Deputy Mayor Paterson: Don't stop now!


2599 gullies OK
Paraphrasing JFK: “Don’t ask what Alice Springs can do for you. Ask what you can do for Alice Springs.”
The emphasis is on “do” so let’s give Deputy Mayor Matt Paterson a cigar for his riverside park idea, and encourage him to keep up the good work. There is much of that the council can do on its own 148 square kilometres of municipality.
The pressing issue is to salvage our tourism industry: Assuming we can significantly scale down antisocial behaviour, let’s get ready to offer visitors so much more than The Rock whose attraction will diminish when the climb is closed. I mean, doesn’t looking at lights in the grass have its limitations?
THE GULLIES, a dozen or so, on the southern flank of the range to the west of The Gap are magnificent, rivalling King’s Canyon in rugged beauty. My family and I have climbed most of them. Two to three hours to the top from where the 360 degree view will take your breath away: The East and the West MacDonnells, the town, the country stretching beyond Ilparpa Valley to the south.
2599 Todd River OKThe council’s contribution? For a start, don’t stop people from getting there. Why is the road past the rubbish transfer station now closed? The first gully would be a 15 minute walk from the tourism precinct. Now it’s a circuitous route around the smelly sewage ponds, hard to follow.
In the medium term, what happened to the council’s discussions of moving the dump, while leaving the transfer station where it is, for public convenience?
Right now we have, in the middle of the municipality, the spectacular sacred site of The Gap right next to a heap of sprawling garbage to welcome arrivals from the south to Alice Springs.
THE TODD RIVER should be the town’s playground: Swagging it in the soft sand, under the stars, less than 15 minutes’ drive from the CBD. The river is rich in majestic, ancient gumtrees, and its use for camping, with a minimum of council supervision, could extend all way to where it enters a pastoral lease.
2599 rubbish OKBut somehow the town planners and the council have managed to block vehicle access to the southern bank of the river. Heffernan, Chateau and Schaber roads are dead-end. Some way should be found to allow vehicles through.
AT LEFT: That’s what happened when country is neglected. Garbage left in the Todd.
The only access to the river for rural residents, the growing Kilgariff suburb, and tourists turning off from the Stuart Highway is via the continuation of Colonel Rose Drive which is in poor, corrugated condition, unless they go via the John Blakeman bridge close to The Gap.
The eastern part of the huge AIRPORT LAND, when it was in public hands, was popular for locals and tourists alike who walked or rode their horses in the mulga and witchetti bush reaching all the way down to the Todd.
This was accessible from the airport side as well, bush treks so close to town and where visitors arrive.
The present private owners of the airport have made it known that they will run cattle in there and they have fenced the area and put up signs threatening trespass prosecution. It’s the kind of snipping away at the freedom that used to be the hallmark of life in Alice Springs.
2599 airport sign OKGiven the region’s stock carrying capacity of two beasts per square kilometre, the commercial value of that land is infinitesimal, while the risk of erosion and creating a dustbowl are very real.
Yet it could be a “welcome to the Outback experience” for tourists, in immediate vicinity of the town, and restore for locals the feeling of being in the wide open spaces which brought many of them to The Centre.
UPDATE 4.30pm:
Scott Allen, Director of Technical Services of the Town Council, says with respect to potential landfill expansions: “Council is continuing to work through the process with relevant stakeholders.”


  1. As we are the home of the Finke Desert Race why doesn’t someone set up a small race track for people to hire, experience and get a feel for the action in a Finke style race buggy on a Finke style track?

  2. Landfill expansion – what about recycling or are we so far in the past that recycling does not exist?
    A lot of tourists come from overseas from countries who are well ahead with this sort of thing – what do they think?

  3. Has anyone looked at the type of people coming here? They aren’t flying with camping supplies ect. They are “baby boomers” age. If you want to improve tourism then do bonuses and deals. Have public safety officers in town. Improve roads to Palm Valley.

  4. I sat at the “Welcome to Alice” rock for 35 minutes today waiting for a plane. In that time 28 cars pulled in there and forty plus people were photographed sitting on that rock.
    Surely this is the target market that is being overlooked.
    Yes, we do need a presence in the Mall, but has anyone ever talked to these people on what their expectations are?
    Re the airport land, there could have been a high technology industrial park there 40 years ago, based on our unique sunlight, licencing and exporting all the things that are unique here, but nothing happened.
    Nor are the minds open to this type of industry in planning decisions.
    As examples, our own spinifex is being planted commercially in the Ord because it contains micro fibres that add strength to latex.
    All the development has been done interstate while we were asleep, apart for a great effort at Curtain Springs.
    There are thousands of bush tomato being grown in the district to meet a growing demand, but who knows and where can potential investors see them?
    With the mad rush into medicinal cannabis how can we benefit?
    I have had two expressions of interest in purchasing my rural block because of its proximity to the airport – both from tourism related companies who find it both expensive and inconvenient to use industrial land in town.
    Surely the airport could offer the tour bus industry development land close to the source of their client base and income to the mutual benefit of both parties.
    That surely would be a better deal than a prison.
    The great walks on the south side of the ranges is also grossly underutilised.
    Eco walks business is becoming a major industry and visitor attraction interstate but ignored here. Instead we had a proposed industrial envelopment at Arumbera on a particularly interesting and unique piece of ecology, while three major interstate highways, a rail terminal, and an airport with international status lie a few kilometres away.
    Surely this is the basis of a huge transport hub and associated industry. The shortsighted view of planning is astounding.


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