By ERWIN CHLANDA
The visitor centre of the City of Onkaparinga has many things that its Alice Springs counterpart does not, but surely needs, most of all parking, says Trevor Shiell, veteran tourism operator in Central Australia.
The Onkaparinga centre has about two hectares of it, big enough for large buses, “about five at least at a time, with parking for around 10 cars with caravans and at least 30 cars at a time, with well vegetated strips between car parking strips,” says Mr Shiell.
The Alice Springs visitor centre, in the Todd Mall, has no car parking at all.
The front of the Onkaparinga centre is of local stone and rammed earth.
“It is obvious and well signposted from the road,” says Mr Shiell, a campaigner for moving the Alice Springs visitors centre to the “welcome rock” on the South Stuart Highway near the Adelaide turn-off.
He says the Onkaparinga centre is about one kilometre from the town.
“Its toilets are great, all rammed earth and very modern,” he says.
“There is a community meeting space at the far end (photo at right).
“There is an outside veranda with picnic and eating facilities and a large lawn and playground for the kids. The whole complex is surrounded by vines.
“Inside is a small fast finger food cafeteria, and a display of wines, all produced locally, and maps to eating houses and route maps.
“One of the up and coming attractions is the environmental short walking trail built by the Onkaparinga council.
“I recall the Alice Springs News Online suggesting a similar venture along the south side of the MacDonnell range. The popularity of these short walks is growing rapidly,” says Mr Shiell.
“There must have been at least 15 people employed there, and their knowledge of the district and its products was huge, and extremely well presented.
“I could picture our visitor centre to be at the welcome rock where there is plenty of parking and perhaps a respite area where people could safely leave their caravans while they went into town by car. Perhaps even a shuttle bus?”
The city of Onkaparinga, just to the south of Adelaide, takes in 518 square kilometres and has a population of 167,000.
ABOVE: Part of the parking area at the Onkaparinga visitor centre.
By ERWIN CHLANDA