As Australia is reeling under its worst fire season, NT Government departments responsible for preventing bushfires in the West MacDonnell National Park, about half of which was destroyed in a 17 day blaze in January, are "conducting a review [which] will inform ongoing fire action plans”. ERWIN CHLANDA reports. PHOTO: Burned tree at Ellery Bighole.
Two Members of Parliament are working on a concept to create certainty of tenure for the nation's top off-road race, and for other areas around the NT where bush drivers and riders can do their stuff. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
The traditional owners of the iconic Watarrka – Kings Canyon National Park have combined their rent income from the park with private donations to build a secondary school classroom to keep their children at school for longer.
UPDATE March 14: CLC responds to readers' comments.
The big country we live in turns into a monster when it burns, thumbing its nose at our feeble efforts to regain the upper hand.
It's the more agonising when the cause is human stupidity, carelessness or malice, as appears to have been the case a few days ago when part of the West MacDonnell National park, our greatest tourism asset, was turned into cinder.
An area of about 40 square kilometers was burned.
One blaze was started by the roadside near Redbank Gorge.
Another, ignited in dozens of spots for some 30 kilometers on the Glen Helen to Alice Springs road, was lit by sparks from a car driven on its rims.ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
ABOVE: The Finke River (foreground) stopped the bushfire just short of a popular bush camp, and the Glen Helen Resort. Mount Sonder is in the background, charred bushland in the middle ground. LEFT: A curry wattle re-grows after a bushfire in the MacDonnell Ranges, near Ormiston.
The West MacDonnell Ranges national park, which belonged to all of us, which for many of us underpin our livelihood, and for quite a few of us are the very reason why we're here, will today pass into the ownership of a minority. COMMENT by ERWIN CHLANDA.
"There’s nothing like totally exhausting yourself whilst exploring the eerily beautiful landscape of Rainbow Valley Conservation Reserve in the Northern Territory."
So says Linda Collis, from Redlynch, QLD, who with this snap won the competition "There’s nothing like Australia" run by the Federal Government's Tourism Australia.
Trouble is, she and her mates in the photo are in breach of the regulations for visiting Rainbow Valley.
They seem to be off the short marked trail to which people are restricted.
However, the Department of Natural Resources said today (Nov 9): "They do not appear to have breached the regulations in this photograph.
"This area is considered to be a part of the public area adjacent to the walking track, where visitors are allowed to go."
But the photo below shows a visitor snapped by our reporter two years ago, at what seems clearly the end of the path.
"Mushroom Rock. Please return along same track," says the sign.
The restrictions resulted from the transfer of ownership of this park and most others in the Centre to Aboriginal people, an NT Government decision.
Parks NT, which manages the reserve, says fighting buffel grass is one of the reasons for the drastic access limitations.
The only way Ms Collins could get "totally exhausted" on that short path is carrying a very heavy weight and running backwards and forwards.
Tourism Australia Managing Director Andrew McEvoy does have a point when he describes the campaign's objective as Australians "promoting what is special and unique about their country last year to the rest of the world".
Not many countries would restrict access to some 90% of a national park to a minority of Indigenous people. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.