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HomeIssue 12Developing a treasure: 10 year East Macs plan

Developing a treasure: 10 year East Macs plan

2468 Ross River Corroborree Rock

ABOVE: Corroborree Rock. BELOW: Historic gold mine at Arltunga.

2632 Arltunga White Range 2By ERWIN CHLANDA
Jobs in mining, investment in tourism accommodation, pushing for re-discovering the gold mining town of Arltunga, developing Alcoota fossils as a place visitors can visit: It’s all part of the 10 year plan for the East MacDonnells by the Central Desert Regional Council.
With the progressing sealing of the Outback Way to the Queensland border – so far all done between the Stuart Highway and Harts Range – the plan expects increasing demand for caravan and camping facilities.
The Alcoota site would neatly fit into the Dinosaur Trail from Queensland and lead to Megafauna Central in Todd Mall in Alice Springs.
The Bonya Aboriginal community seems set to benefit from job opportunities at the tungsten mine on its doorstep.
1434 Arltunga OKA novel initiative is “to support communities and individuals to understand tourism and how they can become involved, offer new products and generate jobs and income”.
Such a business enterprise support program would cost $250,000 to $300,000 a year “for an extended period” the plan estimates.
The council is looking for investment in camping facilities, expecting that $4m to $5m would be needed.
Public money of around $3m wold be needed to create an “enabling environment” for a private enterprise East MacDonnell Ranges Eco Accommodation.
A similar approach is suggested to attract tourists to Arltunga, the gold mining town that precedes Alice Springs.
The first miners came to Arltunga, about 100 kms east of Alice, in 1887, working alluvial and reef gold until the early 1890s when the town was deserted.
It enjoyed another flurry of activity with the construction of the government battery and cyanide works in 1896.
This kept Arltunga, the actual forerunner of Alice Springs, active until about 1916.
Gold mining there had an odious renaissance in the 1980s when the CLP government allowed a company to open-cut mine the White Range, destroying dozens of historic sites of potentially inestimable value to the tourist industry, while producing a tiny quantity of gold, and paying negligible royalties to the Territory.
The 10 year plan calls for investment in a “unique eco accommodation facility in the East MacDonnell Ranges combined with the Arltunga project [which] could be game changers for attracting new markets into this part of the region.
2632 Arltunga White Range 1“Given such a facility is likely to be on public or joint managed land, the approach to market needs to be preceded by preparatory planning and land and site clearances to create an enabling environment.”
Investment in the actual eco accommodation would be expected to be from the private sector.
It is estimated $3m is needed for pre planning and site clearances prior to the expression of interest process.
IMAGES from Arltunga White Range mining: Documentary Cry from the Heart by ERWIN CHLANDA.


  1. Here we go again – who is this Central Desert Regional council?
    This is exactly what we don’t need. The area doesn’t need “developing” nor “managing”.
    It has managed itself for billions of years to effectively become a place of natural environment of which there is little left remaining for people to relax in.
    Before you know it, we’ll have an international airport with all the paraphernalia associated with that, resulting in yet another “managed” controlled tourist enterprise.
    No, Thank You!

  2. The only reason it is a “treasure” is because it hasn’t suffered such “development” as envisaged by you.

  3. I am not surprised that it this taken so long to realise the”potential” of this area.
    Brisbane to Perth via Alice Springs for both tourism and the transport industry is competitive with the southern route and probably faster.
    It is possible that at some time in the future interstate transport will see the advantage of entering Alice South of The Gap, from the Plenty.
    Hence the urgent need to focus on Brewer as a cross nation transport hub, and facilitate a heavy transport corridor via perhaps Santa Teresa to completely bypass the area which we all love, in conjunction with the opening up of the Plenty / East Macs.
    When this happens, there will be no wilderness areas left here for us locals as Greg Simon points out, but there must be room and planning for both.
    Even the remote areas of the Simpson which we all cherish will be subject to threats of the same nature should the Tristar mining coal mining foolishness go ahead.
    We should all be on our guard.

  4. Only thing that needs managing is the cattle. Rid the East Macs of cattle and watch the environment flourish.

  5. @ Jacka: Exactly, this whole area should be excised from the pastoral estate and gazetted as common for the people (not cattle) so that people are the beneficiaries, not just a few with vested interests. Barbed wire fencing etc is an insult to us and the wide open spaces in this modern age of Wanderlust.


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