For most of the 20th century Alice Springs was a distant oasis at the end of a long dirt road. From mid-century on, and thanks to vision and hard work of many pioneering tourist operators, Alice became a destination for determined travelers.
The tourist industry bloomed. We were the gateway to the Red Centre and Uluru, or Ayers Rock as it then was. Ross River and Glen Helen were our bookends.
Helping to establish Alice’s iconic status as a unique outback destination, a group of consulting Yanks decreed that no building in town should exceed the height of the trees in the Todd River. Their suggestion was suitable for its time, but in the intervening fifty years, it has petrified and is now a rock in our road.
Today Alice has lost her image as a solitary, remote oasis. Tourists can fly direct to Yulara, and our main draws are now major events such as sporting contest at Traeger Park and Anzac Oval, the Finke Desert Race and the Masters Games. These events, and others like the Camel Cup and Henley-on-Todd, would all benefit from a greater capacity to host the many visitors and contestants who come to Alice to enjoy them.
Enter the Melanka Towers, the latest proposal centred on that site. I still think it’s long odds that this plan will ever get off the ground, let alone to eight storeys, but won’t it be something to see if it does!
Admittedly it would change the face of Alice, but that’s what faces do, they change. There’s nothing to be scared of in that.
This development could also signal the next transformation of the Todd Mall. Into what, I don’t know, but we’ve already lost the northern half, and the rest is struggling.
Except for Market Sundays, Bunnings can attract a bigger weekend crowd. Yeperenye seems to every day.