By ERWIN CHLANDA
It was an ode to Alice Springs last Saturday, as is the Territorian Dinner every year, an ode to the town’s people, its lifestyle, community spirit and magnificent scenery.
Alice is never stuck for an excuse to have a party: This one is for people who’ve lived in the NT for 25 years or more.
The question “how long have you been here” can have a bit of an edge to it in some contexts, like: “What would a ring-in like you know about anything?”
No hint of that at the dinner: The guests were in happy agreement that they’d found the best place in the world to live. At a time when the spectre of “leaving town” is raised a lot, the 150 people gathered for an outdoors feast (pig on the spit), on a balmy night, agreed: Why live anywhere else?
Many had come for just a few days or weeks or years – and stayed.
The dinner had its origins in the late ’60s. Mona Minahan and Len McConville (legends in the Territory) wanted to get together anyone who had been in the NT during the war. The dinner they organised went on to be an annual event in Alice Springs, traditionally held in the Youth Centre opposite the Catholic Church.
In the early ’90s the dinner was moved to the Convention Centre and in 2006 to Ooraminna. It has now been moved back to the town centre and held still under the stars on the heli pad at the Crowne Plaza and the last three years at the Heavitree Outback Lodge.
The Rotary Club of Stuart endorsed the Annual Territorian Dinner in 2006 when this iconic event was handed over from Margaret Baker (another Territory legend) who had started the dinner again in the early ’80s, after an absence for some years. Dianne Logan was the coordinator for six years and the event has now been handed over to Denise Brooks, of the Rotary Club of Stuart, with a dozen members there on the night to give a hand.
It’s cost neutral – money made is invested in the fun of the night. The sale of raffle tickets raised $1000 for the Old Timers.
Just in case you think it’s all same-same, as one wit observed, you don’t have to be old to go: “If you were born here, age 25 will do fine.”
Rumour has it that the band In Tatters, which does a fine golden oldies line-up, is starting to rehearse Rap and Heavy Metal to mix in next year.
The Alice Springs News Online asked some guests: “What was the best thing that happened to you in Alice Springs in the past 25 years (or more)?” This is what they said …
Roz: The whole town. It’s a beautiful community.
Neil: Next year it’s 40 years which is frightening! Everything, being tied up with all of the people, through sport, music, nature, wildlife – people.
Vicki: My husband. This is where I met him.
Steven: Buying my first business, Television Workshop, in 1989.
Dominic: It’s private. It’s personal. The twinkle in the eye tells the rest of the story: Was it good? You bet!
Nola: The weather, the way people live, the relaxed atmosphere. I came from Melbourne, so I love it here.