The Mayor of Alice Springs, Damien Ryan’s Speech – 60th Anniversary Dinner

Good evening and welcome to the National Trust NT 60th Anniversary Dinner.

I’d like to acknowledge the Central Arrernte people who are the traditional owners and custodians of Alice Springs.

What an honour it is to be here tonight to help celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the National Trust. As a community-based organization, the Trust has a charter to promote the preservation and awareness of the heritage of the Northern Territory. Incorporated under an Act of Parliament in 1976, the National Trust is a member of the Australian Council of National Trusts (ACNT), a federation of Trusts in all States and Territories. The Trust, Australia-wide, has a membership in excess of 60,000 people and for me personally, it’s great to see that many people interested in history and preserving our stories.

The most important objective of the National Trust is to promote the preservation of our heritage in whatever form that takes – buildings, places of historic, social, scientific or aesthetic significance or more intangible cultural heritage.

The Trust in the Northern Territory maintains a property portfolio of nineteen historic buildings, several of which are open to the public. Some properties feature interpretive displays drawing on the history and setting of the sites. In Alice Springs this includes the Hartley Street School Museum. Restored in 1980 it is now the centre for heritage in town, the oldest part of the structure dates from 1929. There is also “Les Hansen House’ in Stuart Terrace, one of the few houses in the heritage precinct that still retains all its original outbuildings and the Stuart Town Gaol constructed in 1907 and served as the town’s gaol until 1938.

Through Branches in Darwin, Katherine, Borroloola, and Alice Springs as well as a presence in Timber Creek, Tennant Creek and Pine Creek, the National Trust reaches out into the community and proudly monitors heritage issues throughout the Territory.

The National Trust has built and maintains an archive and research library relating to historic places. The Register of Significant Places is the most comprehensive collection of historical material relating to buildings and places available to researchers in the Northern Territory. Another one of the ongoing and major tasks of the National Trust is to act as an advocate for conservation and to lobby governments in matters of cultural heritage, legislation and conservation.

All of this is a very sizeable job for the local team and I acknowledge everyone involved for their selfless contribution to preserve the history of Alice Springs and its people. We have a lively local group who regularly put on events and work with all sections of the community to preserve and maintain our local history for future generations, a truly altruistic task.

Earlier this week I was sent some documents regarding this event, some of these included very early minutes of the first Alice Springs National Trust meeting held on the 3 November 1958 in the Alice Springs Country Women’s Association’s Hall. In looking over these documents I see many familiar names – Battarbee, Heenan, Neck, Kittle, Braitling, Lovegrove, Nelson, Kilgariff – to name a few. But these names are not just familiar to me as a local lad, but because these innovative contributors knew how important it was to preserve our history …and because of that our community has acknowledged them by using their names as part of our landscape. Street names, parks, suburbs, buildings all proudly hold the names of these pioneers and history holders.

So it’s thanks to many in the room tonight and many names on those documents that our history is part of our present and for that our town says thank you. Enjoy the evening everyone, thank you again.