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HomeIssue 2Melanka development break-through: Work starts next week

Melanka development break-through: Work starts next week

2420 space station 2By ERWIN CHLANDA
The long wait for the Melanka development is over at last: Work starts on Saturday week, April 1 – and this is not a joke.
All it will take – after all this time – are several teams of six Space Cadets and three adult Droids, 150 pallets, heaps of boards planks, beams refrigerator size boxes.
“We are building a space station,” says co-ordinator Eugene Blom.
“The contractors, age range six to 14, need a hammer, battery operated drill or driver with phillips head and hex head drivers, a few 3/16′ , 1/8” drill bits maybe. Or a handsaw,” says Mr Blom.
“Any big headed nails and screws you bring will go into the communal store. Same with ducttape.
2420 space station 3“Plan your own lunch – bring cash – there will probably be a BBQ and we might need more duct tape,” he says.
“Kids are the boss here. All adults must support youth decisions unless safety is seriously breached.”
And, oh, the developers are not an interstate company making poker machines. They are the local Scouts.
You can reach them on  0408 198 256 or


  1. This month (April 2017) will be the 25th anniversary of the official opening of the Scouts Hall on Larapinta Drive; in fact, it’s on Anzac Day.
    The Scouts previously had their hall at the base of Billygoat Hill, on the corner of Stott Terrace and Bath Street. The Scouts were granted their new lease of land on Larapinta Drive in October 1984 (courtesy of then Member for Araluen, Jim Robertson), however they continued to occupy their old facility in the town centre until 1992.
    The NT Government had long-standing plans to widen Stott Terrace into a six-lane road and this meant acquiring leases on the southern side to allow this widening to occur.
    This process started in the late 1980s, with the dismantling of the original CAAC building and demolition of the abandoned Sunny Centre building on opposite corners of Hartley Street – these blocks remained vacant for many years afterwards.
    (Material salvaged from the former Congress building was used in the construction of the Old Ghan station and museum at the MacDonnell Siding south of town, now a part of the National Road Transport Hall of Fame complex).
    The old Scout Hall at Billygoat Hill was demolished, and the property on the opposite corner – the Repco Building – was also destined to be removed (today’s Red Hot Arts centre).
    The only southern corner that couldn’t be acquired for the Stott Terrace widening was at Todd Street because one three-storey wing of Melanka Lodge was built close to the property’s boundary.
    That was no problem, it just meant that Stott Terrace had to swing to the north side and acquire the necessary land from KFC – which is the reason why KFC itself is built well away from the Stott Terrace boundary.
    All of this planning was associated with the proposed expansion of Alice Springs towards Undoolya, formally announced by the NT Government in July 1987. Stott Terrace was to be the main road link with Undoolya Road near Centralian College (now CDU) and then on towards the long-anticipated Undoolya urban satellite development.
    None of which came to fruition, of course; and not least due in part to the national recession that hit the Centre hard in the early 1990s.
    The planning for the the “Undoolya Option” was suspended and eventually dropped; and likewise the same occurred for the six-lane development of Stott Terrace.
    The former Scout Hall site at Billygoat Hill was converted into a small park in 1993, landscaped with native plants and lots of sand rather than lawn (I worked on the project).
    In the mid 1990s Repco moved across to its current premises in the new light industrial development that replaced the former railway housing precinct; its former property in Bath Street varying between vacancy and serving as a base for various art enterprises.
    The two long-vacant blocks on the corner of Hartley Street were taken up in the early 2000s with new office buildings that mirror each other.
    And then the ultimate irony began in 2008 when Melanka Lodge was demolished to make way for bold new multi-storey developments – which like the multi-lane Stott Terrace widening planned some two decades earlier, have never proceeded.
    To top it all off, the Scouts have “commandeered” the only vacant lot by Stott Terrace – the Melanka site – exactly 25 years to the month since they left their own lease at Billygoat Hill.
    Well done, Alice Springs, I love it!

  2. Wonderful idea, which developed into a fantastic weekend experience for all participants! Congratulations!


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