LETTER: Give up the grog, as a town


Sir – I spent my childhood and growing up years in Alice Springs and have visited the town I used to love and regard as “My Heart” More than 20 times since leaving back in the mid sixties. Most of those visits were on business but a couple were to visit old friends and recapture that “Alice feeling”.
Despite what I read about the Alice it will always be “My Heart” to me. I also lived in Darwin for 10 years and found Darwin to lack any soul at all. Full of wannabes and nobodies really.
When I was young, we from the Alice used to hate those from Darwin, and, as it turns out I believe we were right to feel that way.
Alice used to have a feel to it that I cannot capture in words but I must tell you that, every time I visit Alice, the first thing I do after settling my accommodation etc. is take a drive up Anzac Hill and look around the town and remember how small the area I lived in really was. Yet, I loved it so much. That was because of the people I knew then and the freedom the surrounding country provided all.
The Alice will forever hold such fond memories that nothing that happens there can ever disturb or change.
Yet, following the changing face of the town via your newspaper, online, I feel that the Alice I knew has gone. All I read is about grog, politics, murder, fighting, “bad” Police who do an impossible job. There were about 1500 residents when I first went there as a young child and over 5000 when I left as a mid teenager. Yet I felt that whole time like I knew the people and what was going on all the time.
Now, what is there for people? I read shopkeepers in Todd Mall are being openly harassed by kids who commit crime, apparently and the murders which were once a rarity seem to be commonplace now. Grog of course.
Don’t get me wrong, I did more than my share of drinking. After all, growing up in Alice teaches you that is the main recreation, and it is the same all over Australia.
I drank a lot for a long time but was always a happy drunk. I was always amusing fellow drinkers and myself mainly of course but never once did I feel a need to harm anyone, let alone fight.
But there came a night, in Darwin where I did become violent. And was lucky to come out of it unscathed. From the next morning, 6 January 2001, I stopped drinking. Just like that. It’s easy when you decide you want to. I had motivation, violence has never been something I look for or participate in.
The point of this letter is to suggest to you, the people of Alice Springs, that the obvious solution to changing the town I loved back to being more like it should be, is to all stop drinking and rid the town of booze altogether.
You think it’s a good thing when Indigenous communities do it, don’t you? So why not the entire town. From personal experience I can say you won’t miss it at all and the peace it brings to your life is just amazing. You just decide to stop.
There is no craving or “withdrawal” at all. Except in your head which is filled with such stories. If it’s a good thing for Communities is it not likely to be good for your, and my, town as well?
If you haven’t noticed, the removal and restrictions on drinking are already there and increasing in much the same way as anti smoking started and succeeded. I used to smoke too but gave that up in an instant, about seven years ago.
Have not missed either and feel much better today than I have for a long, long time. As Molly Meldrum said: “Do yourself a favour.”
Ross Chippendale


  1. When everyone apart from the aboriginals starts running around beating their wives, fighting and pissing in public, then we can go dry as a town.
    Until then people from down south can have no say in it.

  2. Hey Ross, tell you what, when you get Brisbane to go dry we’ll join you!
    After all there’s considerably more violence on your streets than ours so it would seem entirely appropriate for you to lead the way, wouldn’t it?
    Or is your cure only for others? Look forward to seeing the headlines when you get it underway, best of luck!

  3. I am an old, long departed citizen of The Alice, and I have to say that although I share many of the feelings Ross espouses, I also have to say that to my mind it is a little strange to ask everyone to stop using alcohol when we all know who the culprits are.
    Now if he were to suggest cutting off the grog from the main and known perpetrators, I would go along with him, but to punish all for the sins of the few is definitely not the answer. Sorry Ross, your idea would never work, and would probably breach the civil rights laws anyway.

  4. @ Terry, Steve and Tony.
    At least Ross is prepared to have a go at a solution. The seven day a week supply of alcohol that fuels the rivers of grog in the NT are only a relatively recent phenomenon.
    Traditional law and society functioned in this place for thousands of years and whatever negatives you want to throw at it, there’s nothing that can come close to the present alcohol crisis, so instead of blaming the usual suspects, why don’t you try and imitate Ross by using your brain to come up with something more than cynicism?
    Or better still, throw your support behind bringing back the BDR. I’m sure you can come up with reasons why that won’t work too, but none of you fellas appear to have an answer.
    The recent ABC TV documentary DEAD DRUNK: LIGHTS OUT IN THE CROSS contained the comment that personal responsibility, government and the alcohol industry should all be brought to the table. It’s a bit strange that the last two seem to be inconspicuous in your arguments.

  5. Russel. I have your answer. Anyone who lives in no fixed address, or any type of public housing can’t buy grog, and you can apply to remove it.
    But then that’s racist ain’t it??

  6. @ Tony Meman. Posted April 21. 9: 35pm.
    I don’t think that’s being racist, Tony. Public housing is managed by government on behalf of the community – its owners. If alcohol can be proven to be a factor in the destruction of a community asset, then you have a case to take to your local member. As Justice Riley recently noted – the community needs to get more involved with this issue. I hope you do.

  7. Russel, my post was directed at the ludicrous idea of making the innocent pay for the crimes of the few, and the obvious infringements of the civil rights of the people of the Alice. Your post brings nothing new to the argument, just the same old tired whingeing we have seen for years. Wake up mate and see that this problem can be solved, by the judicial system in the main. They need to bite the bullet, to h*ll with the consequences and regardless of the cost, and throw the offenders in the slammer EVERY time they offend.

  8. I have no desire to see Alice become a dry town. For starters, it just wouldn’t work, and I enjoy a drink.
    But I agree that the rights of the majority are being trashed by a minority of irresponsible drinkers. Unfortunately, our jails are just not big enough to throw “offenders in the slammer EVERY time they offend.”
    We could, however, limit the incidents of offensive drunken behaviour by bringing back the Banned Drinkers Register. Its ID check applies to everyone buying grog thereby doing away with any possibility of racial profiling, and it would help those with an alcohol problem by weaning them off their crutch.

  9. @ Terry. 22 April. 11: 40pm.
    I’m tempted to refer you to your post at Steve Brown’s loitering sting where you state “what do I know”, but to take your “ludicrous idea of making the innocent pay for the crimes of the few” a little further, “despite your to h*ell with the consequences and regardless of the cost”, having the majority of taxpayers pay for demand-side solutions to excess supply of alcohol is more to the point.
    Civil rights, as Martin Luther King eloquently stated, are subject to changing times and, I suggest, it is you who need to wake up. Posting your citizenship by having the courage of your convictions and owning up to your surname would be a start.
    I refer to the triangle of personal responsibility, alcohol industry and government. The judiciary has in recent days been reminding the community that this needs to happen and they can hardly “bite the bullet” while government remains committed to excess supply scenarios. There are cost-effective alternatives to “throw(ing) the offenders in the slammer EVERY time they offend”.

  10. @Russel Guy.
    Black white or Brindle I have a right to an opinion, and as far as citizenship goes I am a true blue Aussie. My name is irrelevant and I deeply resent your turning the debate into a personal attack on me as am method of covering the weakness of you earlier and somewhat ridiculous proposals.
    As I said in an earlier post, I am long gone from The Alice, though I love the town and always have, and it grieves me to see the way she has gone, though in truth, I saw it coming all those years ago, with an influx of those that wanted to weaken the rule of law, a group to which you appear to contribute.

  11. @ Terry.
    No-one is denying your right to an opinion, but if you’re intent on continuing to post into these debates, despite the AS News policy of preferring complete names and relying on the integrity of the individual if there’s no good reason not to, then perhaps consider your deep resentment against the consequences of your desire to imprison those who offend you.
    You continue to make unsubstantiated allegations against others, but “deeply” resent anyone offering a counter to your own arguments. These arguments, in this instance, concern people addicted to alcohol, many of whom have complex cultural differences and situations outside your apparent understanding.
    You say you “saw it coming all those years ago, with an influx of those that wanted to weaken the rule of law, a group to which you appear to contribute”, but you chose to leave us to deal with the problem as best we can, while you ridicule anonymously from afar and call yourself a “true blue”. Sorry mate, can’t cop that.

  12. In turn. Isn’t it amazing to see so many claiming it is only “irresponsible” drinkers and we all know who they are. What total rubbish. You, who said that, are irresponsible simply by making that remark as alcohol affects all of us the same way you.
    Terry apparently “saw it coming all those years ago” and with a deliberate motive too. Talk about paranoia. It was common where I lived there in the fifties. How old are you? 150? Nostradamus is not needed to see what is already there. Grow up and see real life.
    Russel talks of the innocent suffering because of the crimes of a few. Be real mate. YOU all drink as that is the centre of life in ALL of Australia – and more do so in the Alice, much to my sadness. Going out isn’t worth it unless you are already so tanked you don’t even know who you are, right?
    Hal appears to have no idea at all. It’s all or nothing after 60 years of the same. Everything has been tried and failed. Except a dry town. How do you think tourists feel and note when they visit and see drunks everywhere, at night it’s obligatory. Way to promote tourism, Hal?
    And why is it OK for communities to be forced to go dry but not where you are? Because you are a drinker is your answer, mate.
    Looks like you are a “nothing” man. Right?
    Terry, another who talks about the innocent. How much do you drink Terry? Perhaps someone else might know better than you the answer to that question. Never been so drunk you just fall asleep on the ground, anywhere. I have. Often. All around Australia.
    A thank you to Russell for agreeing that the bleeding obvious is the ONLY solution.
    Terry again now “Knows who the culprits are”. Do you really Terry. Do you see inside of every house in the town or do you only comment on those that do not have houses to hide their alcohol abuse in? I think so for white or black. You all do the same thing. And as I said, that is Australia’s ONLY culture.
    Let’s get pissed again, like we did last summer. Or last night in reality.
    Come on Terry, I grew up there and at 14 we were getting older guys, drunks, to buy us cartons. Wake up to your bigotry. Only whites would buy for us. Blacks said no, you are a kid.
    Steve Brown. The topic is Alice Springs mate, not Brisbane. Mind you, I already said in my letter that society is turning against alcohol en mass much as the non smoking campaign succeeded, so shall this. Do you really keep your eyes shut so often people wonder if you are dead or just dead drunk. So regardless of if you agree with me or not, it’s already happening mate. Better find a substitute drug before you are faced with the inevitable given alcohol is the biggest killer of all.
    Responsible drinking. Crap. The first one has bones in it but the next thousand you don’t even notice. I know, I did it, many times. The only reason I would stop at night was no money or couldn’t stand. And I’m just another white and drank with many such whites, we are everywhere.
    Tony Meman. I’ve never heard of you so you must have come from “down south” yourself so if such people have no say in it why are you even commenting? Apart from which I am east of you, same line on the globe, not south at all.
    And those with houses do all the things you list as well, usually in their own house where beating a wife is not seen and pissing in your cupboard instead of a toilet is not an unusual happening.
    Dotson? And? Who’s going home, I’m just commenting on what your own newspaper reports every week and what I observe when I travel through. In truth it is no different than when I lived there. Exactly the same in fact. Just more people drinking more and more. You all pretend it’s a new problem but it isn’t. It dates back to when white men introduced alcohol to this country. No change since then. Except where women have control of communities and evict the drunks. They are the people you see in the Todd. Rejected by their own people and by you, the “responsible” white drinkers. They are the people you see in the Todd and on the streets. Even think of offering one of them a hand out of alcoholism by taking them in and living with them until they become capable of resisting. Never, have you?
    I will say to you, none of you will even get a point against me for I have lived there, been a long term drunk and know history. None of you do.
    So either agree and get to campaigning or suffer the ignimity of a blast from me. You shame yourselves with this absolute racist and bigoted rubbish.

  13. @Ross Chippendale
    Posted April 26, 2014 at 11:39 am
    What a spray! Little wonder you no longer live here. If I felt that way about the town, I wouldn’t either.
    But do please keep us posted on how you go getting Brisbane to go dry. And keep reading Alice Springs News Online. A great town’s great online newspaper. It even lets disgruntled ex-pats have a go.

  14. Ross: A quick geography lesson for you. Alice Springs is 20km south of the Tropic of Capricorn. Unless this has been moved from crossing the Queensland coast at Rockhampton to Brisbane, then you, Sir, are from “Down South”.
    Furthermore, just because you have never heard of me doesn’t make me from “Down South”.
    Do us all a favour, and go back Down South where you can annoy them. It’s dogooders like yourself who have derailed the Territory.


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