Territory Stories

Alice Springs news



Alice Springs news


Alice Springs news; NewspaperNT




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This publication contains many links to external sites. These external sites may no longer be active.




Community newspspers; Australia, Central; Alice Springs (N.T.); Newspapers

Publisher name

Erwin Chlanda

Place of publication

Alice Springs


v. 17 issue 18

File type



Copyright. Made available by the publisher under licence.

Copyright owner

Erwin Chlanda



Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

Ask Jill Brookes how it feels to have three kids involved in the Finke Desert Race and the answer is horrendous! Jills sons, Rick Hall and Ben Brookes, are well-known motorcycle riders, while her daughter and son-in-law Paddy and Lochie Weir are a buggy team. She says the hardest part of having loved ones involved in the race is not knowing if theyre OK or have made it safely between fuel stops. Jills enthusiasm as a race mum and volunteer has spanned the last 26 years. As spectators, we are usually unaware of the many behind-the-scenes duties which are performed by a variety of volunteers over the Finke Desert Race weekend and Jill Brookes is most definitely one such person. To give you an example, each morning of Jills three day weekend begins at 4am when she lights the fires at the start/finish line to keep the spectators warm. This is followed by putting the urns on and making sure that all the food for the volunteers is ready. Originally, volunteers were given food vouchers to use at the barbeque stands but this became an expensive exercise. These days, its much quicker, simpler and cheaper for the organisers to supply the food themselves. Aside from her usual duties, Jill not only worries about the safety and well being of her own family but is also there to support and reassure the relatives of others. Many years ago, she was at the start/finish line awaiting news of her son Rick, only to discover upon reading the result sheet, that he was unaccounted for. He was later found in one of the worst spots of the track, out near some old ruins where there were very few spectators and very little wood to make a decent fire. With this experience as well as a background in nursing, Jill finds it easy to read worry on the faces of spectators and competitors and its usually because of not knowing the whereabouts and safety of their loved ones. As she explained to me, theres no sure way of knowing whats happened down the track, unless youre an official and privy to such information. Even then, the information sometimes still doesnt get through. So she decided to get involved and try to make a difference. The faces of relatives light up when she tells them everything must be okay because the ambulance hasnt gone anywhere. This is one of the most difficult but often the most rewarding parts of her job. Due to the friendliness and hospitality of locals, one of the most frustrating areas of the race is when a competitor has crashed and been rescued by wellmeaning campers who dont let Race Control know whats happened. This often leads to race officials wasting many frustrating hours looking for a needle in a haystack. Jill recalls the time when race officials searched until midnight, only to discover that the long-lost competitor was in a pub! The Finke Desert Race seems to bring people together from many different backgrounds. Jill recalls a group of older ladies who volunteered their time and parked their motorhomes at the start/finish line. She fondly refers to them as the Grid Grannies because every morning they emerged from their trailers with hair, makeup and nails in perfect condition. One lady in particular worked as a cook at the barbeque from about 7am until 3pm, before quietly retiring for a wellearned rest. Later Jill was told of this womans recent diagnosis of cancer another humbling yet positive experience. Jill encourages people to put their hand up and have a go everyone can make a difference with some of the smallest gestures having huge outcomes. One of the many unsung heroes and another quiet achiever thank you, Jill. Finke persistence pays off. By CHRISANNE WALSH. Ken Callanan is one of the Finke Desert Races quiet achievers. During 1982, 83 and 84 while still living in Katherine, he was a pit crew member for the Greg Hersey / Allan Halls Pro Cycle Team which consisted of riders such as Phil Lovett and Kurt Johannsen. In 1985 before cars were allowed in the event, Ken rode his own bike, an IT175 in the 0-200cc Class and finished 5th in his class and 50th outright. Even with such a good result for a first-timer, Ken decided to give up the bikes as theyd become too dear (almost doubling in price) and the logistics all seemed too hard when he was still living in Katherine.

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