Ghan walk: Signs of the times


2618 Ghan walk signs 2 OKBy ERWIN CHLANDA
Today’s Murdoch twice-weekly laments that the signs lining the tourist walk between the railway station and the Larapinta intersection are unreadable, observing that “tourism plays a major role in the economy of Alice Springs” and promising “more” in the next edition.
“This matter was raised over a year ago with Tourism Central Australia (TCM). Obviously nothing has been done about it,” says historian Alex Nelson.
He says he wrote to fellow history buff David Hewitt on January 14, 2018: “It just so happens that one of the few legible signs along that walk provides details of the contributors to that project which was officially opened a decade ago this year.
“I photographed all of the panels along that walk in the early morning of Christmas eve [2017] three weeks ago. I’ve attached a few examples near Larapinta Drive, which is where the sign acknowledging the project contributors is located.
“The pathway itself is well maintained but contrasts oddly with all the panels upon which most display signs are in appalling condition.
“Just why it’s allowed to get to this state is beyond me, it certainly shows no respect for visitors on the Ghan who may choose to walk this way.
2618 Ghan walk signs 1 OK“However, the names provided on the sign in the first two attached photos could help to find the original artwork that hopefully is still kept on file. I don’t think there is any excuse to allow this situation to continue much longer.”
Also on January 14 last year TCA chairperson Dale McIver emailed Mr Hewitt (copy to her TCA CEO Stephen Schwer): “Do you have any further information on these signs, such as who may have designed and installed them originally and where the information was sourced from? If we can find a starting point this will assist in looking at getting them replaced?”
Mr Schwer’s contribution on January 15, 2018 was an email to Mr Hewitt: “If you ever find a grant fund that funds signage and includes ongoing maintenance, please let me know, as it makes sense, but I’ve never seen it before!! Sad but true.”
Mr Nelson emailed Mr Schwer on the following day, saying the “Discovery Walkway” was opened in late May 2008 and – including the decorative fence on the boundary with the Stuart Highway – cost $720,000.
“That’s a significant investment of funds so adds to the case of restoring the information panels along the walkway,” Mr Nelson said.
Mr Nelson took the photos published here in December, 2017.


  1. Try watching the sunset as promoted on FM tourist radio from the seats closest to the car park steps on Anzac Hill.
    You can’t see the view because of trees planted right there. Another masterpiece in forward thinking.
    Watching last week’s landline re Kalgoolie and their murals shows again how shallow we are in our thinking, as does the ABC programme on alternative energy (Catalyst) last week.

  2. In 2013, as Tourism Minister I personally tasked my Central Australian advisor Adrian Renzi with restoring the signs out the front of the Alice Springs Post Office. They too were in appalling condition. I felt this was of some importance considering their prominent location and indeed the stories they told.
    From memory funding and the restoration came from the Department of Arts and Museums. (I was also Arts Minister during this period).
    A call to Adrian might clear up some of these details but in the end it was a pretty simple and inexpensive exercise: A clear and firm direction from the appropriate Minister.
    Maybe TCA could approach the current Tourism Minister and ask that they do the same.
    In hindsight, I wish I had also restored the signs at the Discovery Walkway. Regretfully it wasn’t something I noticed at the time.

  3. You only noticed the signs out the front of the Post Office because they were directly opposite your electorate office Conlan.
    Ministers should be thinking more about the portfolios they hold rather than infighting.

  4. A few years back, I was involved in a project evaluating infrastructure at some 50 to 60 heritage-listed sites in the central Australian region.
    Signage was one of the most problematic areas, mainly due to the widespread use of signage types not suited to the conditions in which they were to be installed, as seems to be the case here.
    Well selected signage should last longer than a few years and should represent better value for money, not to mention the bad look and what it says to visitors to our town.


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