By ERWIN CHLANDA
What we are doing best in Alice Springs is giving visitors a great time, and in that endeavour the grand champion is indisputably Brendan Heenan.
Proof for that goes well beyond the 22 Brolgas he has won in the past 24 years.
He, his wife Beverley and their staff on the weekend celebrated the 30th birthday of the MacDonnell Range Holiday Park: Not only a bunch of friends were invited, but the Alice Springs public as well.
Mr Heenan, 73, whilst heeding his accountant’s advice of “thinking big” – as he said in his speech – is equally conscious of the importance of the little things: “A highlight for me is the people who come back every few years to the park. When they greet me at the caravan and camping shows, they ask, are you still cooking pancakes?
“I started cooking pancakes on Sunday mornings in September 1997 and this has been a great talking point and PR exercise for the park.”
Born and bred in Alice Springs, Mr Heenan started converting his parents’ fruit and veg patch in 1983 to build the park, opening it in January 1984.
“We’ve grown from 150 sites and 12 cabins, to nearly 400 sites and 44 cabins now,” he says.
Not only in that respect does the park resemble a small town: In addition to the usual facilities there are two swimming pools and a children’s wading pool. The great MacDonnell range is the backdrop for outdoor barbies. The recreation room offers pool tables, table tennis and video games.
Children can enjoy the adventure playground, a basketball half-court, gokarts and huge jumping pillows. Bicycles can be hired.
Perhaps as a response to the town after dark being a little scary, the park puts on a variety of evening entertainment, from singsongs to star gazing.
The park is a member of the national BIG4 chain on whose board Mr Heenan served. He is also an elected member of the Alice Springs Town Council, and is keenly involved in the town’s life.
PHOTO at left courtesy Chloe Erlich.
By ERWIN CHLANDA