Territory Stories

Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003



Debates Day 3 - Thursday 1 May 2003

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Parliamentary Record 11


Debates for 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 9th Assembly 2001 - 2005




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Thursday 1 May 2003 appreciated meeting Mrs Nelson the other day. So, I do have a connection. The other connection I have is I first came to Central Australia in 1964 as what was called a Form 4 geography student in those days. That was the beginning of what you might call a move by many schools to come to the north as part of excursions to discover the centre of Australia. I came here literally on a city bus which tried to negotiate dirt and corrugated roads and fell apart in the process. We travelled up the track from Melbourne, but as soon as you got to Coober Pedy, the old Stuart Highway certainly let you know you were travelling on it. We went out to Ayers Rock and the Olgas, as it was called in those days, and enjoyed a trip around those parts on Connellan Airways which took off from the old airstrip which used to be very close to Ayers Rock, and now, of course, is outside the park. We moved on to Alice Springs to have a rest - and to get the bus repaired because all the seats had broken up; in fact, the bus had nearly collapsed. We stayed at the Oasis Motel which was owned by the Kilgariff family. It was also a great pleasure to meet Bemie Kilgariff who, to me, is one of the icons of the Northern Territory and a person for whom I have great respect. I believe he is a person of great wisdom, great humour, and someone who has been a very important person in the development of the Territory, politically and economically. We stayed at the Oasis Motel - 1 had forgotten where it was, but Bemie tells me it was more or less opposite where Traeger Park is today. It was interesting; perhaps I have another connection I did not realise I had. Bemie said he ran a chook farm. He had 7500 chickens, and he had a problem that many o f us in the poultry industry have had: to have eggs laid regularly, you have to keep the daylight hours the same, and so you have to have lights set at sometimes 4.30 am or 5.30 am. Of course, when they come on and everyone else is asleep in the Alice Springs area - it was a small town then - the chooks start making a lot of noise. He used to get complaints, so he decided that was a bit too much and he went into the motel business. That, I presume, is how the Oasis Motel came to be. There is one thing I always remembered - and I was only 14 when I came to Alice Springs - and that was the beauty of Central Australia, especially if you came from Melbourne: you would enjoy the night sky which you could see more often than in Melbourne, the sunsets and the sunrises, the crystal clear days, the landscapes and their different colours. I will always remember watching the sunset at Ayers Rock, as well as looking at some of the paintings that Albert Namatjira did, the bush, the sand, the plants and the animals, the dry river beds and the majestic gums. The silence, when you come from a big city and you are camped out in the middle of the desert, is very strange. Of course, there have been changes. Many of the roads have now been sealed, and the Ayers Rock airstrip is the Uluru Airport, part of the Yulara Resort, which is now a modem sealed airport. Alice Springs is, naturally, much bigger and now has all the amenities you would find anywhere else in Australia. Some of the changes are for the good, some for the bad. I look at those fast food outlets in Alice Springs and wonder at the lack of respect the company owners show for the Central Australia landscape and architecture by building replicas of outlets that suited the suburbs of Melbourne, Sydney or Los Angeles, but not Central Australia. I always find that very disappointing. On the good side, Alice Springs has kept its landscape by respecting its geographical features and sacred sites. This planning approach certainly should be used as an example for other towns or cities in the Territory and Australia. In fact, I still do not think it is too late for the city of Palmerston to look at the same concepts in retaining some of its geographical features. It makes Alice Springs a unique town; an interesting and very beautiful town. Alice Springs has a proud heritage, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, and that heritage is part of the fabric of this community. It has sometimes been difficult to preserve that heritage but, in general, it has succeeded, and the minister mentioned some of that today. There is still the beautiful weather and beautiful landscapes, and the people of Central Australia are no different from other Temtorians, except for jumpers and beanies; and they make this such a friendly town - even the flies are friendly. What am I leading to with all this nice talk about Central Australia? Well, the Chief Minister in her statement talked about development and vision. I thought I would talk about tourism. Within the Territory, we need to do more to attract Darwinites, Litchfield-ites, if you want to call people where I come from, and Top Enders ... A member: Outer Darwinites. Mr WOOD: No, not Outer Darwinites; this is outer Darwin. ... to this part of the world. There is no doubt that for many of us in the north, we can fmd the continuing high humidity and temperatures especially tiring, particularly at the beginning and the end of the Wet. With weather as Alice has now, what better time to get people from the north to come south? After all, we do speak the same language. 3945