Flag on the Hill: When No became Yes


2557 flag 1 OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
After 30 years of battles, some bitter and nasty, to have the Aboriginal flag fly on Anzac Hill, today – start of NAIDOC week – was the day for it to happen.
Councillor Catherine Satour, an Arrernte woman, was addressing several hundred people on top of the hill at noon today, under the brilliant blue sky and with a steady breeze that brings flags to life.
She recalled the Town Council meeting when the No became a Yes: “Right up to the final moment when we were going to vote, negotiations were happening between Councillor Eli Melky and Councillor Matt Paterson. And to my absolute delight he handed me a note to say he [Cr Paterson] had changed his position to support.”
Loud applause.
“What this demonstrates is Aboriginal people and non-Aboriginal people can successfully work together … we really have a lot to be proud of.
“And we have a lot of work to do, especially in regards to reconciliation, issues concerning our youth, alcohol and family violence,” said Cr Satour.
2557 flag drops 2 OK
2557 flag drops OK“Today we will have the three nationally recognised flags flying together and in unison on one of the most prominent hills in Alice Springs.”
And then Murphy’s Law kicked in.
Decorated Aboriginal ex-serviceman Geoff Shaw, a vocal defender of Aboriginal issues over decades, was pulling on the rope to hoist the flag up the brand-new pole.
It rose, spread out in the breeze to joyful applause – and dropped to the ground.
The crowd’s disappointment was palpable.
Cr Satour and Mr Shaw held the flag up – applause again – but all efforts to raise it failed.
It appeared the hook had snapped and moved to the very top of the pole. A cherrypicker would be needed, said a Norforce soldier who assisted with the ceremony.
The crowd moved off to the barbecue in the parking lot.
Cr Paterson took a philosophical view: After 30 years, what’s a couple of hours.
2557 flag 3 OKAnd that’s all it took. A cherrypicker was brought in and the job was done.
And Alice Springs history was made.
Second and third photo from top by Maya Cifali.
2557 flag 4 OK


  1. Steel a car. Break into a shop. Buy some grog, damage other people’s property, what’s there to celebrate?

  2. Delighted to have been able to attend this very moving occasion for the people of Alice Springs and Central Australia. What binds us together, makes us stronger.
    Congratulations to those enlightened elected members (former and current) of Alice Springs Town Council whose passion and vision finally became a reality today. I remember the first time I visited Anzac Hill (almost 25 years ago) and asked the question: “Where is the Aboriginal flag”?
    Technical issues aside, it finally flew proudly against the backdrop of our great town and a crisp blue winter sky.
    May it continue to fly proudly on ceremonial occasions long into the future. Who knows … the enlightened elected members may some day agree that it should fly permanently for us all to be proud of.
    A vote of thanks to Tangentyere Council for the lift up “The Hill”. Much appreciated.

  3. Mabel, do you have somebody in mind?
    Keep in mind that there is good and bad in all ethnic groups and that Australia has been built by convicts and prostitutes!

  4. I like the idea of it flying over NAIDOC week … what I don’t like is the fact that at night a gang of Indigenous youths went through the mall smashing windows and damaging trees and other items.
    It would be good if we saw a reduction in crime over the week instead of celebrating it with more crime. However crime has become part of the culture of this town and will never change.

  5. @ Evelyne Roullet. Speak for yourself, Mrs Roullet. Australia was not built by people committing crime and doing bad things in society.
    It was built by good people doing hard yakka by the sweat of their brow, in extreme hardship.
    It was also built by free settlers, missionaries and Aboriginal men and women such as Mum Shirl and Doug Nicholls who worked together with their white brothers and sisters to make Australia a happy place.
    And yes, I know you are simply quoting an old saying. However, it is too glib – and inappropriate – to equate it with today’s wilful crime, lack of personal responsibility and victimhood mentality that unpicks all that great work.

  6. @ Mabel: I have to totally agree. Others can put their head in the sand and make up all the excuses in the world. Fact is fact.
    An article the other day in Advocate was criticizing the fact that all juveniles in the detention centre were Aboriginal. Well, if Aboriginal juveniles stop committing crimes they would not be in the detention centre.
    Passed Centrelink the other day and found it a joke. Aboriginals sitting out front, getting a free ride in society by taxpayers money, looking up at Anzac Hill Aboriginal flag. Well if that’s what they want to be proud of.

  7. Scotty: The population of Arrernte people living on Arrernte land (including Alice Springs) is estimated at 25,000, making it the second largest of all Central Australian tribes. How many were sitting in front of Centrelink?
    Pseudo Guru: One Country, One Law, One Flag?
    Ok so which country? Which law? which flag?
    May be Australia (at least the Northern territory) should copy New Caledonia.
    It is a territory sui generis to which France has gradually transferred certain powers. New Caledonia was penal colony of the same period as Australia.
    It is now governed by a 54-member Territorial Congress, a legislative body composed of members of three provincial assemblies. The French state is represented in the territory by a High Commissioner.
    At a national level, New Caledonia is represented in the French parliament by two deputies and two senators.

  8. Everlyn: Of course there were not 25,000 Arrernte people sitting in front of Centrelink.
    A lot were sitting out bush doing nothing. Others sitting on cement next to the taxi rank in
    Bath Street.
    Others (juveniles) were breaking into people’s houses, damaging property and also bashing innocent people for valuables.
    Oh, I forgot the large amount of Arrernte people in the Correctional Centre also.
    Yep, thats what they want to be proud of.

  9. Hey Scotty, pull your head in mate! I am one of those 25,000 Arrente people in Alice Springs. Who do you think you are putting us all in one bucket, labelling us all the same!
    My family and I have worked all our lives in this town, our town.
    We educated our children, teach them respect and our kids don’t walk the streets at night vandalising property, bashing innocent people etc.
    “WE” are not all sitting at the front of Centrelink, “out bush doing nothing” or even incarcerated, a lot of us work for our money.
    How do you think we feel with what’s going on in our town, we feel exactly like everyone else!
    This is our home! If you don’t like what’s happening here go back to your home!

  10. South Australia has no problems flying the Aboriginal flag.
    While in Adelaide in June this year, the Aboriginal flag was seen proudly fluttering in the wind along with the Australian and state flags at police stations, local government offices and other official establishments.
    Obviously SA is mature in its approach and thinking about the Aboriginal flag.
    Despite the Aboriginal population of the NT, there is resistance to flying of the Aboriginal flag alongside official flags at most government establishments in the NT.
    Police lock up so many Aboriginal people in the NT one would have expected an Aboriginal flag in front of every NT cop shop by now.
    Flying the Aboriginal flag and crime are two different matters.
    After all, flying the Australian flag for centuries in this country, has not stopped white people or others committing all nature of crimes in this land.

  11. Kamara, why are you offended? Did I ever say all 25,000 Arrernte people were not making a contribution to society.
    If you read my comment I say “a lot”. If you do not think there are alot of Arrernte people not contributing, committing crimes and being imprisioned in this town, you have your head in the sand.
    What do you mean: “This is our home! If you don’t like what’s happening here go back to your home!”
    Alice Springs is my home. Australia is my home. Last time I looked there is still an Australian flag on top of Anzac Hill.

  12. How sad to see one flag missing on Anzac Hill, a war memorial.
    War does not discriminate, nor should we.
    Indigenous Australians have served in virtually every conflict and peace keeping mission in which Australia has participated since the start of last century – from the Boer War to East Timor, and most likely Afghanistan also.
    I hope it will fly on the 18 August for the commemoration of the Battle of Long Tan (August 18, 1966).
    Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War from 1962 – 1975 involved almost 60,000 Australians of whom 521 paid the ultimate sacrifice.
    In 1987 Prime Minister Bob Hawke designated 18 August as Australia’s official Vietnam Veterans’ Day.
    The date commemorates the Battle of Long Tan when Delta Company 6 RAR fought an encounter battle against enemy forces in the Long Tan rubber plantation just a few thousand metres from the 1st Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat.
    Heavily outnumbered and in jungle conditions, Aboriginal servicemen were among Australian troops who fought a guerrilla war against the Viet Cong. Among the 108 men who fought in Australia’s most famous battle in Vietnam, against an entire Viet Cong regiment of around 1500–2000. Five diggers have been identified as Aboriginal after the battle.
    Of the 260 Indigenous Vietnam veterans identified by the Australian War Memorial in 2010, 19 were Navy. Many sailors were involved in transporting servicemen to Vietnam from Australia and patrols to the North Vietnamese coast.
    Could we not honour those servicemen by flying the flag?
    I can hear the voices saying but they serve under the Australian flag! Have they? A flag which still does not recognise them and did not exist at the time of the Boer war.

  13. How long before someone desecrates the Aboriginal flag or removes the flagpole because a lot of people like myself believe we are ALL one people under one Australian flag not two nations.
    And if it was damaged or removed watch the screaming and racist comments then! Different matter if they destroy a Caucasian flag or pole?

  14. Concerned Rate and Taxpayer: Explain then why we have a NT flag? One flag OK, is NT not Australia? Why has the Casino so many flags? Is Malaysia invading us?

  15. @ Concerned Rate and Tax Payer: Well said! My family have been in the great wars. We do not recognise the Indigenous flag.

  16. Hopefully, Australians will not be placed on a war-footing situation in the future where we have to shed blood to retain our enormous indefensible land mass down here in Little Asia where we are being rapidly Asianised.
    If fighting in the trenches does arise, our multicultural fighting men and women will be so busy squabbling over gender and racial equality and and new flags and how many flags and which flags to fix to our bayonets that the enemy will swarm all over us before we reach consensus or fire a collective shot.


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