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HomeIssue 51For the record ...

For the record …

Photos and comment by ALEX NELSON
These photos may end up being some of the last images of the trees and the sails that have been a part of this end of town for the last quarter century.
It used to be the case that milestones of the Todd Mall’s official opening in 1987 were celebrated – the first anniversary, the fifth, tenth, and twentieth (from memory).
Last year the 25th anniversary passed by with nary a mention; by this time the decision had been taken to dismantle the north end of the mall.
There are several ironies connected with last year’s decision to proceed with the demolition of the mall’s north end and re-open the route to traffic.
First, former mayor Leslie Oldfield (Huggins) passed away earlier in the year – she was the mayor who officiated at the formal opening of Todd Mall in 1987.
The construction of the mall was a project of the Alice Springs Town Council, but funded by the (then) CLP NT Government.
The Deputy Chief Minister, Ray Hanrahan (the Alice’s first, he was the local Member for Flynn), accompanied Leslie Oldfield at the official opening of Todd Mall. Hanrahan was a former alderman of the Alice town council in the early 1980s.
Last year the NT Government (again CLP) agreed to provide the finance for the Alice Springs Town Council’s project to demolish the north end of Todd Mall.
Once again the Deputy Chief Minister – and again from the Alice – was a key figure in this process: Robyn Lambley, who is also a former town council alderman.
Her electorate of Araluen today is almost identical to the boundaries of the former electorate of Flynn in the 1980s, once held by Hanrahan.
So now we witness the expenditure of millions of taxpayers’ dollars to re-open the north end of Todd Mall to traffic, following the expenditure over the years of millions of taxpayers’ dollars to build the mall, and millions more for upgrades and a partial re-opening of the north end of the mall into a traffic cul-de-sac.
And on every occasion we were assured by the “experts” that these decisions were the wisest use of public moneys and will work for the public’s benefit.
The history of the Todd Mall in Alice Springs continues to be a perfect analogy of the operation and interaction of business, bureaucracy and government in the Northern Territory.


  1. Council has been wanting to take those sails down for years. For one thing, they have reached their use-by date and were about to need replacing. Or so comments in Council meetings have led me to believe.
    And the trees? Perhaps their replacements will not be so tall and allowed to grow for a few years. I have read that the replacements will be “natives”, but aren’t those eucalypt trees I see in the attached photo? Perhaps they’re not local natives, or not local enough. Not that it matters now, what with the firewood shed beckoning.
    I’m still not sure why vehicle traffic instead of pedestrian traffic is considered to be better for trade, but that seems to be the expectation. It might prove interesting to watch how the proposed wombat crossings mix people and cars. Once the pedestrians realise that they have the fight-of-way, I can see traffic coming to a halt.
    This whole process seems to me to be an example of how governments do as they wish. I have watched two methods deployed over the last few years.
    In one, there is a confidential forum in which a preferred option is decided. This is followed by a lengthy period of public consultation after which the preferred option is adopted. In the other, “operational decisions” are taken without even a pretence of consultation.
    The second is a bit more brutal, a bit more contemptuous, but the results are the same. Governments do as they like.

  2. As a local for 32 years, I have watched the changes to the Mall with sadness. After discussions with friends, we learnt that most of us will only traverse the Mall once or twice a year, unlike the “old days” when it was almost a daily event – catching up with friends and having a cuppa, popping into Woolies for a few items.
    Now I couldn’t tell you which shops even exist in the Mall. Yes,it needs a facelift, but the concrete and glass, along with the riffraff loitering everywhere, doesn’t make it an appealing event. Ho Hum. Let’s see what happens next.

  3. To Jo (Posted January 15, 2013 at 10:36 am): You are right – it had character before it was malled.
    Then some bright chaps made a killing by plaza-ing Papa Luigi’s, the Stupid Arms and the rest of the block (and getting their mates in government to rent much of the upper space), with the shops turned away from the street, thus creating a lifeless stretch on the west side that disadvantaged the remaining shops on the Eurilpa House side.
    Ironically the one thing the northern mall had going for it was the shade trees and the beautiful eucalypts, most of which have now been annihilated.
    We shall see.


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