ALICE SPRINGS NEWS
September 16, 2010. This page contains all
reports and comment pieces in the current edition.
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white man’s time this is the best season ever.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
No living person would have seen the Simpson Desert like it is now,
says veteran desert traveller and historian Dick Kimber.
It could even be postulated that the desert has not seen such an
abundance of water, plant and animal life since Europeans first came
into the country, he says.
This extraordinary season and the apparent “window of opportunity”
presented by the sudden powerful focus on regional Australia in the
federal parliament presented the backdrop early this week for the Lake
Eyre Basin conference held in Alice Springs.
Stakeholders in the basin should “shamelessly use” the present
political opportunity, said key note speaker Professor Ian Lowe,
president of the Australian Conservation Foundation: “Take your pitch
to the rural independents,” he urged.
The basin, a unique inland-draining rivers system, covers roughly one
sixth of the Australian land mass, crossing four jurisdictions, with
Alice Springs, the area’s largest population centre, sitting at its
western extremity. It has enormous tourism potential, well tapped in
the south-west Queensland area, but fairly neglected in the region east
and south of Alice Springs.
Joc Schmiechen, Tourism Industry Member of the Lake Eyre Basin
Community Advisory Committee, and Senior Consultant for Rural Solutions
SA, says Alice’s attention is all directed to the west – the West
MacDonnells, The Rock and the western deserts.
His passion however is for the east – the Eastern MacDonnells, the
western side of the Simpson Desert, down to Oodnadatta and Maree.
He believes this area could be the premium heritage tourism destination
in all of Australia.
The key issue for the area is not marketing it, but infrastructure
investment and better management, he argues.
Two million people travelled through the basin in 2009, the normal
tourism flows augmented by people wanting to experience the inland
after transforming flood and rain events.
And visitors are continuing to come in droves, serviced by a tiny
dispersed population, with fairly poor infrastructure.
Mr Schmiechen travelled into the area with Mr Kimber a fortnight ago.
As an example of poor infrastructure, they both decry the punt at
Birdsville, crossing the Cooper Creek.
Tourists who had come for the Birdsville Races had to queue all day to
be taken across the flooded creek by the single vehicle punt, with
local “bush engineering” solutions to the problem constrained by the
regulations of a remote bureaucracy.
To get improvements into the basin the voting power of its visitors
needs be harnessed in order to apply pressure on governments, says Mr
The national parks bordering the east and west of the Simpson Desert –
the “hottest outback focal point” drawing more and more visitors each
year – are hopelessly understaffed, with one ranger each.
What can one person do in a landscape of this scale?
“Our landscape is one of our great assets, but what are we doing to
look after it?”
A stewardship principle for land management must be adopted, he argues
in concert with Professor Lowe.
This would see land holders, whether Aboriginal owners or pastoral
leaseholders, recompensed for eco-system management work.
It’s an issue on which the Australian Conservation Foundation and the
National Farmers Federation stand shoulder to shoulder, according to
It happens in countries like Switzerland, says Mr Schmiechen, where
farmers are subsidised to maintain the country’s iconic “chocolate box”
In the Flinders Ranges, when the wool market went into decline,
pastoralists, through their own enterprise, also took on this kind of
They opened up their shearers’ quarters to accommodate tourists, they
provided access to 4WD enthusiasts, charging for the privilege. There
are now 20 private 4WD tracks in the area, together with campsites to
which the pastoralists provide basic services.
For some, tourism is now their main business. This had the advantage of
taking pressure off the national parks. National parks can find it
difficult to attract staff into remote areas, points out Mr Schmiechen,
but Aboriginal land holders and pastoralists want to be there, though
it’s not always economically viable.
At the same time as responding to present conditions, residents of the
basin also need to look into the future, at how change being brought on
by climate change and peak oil will impact on the region’s activities.
The baby boomer generation has had the time and money like no other to
do the self-drive exploring that the basin has been witnessing, says Mr
But if the price of fuel rises dramatically this kind of tourism will
heavy charged. By
Gina Smith, the first ever woman deputy chairperson of the Central Land
Council (CLC), has been charged with aggravated assault, disorderly
behavior in a public place and resisting police in the execution of
The charges were mentioned twice in the Tennant Creek Court and have
been adjourned to October 5.
Ms Smith was elected in April.
The CLC website says: “The Council made history when it elected Gina
Smith from Tennant Creek as Deputy Chair.
“It is the first time in the CLC’s 34-year history that a woman has
been elected to such a position.”
again, off again after poor showing. By
When Prime Minister Julia Gillard put together her new Cabinet last
week, Warren Snowdon had lost the portfolio significant to Central
Australia – Indigenous Health, Rural and Regional Health and Regional
Mr Snowdon received Veterans’ Affairs and retained Defense Science and
But he got back the Indigenous Health part of his previous portfolio
this week, just hours before the swearing in of the new government, in
the wake of protests from the medical industry.
Mr Snowdon’s primary vote as the sitting Member for Lingiari had
dropped 14% to 40% although his main opponent, the Country Liberals’
Leo Abbott, was the victim of internal party hostilities rare in
crucial times such as tight elections. After the distribution of
preferences Mr Snowdon had 54%, down 7.38%.
The Greens’ Barbara Shaw did well with 12% of the primary vote, and
green preferences clearly saved Mr Snowdon’s bacon.
Peter Flynn (Citizens Electoral Council), and the independents Deirdre
Finter and Kenny Lechleitner, received about 4% each of the primary
An electoral worker for Mr Snowdon, Vince Jeisman, says the “science”
part of the defense portfolio deals with matters including defense
industries and research.
The “personnel” side deals with matters such as defense personnel’s
health, family issues, accommodation and so on.
It does not embrace defense procurement.
The Rural Doctors Association of Australia (RDAA) was one of several
organizations protesting on Monday the axing of the original health
portfolio held by Mr Snowdon, demanding an urgent meeting with Prime
Minister Julia Gillard.
The association also called on the country independents Tony Windsor
and Rob Oakeshott “to use their power within the new Government to
demand the reinstatement of the portfolio.
“Maybe we were fools,” RDAA President, Dr Nola Maxfield, said in a
media release. But we actually thought the Gillard Government was at
least a little fair dinkum about making this Government a better one
for rural Australia, even if it was just to keep the country
“So to axe the portfolio of Indigenous, Rural and Regional Health as
one of its first decisions is staggering.
“With Warren Snowdon as the Minister there was at least a dedicated
focus on the rural health crisis, a crisis that is impacting so badly
on rural and remote communities across Australia and the seven million
Australians who live in the bush.
“Having lived in regional Australia for many years, Minister Snowdon
understood the problem and was genuinely prepared to listen to rural
health professionals and the solutions they were putting forward,” said
new desert leaders, and how they will make a difference. By KIERAN FINNANE.
It’s all about
James Nolan was well known as manager at the popular Todd Mall
restaurant, The Lane, when he suddenly changed course and became a
He loves it – “It’s the best job I’ve ever had” – and says we shouldn’t
be surprised: “Both jobs are about customer service, it’s just that in
this one the customer’s not always right.”
Right or not though, everyone deserves to be treated with courtesy, to
have their dignity respected.
“That’s the ethos that my parents held dear and that I was fortunate to
be brought up with,” says James.
His parents moved from a sheep stud in south-east South Australia to
Alice in 1988. James was 14.
He did Year 10 at OLSH and then Years 11 and 12 (twice) at Sadadeen
Secondary College (as Centralian was then known).
The friends he made then are still his friends.
After leaving school he worked first for Asreal and then Neata Glass
and on the side began tending the bars in local venues.
His parents moved to Victoria when James was 20. He joined them for a
while, tried studying, decided it was not for him, and spent the next
couple of years working in hospitality, playing footy and “probably
drinking too much, the things that young men do”.
He moved back to Alice in 1997. He was supervisor at Al Fresco’s for a
year, intending to work and save to go travelling, but at the start on
‘98 he met Leah. They had their first child in 1999 and got married
Now they have four children, Declan (11), Grace (9), Ailis (7) and
James worked at Puccini’s, the Casino and then at The Lane where he
stayed for four and a half years.
Joining the police was all about trying to achieve a better “work/life
balance”, he says.
He worked very long days in hospitality and wasn’t spending nearly
enough time with Leah and his kids.
As a policeman he does shiftwork but at the end of his eight or nine
hours, he can leave work behind and be “just James Nolan, not Constable
He also likes the autonomy of his role. He is confronted with a
situation and it’s up to him and his partner to deal with it as best
His perception of policing had been shaped mostly by his time at The
Lane, observing police interact with people in the mall, and on several
occasions with himself as the victim, after the restaurant had been
“I didn’t perceive any inherent cynicism or pessimism about their
role,” he says.
For him the challenge is to make the interaction that he, as a
policeman, has with people “a positive experience”.
“I don’t want to put myself out there as an enlightened or spiritual
policeman but I see people every day who may not know the options that
they have before them. It can be my role to give them that information,
show them a pathway, use a bit of carrot as well as stick.”
A big part of the job is picking up drunks.
“You can throw them in the cage or you can talk to them.”
He prefers the latter and sees “our plain Northern Territory language”
as an asset.
“Generally they’re looking for somewhere to go and we can facilitate
“People may feel that we are a glorified taxi service but, like it or
not, part of our role is rendering assistance and seeing to the safety
of people right across the spectrum.”
The town has changed a lot since he was a kid but he still loves it and
wants his own kids to grow up here.
It’s become much more of a hub town, for people from as far as Port
Augusta in the south to Katherine in the north and “from every remote
community in between”.
Aboriginal people and their culture have become “much more obvious to
Joe Public”, he says.
“For me and my family, this is a good thing.
“It’s necessary to have understanding, compassion and empathy for the
original people of Australia.”
James sees our time as perhaps the last opportunity “to really embrace
the difference and learn from one another to go forward”.
A lot of it comes down to simple human feeling – “talk to people, get
to know people”, he urges.
He rejects the notion that there aren’t many opportunities for people
to do that.
Just start saying hello around your neighbourhood, he says.
He thinks we rely too much on “the system” to solve problems instead of
relying on our own thinking and actions.
“If you engage with people, you are thinking. If you don’t, your
thinking ends up becoming insular,” he says.
Talking to him it’s not hard to see why Superintendent Sean Parnell
suggested that he put his hand up for the Desert Leadership program run
by Desert Knowledge Australia.
James says he doesn’t fit his own perception of what a leader is.
He says: “For me a leader has always been someone in a position of
authority, with a designated title or role.”
He doesn’t want to be held up as a leader at this point, he says he’s
got too much to learn, but he’s keen to explore the concept more.
With the program he and the other participants have just been away on a
week’s exposure to people in leadership positions on the east coast.
He was particularly struck by his contact with people in the
international engineering and design firm, Arup.
Their founder, Ove Arup, established their corporate philosophy in a
“key speech” made in 1970. James liked the way in which everyone in the
firm was aware of the values laid out in this speech and appeared to be
keeping them central to the fulfillment of their roles.
The firm will reject big contracts if the project does not fit with
these values, says James.
He also enjoyed meeting the US Ambassador, Jeffrey Bleich, a man who
helped Barak Obama’s presidential election campaign.
“All this was so far removed from anything I’ve experienced or
understand, yet he’s still a real person with family needs he has to
meet,” says James.
How will all of this make a difference to his own working life?
“It’s like cooking a risotto,” says James, “everything gets absorbed
before the flavours come out in the end result.”
All these experiences and ideas, including the challenges he meets from
the other participants in the leadership program, will mesh in with his
current perspectives and in the end an absorption will be “served up
for the Alice community”.
Family, love and
For Kristy Bloomfield, together with her siblings and cousins, there’s
a sense of being “next in line” to excel in town.
She comes from two big local families – the Liddles and the Bloomfields
– and this seems to give her the rock solid sense of identity and
purpose underlying her participation in the Desert Leadership Program.
When asked whom she sees as an important leader in Alice, she looks no
further than her aunty, “Mrs Miller”.
That’s Pat Miller (nee Liddle), Deputy to the Administrator of the
Northern Territory, and longtime director of the Central Australian
Aboriginal Legal Aid Service (CAALAS).
“I’m grateful to her for all her support.
“She definitely encouraged me to take advantage of every opportunity
within Alice Springs,” says Kristy.
She’s quick to mention her program mentor too, Dr Margaret Friedel, who
urged Kristy to apply for the program and has given her some tips on
“speaking to a room full of people”.
And then there’s her parents.
Kristy’s one of six children, four girls and two boys, and recalls her
father, Henry Bloomfield, saying: “I hope for my daughters, the first
four wheels they get will be a car, not a pram.”
“My sisters and I have lived up to that,” she says.
“He’s very proud of all of us.
“Unfortunately for a lot of girls, their first four wheels are a pram.
“We saw that happening as we were teenagers.”
She also talks about her father’s hard work as “a big inspiration”.
“He still wants to do hard labour.
“He can’t sleep in, he’s up at six every morning.”
Before he came into town to work for Water Resources and the like,
Henry managed Loves Creek Station – “That’s where he’s from, it’s still
Kristy also sees “passion and commitment” in the work of her mother,
Karen Liddle, for Lhere Artepe, the native title holder corporation.
Karen is Pat Miller’s sister and they are, of course, native title
holders themselves, as are all their children.
“I’ve always been really close to my aunties. They’re always talking to
us about the old times, telling us the stories. We listen and learn.
“Mum is a big part of all our lives.
“She’d do anything for us kids, she definitely shares the love around.”
Alice is home.
“I’m always going to be here,” says Kristy, without a shadow of doubt.
She did leave for a while though, had a taste of life in another town,
Theirs is a strong basketball family and her youngest sister Katrina
had been offered a spot with the Cairns Dolphins.
Together with her twin sister Kirsty, Kristy, who herself played for
the Territory in the Under 14s, Under 16s, and Under 18s, decided to
keep Katrina company. The twins packed up their car, took leave of
absence from their jobs and headed off for six months.
They ended up staying for three years. It was a lot of fun, says
Kristy, but in the end it was time to come home, not just because it’s
where she belongs but because “the opportunities here are so great”.
While in Cairns, she worked for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Legal Service. She learnt that there are much the same
problems and issues over there, and wanted to apply what she’d learnt
“I want to do whatever I can to help.
“That’s something that we all have in common on the leadership program,
a passion to help.”
Kristy works as an Indigenous Court Officer for CAALAS, a liaison
position. And, together with CAALAS legal professionals, she is
starting to do some community legal education work, talking to young
women “about my experience, from primary school to where I am today”.
“I guess they think, if she can do it, we can do it.”
In the future Kristy thinks she’d like to work with youth.
She’s always loved doing things with the younger children of her family.
“They look up to us, want to be like us.
“They love us to do their hair, and we teach them right from wrong.”
On the week long tour in the eastern states she was particularly
inspired by a visit to a youth program in Sydney suburb of Miller,
South West Youth Peer Education.
She was told by the pair that run the program, Charlie and Mal Fruean,
that “all the kids wanted was love”.
“That’s what they provided,” says Kristy.
“I thought they were great, I want to be part of something like that.”
art on full throttle.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
Aboriginal art centres of the desert continue to dazzle with the sheer
range and vitality of their art-making, on view at the Desert Mob
exhibition, celebrating its 20th year.
A special printmaking project was conceived for the occasion by
Darwin-based Basil Hall Editions, who invited senior artists, one each
from 40 Desart-affiliated art centres, to create a woodblock work.
These were brought together and printed onto five large sheets in 15
editions, one of which was acquired by Araluen for the public
With their simple black line 'drawings' – burnt, scratched or carved
into the wood – united by a single ink hue for each large sheet, these
are a delightful counter-point to the full throttle painting that
dominates the galleries (the prints are hanging in the foyer).
For a showing by a single art centre, the group of works by Tjala Arts,
based in Amata on the APY Lands, is hard to beat.
A number of them have in common a dynamic assertiveness in their
principal motifs and a blood red intensity, with Sylvia Ken's Seven
Sisters and Ruby Williamson's Puli Murpu particularly arresting. And
then there's the singularity of the loose yet vigorous painting of
Freddy Ken's Kulata Tjuta, with weaponry again his subject, as it was
The showing of Martumili Artists, the art enterprise of the Martu
people of the Great Sandy, Little Sandy and Gibson Deserts in WA, is
fittingly spread across a whole wall and has one of the more strikingly
unusual works of the exhibition – Rabbit Proof Fence, a collaboration
by Dada Samson and her granddaughter Judith Samson.
A long dark gridded strand along one edge of the canvas represents the
fence; beyond it is the light-filled open space of country,
interspersed by the concentric motifs usually representing waterholes
and in this case probably also the wells of the Canning Stock Route.
(The Desert Mob symposium held last Friday had heard about, principally
through a number of short films, The Canning Stock Route Project, which
took artists, filmmakers and curators from the nine art centres and
communities connected to the stock route region on a six week 1800 km
journey into their country. Out of the experience a major exhibition
was created, showing at the National Museum in Canberra until January
2011 and hopefully in Alice Springs at some time in the future.)
The hanging of works from Tjungu Palya (situated at Nyapari, 100 kms
south of Uluru) is book-ended by two powerful large canvasses.
At one end is Tiger Palpatja's Piltati Ka Wati Tjakura. With its two
massive snakes braced around a pulsing centre, visceral pink like a
bodily organ, this painting seems to be teeming with life, all the more
astonishing when you learn that the artist is over 90 years old.
At the other end is Angkaliya Curtis's Cave Hill, with its unusual,
elegant palette – pale creamy hues and maroon (in contrast to the more
favoured warm reds) – and its fascinating evocation of a subterranean
gathering of small creatures.
All of these works reflect the artistic strength and intensity of
vision that seems to come from artists remaining close to their country
and traditions, and those singled out here are but the most striking of
a large number of works in the exhibition for which this can be said.
There are also plenty of lighter pleasures to be had, among them the
character-filled group of Crow Men in copper, steel and found materials
by David Wallace, the moving multi-plate etchings from Yarrenyty
Arltere artists, and the many evocations of contemporary life, with
vehicles of all types attracting a number of artists' attention.
Not surprisingly this 20th Desert Mob had record sales of over $371,000
on its opening day.
tradition to innovation.
By KIERAN FINNANE.
From ancient traditions to innovation – wonderful bush and wild foods
By KIERAN FINNANE
For a taste to make your mouth water it would be hard to beat kangaroo
tail, hot off the coals.
I chose a piece with skin on, black and crispy. Peeled back, it
revealed meat cooked to perfection, pink, falling off the bone.
The afternoon was cool, grey and damp; the cooking fire, tended by
people from Karnte camp, and the meat, juicy and full of flavour,
warmed me from the inside out.
Robert Taylor from RT Tours suggested trying it with salt.
That was good too but I finished my portion without – relishing an
unadulterated taste of Australia that people have enjoyed over
thousands of years.
A bushfoods experience par excellence, capping off a morning full of
Once again I'd had the privilege of sitting at the judges' table for
one of the annual highlights of the Alice Desert Festival – the
WildBushfoods recipe competition.
It started with Young Foodies, all of whom worked with sweet foods.
Wattleseed transformed a Black Forest cake (Cindy Uzzell); lemon myrtle
lifted a simple cheesecake to a sensation, topped by crystallised ruby
saltbush berries (Isabella San Roque); quandongs, in nice chunks, made
for cup cakes with a difference (Delphi and Rhodanthe Collins); whole
ruby saltbush berries, slivers of quandong and rosella jam were
wonderful in an icecream, wattleseed in a sorbet (Tom Fry, Charlie Ray
Hoy and Jorge Anastasiou).
All of these young people let their bushfood ingredients 'speak' – you
could immediately discern the bushfood flavour and textures – and all
of them made delicious, well-presented foods that without too much
trouble you could put on your own table. Impressive.
The enthusiasm and the knowledge of the youngest of them – the trio of
boys and the Collins pair – was delightful.
First place honours were split between Isabella San Roque and the trio.
Tied honours also marked the adult competition as well as the 'Iron
The domestic cooks were working with savoury foods (sweets to follow
next week at Saturday's DesertSMART Eco fair).
A new taste experience for me was the bush cucumber.
Tanya Howard served the pulp of the fruit on bread, seasoned with a
little salt and pepper and sitting on Convolvulus clementis leaves that
she found growing in her backyard (knowing from Peter Latz's book,
Bushfires and Bushtucker, that they are edible).
The pulp was full of seeds but the overall texture was jelly-like and
the fruit has a much fuller savoury flavour than the cucumbers we are
used to. It was good eating.
Miranda Sage had pickled her bush cucumbers, adapting a recipe for
pickled watermelon rind, as she wanted a sweet pickle.
She served it with a "totally wild" terrine of camel, rabbit and
kangaroo prosciutto and, as a side salad, blanched saltbush leaves,
with quadong, appleberry and a mozzarella made from buffalo milk.
Her presentation was exquisite and her research, to come up with such a
range of bush and wild ingredients to present a refined dish, was
Bush tomato featured in three of the other dishes.
Paul Serratone did a flavoursome bush tomato and kangaroo gnocchi;
Cameroon Boon, despite his own worst fears of the ingredient's tendency
to bitterness, succeeded with his bush tomato paste as a garnish for a
Hujjat Nadarajah, drawing on his Persian traditions, demonstrated the
wonder of a slow-cooked stew that gave a presence to each its
ingredients – the citrus of desert lime, the tart but rich savoury
taste of the bush tomato, eggplant and 'roo meat – while bringing them
Mrs Sage and Mr Nadarajah tied for first place.
It was no contest for the vegetarians amongst us as camel meat was the
secret ingredient for the Iron Chef challenge.
Mark Gleave from Red Tomato had an advantage in being familiar with
camel (a camel dish is Red Tomato's offering for this Alice on the Menu
Sarika Shankar from the Chifley Resort's Barra on Todd has never cooked
with camel. She treated it as she would beef.
The task was prepare from scratch an entree and a main within an hour
... and in the conditions, which were far from flash.
The 'kitchen' was a marquee on Anzac Oval, open to the elements on two
Each chef had a work table and a gas ring; they shared a water
container and had to do their washing up under its tap.
Mr Gleave had access to a gas barbecue, while Ms Shankar planned to use
a camp oven in the fire drum that had been used for the 'roo tails.
They also each had a blender and limited range of pots, pans, plates
and utensils, with milk crates serving as cupboards.
They started work in natural light but as rainclouds closed in it grew
darker and darker.
Finally it poured and a tarp was put up to protect Ms Shankar from a
It took a little while for an electric light to arrive, but nothing
seemed to faze these two professionals, not even the rain putting paid
to the heat under Ms Shankar's camp oven.
She quickly adapted her plan to serve the entree in a puff pastry,
instead making an egg coupe, a kind of mini-omelette, to enclose tender
shreds of camel meat and grilled vegetable with a sour cream and lemon
Her main was a camel roulade, spread with an olive tapenade and wrapped
around fresh asparagus, and this time the sour cream dressing was
flavoured with a bush tomato relish.
Mr Gleave had created a macadamia mint pesto to serve with his camel
entree in a lettuce wrap, with fresh herbs and shallots.
His main was grilled camel served with glazed pineapple and rested on a
mint and crouton salad, topped with crisped prosciutto.
He also managed to make a mint cocktail as a palate cleanser between
the two courses.
What emerged for the judges was the importance of not over-cooking
Ms Shankar's lightly-cooked entree meat was perfect but the roulade had
dried out a little, while Mr Gleave served the meat rare in both
courses, preserving its full flavour and tenderness.
But the judges felt that Ms Shankar had found good complimentary tastes
for the meat and had presented beautifully-designed dishes.
And so the chefs had to share a crown.
I had been eating, or I should say tasting, food since mid-morning and
it was now late afternoon. I certainly wasn't hungry but it was hard to
stop – my palate kept reaching for another sensation.
I went home, made a cup of tea and savoured the memories.
cops are coming! By
No, they’re not, but the motto is still: Beat The Heat!
Exept do it at the drags, not on the town’s roads.
There is a time and a place for everything even if some people forget
it – like when cars or bikes roar around the streets at night with some
idiot at the helm.
The Central Australian Drag Racing Association has been encouraging
people to attend their Street Meets and lay rubber on the track, rather
than the roads.
Last weekend they hosted the Beat the Heat team from Darwin.
Beat the Heat is designed to encourage young drivers (and the young at
heart) to become involved in organised street racing events which are
held at the local drags strip.
It is part of an anti-street racing strategy and provides a legally
sanctioned outlet for drivers to earn the recognition from their peers
that they would usually gain in the back streets.
The program is being run in Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland and
the Northern Territory, entirely by volunteers, relying totally on
support from the community, service clubs and local businesses.
The team is made up of a dedicated group of people who do all the work
on the vehicle themselves.
Senior Constable First Class Shayne Shewring is the vehicle’s driver as
well as the vice president of Beat the Heat NT Inc.
“Some of the young ones are worried about their ability on the track
and they’re afraid of looking silly in front of a crowd,” he told me.
“I can assure them, we’re just there to have a bit of fun and if you
make a mistake, well, you make a mistake.
“The end result is that once the competitors have had a go, they can’t
Some of the other team members are Allan Appleby, the Crew Chief who is
an LS1 product specialist and knows the car inside out. He is always on
hand and travels with the vehicle to various drag strips.
One of the founding members and the team Engineer is Dave Cunnington,
who has been with the NT Police, Fire and Emergency Services for 35
Dave is a qualified heavy vehicle mechanic and was involved with
building the vehicle’s trailer.
He also spends a lot of time on the development of the program along
with fundraising and equipment procurement.
“The Heat” is a 2003 VY SS Commodore which was donated to the program
by Holden Ltd in 2003.
A month later the vehicle made its first appearance in November 2003 at
a Street Meet in Darwin and ran at 14.6 seconds down the quarter mile.
The motor was refreshed and upgraded in 2006 to perform better and have
It has a 382 stroked Gen III V8 motor with a turbo 400 automatic
“We’ve modified it slightly for the drags,” said Shayne, “and its
Police badging allows it to resemble an operational police car.”
The program gives prizes out if there are enough people taking part and
finds that word of mouth usually attracts more people each time.
A novel way of having contestants return to future meetings is through
Each contestant’s details are recorded at the track and then they’re
“summonsed” to come to the next meeting “to beat The Heat”.
“It’s a great gimmick and it gives them bragging rights amongst their
mates,” said Shayne. Some young locals were worried the police would
take their numbers down at the drags track and book them as they drove
back into town.
Shayne assured me, “That’s totally not going to happen and goes against
everything we’re trying to achieve.
“For a lot of youngsters, the thought of racing against a cop car is a
big draw card. At the end of the day it’s not how fast you can go
because some cars can beat the faster cars due to handicaps (dial in
“Because of the handicaps, it also means that you can have a small four
or six cylinder car race against ‘The Heat’ and win.”
Beat the Heat has travelled as far south as Tennant Creek but never
down to the Alice before.
Shayne said that if the program is successful here, there would be
serious consideration of building a “Heat” car to remain in Alice
This would enable competitors to run against “The Heat” at each of
CADRA’s Street Meets on a regular basis.
Puppies and sunshine
Hi folks! My arrow had a misfire this week. This is not the first
article I wrote about puppies and sunshine, which I promised I would do
after my not well ravings from last week.
I got a bit carried away and took off on a tangent, which my informal
editors (family) and formal editor (Boss Lady) didn’t think was on
target (I was in danger of disappearing up my own literary bottom).
Which is OK, I’m new to this writing stuff and as a new boy you expect
to stuff up every now and again. Trouble is I have created a couple of
characters that I am already rather fond of and don’t want to let die.
Perhaps Puppies and Sunshine, the two battlers from Kings Cross, will
have to have a blog or something. Someone said they might go viral but
quite frankly I have had enough of colds this year.
So I have turned my gaze to the dogs of Alice – the many strange and
wonderful creatures you see running around the back blocks. There are
dogs out there that look like Dr Frankenstein took time out from humans
and did a bit of job work, stitching the remnants of hit and run
That’s the fun in buying / owning a mongrel dog – you don’t know what
to expect, how big they will be or what their temperament will be like.
My dad has owned Irish Wolfhounds in the past. For those of you who are
not up on doggie genetics, they are the largest dog in the world, hairy
and quite good natured – which is needed in an animal as big as a pony
and with canines an inch long. When you head out with the shopping list
you know that’s what you’re going to get, big, hairy, chilled.
When we went out to the RSPCA to look at puppies I was a bit nervy. I
had only had pedigree dogs in the past and, given some of the weird
combos around, the lack of information on our future pet was troubling.
I shouldn’t have been bothered. This funny, pretty puppy kept coming
over and giving us love while all the other ones played in the corner,
ignoring us altogether. Their mistake – our dog is terribly well looked
after and spoiled and let that be a lesson to you, don’t stuff up at
So we have a pound puppy and a new game – what do you think she is? We
have settled on a mastiff/greyhound cross from what we know of her mum
and her body shape, but really, who knows.
I do know that we got the right dog for us.
I saw her brother the other day for the first time, Alice being small
enough that you can track a litter of bitzas from the pound. He is
smaller and wiry with the mastiff head, a bit of a Chupa Chup dog if
you get my drift, where as Billie is larger with the greyhound, thinner
face. If Dr Frank was still here, we could swop the heads over and have
two dogs that matched the breed description, but I wouldn’t want that.
I love my doggie mate just as she is.
At some point in its past Alice has had its own canine Casanova, making
conquests and leaving its genetic trail for all the world to see. I
reckon it was a corgi, roaming about with a little step ladder on his
back, looking for love and finding it regularly too. The number of camp
dogs struggling around on tiny stumpy little legs is amazing, all
different types and colours, tummies dragging on the ground. It’s a
LETTERS: Shake, rattle and roll?
Sir – On September 6 this year while visiting Uluru-Kata Tjuta National
Park, we encountered mechanical problems with our Mitsubishi Pajero
towing vehicle. As repairs could not be carried out in Yulara, we
arranged for Uluru Autos in Tuit Crescent to transport the vehicle and
our 19’ Roadstar Caravan to Alice Springs. The cost was $2000 which we
felt was fairly reasonable.
However at that cost we expected super professionalism.
The deal was that the Pajero be carried on the recovery truck and the
caravan flat towed by the truck on its own wheels. We were told, “Don’t
worry, we do it like this all the time”.
The truck driver (also the owner of Uluru Autos) seemed to think that
nothing was more important than getting to Alice Springs as quickly as
possible. As far as we were concerned there was no hurry at all, we
even suggested that the job could wait till next day.
We travelled with the driver in the truck at speeds of 113km/hr to
118km/hr covering the 444kms in four hours and 10 minutes travelling
No caravan should be towed at speeds greater than 100km/hr and then
only under the very best of conditions. Almost without exception
caravans on this road are towed at 90-95 km/hr depending on road
When told that the inside of the caravan was a mess from
the contents of drawers and cupboards over the floor (including
drawers themselves) and broken crockery etc, the driver could not have
He said, “That road [the Stuart Highway] is rough you know.” He must
think that this is normal. He seemed pleased that he had completed the
job in good time, and at one stage said that he could have gone faster
but for the head wind.
Most caravans are owned by people who after a lifetime of hard work are
travelling the country, forming an important part of the tourist
industry. They tow and maintain their caravans immaculately, and do not
take kindly to “cowboy” operators treating their pride and joy in this
Towing in this manner places enormous stresses on structural
components. This fellow obviously knows absolutely nothing about
caravans or towing them. He did not even have the correct electrical
plug to operate the tail lights or indicators, which he did not seem to
This is not good support for the important Northern Territory tourist
Vin and Lorelle Clarke
ED – The Alice News offered Uluru Autos right of reply:–
Firstly a thank you for a chance to respond to this letter via your
This is the first complaint I have received about our towing services
in the three years I have been with the company.
Upon picking the car and caravan up, before we had moved off, I had
asked Vin on more than once, was everything locked and secured in his
van, to which he responded, “Yes, all’s well”.
We left Yulara at 11.15 am and arrived in Alice at 4.40 pm. The
trip was about 5 hours, plus a stop at Erldunda Roadhouse. If Vin
had concerns, then nothing was said and he didn’t even look inside his
van to check all was well.
Arriving at Alice Springs and unhooking van, dropping car off, he
informed me of the mess in his van. I did remind him that I had
asked if all was secure in the van before leaving. The owner had
assured me that he has taken care of securing the van before leaving
I felt that we had a pleasant trip to Alice Springs chatting along the
way – Vin showed no sign of concern, even commented on how well the van
was towing. All vehicles and caravans are treated with the utmost
care and respect and I regret that the customer is not happy with our
service, but consider that I took all reasonable care while towing the
Sir – Our bad, a golden opportunity missed. Bob Katter
makes a lot of sense on economic matters.
Like he says, we should reinstitute high tarrifs and
subsidies. Then our sugar farmers could sell 20% of their produce
at inflated prices to us Aussie consumers and put up our food prices,
and at the same time lose all their export markets, where they are
currently very competitive, and selling 80% of their output.
And who amongst us wants to buy a brand new compact car for just
$20k? No-one! All of us would much rather pay $40k!
We have missed a golden opportunity to return to Economic Fortress
Australia, we could have appointed Bob Katter as Treasurer. Shame
on Julia Gillard and Nick Minchin for rejecting Katternomics.
We could have had a Katter-directed slow growing economy and a high
Woe are us that we let Hawke, Keating, Howard and Costello sweep away
the old paradigm (I learnt that word off Bob K) and give us a lean mean
competitive economy and a high standard of living.
I’d much rather drive an old car, pay a lot for tucker, wear a big hat
and talk rubbish slow, long and loud. Opportunity missed.
Kilgariff a not-so-perfect location
Sir – To those who believe the places chosen for the satellite town of
Kilgariff are flat land, think again. The portion on AZRI (AIB Farm)
and that section on the western part of airport land, formerly known as
the Butcher’s Paddock (after the late Bruce Douglas), encompass the
flood-out of St Mary’s Creek (aka Perfume Creek).
A flood-out may not have a channel but it is a depression. Those
familiar with the region have seen how heavy rain can cause the
flood-out to become a swamp. If you know how to interpret nature you
will observe the presence of Coolibah trees which like periodic
flooding, whereas Ironwoods, smaller Acacias and corkwoods in the
general vicinity prefer a drier situation.
Here is a vision for the future: Very heavy rain over a two week period
has caused St Mary’s Creek to inundate some areas of the residential
area of Kilgariff. Vehicles are bogged in people’s yards and water has
entered low-lying buildings. One couple says their wine cellar is an
The Alice Springs sewage complex has had a massive overflow into the
creek. E. coli has been detected in the flood-out water but the NT
Department of Health denies the cause is the sewage outflow.
Since the upgrading of the Alice Springs Airport to an international
terminal, the Mayor of Kilgariff, Mr D. Velop, has received a petition
from most residents to be presented to the Australian government. Due
to unsustainable and constant levels of aircraft noise it is urged that
the airport be re-located a considerable distance away from the town.
Feral doves, cats, and unrestrained dogs have become common since the
establishment of Kilgariff. The native fauna, especially reptiles and
birds, have been decimated to such a degree they are now seldom seen.
Mr Roe Toll’s recommendations that a tunnel is bored through the
MacDonnell Range or that a wide elevated bridge is built along the edge
of the Gap were rejected by Traditional Owners and the NT Government.
Mr Toll’s final comment was, “It’s good to see you have plenty of room
in your cemetery”.
Hooray for progress.