60th Anniversary Dinner Report by Anouska Zerna

In 2018 the National Trust (NT) celebrated 60 years since its initial formation in Alice Springs. A dinner was held on November 3 2018, the anniversary of the public meeting at which the organisation was formed.

The dinner was held between 6.30-10.30 pm on November 3, 2018, at the Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame/Old Gaol on Stuart Terrace in Alice Springs. Drinks on arrival were in the courtyard with tables set up on the lawned area in the yard. The venue was chosen because of the National Trust’s role in saving the Old Gaol as well as the central location and facilities available.

Invitations were sent to all those involved in the National Trust (NT) (council, committee, members and volunteers), those involved in other local heritage organisations and individuals with heritage/National Trust interests.   In total we had 47 guests attended the event.  Some notable guests included:

● Mrs Patricia Miller AO – Deputy of the Administrator of the Northern Territory

● His Worship the Mayor of Alice Springs Mr Damien Ryan

● Mr Bill Low – Chair, MacDouall Stuart Branch and Councillor, National Trust (NT)

● Ms Julie Ross – Chair, Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame

● Ms Janet Leather  – Vice-President, National Trust (NT)

● Mr Rex Mooney – Chief Executive Officer, Alice Springs Town Council

● Mr Tim Dixon – Director, National Trust (NT)

Guests arrived for 6.30pm drinks and canapes in the Old Gaol courtyard. They were greeted by McDouall Stuart Branch Chairman Dr Bill Low, who also acted as the evening’s MC and Janet Leather, Vice President of the National Trust NT. The Deputy of the Administrator Mrs Patricia Miller AO arrived at 6:45pm and was met by Janet Leather.

On display was a portrait of National Trust NT founder Adela Purvis, gifted to the organisation by her family. In poor condition, the portrait is in need of restoration. It has been advised by Chapman and Bailey that it will need to be sent to Melbourne for assessment before a price for restoration work can be given. Although damaged, it was an interesting item for guests to view and wonder about the woman who was the driving force behind establishing a National Trust in the Northern Territory.

Jessica Hacket, operations manager at the Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame/Old Gaol invited those who wished to hear about the Hall of Fame to join her in the exhibition space.

The first official proceeding of the evening was a Welcome to Country delivered by Mrs Patricia Miller AO. Following housekeeping matters from emcee Dr Bill Low, Megg Kelham launched into her performance as Mrs Muldoon, Gaol Superintendent’s wife, regaling the crowd with stories from the Gaol’s days of operation. Afterwards, Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame Chairperson, Julie Ross gave a short address on the work of her organisation before a buffet roast dinner was served.

Following dinner were speeches by National Trust NT Director Tim Dixon and His Worship the Mayor of Alice Springs Mr Damien Ryan, who both gave interesting views on the work and importance of the organisation.

Next came dessert which was followed by the last formalities of the evening. Mr Alex Nelson gave an impromptu talk on the significance of the year 1958 and historical events that occurred around the time the Trust was formed. Ms Janet Leather-Weber then bestowed National Trust NT President Mr Trevor Horman AM with a life membership to the organisation, praising the many years of service he has given. Unfortunately, due to illness, he was unable to be there to accept. The MC then wrapped up the evening with a series of thank yous, both to those who had assisted with the evening and also those who had given service to the National Trust NT.

Music was played throughout the evening by Peter and Nicola Gilham on the trumpet and keyboard.