69 trees cut down to enable road "duplication". ERWIN CHLANDA reports.
UPDATE 1.40pm Friday It is a $10m Commonwealth Government funded project under the Safety and Fatigue Management program. The design has been undertaken with Australian Standards and Austroads Design Guidelines. (See more.)
The photos in this story may end up being some of the last images of the trees and the sails that have been a part of this end of town for the last quarter century, and yet another chapter unfolds of the operation and interaction of business, bureaucracy and government in the Northern Territory. Photos and comment by ALEX NELSON.
MIKE GILLAM, in our Food for Thought Series, is inspired by a policeman's battle to save the trees in the Todd River – in November 1888.
Mounted Constable W. G. South wrote to the Minister for the Northern Territory: I have the honour to inform you that when the township is sold … the Young Gum trees along the Todd Creek … will require protection or they will be all cut down by the residents for building and fencing purposes, in fact some of the trees have already been destroyed by persons forming camps. I would request your instructions on this matter and … all regulations with regard to protection of timber. The trees are a great ornament to the place and it would be a great pity to destroy them ...”
Today, 124 years later, the battle still rages.
PHOTOS: Author Gillam and the Wills Terrace causeway across the iconic river (above).
It's official now: if you find a tree still standing, chop it down.
The latest victims are 25 well-established gums in the poetically named Road 4 in the Larapinta town camp.
The camp is not blessed with an abundance of flora: new houses, built under the $150m Federal initiative to upgrade the camps, now near its end, has produced neat new buildings on barren and dusty blocks.
The 25 trees along Road 4 were a welcome relief.
Now all that's left are stumps.
Territory Alliance Manager Allan McGill said today (Nov 8) the trees were cut down "to allow for the installation of new electrical power lines and water services.
"In keeping with standard design practices, the installation of power and water must follow the new alignment of the road.
"Stumps will therefore also need to be removed to make way for the new water supply."
Mr McGill did not explain why the services could not be installed on the opposite side of the street where there are no trees.
He says the Territory Alliance "has all necessary Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority certificates and no sacred trees were disturbed.
"TA also engaged with residents prior to lopping the trees to advise the work being done, when it would be undertaken and why it was needed."
It's official: the northern end of Todd Mall is definitely intended to be opened to traffic – two-way – down to The Sails and left into the eastern end of Parsons Street opening onto Leichardt Terrace. The road will be narrow, the speed 30kmph, and the footpaths wide; at Parsons Street on the southern side, as wide as 7.5m.
This will create space for pedestrians, for future al fresco seating in front of commercial premises, and also for a "bio-diversity corridor". The idea is to make a connection between the majestic red river gum, known as the Grandfather Tree or Knowledge Tree, that stands just west of The Sails, and the Todd River. The bio-diversity will come from a water feature – a slender stream, fed by periodic flood irrigation, running the length of the street, and plantings, including "dancing trees", coolabahs with their writhing limbs, planted in human-like clusters. These in turn will attract wildlife, such birds and butterflies. Pictured:from top – View east from the Knowledge Tree through The Sails to the river: de-cluttering will be a first step to improving this area. • The Knowledge Tree from Parsons Street west: the works will restore it to pride of place. • Yeperenye hawkmoths, detail of photograph by Mike Gillam: the moth wings have inspired the design of new shade structures. KIERAN FINNANE reports.