Thursday, June 20, 2024

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HomeIssue 6ANZAC Oval art gallery good for Mall traders: Chamber

ANZAC Oval art gallery good for Mall traders: Chamber

2533 Anzac Highschool OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
A media release from the Chamber of Commerce, signed by its Darwin-based CEO Greg Bicknell, says the National Aboriginal Art Gallery should be at the ANZAC Hill precinct because it “will increase foot traffic through the Todd Mall and CBD area therefore increasing the opportunities for local businesses”.
He says the recent Megafauna Central launch “is a great example of a CBD initiative where over 600 people attended the opening, providing all CBD businesses with increased exposure and potential trade”.
Mr Bicknell begins his release with a statement hardly anyone in town would disagree with, namely that the gallery “will be a major drawcard to Alice Springs for tourists, art enthusiasts and architects from all over the world seeking to get a glimpse of what may prove to be one of our town’s greatest attractions.
“It is our view that the gallery also be considered an important part of the national education curriculum.
“Every student should be exposed to Aboriginal culture and art at some point during their formal education potentially creating a ‘pilgrimage’ to the heart of indigenous Australia.
“This will increase visitation by over 150,000 per year,” says Mr Bicknell, without substantiation of that claim.
All these advantages from the gallery, of course, would accrue no matter where in town it is located.
The controversy is about the ANZAC Hill precinct location, and there Mr Bicknell’s statement is devoid of statistics and research details, merely stating the chamber has “consulted with our executive committee, surveyed our members and met with the NT Government and Alice Springs Town Council in the past few months.
“From this we have concluded that the ANZAC Hill Precinct is our preferred location … based on the positive response we have received from our members and the local business community.”
PHOTO: The “preferred” ANZAC Hill site. The high school is in the centre, part of the oval at right.
UPDATE 6.45pm
The list provided by Mr Bicknell of people having been consulted by the Chamber does not include any Aboriginal people.
We have published a comprehensive report about the position of the Chamber’s Alice Springs branch, quoting its chairman, Dave Batic.


  1. Old mate is having a laugh. Go watch for a day how many people go into the Megafauna building, not many if any. 600 people at the opening – yeah well that might be well and good but that is just one occasion and it hasn’t shown much action since.
    “Every student should be exposed to Aboriginal culture and art at some point during their formal education” this isn’t an argument point.
    Last I checked kids are, there are classes dedicated to this and have been for many many years at all levels of schooling.

  2. I agree with James T Smerk, not only are there classes dedicated to this for a longtime, but Greg Bicknell should know that you cannot have school excursions in an Aboriginal cultural precinct with mixed boys and girls of different age and kin/skin groups.
    I had two bad experiences, one in Panorama Guth and one in Melbourne museum (school trip from ALice High School for the premiere of The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith in 1978).
    If my maths is still OK, this makes 40 years that students have been exposed to Aboriginal culture.

  3. Hey Bicknell, you biscuit YO, YO.
    Have YOU walked our streets, you Darwinite SORRY?
    You probably been in Darwin a couple of years and never visIted our lovely town.
    Our streets are more full of please lease me signs than people walking the mall.

  4. Dear Ed, thank you for your ongoing interest in covering this issue.
    I take note of the CEO’s comments that he met with Council in the past few months.
    I do not recall meeting with the Chamber, so I checked my diary and emails for past few months dating back to November 2017, just in case I missed it.
    Alas, nothing.
    I am wondering who did the Chamber meet with? Was it Council officers or with individual Councillors separately?
    I think given the fact that the decision to go ahead on Anzac Oval or not ultimately rests with Council, it is important to remain transparent on who Council meets with.
    For the record, I am not a member of the Chamber, if I were I would see that as a conflict to meet with them.

  5. I suspect the Mega Fauna museum is making an inconsequential difference to CBD traders.
    Regarding lack of Aboriginal input in the Chamber’s research, it is likely the research was undertaken utilising Chamber members – local business people.
    Aboriginal people presumably form part of this group. If not, it is of no fault of the Chamber. The Chamber is representing the view of their membership – not a wide ranging consultation taking in the opinion of every man and his dog, every culture, every resident etc etc.

  6. How many tourists will go to the trouble and expense of coming to Alice to see this gallery wherever its put and not visit the CBD or other attractions?

  7. Big ideas but short term results.
    The Todd Mall is dead and with the online buying and the cost of rent in the Mall, I cannot see traders flocking to the Mall unless the government has sweet talked big companies with money to open their business here.

  8. How much longer will the delusion last and how many more times will the mall be “invigorated” before they realise that the CBD is now in the wrong place and out of date.
    It was great when the centre of commercial activity were the Telegraph Station and Arltunga. But times change.
    The Mega flora museum should be a the AZRI geology centre in conjunction with the rest of our amazing geology, the cultural centre should be in conjunction with Yirrara with the achievement of the students portrayed, the visitors centre as at Katherine should be at the highway intersection with the display of the bush tucker potential, and with the Hall of Fame constitute a new tourism hub to proactively intercept visitors and direct them to where the commerce people want them to be.
    The short sighted planning in that area and the introduction of new industries here has been very sad.
    We have a fixation with speed and fast motor sport, but how about a training school in defensive driving for the hundreds of senior school students that visit, or a training school to prevent the sad loss of live on quad bikes in conjunction with the drag strip.
    At least two medicinal cannabis and Ag technology companies are now operating out of Israel because no one thought to ask them to look at doing their research in this arid area.
    Perhaps advertising canal frontage blocks of land with yacht anchorages on the corner of the highway and Col Rose Drive where the ridiculous quasi mining operation is, will be the next brain wave?

  9. Yes, Trevor, exception of cafes, hotels and a supermarket, the CBD is dead because tourists do not have to go to the CBD to find clothing, hats, souvenirs, music, jewellery, books etc.
    They find it all in the tourists attractions: Desert Park, Telegraph Station, Royal Flying Doctor.
    Once upon a time (like in a fairy tale) a tour guide will take his/her customers to do their shopping in the Mall.


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