The spin-off could be greater than the actual Parrtjima


2589 Parrtjima Ground OK

The down-projection. In the background, the lights on the range.

2589 Parrtjima Children OKCOMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA
OK. This is a GOOD news story.
There shall be not one single word about Parrtjima’s $2.5m cost for a week’s public frivolity at a time of record NT indebtedness.
There will be no examination of claims that the spectacle attracts tourists (which would be VERY GOOD but is, as yet, without evidence).
There will be no suggestions the interstate produced show is what the ancient Romans called “bread and circuses” – a distraction from more pressing issues, VERY BAD.
Neither shall there be any comment about the Lights on the Hill being quite underwhelming (compared to what nature bestows upon us almost every day), accompanied by undistinguished music (compared to last year’s terrific song) with a word in the lyrics that sounds like America, much to the confusion of those in the audience who were listening. (The word, I’ve been told, is apmereke – apmere meaning camp, place in the local Arrernte language, plus ke meaning for).
Not a single word about ANY of that!
Instead let’s look at the event’s spin-offs which could be outstanding.
The kids’ bouncing castle is one example. At Parrtjima it was called Children’s Space. We heard a mother of six saying that she took them there every night Parrtjima was on. They loved it.
The castle is owned by the people of the NT, via its government. It is stored in Alice Springs waiting to be exhumed for next year’s Parrtjima, to be in April.
2589 Parrtjima Forest OKLet’s get it out now, for all the kids in Alice.
Knock, knock Town Council. The Civic Centre has a splendid, secure courtyard, an excellent Children’s Space.
How about diverting a couple of parking inspectors to give our youngsters a great time from – say – 4pm to 7pm, not seven days a year, but 365.
The castle can of course be deflated for the rare occasions the space is needed for big council functions. Smaller ones would still fit alongside.
Furthermore, tense council meetings could be defused by elected members getting their shoes off and going for a hop – instead of getting hopping mad.
Then there was the Gathering Space, that funky octagonal (?) place with all those doors (40?), done out like several living rooms inside, with lots of TV screens where a program of short films about Aboriginal culture were screened. No ceiling, no roof, just The Centre’s magnificent star sky.
That structure is also owned by the public.
Get rid of that hapless red box spoiling the view of Adelaide House in the Mall. (In any case, in most light conditions it is almost impossible to see what is playing on the screen of that contraption.) And find a place for this clever and alluring space, and curate a clever and alluring program for it – with Aboriginal culture, yes, and other audi-visual productions of Central Australian interest as well.
There was the Forest Space, appealing laser-cut steel columns, each with its individual iconography, lit from the inside.
2589 Parrtjima Gathering OK
Let’s spread them right throughout the CBD.
There was the down-projection onto the ground of  magnificent Aboriginal artworks, forever changing and flowing, as kids and adults walked, skipped and ran through them.
What a gig that would be on the erstwhile site of the sails, where the Mall and Parsons Street intersect.
The simple scaffolding and the projection equipment is owned by CAAMA, and the show could be cabled off the offices of Tourism Central Australia, right there on the corner.
Now all of that together is what I would call “turbocharging” the CBD, at a minimal cost, using assets we already own.


  1. Totally agree Erwin. The markets were amazing tonight with the light projectors that had been left up. Brings a fantastic atmosphere to the Mall.

  2. Had a festive feel, certainly should be 365 days per year.
    This just might be the answer to late night coffee in the Mall, revitalisation perhaps!

  3. You raise some very good points, Erwin, but you forgot to mention the one essential ingredient, one that is missing when it comes to our mayor and his “gang of four” – imagination.
    Year-round Parrtjima could be an important part of a vision for Alice, one that helps define our developing culture whilst recognising and celebrating the contributions from the area’s Indigenous community.
    It will take good planning to develop a better town for us, our visitors and future generations, but that is all too hard for our local and Territory government representatives.
    Much easier to cross your fingers and hope for things to return to the more prosperous 80s.


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