Conservation of Heritage in the Territory
After an enduring effort by Bill Low, spanning a number of years, I finally stand here today to speak to you this afternoon.
Firstly, a bit of my own personal history.
I first arrived in Tennant Creek in 1972 as an 18 year old ‘Bank Johnnie’ with the ANZ Bank from South Australia.
An exciting time, the ANZ was the only Bank in town and Tennant was enjoying a strong mining economy which included the construction of a Smelter at the Warrego Mine.
After my 2 year term was complete, I chose to head back south as a ‘Relieving Staff’ Member – travelling to various Branches to cover for staff holidays or illness.
I returned to camp at Mum and Dad’s home.
You might understand that this was a pretty huge transition after spending the last 2 years living in the single men’s quarters, or Bank Mess, in Tennant!!
When Cyclone Tracy demolished Darwin, some 5 months after my departure from Tennant, and in mid-January 1975, the morning after my 21st birthday party, I hopped on a flight to Darwin.
Home to the Territory!!!
Sleeping on the floor of the ANZ Branch in Smith Street, and showering in the back lane under a garden hose, the 20 or so of us have vivid and fond memories of a special time of our lives as part of the ANZ Bank Cyclone Tracy Relief Team.
I then transferred to Alice Springs Branch a week before Xmas late that year to commence my ‘tour of duty’ in the Centre.
It was during that first week that I began my long-term love affair with the Overlanders Steakhouse.
I resigned from the ANZ Bank to pursue a life in the Territory in August 1976.
I had no grand plan.
Today, I still have no grand plan!!!
Playing footy for Feds in the winter and basketball in the summer.
All the time enriching my love for the Territory with new friends, mates and, of course, characters.
The offer to buy into a partnership in the Barrow Creek Pub in 1978 with ‘Big Jim Burgess’ was, I guess, the most quintessential decision of my life.
On 28 January, 1978, I married at the Lutheran Church in Gap Road, followed by the Wedding Reception at the Overlanders Steakhouse that evening, and then the ‘House Warming Party’ the next day at Barrow Creek.
Then followed a ‘two-year honeymoon’ at the Pub.
Some might suggest – “Every woman’s dream!!!”
Returning to Alice in 1980, we pursued a number of commercial opportunities.
Transport, Electrical Retail, the Alice Springs Gas Centre, Al-Ice Supplies all followed by the establishment of my Financial Services Advisory Business.
During the 1980’s, we expanded into Tourism with investments in Far North Queensland, along with a share in the Overlanders Steakhouse.
In 1988, we ‘hit a huge road block’ thanks to the Pilots Dispute.
These were dark times for everyone associated in any form of commerce throughout regional Australia.
Many struggled to survive financially, marriages failed, and tragically, a few chose their own ‘ultimate sacrifice’.
It took a ten-year financial rebuilding effort by those who were able to ‘hang-on’ during and after the dispute.
Truly tough and ugly days.
With support from my financiers, who themselves, were looking for some form of ‘salvation’ with pressure from within their own ‘Loan Books’, I was able to win their confidence and strategically ‘claw my way back’ into the ‘Black’.
Along the way, I was able to progressively consolidate my financial affairs without relying on other shareholders.
So here I am today.
Retired from active service.
Like you, in a position to ‘give back’.
I was invited to join the Heritage Council back in 2013 as the Chief Executive’s Representative.
In 2015, the previous Government appointed me as Chair for a 2 year term, and last September, the new Government re-appointed me for a further 3 year term.
That appointment certainly raised more than a few ‘eye-brows’ – particularly in the ‘Top End’.
I have always played with a ‘Straight Bat’, and I often speculate, as a result, that the World’s Greatest Cricket Batsman and Australian Captain, Sir Donald Bradman, would never have given me a game in his team!!!
Well before the imminent introduction of ‘ICAC’ into the Territory, as a Chairperson, or as a Member of any Government Agency or Community Organisation, I have insisted on strict clarity and acknowledgement of both perceived or potential “Declarations of Interest” or, indeed “Conflicts of Interest”.
The History and Heritage of Australia’s Northern Territory is as diverse as one could wish for.
The first Australians have reportedly been here for between 40 to (some now say) 80,000 years.
Whatever the number, a bloody long time.
Here in the Territory, John McDoull Stuart finally forged a pathway from Adelaide to the Top End in 1862.
On 05 February next year, we acknowledge the 150th anniversary of the arrival of George Woodroofe Goyder along with 138 members of the ‘Northern Territory Survey Expedition’ to survey the ‘Town of Palmerston’ – Darwin today.
European settlement had begun.
1872 saw the completion of the ‘Overland Telegraph Line’ from Adelaide to Darwin.
An engineering feat of its time, this linked communications between Melbourne and London utilising emerging technologies including underwater cabling.
Surveyor, David Lindsay completed his survey of the ‘Town of Stuart’ on the 13 October 1888.
This included a ‘Railway Terrace’.
The ever-patient residents of ‘Stuart’ had to await another 40 odd years for the first train to eventually arrive.
60 years ago, the National Trust (NT) Branch held its inaugural meeting here in Alice Springs.
An event suitably celebrated a few weeks ago at the Pioneer Women’s Hall of Fame.
You have a lot to be proud of.
A review of your history – thanks to Bruce Strong – highlights the passion of the many locals who have embraced the virtues of the National Trust. Bruce’s comprehensive efforts provide details of many well-known historic names that read as the ‘who’s who’ of this great community.
I congratulate today’s newly elected committee.
You are the custodians of the Northern Territory’s ‘History and Heritage’ through the National Trust.
The National Trust is, as it always has been, the recognised ‘lobby group’ that has the ears of both Canberra and the Northern Territory Government.
Recognition is one thing.
However, well-researched ‘Action Items’ communicated in a planned, coherent and professional manner are necessary to attempt to ‘make that difference’.
Resources are not just about money or financial resources.
Membership energy has built the National Trust to what it is today.
Membership energy has been responsible for the listing of many of the Heritage-listed Places and Objects both throughout Australia and the Northern Territory.
The reality is that charities the world-over struggle for membership numbers.
Bill informs me that your Branch is no different.
How to increase membership numbers is the challenge.
All-be-it a worthy and exciting challenge!!
How can your Branch grow its Membership?
How do you cost-effectively reach out to Alice Springs and invite them to become Members?
Today, I wish to present to you some thoughts and ideas that may perhaps revive interest in the National Trust here in the Centre.
I invite your new Committee to engage with me later, should of course, you consider some of the following ideas to have merit.
Here I go:
‘NATIONAL TRUST’ MEMBERSHIP DRIVE
- The Heritage Branch of the NT Government will be launching an ‘Alice Springs Heritage Walking Trail’ Map/Brochure (scheduled) for early next year.
- The Managing Director of Alice Springs Commercial Broadcasters Pty Ltd (Roger Harris) has provided ‘in principle’ support for the establishment of a pre-recorded package of the history behind many of the Heritage-listed buildings that prevail in (and around) the Centre – including Barrow Creek and Tennant Creek. This ‘support’ is yet to be ratified by the Board of Alice Springs Commercial Broadcasters Pty Ltd.
- ‘Heritage Week 2019’ (in April) seems to be the perfect time to ‘launch’ both the Map/Brochure AND the Heritage stories via the Radio.
- Simultaneously, listeners to Alice Springs Commercial Broadcasters Pty Ltd could be encouraged to join and become Members of the National Trust of Australia (Stuart Branch).
- Introductory one (1) year ‘single’ membership for (say) $95.00 and to include the choice of two of the following four (4) available books: (a) ‘Territory Legends’ by Reg Harris (b) The ‘History of Alice Springs through Landmarks and Street Names’ by Josie Petrick, ‘Kulprinya Springs’ by Josie Petrick, and Josie’s Autobiography ‘Bournemouth, The Bush….and Beyond’. May also include Stuart Traynor’s book ‘Singing Wire to Iconic Outback Town’.
- Authors (or their representatives) to provide book stock directly to the National Trust of Australia (Stuart Branch) at pre-agreed ‘wholesale prices’.