Until the beginning of February we'll be in Summer Mode, publishing mostly the comments from you and our invited panel in our Rest and Reflection series, as well as major breaking news. We'll draw your attention to these through our email alert (if you are not already a subscriber, please click on the NEWS ALERT line above – it's free).
It was a pleasure serving you in 2012, our 19th year of publication, with web traffic having increased threefold since we went online exclusively in March last year. And now we're looking forward to our 20th year: it will be a boomer, as we hope it will be for our region and all of you!
Visitors who have boned up on Central Australia are likely to be expecting workers with black faces at the airport. They did – but none of these four were indigenous: Taxi drivers Harpreet Singh (from India) and Bruce Mahiangu (Zimbabwe), and security guards Gladys (from South Sudan but now – when asked where she's from – proudly saying "Australia") and Sam (Liberia). The town's cosmopolitan character has been enhanced by an injection of nearly 2,000 overseas migrants who had arrived in Australia during 2006 to 2011. They found The Alice to be a great place to find a job, a forum was told this week.
The population of Alice Springs, after a slow growth between 2001 and 2009, is now declining.
Old people are leaving. The proportion of working age people is on the way up.
There are gains in education. Many people from overseas are now working here.
Small bush towns seem doomed and the uncertain prognosis for our region is to have a non-indigenous population of just under 30,000 and an indigenous one of 20,000 by 2025. It's a mixed bag, reports ERWIN CHLANDA.
Every day it fights battles of life and death.
It is one of the town's biggest employers, a $150m a year operation of extreme complexity, drawing its highly skilled staff from all corners of the globe.
Last week I got a first-hand look at the Alice Springs hospital, getting a new left hip (that's me pictured, getting back on my feet a couple of days later).
It was the small things that touched me most: "Hi, I'm Annie, I'll be looking after you for the next few hours. Do you need anything? OK, if you need me, just ring the bell."
To a person, the nursing staff start their shifts in this way. It takes around 30 seconds to say these or similar words, but they make all the difference: I wasn't an object having things done to it. I was a person and I was with people who cared. ERWIN CHLANDA reports.