Friday, June 21, 2024

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HomeIssue 13Night out on the town, and living to tell the tale

Night out on the town, and living to tell the tale

The Memo Club and the Town & Country Tavern closed their doors because they were not getting enough patrons through the door and that was a consequence of people fearing being bashed by increasing numbers of thugs taking over the CBD at night. Right?
Well then explain this, please.
Monte’s is about half way between the two now closed venues, in the same street.
Last night Monte’s (at right) was chockers – best guess about 250 to 300 people, clearly having a ball.
Many of them came by pushbike, judging by the number of tredlies – certainly more than 50 – tied to the fence, their riders clearly willing on their way home to brave the marauding hordes lurking to pounce upon them in the dark.
Some had made their way unscathed from the exhibition opening at Talapi, Alice’s newest gallery towards the middle of the mall.
As they left the opening they observed some brave souls enjoying the evening on the Sporties terrace opposite (below). Undoubtedly Red Ochre also had a crowd.
At Monte’s gate revelers were greeted by a Mormon bouncer who said “Bless you” and asked for ID (I was flattered that he thought I needed proof of age).
Inside the twenty-something to forty-something crowd was buzzing, not a cross word anywhere.
They were served their drinks and tasty, well-priced food by girls in Austrian Dirndls and blokes in Lederhosen – quirky!
When it comes to alcohol restrictions the place can surely lay claim to have one of the most idiotic conditions imposed by our hapless Liquor Commission: you have to be seated to drink.
End of evening entertainment as we know it? Maybe not. – ERWIN CHLANDA
UPDATE: A barricade has been erected in front of Town & Country and there are large signs reading, “Temporarily closed” and “NO alcohol stored on site /premises”.


  1. In a major blow to those who promote social inclusion by law and order without the introduction of a take-away alcohol sales free days regulation to impede the current excessive consumption in Alice, the UK Conservative government, led by David Cameron, has announced a floor price on alcohol (Guardian. 23/3/12).
    Cameron, instinctively opposed to such state intervention, has been persuaded by evidence of crime and health experts on the damaging social impact of alcoholism, especially among young people.
    He has overriden objections from the health secretary, Andrew Lansley. The 40p a unit minimum price could mean 50,000 fewer crimes each year and 9,000 fewer alcohol related deaths over the next decade, the government claims.
    He is also to press ahead with proposals requiring clubs and pubs to pay a levy to the police to cover the cost of alcohol-related disorder.
    The government can defend itself on the basis that the action is proportionate in view of the damage to the nation’s health caused by binge drinking.
    Cameron has said that “binge drinking isn’t some fringe issue, it accounts for half of all alcohol consumed in this country. The crime and violence it causes drains resources in our hospitals, generates mayhem on our streets and spreads fear in our communities.
    “My message is simple. We can’t go on like this. We have to tackle the scourge of violence caused by binge drinking. And we have to do it now. When beer is cheaper than water, it’s just too easy for people to get drunk on cheap alcohol at home before they even set foot in the pub.
    “So we are going to introduce a new minimum unit price – so for the first time it will be illegal for shops to sell alcohol for less than this set price per unit.
    “This isn’t about stopping responsible drinking, adding burdens on business or some new stealth tax – it’s about fast immediate action where universal change is needed.
    “Of course, I know this won’t be universally popular. But the responsibility of being in government isn’t always about doing the popular thing. It’s about doing the right thing.”
    Chief Constable Jon Stoddart, of the Association of Chief Police Officers welcomed the move. “The growing trend for ‘pre-loading’ means that young people are often drunk before they even enter a bar,” he said. “By the time they hit the streets at closing they are more likely to get involved in crime and disorder.”
    Alice Springs with the same problems has been divided on a floor price. The UK government decision and Australian evidence-based statistics suggest that alcohol abuse is an underlying and separate issue to a simple law and order solution.

  2. Of course there is no end to evening entertainment in A Town Like Alice.
    Many argued long and hard before the Liquor Licensing Commission both for and against Monte’s. Sadly, among those who did not support it was the 11th Alice Springs Town Council.
    But Mat and his wife Cat won the day and now offer a venue as refreshing, as unexpected and as stunning as the Palace Hotel (formerly Marios Palace) in Broken Hill.
    Even the young man who did the right thing a couple of weeks ago and left his ride in the Council parking lot across the street only to find it a few days later on the road to Yuendumu with diesel in the petrol tank has been back.
    From my home in Alice’s superior suburb of The Gap, I often watch visitors faces blanch at the volume coming from the park next door or from the street in front. I always hasten to assure them that it’s nothing to worry about – it’s just nighttime in A Town Like Alice.
    And whenever we run into former residents while on a visit to the cities down south, don’t they ask questions and sound as nostalgic as refugees?

  3. People swim in oceans full of sharks when they’re surrounded by plenty of others. More people about make us feel safer because we know there’s less chance of being singled out. What we’ve been saying all along, Erwin, we need people in our streets. The big question is, how do you get them there seven nights a week?

  4. Check out NT Liquor Licensing website Erwin and see that Monte’s has a restaurant licence only. The owners knew this from the beginning and continue to trade as if it is a bar. Your photograph and story do not help. You are printing evidence of over crowding, people standing whilst drinking and lack of required security guards. If there were that many people there then they should have had at least five security on duty. If I owned one of the bars that was closed I reckon I would be going to liquor licensing with this article. Well done for pointing it out Alice Springs News!

  5. Thank you Erwin for your positive article. Regarding the current situation of Monte’s liquor licence, I applied twice last year to the Liquor Commission to remove the condition on our licence of patrons to be seated. Both times my application was rejected. At the December hearing the Commission suggested that patrons did not have to be seated all the time as long as the predominant activity of the patrons at the venue was to be seated while consuming a meal or drink. This possibly is the opening of a can of worms but while the Commission feels free to redefine what it means to be seated I trust they don’t attempt to alter the definition of the word predominant. We will keep trading and if the commission decides we are breaching our licence condition we will apply a third time.
    It came as a huge disappointment to me that in order to try to develop a venue in the Northern Territory I had to battle with so many Government departments, when all I wanted to do was spend my own time and money tidying up an old neglected corner of town and created something beautiful which I hoped people would find enjoyable and continue to come. Yes we are doing well and I am very proud of my efforts, but it really should not have been so hard.
    The main stumbling block to both our applications to the commission was that they were strongly opposed by several members of the Peoples Alcohol Action Committee (PAAC). I struggle to understand why they mounted such a spirited campaign against Montes. My only explanation is that they have not achieved as much as they thought they would in their comfortable government paid positions, so they search for ways of achieving glory by other means. Cry and complain enough and who knows you could even be crowned Territorian of the year.
    If their argument is based on the fear that removing the patrons to be seated condition would result in an increase in alcohol consumption at Montes, and flow on to an increase in poor health and more anti social behavior for the town, then if these objectors want to retain any credibility they have to be consistent in their crusade. Following our last application the Casino applied to increase its licenced area, the Gapview applied to increase their hours of operation, and the Haven Backpackers applied for a fresh new licence to sell alcohol. These applications were all not opposed by the same people that tried to stop Montes. Sad isn’t it.

  6. It’s great to see a venue in Alice that’s truly doing well. Monte’s has successfully catered to the demands of the people of Alice, as evidenced by the large numbers of patrons seen in the photo. John, it’s sad that people think that because you serve alcohol you need “five security on duty”. If a venue serves alcohol responsibly, within licensing RSA guidelines then there should be very little need for a big security presence. The polite security guy on the door should suffice to keep out the riff raff, which it seems Monte’s has managed to do very well so far. I would like to commend Matt on providing a pleasant place to spend an evening and catch up with mates, definitely a change for the better. I will definitely be spending a few of my dollars there.


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