This month (April 2017) will be the 25th anniversary of …

Comment on Melanka development break-through: Work starts next week by Alex Nelson.

This month (April 2017) will be the 25th anniversary of the official opening of the Scouts Hall on Larapinta Drive; in fact, it’s on Anzac Day.
The Scouts previously had their hall at the base of Billygoat Hill, on the corner of Stott Terrace and Bath Street. The Scouts were granted their new lease of land on Larapinta Drive in October 1984 (courtesy of then Member for Araluen, Jim Robertson), however they continued to occupy their old facility in the town centre until 1992.
The NT Government had long-standing plans to widen Stott Terrace into a six-lane road and this meant acquiring leases on the southern side to allow this widening to occur.
This process started in the late 1980s, with the dismantling of the original CAAC building and demolition of the abandoned Sunny Centre building on opposite corners of Hartley Street – these blocks remained vacant for many years afterwards.
(Material salvaged from the former Congress building was used in the construction of the Old Ghan station and museum at the MacDonnell Siding south of town, now a part of the National Road Transport Hall of Fame complex).
The old Scout Hall at Billygoat Hill was demolished, and the property on the opposite corner – the Repco Building – was also destined to be removed (today’s Red Hot Arts centre).
The only southern corner that couldn’t be acquired for the Stott Terrace widening was at Todd Street because one three-storey wing of Melanka Lodge was built close to the property’s boundary.
That was no problem, it just meant that Stott Terrace had to swing to the north side and acquire the necessary land from KFC – which is the reason why KFC itself is built well away from the Stott Terrace boundary.
All of this planning was associated with the proposed expansion of Alice Springs towards Undoolya, formally announced by the NT Government in July 1987. Stott Terrace was to be the main road link with Undoolya Road near Centralian College (now CDU) and then on towards the long-anticipated Undoolya urban satellite development.
None of which came to fruition, of course; and not least due in part to the national recession that hit the Centre hard in the early 1990s.
The planning for the the “Undoolya Option” was suspended and eventually dropped; and likewise the same occurred for the six-lane development of Stott Terrace.
The former Scout Hall site at Billygoat Hill was converted into a small park in 1993, landscaped with native plants and lots of sand rather than lawn (I worked on the project).
In the mid 1990s Repco moved across to its current premises in the new light industrial development that replaced the former railway housing precinct; its former property in Bath Street varying between vacancy and serving as a base for various art enterprises.
The two long-vacant blocks on the corner of Hartley Street were taken up in the early 2000s with new office buildings that mirror each other.
And then the ultimate irony began in 2008 when Melanka Lodge was demolished to make way for bold new multi-storey developments – which like the multi-lane Stott Terrace widening planned some two decades earlier, have never proceeded.
To top it all off, the Scouts have “commandeered” the only vacant lot by Stott Terrace – the Melanka site – exactly 25 years to the month since they left their own lease at Billygoat Hill.
Well done, Alice Springs, I love it!

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Karen (Posted August 21, 2019 at 2:04 pm): Hi Karen, I presume you mean the wildfire on the Ross Highway side of Todd River in 2002, as I recall?
That was a very damaging conflagration fuelled by buffel grass that had grown rampant during the wet years of 2000-01.
It came very close to rural properties next to the river.
As it happened, I took photos of that area several times prior to the wildfire so was able to get contrasting before and after shots that demonstrated the severity of that particular blaze.
There were a number of other deliberately lit fires at the time such as along Colonel Rose Drive, and the damage remains clearly visible to this day.


Gunner goofs: No council ‘decisions’ on gallery site
@ Some Guy (Posted August 19, 2019 at 10:43 am): No, I don’t “feel like this golden opportunity of a project to secure the future of Central Australia both in an economic and cultural sense on the world stage is slowly slipping through the fingers” because it was an illusion in the first place.
This isn’t the first occasion that a big project has been held out for us in The Centre offering some kind of economic Nirvana; we were told exactly the same kind of thing with the casino 40 years ago, and again with the development of the Alice Springs Desert Park in the mid 1990s.
Both of these facilities may be attractions but have never come close to fulfilling the visions originally held out to us as major game changers for the Centre’s economy.
With all due respect, I cannot see how a “National Aboriginal Art Gallery” will prove to be any different in the long run.


Another great river tree goes up in flames
@ Bob Taylor (Posted August 14, 2019 at 8:38 am): In this case grass wasn’t the problem, Bob, as even hard up against the trunk of the tree I noticed that none of it was burnt.
What seems to have happened was that a campfire was lit under one of the old exposed support roots of the tree and it was from this source that the flames spread into the trunk.
The roots in turn have been exposed by erosion exacerbated by the lowering of the river bed over a decade ago for flood mitigation.
The lowering of the river bed has also enabled campers to conceal themselves better from view. Unless the river bed is physically patrolled, no-one else knows they are there.


Invasive buffel grass soon part of international focus
The caption for the photo: “Dense infestation buffalo grass in land near the Alice Springs airport” brings back some memories. During my years at school in the 1970s, invariably when I spoke about buffel grass everyone thought I meant buffalo grass, a common variety of garden lawn. [ED– the autocorrect of ‘buffalo’ for ‘buffel’ has now been corrected, thanks Alex.]
As my home was at AZRI and then the new CSIRO field station next door, I was completely familiar with buffel grass during the time when its systematic introduction for dust control (especially for the Alice Springs Airport) and improved pasture was fully underway.
However, this was still the time when buffel grass was not yet dominant in the landscape so most people were unfamiliar with it.


Nuke power way to zero emissions, or a solar shortcut?
@ Ted Egan (Posted August 3, 2019 at 2:50 pm): Hello Ted, if you go to this link https://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2013/07/11/when-gas-turns-to-hot-air/ and check out the CLP’s full page election advertisement from 1980, it’s just possible to make out that one of the energy options the NT Government was touting was “an experimental wind power generator for the Barkly Tablelands”.
The CLP was also giving consideration for nuclear power at that time, too.
Ah yes, we’re right into recycling!


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