Multi million dollar Alice Redtails plans advance

p2306-Blatherskite-Park-2EXCLUSIVE by ERWIN CHLANDA
The Redtails have developed a plan to turn their ideals into reality with a privately funded multi million project in the 60 hectare Blatherskite Park.
It started as a Right Tracks initiative “to deal with the troubles of our young people, the dysfunction in the community, currently so prominent,” says manager of the organisation Rob Clarke. “It has grown into a venture with big social as well as commercial values”.
The Redtails Pinktails Right Tracks Program plans to add other sports to Aussie rules, developing on-field skills with those needed off-field, anywhere in life. This will also include pursuits outside sport.
The Blatherskite project will bring money into town from about 20 participants and will depend only on some government money. Mr Clarke says the participants are national and overseas entities and talks are are still commercial in confidence.
“We believe we have the funding available,” he says.
The grounds are government owned and as the government is now in caretaker mode negotiations will need to resume after the election.
However, confidential talks with user and community groups have been under way for 16 months, and will continue, says Mr Clarke.
The massive project will entail building the “bricks and mortar” not only for local users – traditionally equestrian clubs, the annual show and the Camel Cup – but national and international organisations looking for heat training and other uses.
That will mean building accommodation for people training here, and a new or extended stadium, servicing several sports.
Mr Clarke says the planning has been detailed and professional, with top level advice.
The site will become an international showpiece of renewable energy, aiming to be self-sufficient: “We are talking with several non-fossil energy companies. It will be a game changer for our community.”
Utility water will come from the smelly sewage plant next door: “We are looking at various recycling options which may lead to a complete replacement of the evaporation ponds,” says Mr Clarke. “We still need strong consultation with authorities to get the best outcomes.”
He says the gradual transformation of the park will unfold under a strategy that every new user provides the facility he needs, and secondly, does not take away from the town, but adds to it.
There will be features “that tourists will want to come to town for. We aim to create new industries and substantial ongoing employment,” says Mr Clarke.
As the Alice Springs News Online has reported, the park has been in disarray for some years with management and financial problems, and a controversy about competing with privately owned caravan parks.


  1. Yet another good reason to see that the Giles Government is re-elected.
    After eleven years of neglect by the previous Labor regime, people need their memories jogged – especially those who have only been in town for the last few years.
    We were pretty well wiped off the economic map during 2001 to 2012 when the Darwin-centric Labor mob were “running” the Territory … owe woe and shame, shame shame, running it into the ground more like!

  2. This is a fantastic good news story and clearly lays down a template for the future that we should all support.
    Great work Rob Clarke and Adam Giles!

  3. Great idea! But from what I understand of it, there really is no commercial viability for this project.
    When I first heard about this my first thoughts was the Simpsons monorail episode. Can we please have a master plan for sports in this town before we start building anything more?
    The willingness of people to lurch towards anything that is shiny and sporty is really concerning from an economic point of view.
    I congratulate Rob and the team for getting it this far, I think there is some merit but any investor wants to know what their return is.
    I will no doubt be harangued and called names for being cautious on this, but is this really what we need right now? Who’s going to own it? Who’s going to have responsibility for on going costs?
    Why is the government always spending money for our sporting bodies and very little to support our thinking brains?
    Ah … it’s an election and the Olympics are on. It makes sense now.

  4. Hope the CLP don’t get wind of this secret plan. They will kill it deader than a dodo – they think we already a dangerous amount of renewables. Let’s keep it really quiet.

  5. @ Jimmy: Ah Jimmy, you had to use the “m” word didn’t you. There will be one promised before the elction now – and it’s all your fault.

  6. I’d like to see more planning and less knee jerking in developing our town.
    Judging by the glare along the length and breadth of the big new netball courts, the ambience of the townscape can easily be disrupted.
    Not saying I don’t love netball or that I don’t like the Redtail’s vision, but let’s have some good planning to make sure these things are enduring assets for our town, built on a sustainable business model and not knee jerks from pre-election fervour that leave us with eyesores.

  7. With respect, I think that Rosemary Wiese left out an obvious adjective when urging people to put the CLP back into government. Her opening line should have included “dysfunctional” ahead of “Giles Government”.
    When you have a multitude of respected national political commentators via TV, radio and print all portraying the NT as something of a joke, because of the shenanigans that the CLP Government has been responsible for these last four years, people do not need their memories jogged. The CLP’s time in office has overseen a succession of embarrassing events which, in topical terms, would win them a swag of gold medals for all the wrong reasons. When visiting down south one is reluctant to say that you are from the NT!
    The memory of their shambolic efforts is as fresh as tomorrow’s homemade bread.
    It is amusing to witness the born-to-rule CLP mentality that operates in Alice.

  8. I would like to make a couple of points extremely clear to the people who have made comment regarding our vision for Blatherskite Park.
    Firstly, we have not sought any media discussion on the project simply because over the past 16 moths or so we have been discussing the proposal with current user groups, potential user groups, private businesses, government agencies and organisations in and around Alice Springs. We have had about 90 meetings with theses various groups, which has helped form the project to its current state.
    An article was going to be written with or without our input, so a decision was made to give some comment so at least the article would have some resemblance of the basic truth.
    Having said this we are not trying to deliberately keep it a secret which is evident in the large amount of community consultation we already had and there is much more community consultation to come. We simply want this project to be successful on the financial sustainability, an aesthetic and social structured points of view before the media had their input.
    This project should be bipartisan from a political view point as the project is aimed directly at positive outcomes for our community, with a holistic approach to our youth detention, behavior and direction issues, the very reason the idea was floated in the first place.
    We are not saying it is a silver bullet or that we have all the answers. Some say we are simply painting a pretty picture: Say what you like but facts are facts the Redtails Pinktails Right Tracks Program has and is making a strong positive influence in our community.
    Young people have gained employment, have found direction in life and are contributing to our community because of it and more importantly, theses young people are encouraging others to do the same.
    We are simply expanding on the already successful outcomes to engage more sports and activities with more resources to create more pretty pictures if that is what you would like to call it.
    This should not be about who is right or wrong, whose idea is better than the others, or who can write the best comment to bring something down before they understand the whole story.
    So, instead of just writing something on a forum by comparing our vision or program to the Simpsons or assuming there is no sound business model and or the whole idea of this proposal is a knee jerk reaction, how about you get in contact with me instead, ask some questions, put your CONSTRUCTIVE point forward and give yourself the possibility to value add to this project.
    By no means is this project a done deal, there is so much work to be done including community engagement, consultation and applications / documentation to work through, but please, before you knock it on the head, at least understand what it is you are hitting. Being negative is not necessarily being cautious.

  9. @ Rob Clarke: The worst thing that could happen for this project right now is for it to be hitched onto the CLP election campaign.
    I would suggest going to the Yeperenye Centre today between 11 and 1 and make sure the Opposition Leader is across it to ensure bipartisan support for this massive project.
    I think it is a wonderful initiative but if it is to have legs, it must stand up on both and not prop up an ailing NT Government at the expense of sound investment in this area.
    I am keen to talk to you about it and offer my two cents if it is of any value to you, but my advice is to not allow this project to be politicised, otherwise it may take eight years or more to get up.

  10. @ Jimmy: Please show me where on any transcript, discussion or comment have you seen me state anything about a particular political party, or independent for that matter, relating to our project? The only mention about political parties has been from the people commenting including yourself. I have no influence or control over that.
    This project is about our COMMUNITY, our community is not the worst in the world but it could be a whole lot better. This project has been born from the negative behavior that surrounds us and from the hopelessness that engulfs us. I see on so many posts and comments about something should be done.
    So, right or wrong, here is SOMETHING, people. Please please please let’s take this opportunity to develop it, let’s all get behind it as a people as a community and mold it into a real social, financial and environmental sustainable space that changes our direction and embraces what we can be together.
    OR let’s just all jump on Facebook, write letters to the editor of newspapers, comment on blogs and keep complaining about our situation.
    Regarding your two cents worth Jimmy, I am more than happy to catch up with you and discuss anything you wish regarding our project and have your input. The fact that you would like to is important to us.

  11. Hi Rob: To clarify things for the readers, can you simply advise whether any allocation of funds has been earmarked, alloted or confirmed by the current NT Government?
    Good on you if this really is as non partisan project that will go through due process and properly decided in the next term of governnent.
    Sorry for being skeptical but can you blame us?

  12. The Redtails dream was not born from any political party whatsoever, it came about when a young man in his prime was killed for a packet of cigarettes during the off-season of footy in 2010. It was a community member who didn’t want this young man’s death to just be another statistic, something had to be done.
    No politician saw his death and thought, let’s do something to try and make a change.
    The dream and planning around that dream has been happening since 2010 so this is hardly a “knee-jerk reaction”.
    I can understand that many of you will have reservations about this project because the political parties like the look of this and want to jump on board and put their name on it. This is not a political drive to make money, this is a community drive to make change.
    I believe as a community we have become too comfortable in the chaos and disfunction, it has become “normal” but I personally don’t accept that and I know the Redtails don’t accept it.
    That is why we are doing what we are doing.
    When someone dares to change things up, we see that and it forces us reflect on our own lives, our own actions and maybe that reflection makes us as a community … uncomfortable.
    I have seen first hand the benefits of the Redtails, from bitter rivals at local clubs becoming great, respected friends, to the sense of pride that comes from representing Central Australia, to seeing a young man start to move away from a life of petty crime by making positive choices for himself because he simply wants to play a game of footy.
    I believe in the Redtails and I believe in our community.
    So the next time the Redtails are training come down to have a look, talk to the players, to the coaching and medical staff who all volunteer their time and energy.
    Maybe you could bring some water and oranges if you do!

  13. Jessica: Yes I can absolutely guarantee that this project has and is going through due process and to the best of my knowledge no monies have been promised, earmarked or allocated to the project.
    To be honest, the whole process has taken way too long and we have been asked to jump through hoops left right and centre, sometimes upside down and back the front.
    If it sounds like I’m complaining its because I AM – this process has been going for well over 12 months. I simply did not realise how absolutely over the top hard this project was going to be.
    But at the same time I do understand why. What I do hope is that it gets the support it deserves and our community benefits from it from the opportunities that will be created for our youth.
    The Right Tracks program has received funding for its day to day running of its programs which the current government has supported with strict KPIs attached to it, and we are proud to say has had incredible outcomes directly from it.
    The Redtails Pinktails Right Tracks Program is a totally separate identity to the project in discussion and will remain exactly that – whether THE PROJECT sees the light of day or not.
    We will also be actively discussing future funding for our Right Tracks Program with the newly elected government no matter who that maybe.

  14. Good on you Rob Clark and the Redtails, it’s a fantastic project for the Centre and Centralian kids!
    As a councillor I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a full briefing on this fantastic project which I wish I could disclose but given “confidential” constraints it will have to be enough to say this project is set to bring a level of new industry, new jobs, new opportunities and excitement to our town.
    You simply will not believe until you see it all unveiled! This project is for Central Australia and its children and deserves our unreserved support no matter what our political leanings.
    If I’m elected I will support this project! If I am not elected I will still support it!
    I hope all other candidates get behind it as well.
    Good on ya Rob and Redtails, the amount of time and effort you have put into bringing this project to fruition deserves the community’s grateful appreciation, you certainly have mine!

  15. It’s a bit hard to give unreserved support for a project when there is so little detail.
    Like you said, Steve, I simply can’t believe until it is unveiled.
    If you are going to campaign on this please explain excactly what it is.

  16. What a fantastic development! Having been lucky enough to have been involved with the Redtails Pinktails Right Tracks Program from the early developmental stages, it’s extremely heartening to see this program finally on the verge of establishing some concrete infrastructure in the form of facilities and funding commensurate with the mammoth volunteer efforts involved in building this up from the ground over the past few years.
    The only disappointing thing to come from this story is the chorus of naysayers who must be at this point wilfully ignorant of the nature and history of this program, and for some reason feel the insatiable need to try to cut down anybody trying to achieve something that they don’t bother trying to understand.
    It’s especially damaging when these people blatantly try to hitch a completely apolitical concept onto an agenda of their own choosing and for their own benefit.
    I know for a fact that the Redtails program is apolitical by absolute necessity and always has been; it’s actually an element of long-term viability planning that such an organisation foster equal relationships with both sides of politics due to the simple fact that no regime lasts forever, so to be disproportionately associated with either party will inevitably lead to failure.
    This program is about community, especially that “unity” part at the end, and bringing people up together. To me this project presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to establish a truly world-class facility with the potential to provide long-term economic opportunities in a variety of fields.
    No doubt local sport presents as the most obvious beneficiary, with new playing facilities not only able to improve the state of play in local football competition, but also offering appeal to external sporting bodies to bring their product to Alice Springs.
    Furthermore, as stated in the article, this facility would be uniquely positioned as an ideal location for heat training for sporting clubs on an international scale, not to mention the research possibilities into a field that is challenging altitude training as the most effective way to enhance training adaptation for sport performance.
    Following through on this thought, opportunities for sport scientists and medical professionals to conduct ground breaking research should be obvious in this program, however it’s somewhat contingent on these brightest minds and their advocates looking at projects of this ilk as an opportunity rather than just saying “why do we spend money on sport?”.
    In the end, the Redtails Pinktails Right Tracks Program has enjoyed tremendous success both on and off the field (cliché alert!) since its inception in the face of extreme scepticism, negative propaganda and seemingly endless naysaying due to the fact that the people behind it are so determined and passionate about enriching the Centralian community that they’ve had to be forward thinking, fiscally responsible and highly strategic in their endeavours, because without these qualities this project would never have even been conceived.
    As such, and as I’ve said, trying to attach this project and the program itself to any political party or agenda is misleading and irresponsible in the public forum.
    Congratulations to the Redtails program, I really hope this project gets off the ground, the community deserves it!

  17. When Roger Vale was appointed Minister for Tourism, many years ago, I suggested to him that the NT Government and AFL should combine to employ Tommy Hafey for 10 years to prepare for the day when Alice Springs (rather than Darwin) would become the host town for an eventual national AFL team.
    We drank a lot of beer around the issue, but nothing eventuated.
    Think about it, though. Alice is central in travel terms to every capital city where AFL teams are based.
    Footy could become another tourism highlight for Alice.
    Darwin is too hot and too far away.
    One of the things we pondered was that Tommy Hafey should go to the US to recruit basketball giants who had not quite reached the Michael Jordan level, but who were agile enough to became the “talls” of NT football, augmenting the skills of the thousands of wonderful “little” fellers like Andrew McLeod, Mick Long, Cyril Rioli that the NT produces.
    Keep your eyes on the many African players of that type now coming in to top AFL ranks. Blatherskite Park is a colossal venue in every respect and now is the time to start to contemplate the huge stadium and facilities that could be located there. Adelaide Oval, MCG. Think about it. Where’s Neville Shute when we need him?


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