ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
September 9, 2010. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
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CBD mostly 5 storeys. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Another year in the life of our tired town centre, another report, or
These, if adopted, would see building height limits go to five storeys
throughout most of the “central activity district” (CAD), incorporating
up to 1,273 dwellings, a mix of one to three bedroom apartments, some
of them “affordable housing”.
The reports have been prepared by the Melbourne-based Design Urban Pty
Ltd, the same
that undertook the urban design audit of the
Alice Springs released in August last year.
One, the Built Form Guidelines, is dated November 2009; the other, the
Residential Capacity Report, is dated January 2010.
The Residential Capacity Report makes clear it was commissioned
following “a number of landowner enquiries regarding mixing of land use
to include residential land use and the possible relaxation of the
current three storey height limit over the CAD”.
Both documents were posted on the government’s Future Alice website
last Friday and are open to public comment until October 1 – less
than one month away. They are part of a government process that started
with the Planning for the Future Forum of June, 2008. Since then there
• a consultancy led by Professor Paul Carter, the final report of which
has never been released, although a limited report, titled the Alice
Springs CBD Revitalisation Design Options Framework, finally was;
• an action plan and creation of a steering committee to implement it,
co-chaired by Mayor Damien Ryan and Minister for Central Australia,
Karl Hampton, which has never reported to the public;
• the above-mentioned urban design audit;
• the announcement of $5m for revitalisation of the CBD, which has yet
to be released but watch this Araluen by-election space;
• four proposed, rather generally-termed projects on which to spend the
• conditional approval of an “exceptional development permit” for a
mixed residential and tourist development on the old Melanka
site, 15% of which will go to five storeys (the media release
announcing the approval does not say what percentage will go over three
• and planning scheme amendments which paved the way for residential
development on AZRI land south of the Gap.
The essence of the Built Form Guidelines is to “require buildings to
contribute to an overall townscape”, taking the planning emphasis from
land use control to built form control.
This does not mean prescribing their design, but rather having them
observe key principles, including zero setback from the front boundary
of the property and 80% active frontages, limiting the extent of blank
walls onto the public realm.
There is no argument advanced around the necessity of going to five
storeys and indeed it seems that an in principle limit to three storeys
will be retained, enforced in some places to conserve certain key
vistas, but elsewhere “relaxed” if conditions are met.
These include avoiding heritage buildings and areas, but how they will
be ‘avoided’ is not spelt out.
Another requirement is that an equivalent of 20% of the area built
above the 3rd storey must be built as affordable housing, or an
equivalent financial contribution made so that this may be built on
other sites within the CAD.
Buildings should also be designed to ensure that neighbouring buildings
are able to receive sufficient sunshine for potential solar hot water
or solar energy production.
Roofs, which are highly visible from surrounding hills, should receive
special attention – roof gardens and terraces could be considered.
At ground level no more than 70% of the building frontage should be
glazing – a shopping mall aesthetic that is “inappropriate” for a town
Walking is envisaged as the main mode of travel – “a feature of all
“The quality of the pedestrian experience has been shown to improve the
overall economic performance of town centres and result in greater
social activity,” according to the guidelines.
“Streets are the most important spaces in Alice Springs, and all
development should support quality in streets and support pedestrians
as a priority.”
Streets should, of course, have seating, weather protection, more trees
and so on. (How many more times and by how many more sources will this
be said before we actually get some?)
There should also be safe and regular crossing opportunities. The sites
for these are identified.
The guidelines propose prohibiting large car parks in front of
buildings in the CAD, accommodating larger public parking areas
“intra-block” (behind active frontages), including in multi-storey
carparks. It’s envisaged this will bring additional parking
capacity to a total of 6,220 parking spaces.
“Key future links” are to be “strengthened and maintained”.
These are specified: the thoroughfare alongside the Post Office,
between Parsons Street and the carpark, and the one between Todd Mall
and Hartley Street. (Gone is the more ambitious idea of an east-west
corridor, from the river to the western edge of the CAD.)
The Residential Capacity Report suggests that the government and Town
Council develop housing diversity targets and affordable housing
policies for the CAD, linked to relaxing height limits.
The benefits of having people live in the town centre are numerous,
says the report, and include improved safety, especially at night, and
improved economic performance as the CAD becomes more active and
vibrant, a focus of community life.
Again in this report there is no discussion of the merits of going to
five storeys, except as a trade-off for other possible benefits.
The report identifies the sites most suitable for redevelopment, with
retail and offices at ground floor and residential storeys above.
• the western side of Railway Terrace, from Stott Terrace to Parsons
Street, maximum three storeys;
• much of the block containing the Westpoint building, opposite
Billygoat Hill (currently undergoing renovation) and the Kmart carpark
(bought by Yeperenye Pty Ltd in June), a mix of five and three storeys;
• much of the block occupied by Coles and Telstra, five storeys;
• the Civic Centre carpark (pictured), facing Todd River and Annie
Meyer Hill, maximum three storeys (potentially a significant revenue
earner for the Town Council, as would be the next example);
• significant parts of the block occupied by the council-owned carpark
at one end and the Post Office at the other, five storeys.
A benefit of this last would be the creation of a new urban park, in
the area directly behind Adelaide House extending through to Hartley
It is envisaged that parking on this site will be generally below
ground. Nowhere in the report is flood risk addressed.
Interestingly, the development sketched in this proposal includes
buildings to five storeys on the site of the old Commonwealth Bank,
reported in the last Friday’s Centralian Advocate to be the subject of
a six-storey redevelopment plan.
The proposal’s impact on the heritage buildings in proximity – The
Residency and the Old Hartley Street School – is not discussed.
The government building on the corner of Leichardt and Gregory Terraces
and the Greatorex Building carpark are also suggested for five storey
Apart from the additional residences that all this redevelopment would
bring, the report estimates it would provide an additional gross ground
floor retail area of 8,030m2 and an additional gross office development
area of 7,900m2.
The dwellings would bring an additional estimated residential
population of approximately 2500 people, says the report, which would
have “a significant impact on the social, economic and environmental
performance of the town”.
There is no discussion about the demand for such residences in the
context of the south of the Gap housing developments, or the demand for
office and retail place in the context of current supply and vacancies.
The report says the redevelopment would also allow the removal of
carparking from the Todd River “to facilitate the restoration of this
important natural and cultural landmark”.
It does not say just how much of the redevelopment would be necessary
before this was done.
strong views on housing, grog abuse. By
Channelling profits from government land sales into interest free
housing loans for first home buyers, mandatory custodial rehabilitation
for habitual drunks under a three-strikes policy and blocking the
handover to Aboriginal interests of The Centre’s three major parks:
these are part of the platform of business woman and former alderman
and Deputy Mayor Robyn Lambley.
She has been preselected for the blue-ribbon Country Liberals seat of
Araluen, following the resignation of Jodeen Carney for health reasons.
Mrs Lambley, 17 years in The Alice, mother of two and running Mad
Harry’s with her husband Craig, was opposed by public servant Brenda
Elferink and real estate agent Eli Melky.
Mrs Lambley spoke with Alice News editor ERWIN CHLANDA.
NEWS: Two precedents show that the NT Government is valuing native
title at 50% of the freehold value of land. Is that a good system or
does it need reform?
LAMBLEY: I’m not prepared to answer questions about this at the moment.
I haven’t done a huge amount of research on it and I don’t feel
NEWS: The NT Government is opening up the AZRI block south of town for
residential development. The government has said the blocks will be
sold at market value which at the moment is prohibitively high.
LAMBLEY: That would exclude low income earners. It could end up being a
development for the top end of the market, high income earners who
could build homes there and charge exorbitant rents. That would not
resolve the housing crisis. We would need to include affordable land
and the next part of that equation is to look at how can we can build
houses which are affordable. I’ve just finished building my house and I
know how hideously expensive [building a home is]. I can’t see how
people on low incomes can benefit from land releases without some
building relief scheme. We need to aim at housing our workforce and
providing young first home buyers with affordable homes.
NEWS: The land at AZRI is owned by the government and that means by the
public. It costs $50,000 to $60,000 to develop a residential block. Is
there not a case for selling these blocks at the cost of their
development, given that the public owns the land anyway?
LAMBLEY: Yes, and added to that you can make blocks available only to
first home buyers.
NEWS: At $50,000 they could easily afford a block.
NEWS: Market value is now about $300,000. Would you advocate for the
land to be sold at the cost of its development?
LAMBLEY: That could be an option. Perhaps somewhere in the middle,
between market value and the cost of development, is a good place to
NEWS: If it’s somewhere in the middle, who would get the profit which
would still be around $100,000 a block?
LAMBLEY: It would go into the government coffers. You could argue that
the profit could be used for interest free loans to people breaking
into the first home owners’ market. That would be a neat little
NEWS: For decades the government have been tinkering with alcohol
management but not much progress has been made in coping with this
LAMBLEY: I would like the government to clearly identify those people
who are the problem. We know habitual drunks, through the court
systems, police work and health records. These people should be given
chances. The three strike rule sits comfortably with me and ultimately
they should be placed into mandatory custodial rehabilitation programs,
not a sit down process or a talkfest. It needs to be a true
rehabilitation process, where people get new skills, they are trained,
so when they come out of the program they can be active members of
society, contributing to the community. In Alice Springs all we’ve
really got is CAAAPU [the Central Australian Aboriginal Alcohol
Programs Unit] which has a long history of struggling to survive
administratively. I’m still hearing stories that their programs are not
engaging their clientele, that they are coming out and re-offending and
going back to the grog.
NEWS: Should the treatment be mandatory or voluntary?
LAMBLEY: Both, but after breaching the third strike rule it would have
to be mandatory.
NEWS: Flood protection is becoming more urgent with climate change.
Currently there are major floods in Australia. A major rain north of
the town would place it in grave peril. Should a dam in the Todd be
LAMBLEY: I think the idea of a dam has been visited and revisited many
times. There does not seem to be any support for it from the
traditional owners. That’s a stumbling block that’s not going to go
away. It wouldn’t hurt to put the idea back on the table but I guess it
would more than likely be knocked back again. We just have to do the
usual flood mitigation, strengthening the levies, the banks, deepening
the channel, allowing the river to flow freely when it does flow.
NEWS: Is that an adequate response to the threat?
LAMBLEY: It’s been an adequate response – the only response, really –
for the last couple of decades that I’ve been here. We just have to do
what we’ve been doing. It has been effective. We haven’t had a one in
100 year flood which is due basically now. I guess when it happens then
the issue will come back into focus.
NEWS: Most of the national parks have been handed over to Aboriginal
interests but the three major ones – the West MacDonnells, Finke Gorge
and Watarrka King’s Canyon – have not. These handovers are a joint
issue between the Territory, which is driving the process, and the
Federal government, because it involves the Land Rights Act. Would you
seek to block these remaining handovers?
LAMBLEY: I certainly would. It’s been done in a very sneaky,
underhanded way by the government. People haven’t been informed step by
step of what the government is doing. Given that some parcels have been
handed over, I think we need to sit back now to see how those parks are
managed, and to see whether they can be managed as effectively as they
have been. I would definitely be in favour of stopping the handover of
those three parks if we came to government in 2012. In the meantime I
would keep this issue before the public as I have in the past. It’s
obviously not a popular decision which the Territory and Federal
governments have made.
NEWS: What’s the major thing you want to achieve in Parliament?
LAMBLEY: A safe town, and a more prosperous town, where people can
come, be housed comfortably, consider staying and bringing up their
families. A town in which we’re not all going to sleep wondering if our
car is going to be vandalised or our house broken into.
Big agenda for
bush schools. By
A non-government organisation with impressive achievements in the Top
End providing education in remote areas over 10 years is having a hard
time getting started in The Centre.
The Tiwi Land Council, for example, devoted most of the earnings – some
$180,000 a year – from its timber plantation to establishing a college
with the aid of Education Transformation (ET), a private foundation
dedicated to partnering remote communities and supported by
philanthropic foundations and individuals.
This self-help initiative attracted Commonwealth finance, and in 2008
the Tiwi Education Board finished up with a school, a residential and
catering facility, airfield, roads, power, water, sewage, a football
oval and a soccer pitch, worth $17.5m, forged out of the bush by a not
for profit construction company employing local people.
By contrast, according to Andrew White, executive director of ET, the
Central Land Council (CLC) “sank” a similar project at Yuendumu, which
grew out of an initiative of the Northern Territory Christian Schools
He says although the CLC is administering “massive” royalties from the
Newmont gold mines at and near the Granites, it declined an application
for funds from the Warlpiri Education Board, which had been examining
options for a private secondary college at Yuendumu for some three
Mr White says the CLC commissioned a report by a consultant.
He found “varying visions” – according to Mr White – for education in
the area, but advised against accepting the ET scheme because the NT
Education Department – whose performance in the bush is notoriously
dismal – did not support it.
That, says Mr White, is no surprise: the department appears to
frustrate ET initiatives wherever they pop up.
The department gave no support to the Tiwi project except “the usual
contribution made by the Territory government to any non-government
Says NT Minister for Education Chris Burns: “Education is a key
priority of the Territory Government and we are investing more in bush
schools to improve outcomes for the students.
“The Territory Government provides support to all non government
schools by meeting 21% of the cost of educating each child at those
Mr White says about the consultant’s report commissioned by the CLC:
“The Warlpiri Education Board totally rejects the consultant’s
report, and questions the quality of the research, as well as the
“The CLC officers who run these funds have limited vision.
“The land council’s rights agenda has failed the Warlpiri people.
“The CLC has had a lot of power and control over the past 30 years, yet
things keep getting worse.”
CLC staff has a “pretty limited” understanding of the community’s
needs, funding “low priority things” but failing to match the
“audacious vision of Warlpiri families who want a quality start in life
for their children”.
CLC managed funds are rarely applied to “dramatically effective
But the Warlpiri Eduction Board has chalked up a “minor victory”: it
has just received $35,000 from the Granites Mine Affected Area
Aboriginal Corporation (GMAAAC).
That corporation’s most recent financial statement on the website of
the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations is for 2009,
showing an income of $6.2m, “community purpose expenditure” of $2m, a
surplus for the year of $4m and accumulated funds of $23.8m.
Mr White says the $35,000 grant will be used by the board “getting them
mobile, getting them wise and informed,” a chance denied to the board
previously by the lack of funds.
They will now meet more regularly with people in Nyirripi, Lajamanu and
And that’s how ET likes to operate: usually over a number of years,
getting a hunch of what’s missing in education, giving locals a voice,
and having them work out what’s best.
ET is merely “the email address, the person who can write a letter”,
says Mr White.
Such community-driven education initiatives are not new: it’s been done
that way for years in New Zealand, Canada and the US as well as in
Western Australia, and community management is the only strategy that
brings success, says Mr White.
Over 10 years this approach has been bringing results in the NT.
It started in Darwin with a “non institutional boarding option”: 10
houses each with 10 students and one set of house parents, 100 students
are accommodated at a time.
The average attendance rate of these students at Marrara College over
10 years: 87%.
Says Mr White: “Good attendance and retention has resulted in a high
number of students completing their NTCE.
“Twelve Indigenous students graduated in 2009.
“Over 80% of them now in training, further education or
“Many achieve vocational education certificates with the college being
the first secondary school in Australia to offer full (Certificate III)
apprenticeships in construction.
“Some 10 Indigenous students are currently undertaking construction
The need for change in Tiwi was dramatic, says Mr White.
There had been 100 youth suicides over 15 years.
“They were losing their young people – literally.
“The community was highly traumatised. It was tough.
“They could not get any response to the need to improve education
outcomes from the government.”
“Research and advocacy” to convince the Commonwealth to help with money
took two years
Then construction work started.
ET assisted, under contract to the Tiwi Education Board, with
recruiting and staff training, and settling in a CEO. The first
students began classes in January 2008.
“Now it’s their gig. They own it,” says Mr White.
As for academic progress, it’s early days (see MySchool information
The Gawa homeland on Elcho Island is a harmonious community, the kids
are not traumatised, dogs are banned because they are suspected of
causing illness, and there is no grog, “really no grog”, says Mr White.
But there was no school, just a government “learning centre” without
trained, full time staff like so many others in the Territory.
ET established a fully fledged school with university trained staff,
“woven into the life of the community and families,” says Mr White.
It has “excellent facilities, full internet access.
“All kids have access to laptops.”
ET’s approach to its tasks is quite the opposite to that of the
fly-in-fly-out instant experts, notorious in the bush.
Mr White’s connection with the Warlpiri goes back to 1980 when, as a
teacher at the Mt Evelyn Christian School, he took students on bus
trips to Yuendumu every year for 10 years.
They had all been learning Warlpiri language and culture for a year
prior to the trip.
One of the kids was Liam Campbell who later came back to live and work
at the community and has written a book about community leader and
painter Darby Jampijimpa Ross.
“Great things are possible,” says Mr White.
According to the Federal Government’s MySchool website, the attendance
at the Tiwi school is 77%, compared to 56% at the state-run school in
MySchool Year 7 scores in 2009 were (first Tiwi’s average, and in
brackets, the average for all Australian schools, followed by
Reading 269 (541, 355).
Writing 215 (532, 253).
Spelling 314 (540, 340).
Grammar & punctuation 219 (539, 235).
Numeracy 378 (544, 355).
In Yuendumu 94% of the students are in the bottom quarter.
For the Tiwi college these data are still below the reporting threshold.
Home at last. By
First home buyers Bek and Chris Axe signed up with Carey Builders in
November 2008, expecting construction to take 16 weeks.
Today their 118 square metre house is still not fully completed.
In nearly two years of traumatic events they were let down by their
bank’s policies (they don’t want to name the bank).
They paid all of the contract sum of $167,500 except for $8375 although
the place was only 75% finished.
The NT Government did nothing to help except pay for a certifier’s
They had to spend an extra $45,000 (paid by Bek’s parents), and Bek’s
father and uncle from interstate worked for little or no pay for
several weeks, fixing up the mess left by Carey Builders which went
bust in March.
This included painting, tiling, fixing the bathroom floor that sloped
the wrong way, and re-installing the bath’s plumbing.
But there is a good side to this story as well: the legendary
generosity of Alice Springs people came to the fore, with suppliers and
tradies chipping in by giving big discounts or working for free.
And the couple’s mates from the Christian Community Centre lent a
“They were donating accommodation, time, money and little bits and
pieces,” says Chris.
“There were two working bees, cleaning up the yard and inside.
“Someone brought dinner for Bek’s dad and uncle almost every night.”
The businesses granting discounts or worked outside of normal hours
included the tiler Darren Napier of Desert City Tiles; Taps, Tubs and
Tiles; Gould Plumbing; Bradman’s Glass; Complete Fencing; Murray Pest
Control, electrician Sean Heenan and carpenter Steve Shaw.
And a couple of weeks ago other victims of the Carey / Framptons
debacle popped ‘round for a barbie, celebrating the issue of the Axes’
Certificate of Occupation and for reassurance of mutual support.
and rangers join to to eradicate buffel grass.
The Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife Service and Traditional
Owners of Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve have joined forces in a
pilot program to eradicate buffel grass.
Ranger Pat Hodgens says they have been trying trying to turn the tide
against buffel grass since Rainbow Valley became a jointly managed park
“Controlling the impacts of the invasive weed is a critical issue in
our national parks and early intervention is the best way to tackle
buffel grass,” Mr Hodgens said.
“Work includes surveying catchments, using GPS, mapping, recording of
plants, removing seeds and spraying plants among other things.
“The control program started at Rainbow Valley 10 years ago and today
with the traditional owners we are recording very few new plants in
areas where there has been intensive management and this is a win-win
situation because we are able to stop it before it takes off.
“It can take at least four years or up to seven years to control
outbreaks of buffel grass so it’s important to have a long term
eradication program in place.
“Buffel grass spreads rapidly and generates high fuel loads that result
in hot fires that irreparably change our landscape, if we don’t work on
this now it will become foreign grasslands.”
Rainbow Valley TO Peter Kenny has been a key player in the buffel grass
eradication program which now employs three generations of his family.
“It’s a good chance for us to see country going strong, we like to get
rid of the buffel grass and we also keep fit by walking around Rainbow
Valley with the rangers,” Mr Kenny said.
Parks and Wildlife senior ranger Rick Hope said the aim is to expand
this control program to new high priority areas while maintaining the
control achieved so far.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
In the past six years 10 new art centres have formed in Central
Australia; two have disbanded.
Over the same period major new Indigenous art events have taken off:
the Western Australian Premier’s Indigenous Art Awards (with a bigger
purse than the Telstra’s, it began in 2008), the Cairns Indigenous Art
Fair (the first one was last year) and the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair
(started in 2007).
These facts are telling about the health of the Aboriginal art sector –
estimated to be worth $500m nationally, and about $30m in the desert
region – particularly when seen in the context of the global financial
crisis and an average 80% failure rate of new businesses in Australia,
argues John Oster.
Mr Oster, executive officer of Desart, the region’s art centre advocacy
body, spoke to the Alice Springs News on the eve of the 20th Desert
Mob, the flagship annual exhibition of the desert art centres,
presented in collaboration with Araluen.
In terms of the public’s enduring interest in Aboriginal art, he
acknowledges the role of industry players – gallerists, dealers,
curators, collectors, public and private.
“Their contribution is almost as great as that of the artists,” he says.
The sector is broad and good art can obviously be produced in many
contexts, but in regional and remote Australia art centres occupy a
Their resilience and growth is based primarily in Aboriginal people’s
deep interest in them, says Mr Oster.
They see their neighbours at work, in their own country, making art and
being supported to do so, and they want to make the same thing happen
But from wish to fulfillment takes quite some effort.
Right now, for example, there are artists getting active in a number of
small communities and outstations in the Barkly – Epenarra, Mungkarta,
Barkly Regional Arts is offering some support; so is Desart.
One way has been by extending to these groups associate membership and
thus access to Desert Mob Marketplace, which has become a hugely
popular outlet for low-priced works.
Producing a work is one thing, getting representation or an outlet for
its sale is quite another: except for the rarest of talents “you can’t
exist in this industry alone”, says Mr Oster.
Art centres can be auspiced by a body such as a shire, although in
Desart’s experience the community government councils were better at
doing this, especially when groups were starting off.
Shires are still in the formative stages, Mr Oster notes, and also have
greater accountability requirements.
The other, and he believes best, option is to form an independent
But it takes persistence and time before an art centre is established –
“just like the growth cycle of businesses anywhere”.
“They’ll need to get an office, get good staff, and support, whether
governmental, philanthropic or in kind.
“And they’ll need to demonstrate a capacity to survive.”
The biggest challenge for survival is “good governance” and that’s
where Desart focusses a lot of its effort – not on monitoring behaviour
(“that’s not our job”), but on “strengthening capacity” through
Work for the main exhibition at Desert Mob is selected by the art
centres themselves and, while there’s always some great work to get
excited about, standards vary widely.
Does Desart pay much attention to artistic development?
Mr Oster says the organisation is “fairly non-interventionist about art
A “fine line” needs to be trodden in relation to influencing the art:
“It needs to be a strong expression of Aboriginal skill and artistic
vision and endeavour,” he says.
Nonetheless, Desart does hold some art-making workshops – five in the
last year – with a focus on introducing new techniques or art forms.
These are always group activities; there’s no focus on individual
artistic development, although an art centre may do this.
The hype in the industry is at the fine art end: there’s fierce
competition to gain access to top-selling artists with consequent
triumphs and failures.
A strength for the art centres lies in the production of “a whole range
of products with a lot of different price points”, says Mr Oster.
“There are a lot of markets out there which the ‘fine art’ pigeon-hole
misses out on.”
He points to the print market, the craft and jewellery markets.
Licencing of designs is not extensive in our region; he’s aware of only
half a dozen agreements and says the return to artists is not very
He has noticed some inauthentic art, imported from overseas, being sold
locally, but says it is a much smaller problem here than in tourist
hubs in the major coastal cities and towns.
He declines to comment on ‘carpetbagging’.
Of Desart’s 34 member art centres, only five are financially
Mr Oster declines to name them out of respect for their commercial
operations, but they are all at the high end of the market. Two of them
are also now accepting some government support around employment of
Aboriginal art workers.
He says Commonwealth Government funding is vitally important to the
broader art centre movement and is seen as an investment in
communities, in capacity-building and enterprise development.
With that investment comes accountability, with requirements around the
development of good governance and markets.
In recent years, in fact since the Federal Intervention and the changes
to CDEP, there has been a big focus on developing Aboriginal art
workers, as opposed to artists, to do the support and administrative
work in art centres, with proper remuneration and conditions.
Prior to the Intervention there were 13 Aboriginal art workers in the
region; now there are more than 60, and 76 people have participated in
art worker training offered by Desart.
Mr Oster says retention is strong and in some art centres these workers
have progressed to take on greater responsibilities.
Desart auspices five of these positions in art centres in WA; at
present one is not filled, but the other four have been stable for over
In all, if the 20th Desert Mob is an opportunity to take stock of the
Aboriginal art movement in our region, Mr Oster sees it as marked by
two things: the resilience of the art and artists, despite the ever
present fear of a decline, and a more ordered industry environment,
with the advent of the resale royalty scheme and the code of conduct.
The inevitable teething problems of the resale royalty scheme will
pass, he believes, and it will become just part of the industry
landscape, as the GST and BAS statements have.
The code puts in place a minimum set of standards around fair and
ethical trade with artists, with a good percentage of operators already
exceeding these standards. In the conduct proscribed – such as
exploitation, bullying and paying for artwork with drugs or illegal
goods and services – the code paints a picture in the negative of the
darker side of the industry.
Mr Oster believes the current vigorous debate around who will or will
not voluntarily sign up to the code will also pass, and its principles,
complaints process and sanctions will move into the background as is
the case with other industry or professional practice codes.
But meanwhile the whole process will have lifted the game of this
incomparably unique Australian industry, where art from the desert
takes pride of place.
Freshness and heart. By KIERAN FINNANE.
Performing arts teachers and youth arts workers went talent scouting
for up and coming musicians, singers, songwriters, dancers and movers
to put together a youth arts showcase, part of the opening night of the
Alice Desert Festival this Friday at The Pod, following on from the
Sunset Street Carnivale.
They looked around at what was happening in the classrooms, at the
Eisteddfod, in the bush schools, scraped together funds, including from
MacDonnell Shire, “to give the kids an opportunity to shine and to get
the audience support that you do with youth arts”, says coordinator
They wanted to find work generated by the kids themselves – hence the
event’s name, GeNeraTe – as well as performers with the skills and the
dedication to see the process through, from rehearsals to finally
getting up on stage.
Young people have also filled some of the behind the scenes posts:
Steven Rosales designed the poster and the logo for t-shirts and caps;
Rachel DeBrenni and Jessica Lena got involved in stage and event
They’ll bring us loud, beat-filled performances and quieter,
soul-searching ones, pop culture homages and original compositions, raw
exuberance and more finely-honed talent, freshness and heart, laying
down the ground for events and festivals in years to come.
the world and the bush on the menu around Alice this month.
Food from the wild, whether it’s introduced like camel and goat, or
native, like kangaroo and barramundi, or quandongs and bush tomato –
it’s all on the menu around Alice this month.
Some 16 restaurants and cafes have come up with 23 dishes – entrees,
mains or desserts – to take food lovers on a taste journey (pick up a
map from tourist outlets to guide you on your way).
Fusion tends to be the name of the game – taking an ingredient out of a
traditional recipe and inserting a native one.
In this way there’s “not too much shock of the new”, says Red Ochre
Grill’s David Salisbury.
His team has come up with gumnut-smoked emu Nori rolls – they have the
crisp texture of tempura frying, with the smooth savoury taste of the
Mr Salisbury notes the rise of Asian food around town, including now an
Asian foods supermarket.
“It’s something we should help grow,” he says.
He says chefs are delighted to get involved with the Alice Desert
Festival’s WildBushfoods events: “We get to celebrate something we do
At Barra on Todd they’re serving Pepper-crusted Kangaroo and
Head chef Ashish Batra thinks ‘roo meat is a very good product – “rich
in flavour, low in fat, it should be everywhere”.
They pan sear it to keep in the juices, finish it off in the oven to a
medium rare consistency, serve it atop creamy mash, infused with the
coffee-like flavour of wattleseed, and the whole is brought together by
a rosemary jus.
Another Barra on Todd chef, Sarika Shankar, will compete in this
Sunday’s Iron Chef event, part of the festival’s Harvest Fare (at The
Pod, Anzac Oval, from 10am to 4pm).
The participating chefs will each be given a box of identical
ingredients from which to create a dish.
Although the ingredients are a secret, Mr Batra says he and Mr Shankar
have decided to work with French-style cooking because “it’s more
appealing to the eye”.
A chef must think first about the eye, then the nose and then the
palate, he says.
“If it looks good it will go down well.
“A curry would be easier for us, but it’s harder to make Indian food
His whole team is taking part in the festival events: his second year
apprentice Nathaniel Kotzur will be a judge of the competition, while
his sous-chef Praveen Kumar will do a Master Class with visiting chef
Andrew Fielke, founder of the Red Ochre Restaurants and an authority on
Australian native cuisine.
At Flavours of India chef Digvijay Singh is embracing the curry
tradition, using goat, a widely appreciated meat throughout the whole
of the Indian sub-continent, says restaurant owner Sam Singh.
The goat is slow cooked on the bone with a tantalising array of Indian
spices as well as bush tamarind and quandong.
Apart from Iron Chef, domestic cooks will also be competing in a recipe
competition at the Harvest Fare on Sunday, and again a week later at
the DesertSMART Eco fair.
Free from commercial pressures, the hallmark of this competition over
the years has been invention and exploration of bush ingredients. If
you’re lucky, there’s a taste of their delights at the end. – Kieran Finnane
BUCKLEY: Boom bada boom.
A true percussionist can feel silence as much as they feel sound.
The drummer / percussionist enters a trance-like rhythmic realm, a mind
space where the drummer becomes slave to a beat. If you watch this
happening it makes for something beautiful to witness.
That smiling, sometimes drooling mask of comedy behind the drum skins,
lost but in total control of a magnificent musical world.
Here in Central Australia there is this occasional drum and percussion
programme called Ba Boom. Outside the musical community it has received
little recognition, one of those brainchild operations that kicks up a
fraction the accolades of what it is really worth.
Last year’s festival saw one of Ba Boom’s creators, Shontal Klose, take
the opportunity to teach a handful of kids from Ikuntji (Haasts Bluff)
a basic drum and percussion program. The end result was the Wipe Out
drum machine that marched the opening parade from Todd St to Anzac
Watching a video of these kids performing on stage after the parade, it
was plain to see that Shontal’s achievement with them was nothing short
These kids hit the skins way beyond their years, with the audience
watching on in mute amazement, (the first few rows resembling
those laughing clowns at the riverside carnival, or fish at feeding
This time around, thankfully, Ba Boom gets to ride its own coat tails a
bit, with an invitation from Santa Teresa to engage all 120 students in
a similar drum program. The the two groups of children will
amalgamate on Friday night under the youth performance banner, GeNeraTe
(at The Pod from 7pm).
With all the glory of performance and musical achievement aside, there
is a serious side to Ba Boom – discipline and school attendance.
Unless the children are present to bash away at the skins, they fall
behind their peers!
This generates focus and involvement, as well as the
self-confidence that is visible as the kids perform on stage to a large
rolls across Alice. By
Nothing beats the sound of a big group of Harleys riding together with
their engines rumbling like huge rolls of thunder!
The 15th Australia National HOG (Harley Owners Group) Rally set a world
record in 2005, when 2000 riders encircled Ayers Rock before heading
north to Alice Springs.
Locals may recall seeing the “thunder run” through the town and
hundreds of bikes parked on ANZAC Oval while their riders and
passengers enjoyed the Henley-on-Todd Regatta.
Although on a smaller scale, last weekend saw another influx of Harleys
with the Alice Springs Chapter hosting the 2010 Northern Territory
State Rally at the Heavitree Gap Resort.
A total of 130 registrations came from all over Australia as well as
two from the US and four from New Zealand. Special guest for the
weekend was Kim Williams, marketing executive for Harley-Davidson
Australia and editor of the Australian and New Zealand HOG Magazine.
Although the weather wasn’t very kind in the days leading up to the
rally, it was almost perfect by the end of the weekend.
Local HOGs and visitors alike were treated to a full weekend of
entertainment including motorcycle games and competitions, a ride
through the famous Bo’s Saloon and a small Showand Shine, before being
farewelled at a closing ceremony attended by Mayor Damien Ryan.
HOG Alice Springs Director, Kevin Everett was very proud to be involved
with organising the NT Rally but couldn’t have done it without the
chapter’s hard-working sub-committee: John and Julie Dawkins, Marty and
Elly Derksen, Loraine Dalwood-Mason and Sharon Everett.
Harley-Davidson first launched HOG in 1983 with some 33,000 members in
the US and Canada.
Three years later Ladies of Harley was established to cater for the
increasing number of women riders. In 1987 HOG Australia was
formed by Peter Stevens Motorcycles in Melbourne, as the first Chapter
outside of North America and Canada .
The Alice Springs Chapter was formed in 1994 by when HOG
had 250,000 members internationally. Today, more than 1,098,000 members
from Chapters in more than 130 countries make HOG the largest
factory-sponsored motorcycle organisation in the world.
In Oz there are some 44 Chapters and more than 18,000 members and the
organisation shows no signs of slowing down!
ARROW: Misery tourists, politicians and other
Still fighting the flu this week, made a recovery – so I thought – then
woke up at 3.30 this morning with a new ailment.
Last one was all head cold stuff, this one has moved into the throat
and chest, so that’s the gig shot. I hope the HOG group had a good ride
through Bo’s Saloon on Sunday, I wish I’d been there.
So, seeing as I’m grumpy and with an attention span that’s bordering on
the non-existent I thought I would write about things that have been
giving me the shits lately.
Suits my mood and I don’t have to think very hard.
These are in no particular order and not hate things, just things that
are unreasonable, stupid or simply annoying to me.
I have also made the number open ended, that way if I get to nine when
I said 10, I won’t get the shits trying to think of the last one. I may
only do three, we shall see.
1. People who run red lights in Alice Springs, particularly Stott
Terrace on a winter’s afternoon.
The sun is pouring straight in your eyes, you definitely can’t see what
is coming and in a town the size of a postage stamp, it is utterly
Plus there are often well wrecked punters staggering across the road,
unable to sprint out of the way as you charge through like a maniac.
Don’t do it.
2. People who blow in from interstate, pontificate about how terrible
the Indigenous people get treated here and then leave, with the
intention of telling other uninformed people back home their version of
The situation is not good, that much is obvious to anyone, we get that,
we live here and see the lives of people publically falling apart every
day and deal with the anti-social behaviour.
But there are a lot of people out there who are on the front line
trying to make a difference, ambos, doctors and nurses, case workers –
the list goes on. These people put themselves in situations where their
personal safety can be at risk, just because they are trying to help.
I would include the coppers in this list, they do a great job in near
impossible circumstances, but they have guns and Tasers and
I do not include with these front row heroes politicians, politicians’
minions or people whose livelihood relies on maintaining the status quo
Squatting down in a camp for a photo opportunity does not generate
meaningful change and just how long is it going to take Wozza to
actually achieve something permanent and positive for the less
fortunate souls in his electorate?
Twenty years plus so far mate, look around you and tell me what you
Don’t bluster and quote statistics, tell me what you see. Not good
Truth is, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink –
not when there is a bar open for your discretionary spend at 10 in the
Here is another truth too, throw all the money you like but if people
cannot see how to change and don’t get help to do so they won’t – also
If these misery tourists really care, not just superficial, inner city
air kiss care, get out there, work with the disadvantaged and make a
3. Japanese whale hunting for scientific purposes. What are they
testing, how many whales they can kill and consume before next season?
More rubbish, just say we want to KILL them and EAT them, not nice but
not bullshit either. Goodness, just barely made it to three and how
very grumpy indeed. Sorry for the rant but I do feel a little bit
Hopefully I’ll be well by next week and write about puppies and
LETTERS: Golden Pig award.
Sir – Surely Anthony Albanese and Warren Snowdon must share the Golden
Pig award for pork barrelling with their announcement of the airport
land release, just as Gerry McCarthy must receive the Myopic / Opaque
Spectacles award for short-sighted planning.
The Alice Springs Water Resource Strategy 2006-2015 on page 5 makes the
recent planning announcement farcical.
It states: “The strategy should be developed and managed through
equitable representative community participation that maximises local
It should have read “maximises political expediency”.
The public consultation supposedly held for eight weeks late last year,
never mentioned the airport land. They think we are all mushrooms.
Years ago there was a proposal put to the NT Government via Infratril,
the airport owners at that time, to create a high tech research
facility on that airport land, based on solar research and arid zone
water utilisation, including non-water waste disposal systems.
This was never implemented in the form proposed, but the original
concept produced good results elsewhere. I invite your readers to look
at Fraunhofer Institute website to see what is possible, then to ask
why is it not happening here.
Germany has just announced a 2% quarterly increase in their national
GDP due largely to exports of products developed from their solar
research, and associated areas. Now because of lack of sunlight they
have moved their research to the US. I doubt they were ever approached
to do their research here.
Once there was an Australian company (Memtec) that developed great
water filtration technology which, for want of encouragement, also
moved to the US where they now purify water for US armed forces.
Now with the housing estate planned, another golden opportunity will be
replaced with a Macquarie Fields, or Elizabeth North look-alike to
greet our Southern visitors. They don’t come here to see that.
Germany also has the latest environmentally sound technology on public
display in a complete village, which attracted 60,000 tourists last
year. I hope that the Macquarie Fields type cheap housing development
at the airport will do the same for our tourist industry here.
Any new development should take place close to the infrastructure, all
of which is south of the airport. Water and electricity are now coming
from that region and it is only a matter of time before sewerage will
have to move as well. Is Alice Springs the only arid region in the
world where expensive water is treated as a waste product?
This area is where an eco friendly housing display village development
should take pace. Planning department officials tell me that this is
impossible, mainly because that land overlies the aquifers that supply
the town, and yet both the airport development and the AZRI overly the
same aquifers, which are deeper and overlaid by the outer farms basin,
and effluent from the airport is discharged underground into the same
aquifers, but well out of public sight.
We in the rural estate nearby draw water from the same basin!