August 10, 2006. This page contains all major reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Megan Adair (Sheila) and Cameron Boon (Bob) are the lead characters of The Territr’y, a musical adapted from Oklahoma by 18 year old Biddy O’Loughlin.
It’s part of the sixth Alice Desert Festival.
“I’ve been working on this for a year now,” says O’Loughlin, inspired to adapt the script after being involved in an Oklahoma production in Adelaide.
“I hope the audience will recognise themselves in the play.”
The festival, from September 1 to 10, brings together 70 events over 10 days, with the traditional parade on the last day rather than the opening night.
Highlights include Desert Stars, connecting Africa to Alice when Sudanese singer, Ajak Kwai, performs with local vocalists Tecoma, Tashka Urban and others at Araluen (8pm September 2).
Last year’s popular Hub Space returns with events between September 7 and 10, including Cinema in the River and Club Todd, where cabaret, music and comedy will be performed in between workshops, art displays and circus acts.
UsMob will be shown on September 2 (2pm) and 3 (11am) at the library: the first Indigenous children’s television program in Australia, it is based on the adventures of kids at Hidden Valley town camp.

CATIA says the upgrade of Connellan Airport at Yulara to take international flights is “inevitable” despite no current plans by Voyages, but a “concerned” Chamber of Commerce has asked for a meeting with chief minister Clare Martin to discuss the issue.
And Mayor Fran Kilgariff says she will lobby the chief minister to stop it being built. 
“I think it would not be very good for Alice Springs for an international airport to go there. I certainly will speak to Clare Martin about it.”
Ms Kilgariff says it’s important for Alice Springs to establish itself as an international airport before Yulara does.
“Our strongest way of getting international flights to Alice Springs is to build up the number of charters coming here incrementally over the next couple of years.
“It makes sense we have an international airport here because we have the most facilities in the town to support it.
“The upgrades needed for Yulara airport won’t be finished in the near future, according to information given to me by CATIA.
“By then we will have built the Mereenie Loop which means we can draw people in more easily.
“My understanding is that Voyages have to put up the money for upgrades to the airport at Yulara like the widening and hardening of the runway and the back of house facilities which could cost up to $24m. I’ve heard that it could be quite some time before that money is available.”
Damien Hanger, a spokesperson for Voyages, denies the hotel chain is considering upgrading the airport to take international flights.
“There is no work being undertaken, or planned to be undertaken, for upgrading the terminal to international standards, including customs or immigration areas.”
CATIA’s general manager Craig Catchlove says he doesn’t fear international development at Yulara as long as it happens five years after Alice Springs has been the “sole port for international arrivals”.
The expansion of both airports could form “an entire charter program”, says Mr Catchlove.
“We’re a lobby for Central Australia, not just Alice Springs. The experience of arriving in Alice Springs and travelling along the Mereenie Loop Road through the McDonnell Ranges to Uluru would cement us as a Central Australian destination rather than an Uluru destination.
“Alice must be up and running first and the Mereenie Loop Road sealed for a few years and then Connellan upgraded. Otherwise Alice will miss out.
“We don’t fear the ability of Connellan to handle international flights. It will work in our best interest.
“If Central Australia is the destination, not just Uluru, then any traffic into the airport at Yulara will come to Alice as well. Two airports supports the ‘open jaw’ concept of experiencing the destination: that is, in one end out the other with no backtracking.”
Mr Catchlove expects that Alice Springs airport will be equipped for international flights by Christmas.
“We have $220,000 of NT government money sitting in the CATIA bank account for an aircraft tug [the tractor-type machine that moves the aircraft around on the ground].
“As soon as someone supplies me with a quote we can purchase it. We’ve been having problems getting a quote because used tugs able to handle very large aircraft are not in plentiful supply. None are available locally.
“We hope to have the x-ray machines and quarantine facilities before the next set of charters from Japan expected just before New Year.”
He says the sealing of the Mereenie Loop will take longer:
“We really are looking at a five year project. Glen Helen to Beer Can Corner will be finished later this year but there are issues surrounding the Hermannsburg to Ipolera section through the Harts Range land trust.
“The CLC has put its foot down and is arguing very strongly with NT government over who issues site clearances.” 
Meanwhile the Chamber is concerned by the rumoured expansion at Yulara. “We want clarification and information from the government,” says Terry Lillis, southern branch chairman.
“My counterpart in Darwin and I are seeking a meeting with the chief minister on August 20 or 21 with appropriate senior ministers to discuss several issues regarding Alice Springs and not the least of which is the rumoured extension which is of concern to the chamber.”
And Ms Kilgariff is doing her bit this week to promote Alice as an international destination by meeting a charter flight from Kyushu in Japan.
“We’ll be encouraging charter flights like this one to spend more time in Alice Springs, for example by telling them about the golf course which Yulara doesn’t have,” says Ms Kilgariff.

Dramatic reductions in alcohol take-away hours – even to one day a week – get a tick from Daryl Smeaton, CEO of the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation (AER).
On a recent visit to Alice Springs, where grog consumption is nearly double the national average, he says successful measures the world over “are about limiting availability, limiting licensing hours, and taxation, and you will have an effect on consumption and the harm resulting from it”.
Should the measures be the more drastic the greater the problems are?
Mr Smeaton says there is no general formula: “Local conditions need to dictate that sort of thing.
“The issue is how much we drink. All the evidence shows [reducing alcohol availability] works.” 
He says curtailment of take-away sales would affect the broader community: “Every time you put in place restrictions you restrict everybody.
“You can’t discriminate.
“And therefore a lot of people are going to say, hey, it’s not my problem.
“But you can stock up.
“We’ve got refrigerators now, and you only have to keep your beer cold for 24 hours, so you stack it in the shed.”
Four years ago the AER was charged with spending $115m from the Federal Government to “to enhance the capacity of the alcohol and other drugs sector to address alcohol and other licit substance misuse and to promote responsible consumption of alcohol”.
The AER has spent $85m so far, including $6.5m in the NT.
Rehabilitation camps Ilpurla, between Alice Springs and Ayers Rock and run by the legendary Barry Abbott and his son Leo, and Mt Theo, near Yuendumu, are getting $250,000 each this year.
Ilpurpla is also receiving a $2.2m Federal grant to build facilities, including dormitories and a kitchen, for 20 young sniffers, and a measly $25,000 over three years from the NT Government.
Mr Smeaton takes a national view of the booze problem, and sees it not as a black versus white issue but as an urban versus rural one: “85% of non-indigenous Australians drink. Only 60% of indigenous Australians drink.
“The rates of family violence in Australia bear no relationship at all to genetics or colour.
“The main difference is between major metropolitan areas and rural areas.”
And the rural areas are doing much worse.
In Europe, where alcohol is much more readily available, it is causing disease at a much greater rate.
But in Australia, there’s much more grog related violence, as is the case in all other anglo-saxon countries, including Great Britain, United States, Canada and New Zealand.
How does he explain Alice Springs’ terrible record of having 10 times the nation’s homicide rate, almost entirely in the Aboriginal community?
“They are not necessarily alcohol fuelled,” says Mr Smeaton.
But he agrees that alcohol plays a significant part in 50% to 70% of family violence or sexual assault cases and hospital admissions.
He says 70% of emergency department appearances all around Australia every Saturday night are alcohol fuelled.
“You talk to any copper anywhere in Australia and he will tell you 75% to 85% of his work is alcohol related.”
In the 90s Australians were drinking 7.5 litres of pure alcohol per person per year.
That’s now grown to 9.2 litres.
The NT is guzzling 17 litres, nearly double the nation’s average, and has Australia’s highest consumption rate and the highest rate of harm.
Mr Smeaton says although fewer than 5% of people become alcohol dependent, grog is the most dangerous drug in the community affecting absenteeism, accidents, violence, assaults, car trauma and sexual assaults.
Things are pretty bad across the Top End of Australia generally, a “product of weather and isolation, lack of other opportunities”, as well as poor education.
“We need to change the way we drink,” says Mr Smeaton.
“Many Australians get drunk. 40% of young people in a recent survey said they drink to get drunk.
“That’s a huge change.”
So, how do we change the way we drink?
“It’s a cultural change.”

Barry Abbott is 62 and has looked after kids in trouble since he was 13, some 300 kids in all, sniffers, drunks or victims of drunk families.
He’s one of the hard men of The Centre, good with his fists, uncompromising in his demands.
A couple of weeks ago he came into town from his outstation called Ilpurla, on that big bend in the Finke half way between Alice and The Rock.
He had 12 kids in tow, dropped in to the Family and Community Services (FACS) office, and told the bloke in charge: “Right, mate, you look after them.”
The bureaucrat had misdirected money needed for food.
The payment was two and a half weeks late and Barry (pictured) had spent all his own money and they were hungry.
The bureaucrat offered to give Barry a purchase order which he says wasn’t any good because the funds had gone to the Mutitjulu Community which is under administration.
“You do the shopping. Drop it off to me,” Barry told him. A little later he had the cash.
After nearly 50 years at the coal face of fighting addiction and misery Barry’s outstation gets just $25,000 a year over three years from the NT Government which can’t stop touting its concern for kids at risk.
The government has no comment to make.
Barry doesn’t know the word despair.
He readily cuts loose at government incompetence.
The subsidy for kids in his care is $875 a month for kids over 15 and $600 for kids under 15, also from FACS.
Barry’s son Leo is now also deeply involved in running Ilpurla.
He says in addition to the $250,000 spread over next three years from the national Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation, Ilpurla will get $2.2m from the Commonwealth for dormitories and a kitchen accommodating 20 young people.
Leo says the kids are between seven and 18 years old, substance abusers usually placed by Corrections and FACS.
They stay for six months to two years.
When they leave they often re-enter a world of uncertainty and neglect.
“We’re dealing with wards of the state,” says Leo. “When they leave they’re under the care of Family and Community Services, and they are supposed to be doing whatever with them.
“The commitment isn’t there when people leave Ilpurla.
“That’s why we want to do outreach work.
“The young people do ring us up and have a bit of a chat. We hear from families how the young person is going.
“It depends on what they go back to.
“If they go back to something better, well, then the young people are going to be all right.
“With us they are in a caring family environment but then it’s hard for them to go back to what they started from in some other places.”
Ilpurla is no holiday camp. The young people work as motor mechanics, fencing, building.
“We do just about anything and everything,” says Leo, but for the moment without certificated skills.
“We’re heading in this direction now, as a Regional Training Organisation with skills such as pulling bores, building yards, making yard panels.
“There are not too many people who can pull bores these days.
“In the environment we live in today, a piece of paper means a lot.
“But the big thing is for the young people to have confidence in themselves, respect themselves.”
They start work at daybreak: “None of this sleeping in,” says Leo.
“If we’re working with cattle it’s dawn to dusk, and if we’re out in the camp we sleep in the stock camp.”

The furore over the racket from a gas turbine at the Alice Springs power station is exposing severe shortcomings of Territory noise laws.
Government inaction in stopping the disturbance to residents in the Golf Course Estate may well embolden noise polluters elsewhere.
Environment Minister Marion Scrymgour is stonewalling the issue, but Hayes McKenzie APW, consultants for Power and Water Corporation (PWC), which is running the power station, say there are “no specific Northern Territory policy or regulations for industrial noise.
“Approaches to noise issues are generally informed by reference to policy and regulations from other jurisdictions.”
The consultants say they have taken into account World Health Organization guidelines, and selected the NSW Industrial Noise Policy as the “most appropriate ... for the protection of the amenity of residents”.
Ms Scrymgour won’t comment but PWC is endorsing the consultants’ statement.
The screaming noise of the station’s Titan generator is likened by Greatorex MLA Richard Lim to having a jet plane parked in your neighborhood.
The noise has now been going on for nearly a year and won’t be reduced - if at all - until baffles are installed in the chimney-like exhaust in October.
NSW laws provide for a maximum penalty for corporate noise offenders “not exceeding $1,000,000 and, in the case of a continuing offence, to a further penalty not exceeding $120,000 for each day the offence continues.”
The NSW policy defines noise as “intrusive” if, for 15 minutes or more, it is five decibels (dB) above the “background noise” which, according to a well-informed source, in the case of the Alice power station is 48 dB.
Background noise there is the sound of the piston engines inside the generation hall which was in existence when the Golf Course Estate was built: Land buyers made the decision to put up with that noise, generally a low, rumbling sound.
But the current problem started when the Titan gas turbine was installed last year outside the generating hall, and with an exhaust stack higher than the hill separating it from the residential area.
Especially when the wind comes from the direction of the power station, residents cop not only noise, but also fumes.
Hayes McKenzie took nearly 3000 noise measurements in Range Crescent as well as in Kilgariff Crescent in Sadadeen.
But although the consultants say they are guided by the NSW policy, they do not disclose occasions when the sound level was five dB or more above the background noise, for 15 minutes or more.
All the Hayes McKenzie reveals is the “average” noise over the total number of readings, factoring in occasions when the wind direction reduced or eliminated the noise nuisance. This resulting data show an excess of less than five dB over the background noise.
However, the Alice News has learned that measurements of up to 60 dB have been made recently, 12 dB above background, or seven dB above the tolerance level.
The NSW Act defines “offensive noise” as noise that is:-
• harmful to, or is likely to be harmful to, a person who is outside the premises from which [the noise] is emitted, or
• interferes unreasonably with, or is likely to interfere unreasonably with, the comfort or repose of a person who is outside the premises from which [the noise] is emitted.
There are several other definitions.
The NT’s Waste Management and Pollution Control Act, in Section 83 (5) says: “A person must not cause an environmental nuisance.”
The Act defines “environmental nuisance” as “an adverse effect on the amenity of an area that” -
• is caused by noise, smoke, dust, fumes or odour; and
• unreasonably interferes with or is likely to unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of the area by persons who occupy a place within the area or are otherwise lawfully in the area.
The government and PWC concede that the Titan’s noise is unacceptable.
A spokeswoman for Ms Scrymgour says: “Advice has been provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Power Water on the levels of sound attenuation that will be required to keep noise below the nuisance threshold.”
PWC chief Kim Wood says if the fitting of sound dampening baffles is not successful, in the event of “continuing unacceptable noise levels, Power and Water will consider other options, including the possibility of relocating the Titan”.

“Alice Springs is more creative than Darwin.”
Cheers all around.
It was Minister for Central Australia Peter Toyne speaking, and the audience were those on the invite list for the launch of the Alice Desert Festival – perhaps half practising artists and arts workers, half business and government people.
I’m not familiar enough with Darwin to either support or contest the comparison but the statement, a commonplace at local launches and openings, panders to an Alice Springs jingoism that I think is unhealthy.
It encourages us to rest on our laurels, generating the kind of complacency that allows Mayor Fran Kilgariff, given a eulogising introduction by the festival’s new general manger, to speak about council’s support for the arts “through a program of grants and funding”.
In terms of dollars going directly to artists and the festival this program is modest ($20,000 in Araluen community access grants, $30,000 for the festival apart from in-kind support) and it does little to offset the council’s recent huge missed opportunity to support the arts – through work with local architects, artists and designers on the Civic Centre.
This would have added some depth to the “creative Alice” tag and have had the potential to express something about the town’s vision of itself and its future. It would have given the mayor something substantial to talk about when she visits Canberra this week to attend Regional Arts Australia’s National Regional Arts Summit.
Ironically, given the council’s poor record in the recognition of the arts on its own doorstep, the mayor will be involved in a round table discussion on “Improving recognition of the arts in regional Australia and developing new partnerships”. Ironic because whatever council’s $10.6m redevelopment of the Civic Centre has achieved, it doesn’t include a single graceful line, or imaginative shape or space, or any work of public art.
And it doesn’t express anything about Alice Springs that would testify to the “uniqueness” often claimed for the town.
There’s still scope for the council to turn this around, at least in the grounds around the centre and in its forthcoming works in Todd Mall.
“Unique” was a word peppered about at the festival launch. It means  “standing alone in comparison with others”, “having no like or equal”. 
The claim sets the bar high, and why not, but uniqueness comes at the price of vision, discourse, sustained effort and support.
The festival program reveals weakness on all these fronts – no disrespect intended to the hard-working volunteer committee (whose failure to appoint an artistic director was not for want of trying) nor to the very recently appointed general manager.
The program is like a wine-tasting, with smatterings from a range of art forms – the promise of “something for everyone”.  In some instances the key attraction is an import, whether it’s visiting writers on the Ghantastic Writers Tour or the Sudanese singer Ajak Kwai at Desert Stars or the Darwin Symphony Orchestra at the flagging Desert Song event.  (Local talent is centre stage in some gigs, such as the Bush Bands Bash and Home Brew.)
In other instances the attraction is something that would happen anyway – like Desert Mob, Gallery Gondwana’s Big Country, National Poetry Week – and the festival is merely acting as an umbrella. And once again the festival’s most successful innovation, Wearable Arts, is outside the main program.
The wildfoods event is genuinely original and exciting, and could be a platform around which much more is built.
It’s time that the festival, now in its sixth year, started to generate art and ideas: commission a major work from its best artists, ideally a work that dialogues between Indigenous and non-Indigenous cultures.
This could be a work of visual art or it could involve a number of art forms. It would express a vision of cultural, and hence social, possibilities; it would help set the agenda for debate about this place.
Instead the town and the region suffer a constant buffeting of agendas set elsewhere, yet we still see fit to be self-congratulatory.
This only thinly covers a real uncertainty about the nature of the festival, which in turn reflects an uncertainty about our cultural life. The imagery for the festival poster, program cover and TV commercial are sadly eloquent on this point.
There’s absolutely nothing in the imagery that resonates with this place. It could be promoting mainstream entertainment anywhere in the Western world. The choice of colours and the floral ornamentation are like something from a spread in a fashion magazine – what do they say about Alice or the desert or the arts of the region?
For things to change the thinking and planning needs to start now. And it needs to be able to proceed with the assurance of support. Development of the festival has been fettered from the word go by paltry and uncertain funding but the issue is much broader than that.
The thinking, the planning, the support need to be addressed to the arts and by the arts, broadly, year round. The excellence of proven local practitioners needs to recognised by commissions whenever the opportunity arises: local artists and designers need to get the work that routinely goes out of town or else that falls back on standardised solutions (like the grilles at the Civic Centre whose design was the subject of a call for expressions of interest from artists, subsequently abandoned).
Local film-makers need to be given more consideration instead of the tiny grants currently available while the big dollars go to out of towners (such as Southern Cross for the dismal TV series, The Alice ).
But at the same time, artists and their audience need to develop a critical spirit that would not allow, for instance, the on-going display of all-comer shows like the Advocate Central Australian Art Award in the region’s only public art gallery. You can’t have undiscriminating displays of mostly amateur art in a public institution strongly associated with Australia’s most internationally acclaimed visual art movement – Aboriginal art of the Central Deserts. What must interstate and international art lovers think when they walk into this show?
The same goes for Desert Mob, which would take a big step forward if it became a curated exhibition: the best of the best from the art centres, while the rest was available in the Desert Mob MarketPlace. (A similar strategy could be applied to the Advocate Award.)
Let’s not for another minute be too ready to believe that whatever Alice does is great and then be surprised to discover the world  passing us by.

Talking and walking caterpillars, mad bureaucrats, cats that fly through the air: the circus lawns behind Araluen are about to burst with a colourful and explosive celebration of Alice Springs.
There are 40 children and adults practising hard for A Wonderland in Alice, an artistic interpretation of the past, present and future of Alice Springs, based on Lewis Caroll’s children’s book.
“It’s the journey of Alice [as she sees] the social and environmental changes which have taken place here,” says organiser Adelaide Church from Circus Us.
“There will be acrobatics, aerial circus skills, puppets, fabulous music and some amazing costumes,” says Ms Church.
The show runs on August 12 and 13 at 4.30pm, tickets from Araluen.

It was the most spectacular bull ride Harts Range had ever seen, said commentator Tim Edmunds: De Lewis rode Rasputin right out of the arena (his head missing being smashed on the gate on the way out by just inches) after staying on for more than12 seconds.
He was crowned the outright bull riding champion of the weekend to rapturous applause after also winning Saturday’s event on Derka Derka.
Second place on Saturday was won by Lyle Rankine on Bone Collector, who just missed out on a score on Sunday, beaten by Les McLaughlin riding Milo who came second.
“It was a good solid bull and I put up a good ride with him,” said Lewis, ecstatic with his win.
“Is it worth the pain? Bloody oath it’s worth it! It’s an awesome and extreme sport. It’s a man’s sport. It makes my blood boil.”
A machinery driver in South Australia, Lewis spent seven years riding bulls on a station in The Kimberley.
He’s working the rodeo circuit, picking up buckles at this year’s Aileron rodeo and also at Mataranka last year. He’s currently leading the Festival State Titles in South Australia with two more rounds to go.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 14: I’m 30 now.
“Where do I start on my injuries? Being kicked in the tail bone, needing nine stitches in his head, busted ribs, twisted knees: I have to wear a permanent brace. And bruises, always bruises.”
Dislocated shoulders and being smashed into the side of the arena didn’t look much fun to me: I was glad I’d already completed my events, the tug of war (grand final runners-up before being thrashed by Ti Tree) and kangaroo tail tossing. 
The stench of raw meat was strong as I stood nervously in the middle of the Harts Range race track. It may have been picnic weekend but I wasn’t keen on eating what I was about to throw: a kangaroo tail complete with brown fur and bloodied end. 
I swung the weighty tail twice and threw it as hard as I could. It didn’t go very far. But friend and fellow journalist (with the ABC), Kirsty Nancarrow, won the whole competition and a tidy $100 (I reckon she was also the most stylish contestant in black sunnies and matching black trousers and top).
Like many of the 3000 people who went to the Harts Range races at the weekend I had never been on a station in my life and wouldn’t know a poddy calf if it stood on my Havaiana-thonged foot (note to self: open-toed footwear is not appropriate where animals have visited). But it didn’t matter a bit: everyone was so friendly and chatty and I was talking calf scruffing and barrel racing with great authority by the end of the weekend.
And bringing the town and country together is an important part of the event, says Tim Edmunds, the fast-talking commentator of the bull riding competition.
“Life is fast these days, it’s a dog eat dog sort of world. But this weekend is all about the basics: the old face to face chat rather than email or the telephone, kick back and relaxing watching the events, bringing your own swag and drink and just feeling good about life.
“This shows the Centre’s own sort of uniqueness. There is nothing else like this in Central Australia.”
He says it’s a good way for town people to get a glimpse of the ways of the bush, and for station workers who live thousands of kilometres away from each other to meet.
“You might not see each other from one rodeo to the next. Getting together is a chance to swap ideas as well as a social.   
“We get big support and response from the stations for this: there are 15 here this weekend, from as far away as the Tanami, New Crown in South Australia and Numery Station in the east.”
Bush sports weekends have seen a recent resurgence in popularity, with the reintroduction of the Alice Bushman’s Carnival in November last year, the first time the event had been held in town for 15 years, and Aileron, which was also brought back in again last year. 
“Harts Range is growing from strength to strength every year to the point that the facilities need to be upgraded to cope with the number of people,” says Edmunds, referring to the plumbing difficulties which stopped the loos working on Sunday afternoon.
More involvement from town riders in the gymkhana is part of the reason why the competition had to be held over two days like last year rather than one as in previous years, said Sue Wharton, judge of the senior events, who lives in Alice Springs herself.
“There are about 10 more riders in the senior gymkhana than last year and there’s a mixture of station people and riders from town.
“The riders have close times and there is great quality in the riders and horses.” 
Speaking of fun, ties were the talking point at the ball on the Saturday night. We’d been told that men had to wear them so we assumed it was a smart do. 
Struggling into our skirts and lipstick by the campfire, my friends and I felt a bit overdressed (forget black tie, Territory ties seem to be made from loo paper, aluminium foil and belts).
But it was fantastic fun dancing the night away before tucking ourselves up in swags by the fire and under the stars.
I’ve had a true blue Aussie weekend that I don’t think I’ll ever forget.

Very few things are one hundred per cent predictable. Just ask anyone who works the land, or in the met office for that matter, and they’ll tell you of the hours each day trying to predict what the weather will be doing tomorrow. That’s just working out tomorrow.
But I can tell you with all assurance that if I make it to my senior years I will be a great old man.
I’m actually looking forward to being an old man (or elderly gent if that’s more appropriate) for one reason in particular. Older people seem to have the freedom to say what they want with no fear of judgement of retribution. 
Just recently I watched with reverence and awe as an old bloke tore shreds off a young kid for swearing in the Mall. It was a thing of beauty.
I felt like ordering a coffee and a sandwich and settling down to watch the entire event unravel as this experienced master of the rant let fly with both barrels.
This joy is fuelled by the fact that deep down, in my heart of hearts, I am already a grumpy old man. In fact when you boil it down the only difference between the Grey haired gent in the mall and me is that I haven’t given in to wearing slippers in the daytime. 
I don’t know the reason but I get grumpy really quickly.
Call centre operators, who ring in the middle of dinner, people who drive too close to my bumper or too slow in front of me all bring me one step closer to codgerville.
I can not go shopping on a Saturday morning without wanting to subject some family of four to several thousand reasons why bringing your entire family shopping on a Saturday isn’t the smartest idea. 
God forbid anyone make more than two transactions while I’m waiting at an ATM. “What are you doing, refinancing your house are you?” Well that’s what runs though my head anyway.
I’m not alone. Behind every happy, well adjusted bloke, there’s an old grumpy codger just waiting to bust out.
I’m generally an affable sort of guy. Well meaning and easy going.
And I’m sure there are people reading who would put themselves in a similar category but given the right set of circumstances, the right conditions, hands up who becomes their grumpy granddad. 
We are bombarded with all sorts of messages of calm and serenity; from the “don’t sweat the small stuff” blue day book to the calming effects of Enya,  these instruments are designed to soothe the savage old bloke in us.
For me these things only work to a point. No sooner have I breathed in their air of calm and serenity than someone cuts me off on the highway.
For the longest time I believed that I was resigned to a life of grumpy oldness.
Destined to pull on the daytime slippers at any moment and shuffle head long into cardiganland. But then I discovered the resource many Centralians have known about for years. A commodity guaranteed to calm the grumbles out of the crankiest senior. No, I’m not talking about beer.
Now I’m no patchouli smelling hippie (see I’ve even got the language down) but standing on a blood orange sand dune, soaking in the absolute silence that remote areas in Central Australia can only afford you get a real sense of perspective. I know that sounds a bit “bongo-drummy” but standing there feeling the sand between my toes and the breeze on my face I had a bit of an epiphany.
Maybe the family of four has more important things to worry about than the big, impatient, bloke sighing behind them in aisle three.
Maybe the call centre operator is a 19 year old kid trying to pay their way through university. Maybe it’s just not worth the effort. The Central Australian landscape, a truly natural anti-stress supplement.
Recommended by this grumpy old man. Available to grumpy old men everywhere.
Perhaps we should lease it out on a global scale. Could be a huge money spinner for the Territory.

Sir,– I am following with interest the debate on the noise level of the new turbines at the powerhouse.
Jean-Luc Revel [generation manager in Alice Springs] would surely remember of the plans mooted for the turbines to be at Brewer Estate and controlled from Ron Goodin control room.
This would be no problem these days seeing that the whole distribution net is operated from Darwin.
Mr Revel is correct in that the thing stopping the project was the cost and route of the high voltage line required.
I am going back to Tuxworth times now.
But as with the water-supply the bullet will have to be bitten sooner or later. Or maybe it is contemplated that Alice Springs will no longer grow and will fade into the sunset.
Hermann Weber
Adelaide (ex-Alice and former board member of the Power and Water Corporation)

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