate our children or our fellow human beings we have to go from being key keepers to ambassadors for learning.
Spreading the word like the missionaries with a promise of paradise.
It'll never catch on in the Alice! COLUMN by STEVE FISHER.
A sport I used to enjoy when I lived in a place large enough to require public transport journeys of a reasonable length, was to listen to other people's personal stereos.
It may sound sad, but it was a good way to unwind.
The game was to try to work out the song from the muffled drum and bass line that was audible from the earpieces. After a while, I bought myself a little radio and there the sport ended because I had a drum and bass line all of my very own. Poignant, isn't it?
It is three years since I travelled regularly on buses and trains and I miss the experience more than I miss most of my relatives. I often wonder if anything has changed.
Are toilet floors on commuter trains still permanently wet, for example? I would hazard a guess that nothing about city buses and trains has altered. On the other hand, personal music technology has advanced out of all recognition.
A case in point is the iPod, the latest version of which recently arrived in Alice Springs. The iPod is a pocket-sized music player that plays digital music usually downloaded from websites as MP3 files. These sites offer individual tracks rather than whole albums. The advantage compared to buying CDs is that you don't have to put up with a heavy metal band attempting a sensitive ballad when all you want is the searing guitar-led songs that you bought the album for.
Instead, you simply pick the songs you like and store them in your own bite-sized collecting device. Then you select a song to suit your mood.
So far, so good, but this is not an advert. There is no limit to the number of new products that the consumer electronics industry can come up with and no end to the numbers that they can sell to the gadget-buying public. But lots of experts thought that the iPod and its cousins in the MP3 player market would never catch on. The idea sounds great, but at over $400 a pop, surely we would all stick to portable CD players at a fraction of the cost.
One uncharacteristically humorous gadget expert claimed that the initials stand for ‘"idiots price our devices".
They were wrong. Consumer gadget-lust knows no bounds. Digital music players are the fastest-growing segment of the consumer electronic market. The iPod alone sold three million before it washed up on our shores.
Apparently, it can be seen everywhere on the bus systems of European and North American cities. Here, we're just a little behind.
So can we expect to see hundreds of people in Alice Springs wearing the trademark white earphones of the iPod? For my money, there's little chance of that. You need to have a good reason to spend $400 on a music player. In cities, the main reason is public transport.
A personal stereo insulates you from the mass of people that you would prefer to avoid on your way to work. It creates a personal bubble. Earphones say "keep away", but in the nicest way.
In small towns, we don't have the same need. The only feasible place to use the iPod is the gym or when walking the dog. But it's an unlikely part of the Alice culture of enjoying the quiet and chatting to passers-by.
Like buying DVDs, you would end up downloading tracks and then never finding the space to enjoy them. On a personal level, this is a shame. I had a hankering to resume the game of guessing songs again, although straining to hear other people's personal stereos in the gym is not only sadder than doing in on the bus but it makes you look stupid.
On another level, it is good to have found one popular gadget that doesn't enthrall us all.
RACE HONOURS KILLED STALWART. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
The King of the Hills bike race marked its thirtieth anniversary with the inclusion of the inaugural Tony Muscat Memorial Sprint.
This intermediate event was conducted during the classic at the James Orr Overpass, to honour the recently deceased former president and stalwart of the Alice Springs Cycling Club.
Kym Hansen, the reigning NT Open Road Racing Champion was crowned King of the Hills at the Tanami Road and North Stuart Highway intersection, after contestants had climbed through the hills from the Basso Road corner.
The lead group consisted of Hansen, Daniel Herrick, Daniel and David Johnston, Jeremy Dore, Daniel Davis and Chris Brokensha.
At the railway overpass Hansen and Daniel Johnston attacked, vying for the Muscat Sprint. Hansen proved superior.
The remainder of the pack rejoined the leaders after the sprint, with Herrick claiming third place.
In the push uphill to the finish the lead group was reduced to five with Davis and Johnston dropping off the pace.
Hansen's experience kept him in contention and he was able to hold off to take the overall title. Herrick was second by a bike length and Daniel Johnston finished third.
The presentations held after the race were enhanced by the presence of founding club members Wally Spears and Drury Pyper, and the Patron Grant Heaslip and his wife Jan. Stephanie Muscat was on hand to present the awards.
Daniel Herrick received an airfare for being the first school-aged rider home, and brought a fitting end to the day when he declared he would share the voucher with racing partner Daniel Johnston.
Next month they will be travelling to Mooloolaba in Queensland to contest the National Team Time Trials.
SOCCER: EARLY GOALS FIRE UP THE UNDERDOGS. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
Previous league leaders S&R Vikings were defeated by TDC in Sunday's soccer, after two first half goals gave the underdogs the impetus they need to run out winners 2-1.
In the other A Grade fixture Verdi overcame some of their recent woes by defeating Neata Glass Scorpions 2-0.
TDC took the game right up to Vikings by scoring in the fourteenth minute, when a Richard Fowler header found the back of the net.
At the 25th minute Gavin Munoz goaled to extend the lead, although not outdone by Conrad Tamblyn as he successfully converted for the Vikings.
With the score at 2-1 the second half was played without any alteration, meaning the loss relegated Vikings to second spot and lifted TDC to fourth.
By virtue of their win Verdi have now shot back to top position on the ladder.
In the first half they attacked frequently but were held out by goalie Michael Curtis who played a fine game.
At half time the game was poised at 0-0, and it wasn't until the 77th minute that Eddie Alexander was able to come from the right wing to score, putting Verdi in front.
Five minutes later Aric Abing sealed the game with a second goal for Verdi.
In B Grade the scores were high. Neata Glass Scorpions had a field day against Dragons, registering a 6-0 win.
Luke Wilkinson slotted two goals and Christian Huen, Roger Smith, Theo Karamidis and Matt Gridley registered singles.
Buckleys gave Stormbirds a bath when they won 5-0.
At half time the score-line was respectable at 1-0, but come the run home, Buckleys managed four more unanswered goals, with Scott Peters, Tom Clements, Alan Joe, Steve Pachulizc and Josh Burgoyne scoring.
Central Falcons added to the spree, running away with a 9-1 win over RSL.
Trevor Satour and Ben Stevans each recorded a hat trick, Bradley Braun scored two and Robbie Nardoo a single. In reply Lisa Rumbal was the scorer for RSL.
Federal Scorers then believed they were playing cricket, belting TDC 14-1. Chris Clements and Eddie Neblett each grabbed hat tricks, Jeremy Ryan and Nick Hill scored two goals each, and singles went to Pat Smith, Joe Breen, Glen Milne and Nat McGill.
Stephen Goldring was the lone scorer for TDC.
In C Grade Ton Treagust ran a double-edger, leaving Stormbirds out of the game as Gunnaz registered a 2-1 win.
Stormbirds' Phil Hassell found the back of the net but it simply wasn't enough as Gunnaz surged to the top of the C Grade table.
The match between Scorpions and Desert Spinach was evenly contested. The Scorpions improved on their recent showings and had Dianna Horwarth in the limelight with the goal. For the Spinach, who could feature in the finals, it went to Eli Waterford.
AUSSIE RULES: EAGLES AND ROOS TRY HARDER: FINALS LOOM. Report by PAUL FITZSIMONS.
With the top four Aussie Rules teams playing off on the weekend, victory went the way of South, and then Pioneer.
At this stage of the season players from the Eagle and Roo camps usually become conscious of the looming finals series and apply themselves on the ground and at training.
This weekend, Federal were expected to give South a good run for their money, but by the end of the game the reigning premiers had collected the premiership points by virtue of kicking 18.6 (114) to 11.7 (73).
In the late game the Bloods suffered their second defeat of the year when Pioneer prevailed 6.11(47) to 4.7 (31).
Federal looked the goods early in the game with Dave Atkinson proving he has played the game before, controlling the half-forward line with strong work in the packs, and two useful goals.
Jason Willshire and Liam Patrick also registered goals to give the Demons a seven-point lead at the break.
At this stage it was the potential of the Roo's forward line that Federal needed to keep in mind, as Kasman and Sherman Spencer and Galvin Williams had opened their goal scoring accounts.
Also present in the scoring zone was the elusive Gilbert Fishook.
Indeed the robust nature of Trevor Presley's attack on the ball and the brilliance of Fishook changed the pattern of play in the next two terms.
To see the forward line capitalise, South were able to generate attacks through the efforts of Charlie Maher, Clayton Cruse and Allan Henderson.
Fishook and Presley and Kasman Spencer were able to ensure that South went in at half time ten points clear. For Federal it was young Petrick's sole goal that kept them in the game.
In the third term South remained consistent in their game plan looking for and finding Fishook, Williams, Kasman Spencer and Bradley Braun.
In the Federal quarter a lot rested on the shoulders of Adrian McAdam. Camped in the goal square, he made use of his limited opportunities and scored two goals.
At the final break South were sitting on a twenty three point lead and appeared most composed.
Federal didn't give up in the last quarter but were outscored seven goals to four.
Emotions flowed into their game as they strove for their best. McAdam booted a further three goals, again displaying his undeniable talent.
South rose to the occasion with the likes of Darren Talbot (two goals) flashing into prominence.
The Roos spread the ball around their forward line well with Brendan Forrester and Travis Ngalkin catching the eye.
They won the game comfortably by 41 points, exhibiting the talent and desire to recapture the glory of the 2003 finals.
Federal will be in the finals as they have play makers Patrick AhKitt and Jason McMillan, and McAdam and Atkinson who are capable of steering the side to victory.
The accomplishment of coach Gilbert McAdam must also be respected.
The West and Pioneer game was won and lost in the third term. The first half proved to be an even tussle with neither side capable of establishing command.
At quarter time they were locked together at 1.2 each. By half time each side had registered seven scoring shots, with West up 3.4 to 2.5.
Four goals came off the boots of Matt Campbell, Willy Foster, Ryan Mallard and Trevor Dhu, giving the Eagles a 20 point lead and sufficient headway to run the last quarter as winners.
West grappled in the third term, scoring only two points, but then came home with a one goal to nil in the last term.
In celebrating the 16 point win Pioneer had Graham Smith as their Commander in Chief on field. His quality of play is a huge bonus to the Eagles.
Big men Aaron Kopp and Clinton Pepperill answered the call and countered the West aerial strength, and once again the crumbing ability of Geoffrey Taylor and Matt Campbell was invaluable.
Wests received serviceable games from Mark Bramley and Keith Durham. Chris Bettineschi, Adam Taylor and Kevin Bruce also contributed.
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