Cars in the Mall. What about horses?



I too remember well the design forum that Domenico Pecorari refers to as being exposing its clients to a bevy of preconceived ideas imported entirely for the suburban planners handbook.

I also remember one traditional owner stating clearly that Kilgariff would never go ahead because there was a sacred tree in the middle.

No matter how many re invigorations of the CBD may come, the truth is that the infrastructure was never intended to cater for the volume or size of the traffic flows that it has now.

When I first came here in 1982 there was a rural supplies warehouse in the northern end of the Mall and the famous Bulll Bar in the corner hotel. This is stuff that tourism thrives on but long since gone. 

Many of the Western Queensland tourism towns thrive on their history but not here. We had to be like every other suburb in the country.

The current tourism office is surely nice, but if the big Mac food store expected its clients to walk 2000 metres to get a feed they would go broke. Yet that’s what we expect our tourists to do to get information.

It was recently claimed on National radio that the arts industry was worth more than the chicken industry (Radio National). If that is true why is the Red Hot Arts centre stuck away out of sight? It should be on the mall with the other arts outlets.

This signifies the problem. We need to decentralise starting with the post office. There are postal agencies at both the Gap Store south of The Gap and at Larapinta.

Try parking to get a parcel or check the box as a partly disabled person, let alone a caravan as I saw recently.

Everyone of the visitors’ centres that I have visited recently apart from ours starts with adequate parking for both caravans and busses. Ours has neither. And we make them walk to get their info hoping that they will spend their money on the way.

The town must move south for a number of other reasons.  We have no huge icon nor room in the CBD to display them. I have visited the big orange, the big lobster, the big banana the big pineapple, the big dinosaur, the big Indigenous family (Aileron )etc. We have the big nothing!

Yet a few years ago I sat at the Welcome Rock south of town waiting for a plane for an hour or so while over 100 tourists climbed and were photographed on that rock. Where were the tourism promotion  bodies? 

Yet that is only stone’s throw from a national icon in the form of the Transport Hall of Fame. I envisaged an attraction grabber in the form of three Aileron type statues – an Indigenous family, an explorer and a cameleer with camel, all of whom have contributed to our town and living in harmony to grab attention.

The CBD can never cater for  this type of promotion based on vehicle traffic. The Mall could never handle that. One place I visited in Queensland even encouraged visitors to park their cars out of town and go to where they wanted to take placed by electric shuttle bus.  That sort of imaginative planning has been sadly lacking in the 43 years I have lived here.

Long term into the future and looking at national security as well, we are at the crossroads of national security concerns with a trans national railway, an internationally rated airport, and with the north-south sealed road, an east-west sealed road and with the completion of the sealed Tanami a direct access to the very exposed Kimberly for defence and security purpose.

The recent arrival of boats of refugees there illustrates the point. Direct access requires a base for the logistics needed for our defence, and the area south of town (Brewer, as a satellite community) is the logical place for such a supply base accessible from all points in the country.

This should be a very rational position for a new direction apart from tourism and very necessary long term. That scenario is essential and needs to be planned for now. 

Add to that the significant employment in that area makes a satellite community so obvious, but ignored. Townsville has a mining centre of excellence. We have a magnificent mineral facility at ASRI but ignored.

The whole of the area south of The Gap, including the cultural centre, should be a display, showing what is/was possible here and this centre should be a Mecca for tourism activity, with the road verges planted up demonstrating the bush tucker industry, maintained by the corrections people and promoted as such, and what is left of AZRI using current desert food production from other desert areas in the world.

We are way behind. We should be the standard setters on what is possible if we look around and not simply follow the suburban leader.

I get sick in the stomach when I drive into Adelaide from the north or leave from the south. Is that what we want here?

I remember coming away from that meeting with a sense of gloom.

Trevor Shiell, Alice Springs

PHOTOS: Above – Bob Purvis Sr of Woodgreen Station outside the Stuart Arms Hotel, Todd Street, 1922. At top – the hotel in 1924.


  1. Trevor: Lots of ideas, but not much in the way of paying for them.
    I suspect that Alice is about as big as it needs to be, and is ever going to be.
    There is a caravan and campervan parking area at the river end of Gregory Tce.
    It would not be 200 metres to the tourist info centre from there.
    I think you magicked up an extra zero from somewhere.
    Oh, and Trevor, “BIG” things are dreadful Kitsch, and falling into disuse and disrepair everywhere.


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