May 13, 2010. This page contains all major
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.

Crack-down on hawkers in mall. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The town council is clamping down in Todd Mall on hawkers of paintings who don’t have a permit.
They have been “moved on” in recent days by council rangers.
CEO Rex Mooney says the council is seeking to “educate people about the by-laws breach and encouraging them to follow the correct procedure and seek a council permit.”
The permits cost $205 a day and vendors are obliged to have a $10m public liability insurance.
“Council officers want to find a longer term outcome that suits all involved,” says Mr Mooney. He says these initiatives started before the publication of a letter to the editor from Mall gallery owner Michael Hollow (Alice News, April 29), although it is clear that the patrols have been stepped up.
Mr Hollows complained that hawkers, most of them unlicensed, were taking away business from Mall traders who had to bear a string of costs, including council rates.
The council’s policy is: “When issuing permits for commercial activities, the Council shall take into account potential competition to existing mall traders.”
Mr Mooney, when asked by the Alice Springs News, said in the last three months the council had handed out three $20 fines for selling without a permit.
In the month of April alone council rangers gave out about 270 parking fines.
The by-laws say “a person shall not in the Mall, except with the permission in writing ... sell, or offer, display or advertise for sale, any goods  or services ... perform or offer any entertainment ... make a painting or drawing, or take a photograph or film, of a person or thing for commercial purposes ... or address any persons assembled there”.
A number of painting sellers have joined the Todd Mall Markets, paid their stall owner’s fee and are selling their work at the fortnightly Sunday morning markets.
Markets president Jenny Mason says the work of the artists, mostly Aboriginal, is a welcome addition to the rich mix of goods on offer, and their presence adds to the appeal of the event.
“Many of them are mothers or grandmothers who use the money for their kids,” says Ms Mason.
The initial fine for selling without a permit is $20 but if that is not paid, say the by-laws, “enforcement action may be taken ... under the Fines and Penalties (Recovery) Act which ... may result in the suspension of the alleged offender’s licence to drive, the seizure of property, the deduction of wages or salary, the registration of a statutory charge on land, a community work order or imprisonment if a community work order is breached”.

Ugly poles go up.

Massive 30 meter high concrete power poles are going up in Len Kittle Drive, alongside Blatherskite Park, despite strong demand from the public to put the lines under ground in that area.
Member for Greatorex Matt Conlan says he collected about 200 signatures in support of “undergrounding”. He says the government had claimed it would cost $10m for that 1.8 km section, compared to $5m or $6m.
Mr Conlan says the figure was clearly overstated and designed to claim large savings by going overhead.
The Alice Springs News asked Power and Water on March 25 to provide plans and specifications for going underground, including cable size and ratings, along with proposed installation requirements, information normally provided by P&W for going to tender.
We wanted to obtain an independent valuation of the work.
P&W did not provide the information.

New life for former rodeo rider after chopper crash.

During a muster in late September 2008 on the most remote cattle station in the country, Suplejack, and 50 kms from the homestead, the engine failed in a Robinson R22 helicopter and it crashed with pilot Zebb Lesley from Katherine and Suplejack’s Rob Cook on board.
Zebb walked away “without even a headache”, laughs Rob, who broke his back and severely injured his neck.  He is now a “C4 tetraplegic”, meaning he can move his head and has a small amount of movement in his right arm.
From his bed at home in Alice Springs Rob talks about his friend Zebb with compassion – the guilt Zebb carries with him every day although “it wasn’t his fault at all”.
“The emotional and mental stress this accident has placed on Zebb and his family is still present.
“But he did everything he was supposed to do, we think he’s the best pilot in the country.
“We still employ him at Suplejack – we wouldn’t use anyone else,” says Rob.
It was busy last Thursday at the Cooks’ five acre rural block not far from town. The family – Rob, Sarah and their two little boys, Braxton and Lawson, together with Rob’s carer – were making preparations for a road trip in their specially adapted “gooseneck”, bought with funds raised by family and friends in Alice and Clermont, Queensland where Rob was born.
They’re heading east first for a family wedding, and then seeing where their search for a small cattle property takes them.
Rob has been fighting to move back out to Suplejack, a one million acre property in the Tanami, north-west of Alice, south-west of Katherine. Running 8000 to 10,000 head, it is owned by his parents and grandparents and worked almost solely by family members.
He and Sarah want their boys to be brought up with the same values and rural experiences they have had. They’ve got horses on their five acre block and a little crop of sorghum to feed them but even this is “too towny for us”, says Rob.
But his doctors and insurers say he can’t live too far from a hospital. They also say he shouldn’t be doing the kind of travelling he’s planning – what if something goes wrong on the road?
“That can happen to anyone,” says Rob, refusing to let his life be defined by his disability.
His mother, Letty Cook (nee Savage), grew up on Suplejack. That’s where his parents met and married, before moving on to their own cattle station in Western Australia and then to Queensland.
Rob is their fourth child of seven, four girls, three boys. He moved back to Suplejack in 1997, at age 15, and his parents and younger siblings a couple of months later, with his parents going into partnership with his grandparents, Bob and Lillian Savage.
“I started at the bottom in the camps and worked my way up to head stockman,” says Rob.
“My parents never gave us anything except opportunities. In the year of the accident my wife and I had stepped up to managerial roles at the station.”
Before becoming a father Rob had worked the rodeo circuit, as a professional bullrider, winning the Australian Rookie Bullriding Title the year after his marriage. His experience of the sport’s physical duress and of surviving a number of fairly serious injuries would stand him good stead during his long recovery from his accident.
On the day of the crash he’d been flying a gyrocopter, spotting cattle. There were two choppers plus a couple of men on the ground on bikes, all involved with the muster.
Rob landed the gyro and hopped in with Zebb to point out where he’d seen cattle.
“Twenty minutes later the chopper was upside down in the scrub.”
He says Zebb had known something was wrong, had put the chopper into auto-rotation to use gravity to pick up speed in the blades.
They were in fairly thick timber country and “it was amazing he got it into the clearing that he did”. 
But on the way down the tail rotor hit a tree and was shattered. The chopper skidded, reared up and slammed down on the passenger side roof.
Rob was hanging upside down in his seatbelt and was having great difficulty in breathing. There was terrible damage to his neck, with his chin forced down to his sternum.
Paralysis was instant, but he remained conscious the whole time. When the pilot in the second chopper, Andrew Scott, couldn’t raise Zebb on the radio he came looking for them. Zebb told him that Rob couldn’t feel anything. Andrew flew back to the homestead to fetch Rob’s father, Bill, and brother-in-law, Shane.
They all knew that Rob had suffered spinal damage and that they shouldn’t move him but Rob insisted it was “a risk they had to take”. They had to straighten him out to get his breathing back and it worked.
“Thank God those muscles weren’t out of action,” says Rob.
“Going by what the doctors say about the level of my injuries, the severity of the squashed spinal cord, they can’t understand why I was still able to breathe.
“We know now that the force of the landing also broke the T6 vertebrae in my lower back along with the C4/C5 dislocation.”
Meanwhile, the Royal Flying Doctor had flown out to the homestead but could not reach the crash site. It was too remote and rough to get to by car.
Another mate, Mark Sulllivan, was flying a bigger R44 chopper, “like a dual cab”, up on Tipperary (west of Pine Creek). He turned around, flew to Lajamanu to pick up a full body stretcher, on to the homestead to pick up the doctor, and then to the crash site – a 500 to 600 km journey, estimates Rob.
Andrew had flown his chopper to Tanami Gold Mine to pick up a paramedic, who luckily had arrived back from a break just at that time.
“She was awesome,” recalls Rob.
She stabilised his neck with a brace, put in a drip line, gave him oxygen.
By the time the doctor arrived in the R44 there was little for them to do other than get Rob onto the stretcher.
The accident had happened at 10.20am, it was now about 5pm.
Rob, who is just over six feet, recalls being strapped into the chopper on the floor, with his head sticking out on one side and his feet on the other. He watched the blades whirring overhead as they flew back to the homestead airstrip.
There his family, including his wife and two kids, the youngest just six month old, were waiting. Rob was transferred to the Flying Doctor plane, his airways were stabilised and then he was put to sleep.
He was kept overnight at the Alice Springs Hospital and flown to Adelaide the next day.
At the Royal Adelaide Hospital he underwent surgery to realign his spine at the C4 and C5 vertebrae – “there was like a 90 degree kink in my spinal cord and the spinal fluid had been squeezed out into a kind of bag under my ear”.
From then on it was a fight to survive. He was in intensive care, on full life support, and on so much pain relief that he was suffering morphine-induced psychosis.
Most of his family moved to Adelaide to be with him. He finds it hard to imagine that he could have any more support than he did.
He was in intensive care for 11 weeks during which time the doctors tried to prepare his family for living with him on full ventilation, but he wasn’t going to have that.
“I couldn’t imagine living hooked up to an oxygen bottle,” he says.
“It became a race to get off ventilation.
“The longer you stay on it, the harder it is to get off, as your muscles weaken.”
He recalls a “great case manager”, Tracy Cramey, who spent all day every day working with him to get off the ventilator.
He achieved this milestone in the ninth week.
After leaving intensive care, he spent a couple of weeks in the spinal unit, waiting for a place at the rehabilitation centre where he would spend the next eight months.
It would be wrong to imagine that all he now had to do was to learn to live with his paralysis. At times he would feel as though his back was on fire, at other times as though his hands and feet were being squashed under “the heaviest weight in the world”.
During recovery he has had pneumonia three times, six or seven urinary tract infections, two chest infections and a mini-stroke.
But the biggest battle was to regain his mental composure and to do that he had to reduce the amount of pain relief he was getting.
“I’d rather fight the pain than basically be a zombie on the end of a machine,” he says.
He was taking 42 tablets a day (some of them for things other than pain relief), now he’s down to 12.
“When the pain would come on, I’d try to think of something else. I just took the time to train myself to get over it, to deal with it.
“But I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my family, especially my wife.
“The support I get has also come from the local community, and my children have been a big part of it.
“Lawson learnt to crawl while I was in ICU and to walk while I was at Hamstead [the rehab centre]. I missed out on that and that hurt but I wasn’t going let myself miss out on them growing up.
“I’d also woken up in hospital a few times before, with injuries from bullriding, and I knew it takes time to get better.
“I just had to go along for the ride.
“There were 24 beds at the rehab centre and they were always full. There’s a crazy amount of people with spinal injuries.
“Some were happy, some were sad, some were in denial, some were mad.
“I was a bit of everything.
“If I had a hard day, I’d manage it.
“If I had a good day, I’d relish it.”
Now it’s time to make future plans.
They include a “walk” from Suplejack down the Tanami Road to Alice Springs, 730 kms.
“If the wheelchair can stand up to that road, it can stand up to anything!” says Rob.
He wants to show people with similar injuries to his that you can “still live a good life”.
But he also wants to help raise money for those who aren’t as “lucky” as him – the ones without insurance, the kids who’ve hurt themselves on skateboards and pushbikes, “even the dickheads who’ve got behind the wheel when they’ve been drinking”.
Rob spoke in public about his experience for the first time a few weeks back at a NT Cattlemen’s Association conference in Darwin.
Since then he’s been asked to speak at the opening of Disability Week in Adelaide.
“Speaking is something I can do, so if I’m offered the opportunity I’ll go further with that. But we’ve still got it in our heads, Sarah and me, that we can run a cattle property.
“We’re trying to keep our relationship similar to what it was before the accident.
“We wake up in the morning knowing that there is something good in every day.”

30 years on ALEC still going strong. By KIERAN FINNANE.

At 30, the Arid Lands Environment Centre looks back on its record and feels there are quite a few things to celebrate.
They’ve survived through peaks and troughs of activity, funding cuts, enterprises starting up and folding, changes in leadership and focus.
“Coordinators are ever only around for a few years at a time,” says one who has filled that role in the past and is still a key figure in the organisation, Glenn Marshall.
“And, not unusual for a community group, we’ve experienced multiple financial crises.
“For none of these to have buried the organisation says a lot about the value that people place on it.”
Founded as the Central Australian Conservation Council (CACC) in 1980, the organisation was later invigorated by a group of conservation-minded scientists worried about the threat of mining in the Territory’s national parks.
In the mid-80s they had formed the National Parks Association.
Recalls research scientist Mark-Stafford Smith: “There was general feeling amongst us that good information about this issue needed to get out.
“This wasn’t a research matter but a community issue.”
Gradually the focus of the association broadened, to take in issues of local action, like recycling, as well as wider conservation issues.
One of these was a move by the NT Government in the late ‘80s  to change pastoral tenure to freehold (this did not eventuate, with leases instead converted to perpetual leasehold).
The government was obviously worried by the pressure: when the association attempted to incorporate they were knocked back, ostensibly because of the word “national” in their name.
“The government was just trying to prevent things from happening,” says Dr Stafford-Smith.
The association got around this by switching their operation over to CACC.
Dr Stafford-Smith recalls some unhappiness about this not terribly attractive acronym, which eventually ceded to Arid Lands Environment Centre or ALEC.
Although Dr Stafford-Smith now lives in Canberra, he remains an ALEC member and keeps in touch through its newsletters.
“It’s fantastic that it has got to where it has,” he says.
Taking a long view, he sees it as having oscillated between effort on the national side – for instance its contribution to the National Rangeland Strategy, which may not have resonated strongly with many local members – and on the local side, with focus on things like recycling, which has been “really important in attracting local attention and membership”.
ALEC’s role in the development of the National Rangeland Strategy was “very important at a national level”, he says. This was in the mid-90s with Georgia Stewart at the ALEC helm.
While it was never promulgated as a strategy, but rather published as a series of guidelines and principals, it nonetheless lead to the collating of a lot of information about inland Australia and allowed for the first time “integrated thinking” about rangeland issues.
This formed the backdrop to the development of the Desert Knowledge approach, “all part of building up an understanding of how the place operates”, says Dr Stafford-Smith.
NEXT: Making Alice a sustainable desert town.

Appeal to Feds on buffel. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

The Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) has had talks with Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett about declaring buffel grass a weed of national significance.
ALEC cooordinator  Jimmy Cocking says this would mean the planting of buffel would be prohibited, and land holders – including those of parks and reserves – would be obliged to control and ultimately eradicate buffel.
Once declared, the Federal Government would be in a position to provide subsidies for eradicating the grass that is a major threat to native flora in Central Australia. The discussions took place in Canberra during a meeting about bush fire risks.
Governments in the NT, CLP and Labor, have been reluctant to legislate on buffel in deference to the pastoral lobby.
But Mr Cocking says the “horrible fire menace” and the danger to more nutritious local grasses should be a strong argument for the cattle industry to collaborate in the control of buffel.
“We’re on the same side of the fence,” says Mr Cocking.
He says he found a strong awareness of the issue during his meeting with Mr Garrett in Canberra.
The fight of buffel could feature in the new “landscape scale” approach to conservation funding from Canberra, including other invasive species such as feral cats.

Alice to lose 120 beds.

Alice is about to lose 120 beds from its already tight accommodation supply.
The good news though is that most of them will return once a substantial upgrade of Centreville, on Leichardt Terrace, is complete.
All tenants will have to leave Centreville by May 22, says owner Ivy Boaz.
“They don’t want to leave because there’s nothing as cheap and close to the centre of the city, but there’s nothing we can do.
“It needs renovations really bad.
“In every unit there is something not working.”
Mrs Boaz says they will spend “a few million “ on the renovations. Everything will be “brand new”.
At present there are 55 units, 32 of them self-contained, while the others are bed-sits with shared facilities.
The bed-sits will be demolished and the new complex will offer 48 self-contained units. Understandably prices will go up.

Council thumbs down for "secure facility". By KIERAN FINNANE.

The Town Council will tomorrow meet with the Executive Director of Health Services, Jenny Cleary, to discuss council’s objection to the development of a Secure Care residential facility in Cotterill Road off the Ross Highway.
The facility is for the treatment of people with “high-risk behaviours that may threaten the safety of themselves or the community”.
Mayor Damien Ryan says council has objected because of  insufficient consultation with local residents about the location.
Like most objectors, council recognises the need for such a facility in Central Australia but putting it in a residential area is not “a likely solution”. Although the council has no planning powers it should be “very much involved” in broader issues.

Rock is number one. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

An Alice tour operator gets most of her business – some 70% – from low budget visitors going on day trips by bus to Uluru.
Denise Horner, of Emu Run Tours, says there is good interest in the West MacDonnell Ranges.
The Larapinta Trail is well known to tourists, but she says the East MacDonnell Ranges and Rainbow Valley are “not as popular as they should be”.
Another figure in the tourist industry, who declined to be named, confirmed the major demand is for Ayers Rock.
Ms Horner (pictured) says her company, started nine years ago, is growing steadily.
It has now three large coaches, five smaller ones and two 4WDs, and employs 12 to 13 people, including two in the Todd Street office.
A day trip to The Rock costs $199 and includes park fees, a snack breakfast, lunch and a BBQ dinner at the sunset area.
The bus leaves at 6am and gets back to town around midnight.
A West Macs day tour costs $99 and includes morning and afternoon tea and lunch.
Ms Horner says she places brochures in local accommodation houses and also in Cairns and Brisbane, and has a website.
She attends national camping shows where the pitch to the self-drivers is: “Have a day off from driving and let us do it for you.”
The Rock Tour is a local business, and has been operating for four years, also from a shopfront in Todd Street.
The cost for a three day tour is $295, taking in King’s Canyon.
They started with two trips on most days, says staffer Nicole Zimmerman.
Over March and April, on three occasions they did four trips a day, and on most Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays they’ve been doing three trips.
This demand was coming from people arriving on Tiger flights from Adelaide and Melbourne as well as on The Ghan.
The majority of their customers are backpackers, but they also get older people and families – the tour is for “the young and young at heart”.
The end of Tiger services to and from Adelaide may have an impact.
The Rock Tour promotes their product to the backpacker market at Sydney and Melbourne trade shows and to travel agents.
The tour offers a “real Outback experience” – bush camping at Curtin Springs (“bush toilets”, no showers, sleeping under the stars) and camping at the Ayers Rock Resort campground on the second night.
Most of their clients only do The Rock Tour but some stay an extra day or two and take a tour to the West MacDonnell Ranges and Palm Valley, before flying out to Darwin, Adelaide and Cairns.
Meanwhile Northern Territory Tourism Minister Malarndirri McCarthy says the  tourism industry supports 18,000 jobs and delivers $1.7 billion to the NT economy.

Scary flight. By ERWIN CHLANDA.

Two women say they had a “near death experience” when the door of a light plane in which they were passengers opened in flight.
Jessica Douglas and Wanda Jones, both working with the NT Family and Childrens Services, were taking off in Alice Springs for Docker River in a twin-engine plane operated by Chartair last Friday when the right-hand front door blew open, exposing the women to a rush of cold air and increased noise.
“I said thank God we’re in a small plane. We’ll die instantly,” recalls Ms Jones.
“It was an horrific experience for us.”
The pilot was unable to close the door and he returned to Alice Springs where he landed safely.
Local Chartair manager Chris Brand says he wants in no way to belittle the women’s reaction to the incident: “It was their perception and they were very scared which I can appreciate.
“But it was an extremely minor problem.
“Because of the airflow the door can’t open more than a couple of inches.”
Because the unpressurised plane flies at a very low altitude – up to 10,000 feet – there is no possibility of a passenger getting “sucked out”.
Chartair often flies with a door removed for reasons such as aerial photography and camel counting.
When a door opens during flight there is not even a requirement to broadcast a flight emergency.
The door that opened was in the front of the plane whereas the two passengers were sitting in rear-most seats, about eight feet from the open door.
The door has a latch at the top, with a hook engaging into a retaining clip.
The door is pulled to the frame by operating a lever.
On very rare occasions the hook and the clip don’t line up, and the hook engages in the clip’s mount.
The second lock is similar to that of a car door, but built so that it can be kicked open in an emergency.
When the top latch lets go the second lock may open – but the air pressure holds the door in place.
Mr Brand says part of an unused seat belt went out through the open crack but the pilot pulled it back in.
Ms Jones said she would never again fly in a light aircraft, and was unsure she could muster the courage for flying to Brisbane, where she lives, in an airliner.
Mr Brand says he did his best to debrief the two women after the flight.
Chartair has a Class A maintenance regime, makes 20,000 departures a year from Alice Springs, and is a major charter company operating from eight bases in the Northern Territory.
“Customer service is highest on our agenda,” says Mr Brand.
The company offers frequent fliers a course to familiarise them with the peculiarities of travel in a light aircraft.
[ED – After being shown a draft of this report Ms Jones and Ms Douglas said they were “withdrawing their permission to publish it”. They did not withdraw the comments they made to the News.
We explained to them that we do not require their permission to publish reports, and that it is going to press because there are matters of public interest: the departmental assignment at Docker River was not carried out, and serious allegations are being made against a local company, which deserves a right of reply.]

Town camp artists show in Singapore. By KIERAN FINNANE.

Tangentyere Artists, now in their fifth year, are having their first overseas show this month.
Work by 11 artists from Alice Springs town camps will be exhibited at the ReDot Fine Art Gallery in Singapore, opening on May 26 and showing until July 10.
Four of the artists – Jane Young, Grace Robinya, Dan Jones and Elizabeth Beasley – will travel to Singapore for the opening, together with manager Liesl Rockchild and marketing officer Jasmine Crea.
The show is being billed as “the first ever Urban Aboriginal art show in Singapore” but viewers will learn that many of these artists, although living in an urban context, still paint about their strong links to the bush.
Jane Young returns to a memory from her youth for one of her main subjects: gathering rocks on the edge of the Simpson Desert, with her grandmother and mother.
“There are lots of little rocks there, really shiny.
“The old people used to get bigger rocks to grind their pituri and seeds to make flour. They’d mix it with water and cook it in the hot ashes.”
On canvas, this memory becomes quite abstract – a flow of small oval shapes across the surface, in fine outline on a meticulously dotted ground.
Mrs Young makes her marks with the tiny bottles she learned to use in silk painting for Keringke Arts at Santa Teresa, which she helped to found, together with her mother, Agnes Abbott, and daughters.
She also paints in different styles: landscapes in the European tradition, showing sand dunes and ghost gums; bushtucker paintings; and “patterns – just to make beautiful”.
She works at home, at Hidden Valley town camp, and also at the weekly skills development workshop run by Tangentyere Artists.
“It’s great to come here and meet all the other ladies,” she says.
And at present they are mostly ladies who paint with the art centre, although one of their best-selling artists is Dan Jones.
He and his wife Elizabeth Beasley do fit the “urban” billing with their narratives of contemporary life.
Grace Robinya’s work also derives from interaction with the non-Aboriginal world.
Her attractive patchwork-like paintings are just that – based on her memories of her aunties at Hermannsburg sewing patchwork to make quilts.
Some of her paintings are figurative depictions of these sewing scenes.
While Mrs Young began painting as a schoolgirl in Santa Teresa, Mrs Robinya, who lives at Trucking Yards camp, only started when Tangentyere Artists got underway.
The two women embrace the benefits of the art centre.
“We don’t sit on the lawn and sell our paintings,” says Mrs Young, who is also chairperson of Desart, the art centre advocacy body.
“You might get $200 or $300 and then the person who buys them might sell them for a big price.
“We bring our paintings back here to Tangentyere Artists. If it gets sold we get 50% of a good price.
“It’s not quick money.”
She says she’s proud to be showing overseas for the first time.
Locals will have an opportunity to see work by Tangentyere Artists when they do a group show at Peta Appleyard Gallery in September, coinciding with Desert Mob where they will also be represented.

I love the smell of rubber in the morning.

The Australian Burnout King, Gary Myers, was the big drawcard at this weekend’s two day Show & Shine event and he did not disappoint.
Smoke and the smell of burning rubber is what the fans want and what they got.
And one, 82 year old Betty Thompson, also got the ride of her life.
Riding alongside Myers was the raffle prize won by her son who gave it to her for Mother’s Day.
Blade Augey had bought $400 worth of tickets in the raffle. When he didn’t win, the committee decided to give him a consolation prize – he was the back seat passenger.
This was the first time Show & Shine had coupled with the Central Australian Drag Racing Association, ceding Mother’s Day to them and shifting their display event to the Saturday.
It cost them in attendance, with about 1000 through the door compared to three to four thousand last year.
But there were more entrants than ever, says Chrisanne Walsh, chair of Piston Broke Promotions, a body formed specially to stage the event, taking over from the Harley Owners Group (HOG).
The first Show & Shine was held in 2006 as a way of bringing HOG members together.
In the second year it included hot rod cars and in 2008 it opened up to all makes and models of cars and bikes.
It moved to the Convention Centre last year and was there again this year.
Bike entries were a little down on previous years but there were more cars than ever.
Any profits from the event will go back into local motor sports, says Ms Walsh. 

Alice beanies on Sydney catwalk.

From Alice Springs to the catwalks of Sydney – the Alice Springs Beanie Festival has worked with Australian fashion designer Karla Spetic to promote their event at her Rosemount Australian Fashion Week show.
A beanie designed by Spetic and made by members of the Alice Springs Beanie Festival committee, was paraded on the catwalk during Spetic’s show in Sydney last week.
The dramatic Red Centre landscapes led to the  collaboration between Spetic, Tourism NT, and the festival. Spetic drew inspiration from the raw, desert hues of the Centre, and the contrasts that occur across the landscapes, when compiling her latest collection.
The local artisans created 10 limited edition beanies to Spetic’s design. They will be displayed and sold at the annual festival in June.

MLA Anderson pays tribute to Ryders, mother and son.

In the Legislative Assembly last Wednesday, April 28, MacDonnell MLA Alison Anderson commemorated the life of Kwementyaye Ryder and acknowledged the devastating loss and ongoing grief of his mother, Therese Ryder.
This is an edited version of what what she said:–
We have heard a lot about the death of Mr Ryder but we have not heard much about his life. Now is the time to hear more.
Mr Ryder was born at Alice Springs Hospital on 25 September 1975. He had three brothers and five sisters, and he was Therese Ryder’s second eldest son.
Mr Ryder attended OLSH Primary School and the Catholic high school. Two of the teachers who knew him well were Nicole Traves and Michael Bowden. Mr Ryder was also a close mate of Michael’s son, Sean Bowden, who referred to him always as a brother.
He was a clever student and picked up new ideas quickly. When a conversation stopped he would quickly fill in the gap.
In fact, Mr Ryder spoke at least four languages; he was very well spoken in English and Arrernte and could also speak a bit of Anmatjere and Adnyamathanha, the language of near Port Augusta.
Mr Ryder had a keen interest in stock work which he learnt on Murray Downs Station with his younger brother. Later, he worked on Idracowra Station and at Amata in South Australia with his brother, Henry Bloomfield. He also worked on a fencing contract near Ti Tree, and the supervising contractor later told the family that Mr Ryder was one of the best workers.
Mr Ryder’s traditional lands included Corroboree Rock, N’Dhala Gorge, Trephina Gorge, and Ross River area. This country, with its great tourist spots, inspired Mr Ryder to train to be a park ranger. He developed good relationships with many Parks and Wildlife rangers as he worked and trained in Alice Springs and at Trephina Gorge.
Mr Ryder, along with his three brothers, was a long-time Federals Football Club player and supporter. He loved spending time with his family; he could not walk past a family member’s house without stopping and talking for a while.
Mr Ryder was devoted to his nieces and nephews and liked to entertain all of the kids.
His favourite music was modern country, and he would sing along to Mike Chestnutt, Clint Black and Alan Jackson, to name but a few. He would pick up the words to new songs straightaway, and all of the family would sit and listen to him sing.
Kwementyaye Ryder would dress to the nines in his Western wear, complete with Akubra hat and boots, when he went out on the town. This is how his fiancée, Jade, first met him at Bojangles in Alice Springs. This is how he was pictured in all the newspapers after his death. That same photo shone with his personality; everyone commented that was how they remembered Mr Ryder – his positive attitude and cheeky sense of humour.
There are no winners in this story, but there is a hero – a forgotten hero. I thank Mrs Therese Ryder, with whom I spent much time over the past month. Therese is the person who has held Alice Springs together during this horrible period.
Therese has stayed so strong through such a painful time, she is an inspiration to all of us. This is how Therese Ryder described [her grief]: “Being a mother, losing a son and going through all this pain is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through. I looked into my kids’ future, never thinking that this would happen to one of them.
“So I sit up all night, crying and saying prayers. I know a couple of other mothers who have lost sons, and I never thought I’d be in the same position as them. I thought my son had a future ahead of him. There is a place in my heart that no one is going to fill like he did.”

LETTERS: Ryder case – no equality in sentencing.

Sir – It was with interest and deep concern that I read your article of April 23 on the sentencing of five young [men] over the death of Mr Ryder.
I believe some of Chief Justice Martin’s comments prejudice his justification for the excessively harsh sentences imposed on these boys for a crime that “it is accepted” (by whom?) is their fault.
Firstly, I call upon anyone to answer and tell me that, if someone were to throw a bottle at their vehicle, they would not become defensive and/or enraged. No matter the gender, culture, age or race of the perpetrator. 
Even if they could not see their attacker.  To say they wouldn’t become defensive is a physical impossibility as any attack causes reactions of adrenalin rush, etc. 
Then, normally enraged and vengeful knowing that someone had done this deliberately, how they then handle the situation is often a matter of personality and circumstance. As happened in this case.
I am not given to physical violence, but I would certainly execute a U-turn to try to identify who my attacker was or if the act had been accidental. 
I am sure if Mr Kloeden had been angry and aggressive enough to want some form of personal retribution he would not have bothered doing a three-point turn but would have left the car and given chase himself, regardless of the race of the attacker. For the Chief Justice to deliberate on whether Mr Kloeden would have acted differently had it been a “drunk white man” seems to be a racial remark and possibly prejudices his sentencing.
The fact remains that Mr Kloeden did not leave the car or give chase on foot or physically assault Mr Ryder, however he was present and therefore had involvement in the incident.
I am not disputing that Mr Kloeden acted badly earlier in the evening by driving dangerously close to the campers in the riverbed. Whether he admitted doing this because they were Aboriginal I do not know as I do not have access to the court transcripts.
Certainly they deserve punishment for these acts and for frightening the campers by firing the [imitation] gun at them. Still it was only lairising and hooliganism and nobody was physically injured. A term of community  service by helping the campers and Aboriginal community would be a good idea.
It seems to be a particularly recent activity of the younger generation to enjoy this form of dangerous driving.
I have camped on the sandhills and beaches of Fraser Is, Qld for many years and have been the victim of such stupidity. 
Young 4WDers and motorbike riders have driven dangerously close to our camp site, spraying sand onto us and with total disregard for the fact that small children might be running around into their pathway. If our menfolk were in camp they would often give chase and reprimand the offenders in no uncertain terms.
No violence was resorted to that I am aware of, although I would bet they were threatened with it if [they were to repeat] this behavior. It is a popular but stupid act by young people like street hooning and bonnet surfing.
My point here is that it is not just reserved as something to do to Aboriginal people.
The fact also remains that they [Mr Kloeden and others] did not retaliate when a female at the camp hit the vehicle with a log or stick.
On the same note I do not blame Mr Ryder for his anger and desire to retaliate to these acts. But the decision to throw the bottle is as bad as the boys’ decision to chase him to ‘give him a biff’ although I am of the opinion that any altercation need only be one to one.
I do not wish or mean, by this letter, to diminish Mr Ryder’s family or mother’s grief over the death of her child. I can not imagine and never want to experience how she feels. And, if proved that it was caused by someone, then I would also certainly want them imprisoned.
However to put these boys in gaol for six years for the untimely death of Mr Ryder is in my opinion wrong.
It is not normally assumed or “accepted” (Clause 32 of the Chief Justice’s sentencing remarks) that chasing someone carries a “high risk that death would occur”(Clause 35) unless the attacker knows of the dangerous, pre-existing medical condition, which they did not, as acknowledged by CJ Martin himself (Clause 111).
Otherwise we [would have to] ban all forms of sporting activity which involve chasing after someone, ie football, hockey, basketball, just in case someone might fall over and die from a pre-existing medical condition. 
Yes, they should be punished for the cowardly assault of Mr Ryder, and the sheer stupidity of assaulting anybody around the head. But Mr Ryder did NOT die from this assault but from a pre-existing aneurysm which, unfortunately for these boys, burst at the time of the chase and assault.
Is it not a fact that aneurysms can burst at any time without any exertion or provocation?  
“It is impossible  to determine precisely what caused it to burst” (Clause32). 
It potentially, might have burst while Mr Ryder was sitting in the camp earlier in the evening or it might have burst later in the night whilst he was sleeping or in two years’ time but it burst at that moment causing Mr Ryder’s death. 
For that matter, it might have burst from the exertion of him throwing the bottle or while he was leaning on the car, I am medically unfamiliar with how long it takes to die after an aneurysm has burst.
It is extremely unusual for anyone under attack to not still try to get away, or failing this, assume a defensive foetal position, or at least put their hands up to protect their head.
Are we not sentenced under the law “beyond reasonable doubt”? 
If it is “impossible to determine” then these boys should not be held accountable or punishable for Mr Ryder’s untimely death. 
Where is the equality in sentencing of crimes?  These boys get six years of hard time in [protective custody], agreed for their own safety, but hard time nonetheless. 
Whereas the man in Hervey Bay, Qld, with a history of domestic violence towards his partner,  went home and strangled her with her shirt “for not picking him up from the pub”. Manslaughter!  Or the very public case of the man on the cruise ship who administered a drug to a fellow passenger for his sexual benefit and accidently killed her.  Manslaughter!  And I believe in both of these cases – NO jail time.
I am not trying to be over-critical of the Chief Justice’s efforts in sentencing this difficult case in an atmosphere of dissension within a small community and to impose too minor sentences would possibly have escalated more trouble, violence and retribution between the Aboriginals and the ‘whites’ which I’m sure he has had to consider also.
Yes, these boys should be charged for various unlawful acts, but I do not agree, that due to assumptions and prejudice in sentencing, they deserve such harsh terms of imprisonment. I for one strongly suggest that these cases be appealed as they set a dangerous precedent.
D. Wood
ED – The complete transcript of the sentencing remarks by CJ Martin can be found at, hotlinked from our April 29 edition.

Kmart ‘colouring-in’

Sir – The DCA’s compromise on the Kmart mural [see Alice News, April 8] demonstrates a lack of understanding and appreciation of the original expression of the work.
The artwork WAS the material; that the blocks were carved from Central Australian sandstone and the stonemasons’ craftsmanship could be seen in every brick.
A representation of the ranges in ‘block work’ is equivalent to a colouring-in competition, and whilst endearing when done by a four year old, in the public realm and at such a scale the result will be, well, lackluster.
At over 60m long, to the best of my knowledge, this is the Northern Territory’s largest public artwork, add its vintage and, beyond the social history embedded in those stones, it’s well and truly something we should be proud of.
If the DCA’s compromise truly does “reflect [the] Alice Springs architectural style”, it’s nothing to be celebrated.
Come on DCA, accept nothing less than the reinstatement of the mural in its original condition.
Elliat Rich
Alice Springs

To everything a season.

When you talk to people from other parts of Australia, they sometimes make the mistake of thinking that Alice Springs has the same seasons as Darwin.
They’ll try to sound knowledgeable and enquire as to the beginning of the dry season.
Of course Alice Springs has all four seasons. Seven months of summer, four months of winter and a fortnight each of spring and autumn.
I missed autumn this year. I left for a two week holiday on a 34 degree day and came back to 18 degrees. The pace of seasonal change is sharp. It would not surprise me if on the first cold day of the year, trade in the CBD slows as everyone spends the day swapping their summer clothes for winter woolies.
Out of the wardrobe come the tracky dacks and the hooded sweat shirts. In go the sleeveless t-shirts and dress shorts. The thongs go under the bed and out come the ugg boots. I’m nothing if not fashionable, can’t you tell?
But for those who have lived in the Centre for a while, the simple definitions of the four seasons don’t quite cut it. Summer is so long that parts of it are distinguishable. Winter too has different characteristics during its reign.
Perhaps our seasons here in the Centre are better served by a more Indigenous outlook. In many Aboriginal cultures across the country, seasons are defined less by temperature and more by the activities appropriate to the time of year.
The Anangu have five seasons. Up north, the Yolngu have six distinct seasons. With these seasons come certain types of plants and animals to gather and hunt. Appropriate activities were performed according to the seasons and so the European spring, summer, autumn and winter just didn’t fit.
I think the Anangu are on to something. Summer in Alice could include that time in November when we generally get that first really hot day.
It is around then that everyone realises that they haven’t called the air conditioning mechanic to fix the swampy when it broke last summer. The next day they realise that it will probably be another three weeks before the mechanic can make it to their place due to the inundation of work. It is then that we all start praying for a cool southerly breeze.
Early December is the time when we first really remember how hot summers are here. When the first of the hot southerly breezes fresh off the desert hits us. Southerly winds should be cool but for the next three or four months the only cool breeze comes from the air conditioner at the Alice Plaza.
Then from the week before Christmas to the Australia Day weekend it is the empty season. The season most appropriate for running down the middle of the road. It’s the great migration south.
Shortly following that come the plagues. Stink bugs, grasshoppers, cicadas and anything else that wishes to take advantage of the summer rain to breed.
Winter has its segments too. April and May see the mixed wardrobe mistakes. It’s the time when people are unsure as to the relative warmth of the day. The season of the wooly jumper, football shorts combination. An each way bet. August is the time for the wind so cold it could cut concrete.  The time of year Chap Stick sales go through the roof. Every other year at the same time middle aged men battle the elements and for the first time in two years, think it might be a good idea to go for a run.
The Masters Games, or more specifically the influx of women for the Masters Games, brings out the cold yet sweaty middle aged man to the streets.
Right now we are in the tourist season.
There were so many French people on my flight from Sydney a fortnight ago that the safety information was announced in English and French.
It was like I was at the Olympics.
So you could say that we are in the season of mosquito hats and leisure wear. 

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