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HomeVolume 29Thousands for the Show, millions for Parrtjima

Thousands for the Show, millions for Parrtjima


The Alice Springs Show wants to bring back attractions from earlier years but it needs more cash and manpower.

The NT Government puts in about $40,000 a year, according to Show president Andrew Barrett.

But the annual cost for “lights on the hill” Parrtjima, which is staged by a Sydney company, is estimated to set the taxpayer back $2m a year.

“Those events have been commercialised by the Major Events Company whereas the Show is still a community run, volunteer based organisation,” says Mr Barrett.

“That’s what makes us different. We’re very community focussed. We rely on support from local businesses. The support we get from the community is fantastic.”

There were no rodeos in the past few years and the spectacular Camp Drafting and Bronco Branding have moved to Harts Range and Aileron, respectively.

Both require top riding skills, are examples of how cattle mustering was done in the past and usually can’t be seen at agricultural shows of southern states. (See below Alice Springs News video of the Bronco Branding competition on Undoolya Station in 2020.)

“You don’t see bronco branding at the Sydney Show. No, you definitely wouldn’t. It’s a very unique South Australian, NT thing,” Mr Barrett says.

“We had conversations with the camp drafters towards the end of last year but unfortunately the person who was going to help us was injured in a horse accident. It’s definitely on the cards to bring back [these] horse events,” says Mr Barrett.

“The oval is there, we should use it as much as we can.

“The hardest thing is having the volunteers to run these events.”

Camp Drafting and Bronco Branding could fit into efforts to turn the Show into a tourist attraction, Mr Barrett says.

The Show Society is a member of Tourism Central Australia and is now using the visitors’ centre for promotion and ticket sales.

Trade displays are difficult to expand.

“With staff issues the way they are in Alice Springs, some businesses find it hard to cover two days of the Show.”

But there are always examples at the Show of extraordinary efforts (photo at top).

It’s common for median income couple to have a car each. With Dan and Josie Hodgins it’s no different except that Hers, the blue one, with a Turbo Barra Falcon engine, can run 400 metres in 9.23 seconds, reaching 214 km/h.

His, the red one in the background, with a Holden LS3 engine, can do the 400 metres in 8.8 seconds, topping 244 km/h.

What’s more the couple built the dragsters themselves, for a surprising $15,000 and $20,000 respectively.

How many hours did it take them? They’ve long lost count, say the boilermaker and the primary school staffer.

What could make the Show bigger and better?

“We’d love to increase our numbers on the ground. It’s the biggest community event in Alice Springs. Getting that information out there, that the Show is here and we support the community. People interstate don’t quite understand what it is, where it is and when it’s on.”

Is that where Major Events could help?

“Advertising. As a not for profit we can’t spend tens of thousands on advertising. That’s not in our budget. We need to spend our money on our facilities.”

What would he add to the Show if he had the money?

He laughs: “Camp drafting, bronco branding, people love that sort of thing. We had the rodeo one year before the Show, as Katherine does, but it comes down to people organising it.

“It’s been tossed around to have a three day Show, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Obviously that extra day would create a lot of work. There are a few things we’ve been toying with.”


  1. One for the money, two for the show, three to make ready and four to go… (Blue Suede Shoes.)

  2. It’s not about what the people want, it’s about what the NTG “executive” and their “progressive” allies want. They need to keep up appearances when they’re attending bbq’s at Christmas down south in Northcote don’t you know.


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