Story of Landcare NT Committee trip to Alice Springs May 2019
Earlier this year in May the Landcare NT Committee (Sue McKinnon, Annie Andrews, Suni Dhanji and Liz Bird + Madonna Wuttke – Executive Officer) met in Alice Springs to attend meetings and events and indulge in some local festivities with the aim of meeting members, offering support and picking brains for our Volunteer Engagement Strategy (VES) project. The non-Alice Springs based members (Sue, Annie, Madonna) packed their winter woolies and were gratefully surprised when they arrived to a beautiful Autumn Day of 25 degrees.
The committee met face-to-face for the first time since November’s AGM and nutted out some agenda items in the comfort of the Araluen Electorate office (Thanks Robyn!) where the lovely Angie made us feel welcome and kept the office open past closing time so we could make it to the end of our agenda (thanks Angie!).
Feeling pumped (but hungry) after our three (3) hour meeting, we headed to the Tinh & Lan Alice Vietnamese Restaurant and from what I’ve heard since, we were very lucky indeed to be honoured with an outside table. The surroundings were beautiful and the food, even better – highly recommended if you’re down that way. It’s worth the effort of driving a little further out of town – especially if you take the scenic route with our Treasurer, Liz Bird.
With a banner, some books and a few brochures, we headed to the Telegraph Station Markets on Saturday morning to set up a stall and mingle with the locals. It was also a very popular location for the many fly-netted tourists enjoying the heritage site and historical displays. Although not overrun with enquiries, quality not quantity has always been my preference and we had the pleasure of speaking with some lovely people about all things Landcare. We even managed to snare an enthusiastic young short-term resident to attend our workshop session scheduled for later that day.
With Sue and Annie left to pack up, Sally (our trusty consultant from MintKey who is developing our VES) and I headed for the Olive Pink Botanic Garden to run the southern session of the VES consultation. With ten (10) eager participants present, Sally took us through our paces with questions such as “How do we currently attract volunteers?”, “What support do we offer our volunteers?” and “What’s working / not working?”. The discussions were useful, enjoyable and memorable – it was a two-way street with everyone contributing and also (hopefully) leaving with some practical hints to take back to their organisations. Thanks again to Ian for the use of the OPBG meeting room and to Paola for her tasty afternoon treats that kept our energy levels up.
After my sugar high, I crashed a little and opted for the lazy dinner option of Indian take-away. Gorging myself on naan bread – something I don’t get to enjoy in Katherine – I took the opportunity to relax and build up my energy for the next day’s Landcare adventure. Up early, I was keen to grab a maddock and have a go at Buffel Busting and cactus-hunting at the Spencer Valley Landcare site. With Google maps letting me down, I relied on the old-fashioned directions by phone from Suni and eventually made it to the right location – assisted by flagging tape, Landcare signs and the wonderful Valmai (vice president of Alice Springs Landcare). After a rigorous WHS briefing by Sue Morrish (Spencer Valley Landcare site coordinator), I set about busting the buffel as best I could and managed to clear around at least one of the trees in the Ironwood (Acacia estrophiolata) and Witchetty Bush (Acacia kempeana) grove with the aim of preventing its death by fire in the future. Giving my back a break, I headed over to the easter egg hunt……oops sorry, the cactus hunt being headed up by Suni, the trusty president of Alice Springs Landcare. With tongs and buckets in hand, Suni, Jude, Sarah and Henry were spotting and removing the nasty spiked flora from the environment which would eventually meet its demise buried in the depths of the town tip.
With only minutes to spare, my reliable colleague Sue McKinnon (Chair, LNT) delivered me to the airport where I flew back to Darwin and jumped on the Stuart Highway for my trip home to KTown (with the obligatory bucket of KFC safely strapped into the car seat. You can imagine the brownie points I got when I walked in the door!)
Overall, a fantastic trip to Alice Springs – the scenery, the food and especially, the people make it such a wonderful place to visit. I managed to swallow only one fly on this trip so that was a bonus. Thank you to my wonderful committee members – Sue, Annie, Liz and Suni. Thank you to all the workshop participants – Ian, Claudia, Annie, Sue, Kate, Jimmy, Suni, Sue and Sue. And thank you to everyone I had the pleasure of meeting at the Spencer Valley Landcare site – Sue, Valmai, Rosalie, Jude, Sarah and Henry.
Looking forward to catching up again soon,
Madonna – EO, Landcare NT