Alice Springs wants to be a player in the global tourism business but it is allowing one of its major assets to be destroyed by neglect and vandalism. Vienna has its famous Woods, New York its Central Park and Paris has the Bois du Bologne. Yet Alice's Todd River, a wild landscape in the heart of the town, is abandoned to arsonists, vandals, litter bugs and remains shut off from visitors whose major attraction it should be. KIERAN FINNANE comments.
Deliberately lit fires have exacted a heavy toll on the Todd River and its trees since the warmer weather began. It seems that we are in a brief moment of reprieve but instead of moving to the front foot, the town seems to be sitting back, waiting for the worst to happen.
We can hardly expect the destructive mindset of the arsonists to have changed all of a sudden, so why is there not a sense of urgency about doing what it takes to reduce the fuel load in the river corridor?
The action that needs to be taken is not rocket science – immediate removal of combustible material around individual trees, possibly linked with fire breaks. Every tree is precious, from the ancient giants to the more recent trees. Their protection is all part of the investment.
The Alice Springs Town Council, as trustee of the Todd and Charles Rivers, must step up to its responsibilities. Or is all this talk of connecting the town to the river, our greatest natural asset, mere lip service? – Kieran Finnane.
Pictured: Top – The aftermath of Spring fires in the Todd River, south of Tunks causeway. Right – Charred ground beneath a red gum which has shed its seed pods. By photographer and naturalist MIKE GILLAM.
In our slideshow MIKE GILLAM tells the story in 12 images.