Central Australian tourism businesses have taken out several category wins in the 25th annual Brolga Tourism Awards, announced in Alice Springs last night.
First time entrant Alice Springs Airport won the Qantas Award for Excellence in Sustainable Tourism. Two other first timers won in their category: Alice Springs YHA for Backpacker Accommodation; and Rapid Ascent, organisers of the Ingkerreke Commercial Mountain Bike Enduro for Festival and Events.
In contrast to these newcomers, MacDonnell Range Holiday Park took out the Tourist and Caravan Parks category for the 20th time in 25 years, while Ian and Lyn Conway, owners of King’s Creek Station, received the Tourism Minister’s Perpetual Trophy, which recognises long term personal and professional commitment and dedication.
But Shadow Minister for Central Australia, Matt Conlan, says the Brolgas "failed to mask the cracks that have developed in the Centre’s tourism industry over the past decade.
“The industry in Central Australia has been in decline for years and now some tourism operators say they could hit the wall if there isn’t a significant short term improvement."
Pictured: Entrance to the Alice Springs Airport, showing recently installed public art work.
Using the $100m Julia Gillard earmarked for the "Malaysian solution" to build a center for asylum seekers in Alice Springs, which could become the source of sorely needed labour, and moving closely together the dates of the town's iconic events such as Henley on Todd and Camel Cup, giving tourists a reason for staying longer.
These were two ideas floated, by Robert Gates and Peter Grigg, respectively, at yesterday's public meeting called to seek ways of getting Alice Springs out of its doldrums.
About 70 people turned up for the brainstorming, briskly moderated by Chamber of Commerce CEO Kay Eade and hosted by the Town Council. When she asked how many business owners were present only eight hands went up.
"Where are the rest?" asked Ms Eade. "They are letting the town down." Nevertheless, there was much food for thought. Of course, the value of the initiative will be gauged by what becomes reality. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. Photo: Monte's is proof that in business, if you have the formula right, success is assured. The dozens of pushbikes tied to the fence most days are pedal powered proof of this.
Perhaps because this can be a hot place anyway, there was little heat in the Alice Springs conversation with the Climate Commission; and perhaps because it's an expensive place to live anyway, there was no whinging about the "great big tax". The science was clearly accepted; people's interest was in 'where to from here'. People wanted to know about the impact of the Clean Energy Act on the poorest people in our region; about the advantages for sustainability of high density living; about population control; about carbon farming, carbon storage, and large-scale solar power stations. They had some of the nation's best climate change brains answering, although when it got down to local specifics, such as the development of the Kilgariff subdivision and fire regimes in the desert, the information got a little thin. Pictured: Professors Tim Flannery and Lesley Hughes at the 'Climate Conversation' in Alice Springs on Wednesday. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Not for these guys the move to the city, the haircut, the compromise that comes with chasing after airplay: they want to stick with what they believe in, the angry, high energy music of their youth – metal – and its roots in small town isolation and boredom. They are the various talents that make up the three born-in-Alice bands – Miazma, Uncreation and The Horror – and have come together to launch their own label, The Black Wreath.
This will be done with a live performance, of course, this Friday – 11.11.11 – at Annie's Place from 7.30pm. But it will also stream live on the internet. There'll be a six track EP to souvenir, recorded in their own studio
– a completely soundproof room-within-a-room, made mostly from found and recycled materials and including a control booth behind glass. They built it themselves, with everyone chipping in what they could in dollars, effort and skills. A collective, DIY approach is what the 13 are all about, staying with the connection they feel, having grown up and into metal music together. Pictured: Top – Uncreation performing in Alice. Right – The Black Wreath studio. Photos by OLIVER ECLIPSE. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
A breakthrough in dealing with alcohol-related offending?
It's a court like no other that I've been in: while everyone is waiting for the magistrate, there's banter with the offender, about his tattoos, his girlfriend, his new job. They all join in, the legal aid lawyer, the court clinician, the police prosecutor and the correctional services officer. The offender is an open-faced, smiling young man in his twenties. He's clearly well liked.
When Magistrate David Bamber enters, the good cheer continues. He speaks directly to the offender who responds for himself. The tone is conversational. The offender remains seated.
"So you haven't had a smoke for four weeks," comments Mr Bamber. He reads off the results of the defendant's urinalysis: "You'll be clean soon."
This is the SMART Court, introduced in the Northern Territory this year. SMART stands for "Substance Misuse Assessment and Referral for Treatment". The offender's case would have been heard in the Court of Summary Jurisdiction and his sentence deferred while he's been given a chance to comply with his SMART orders, among them total abstinence. There's a system of rewards but also sanctions: non-compliance with orders can earn gaol time. Photo (from our archive): Many of the people appearing before the SMART Court have been convicted of medium and high-range drink-driving and other driving offences. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Have firefighters watched some trees in the Todd burn? "Yes," says Senior Station Fire Officer in Alice Springs, John Kleeman, but only when any further effort to fight the fire would be "to no avail".
Have firefighters' decisions on how to respond to individual fires had anything to do with agreements or instructions from the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA)?
"No," says Mr Kleeman and "No," says AAPA.
The Alice Springs News Online has spoken to Mr Kleeman and Dr Ben Scambary, the CEO of AAPA in order to clarify a heated debate that has developed in response to our report of November 7, 'Spot a tree? Chop it down!'.
Pictured: A severely damaged tree in the Todd River, alongside Tuncks Causeway – but is it dead? KIERAN FINNANE reports.