Monday, April 29, 2013

Darwin Symphony Orchestra to strike a chord with Mirusia

Mirusia performing with Andre Rieu
The Darwin Symphony Orchestra will perform with one of Australia’s most beautiful voices as part of their first Dry season concert at the Darwin Waterfront next month.

Described by Andre Rieu as his ‘Australian angel’, Mirusia will join the DSO for Strike Up The Band! on Saturday, 11 May.

The performance, which will be held under the stars, also features the Australian Army Band Darwin conducted by Captain Darren Cole.
“We’re thrilled Mirusia and the Australian Army Band Darwin will join us for this concert, which promises to be an unforgettable evening,” DSO General Manager Guy Ross said.

“The program includes Man From Snowy River, Schubert’s Ave Maria sung by Mirusia and the 1812 Overture, topped off only by fireworks.”

Mirusia was the youngest ever winner of the prestigious 'Dame Joan Sutherland Opera Award' in 2006 and is an ambassador to the Australian Children's Music Foundation.

She is perhaps best known for her performances with Andre Rieu and is set to wow Darwin with her rendition of Schubert’s Ave Maria, which has more than 10 million hits on YouTube.

Strike up the Band! will be conducted by Captain Darren Cole, who’ll lead the Darwin orchestra and Australian Army Band Darwin for the first time.

“The DSO is one of Australia’s youngest orchestra’s and most adventurous, which is something we’re very proud of,” Mr Ross said.

“We work hard to innovate and evolve, and bring classical music to the people of Darwin.”

The DSO season opener follows the recent announcement of its incoming Artistic Director and Chief Conductor Matthew Wood and performances scheduled for Uluru in October.

Strike up the Band! will commence at 6:30pm with families encouraged to bring a chair or blanket and pack a picnic.

For more information follow the DSO on Facebook or visit

Friday, April 19, 2013

National irrigation expert shares water smarts with Alice Springs industry

Twenty horticulturalists and irrigation professionals from large organisations in Alice Springs have been learning smart irrigation skills this week from an expert who works with regional Councilsacross Australia and water-challenged agriculturalists in the Murray Darling Basin.

The two-day course, hosted by Alice Water Smart Homes and Businesses and led by WA based irrigation professional Paul Willmott is training local irrigation professionals in best practice irrigation technologies and techniques to further conserve Alice Springs’ precious water supply.

Some of the course participants are responsible for extremely large gardens, including the Alice Springs Correctional Centre with up to 20,000 square meters (two hectares) of turf, 18 different irrigation zones and extensive native gardens, and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH) College with approximately three hectares of garden across 3 schools.

“For its location Alice Springs has a surprising number of large areas of parks and sports fields that require a lot of water”, says Mr Willmott.

“Having worked with farmers and irrigators from the Murray Darling basin to the Kimberly region in Western Australia, I teach them the finer points of irrigation to help them keep their water use at a sustainable level.”

“Alice Springs also has its challenges – it is a harsh environment to grow lawns and gardens and I was not surprised to learn that over half of your water use is for gardens and irrigation.”

“People always ask how long to leave their pop-ups on for. Most people think of irrigation in terms of minutes but the weatherman doesn’t tell you it rained for half an hour - he tells you the rainfall in millimetres, and it’s the millimetres applied that counts.”

“The most important thing for larger organisations to have an efficient system is to get their water scheduling right.”

“Irrigation schedules should be changed whenever there is a significant change in the weather, soabout four times a year. You might need to water every 2-3 days in summer but by winter this might blow out to every 6-7 days.

“Its also good to incorporate rain, soil moisture and solar radiation sensors into the irrigation system. These are relatively cheap to buy, easy to use and will do some of the scheduling changes for you.”

Participants are also learning about water balance, root zones, soil textures, weather, plant types and plant water needs, as well as the adaption of smarter irrigation technologies.

Alice Water Smart Homes and Businesses Manager Liz Locksley said, “We wanted professionals to have the opportunity to learn about the latest water efficient irrigation practices, right here in Alice.”

Alice Water Smart has conducted over 1000 Water Efficiency Consultations and identified more than 1,500 million litres of water savings.

Jethro Laidlaw, Alice Water Smart’s Water Efficiency Manager is participating in the course and said “I now have a better grasp on the relationship between water flow, pressure and dripper size and feel confident about applying this knowledge to further help Alice residents save water.”

To put what they learn into practice, the participants audited and tested the existing irrigation system at OLSH College, Sadadeen and have made recommendations to improve water efficiency and irrigation performance for the Alice Springs’ climate.

Ian Clarke the Property Manager at OLSH schools said, “I was interested in the course to learn how to use water more effectively in this climate and keep up to date with modern irrigation techniques. My qualifications are from years ago."

For help on setting up the correct irrigation for your own home or business pick up a copy of the new Alice Water Smart Guide. Visit for details.

Alice Water Smart is supported by the Australian Government’s Water for the Future initiative.

LinkedIn growth continues to outpace Facebook in the NT

Territorians are flocking to LinkedIn at three times the rate they are joining Facebook, according to the latest social media statistics for the NT compiled by Creative Territory.

While Facebook membership now stands at 92,720 against LinkedIn’s 19,352, Facebook has not been able to match LinkedIn’s growth rate. LinkedIn membership grew by 67 per cent in the 12 months to March 31 against Facebook’s 21 per cent.

As shown on the graph, Facebook membership tends to rise steadily in the lead up to Christmas and new year before suffering in a nose dive as people return to work from holidays. LinkedIn, while smaller in numbers, has continued steady growth over the past two years.

The latest statistics for the Northern Territory should dispel any doubts about the importance of social media in the public relations mix. More than half of Territorians aged 13 years and over are on Facebook and almost 1 in 5 of Territorians in the workforce are members of LinkedIn.

While younger Territorians are far more likely to interact on Facebook than older Territorians, usage is still high as people age, with around 1 in 4 people aged over 65 years remaining Facebook members.

The graph below shows the number of Facebook users in the Northern Territory in particular age groups. The red line graphs users in each group as a percentage of the NT population in that age group.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Quest is on at National Youth Week

Young singers will have the chance to win mentoring with Australian pop idol Mark Holden and country star Paul Costa when Mission Australia’s Urban Quest opens tomorrow.

Urban Quest will be launched during the Battle of the Bands Competition at National Youth Week celebrations in Darwin tomorrow night – right before Skarlett, who were runners-up in the 2011 Mission Australia comp, take to the stage to launch their new EP ‘Life so far’.

Now in its third year, Urban Quest aims to help young people build self-esteem and confidence through music.

Mission Australia NT Director Jillian Smith said it is important Urban Quest is a part of National Youth Week.

“In the last two National Survey of Young Australians, Territory kids have ranked school or study problems and body image among their top personal concerns,” Ms Smith said.

“Urban Quest not only helps improve self-confidence, but it also connects young people with their local community and help services we offer including Youth Connections.

“Urban Quest is more than a singing competition. We hope to touch many young Territorians through the event so they, and their friends, know where to go for help and support.”

Urban Quest is open to singers aged from 10 to 19 years with auditions to be held in Darwin, Palmerston, Katherine and Alice Springs in May.

This year the competition will culminate with a free Finals Concert under the stars at the Darwin Waterfront on 6 July, where ten Urban Quest finalists will perform their best song on the night to win.

The Urban Quest Finals Concert will be judged by Mark Holden, Paul Costa and Darwin’s own James Mangohig from electronic soul duo Sietta, and feature guest performances by some of Darwin’s favourite young stars.

For more information and entry forms visit or

Swimming pool changes could save as much electricity as a large solar power station

A change to the operation of more than 1,400 swimming pools in Alice Springs could result in large-scale electricity savings and over half a million dollars staying in homeowners’ pockets.

The revelation has been made by Alice Solar City after an analysis of pool ownership in the town and the results of a recent pool pump competition.

Alice Solar City General Manager Sam Latz says that the 1,400 residential swimming pools in the town collectively consume an estimated 3,100 Megawatt Hours (MWh) of electricity per year, costing $880,000.
“That’s over $600 per household each year just to run a pool pump” says Sam Latz.

“If all these pools were to switch to using a ‘variable speed’ pool pump and were operated for maximum savings, we would save 2,000MWh of electricity worth $560,000 per year, along with 1,400 tonnes of annual greenhouse gas emissions.”

“This is close to the savings being achieved at the Uterne solar power station, located south of the town.”

“To switch all pool owners to using a variable speed pump would be a collective cost of $1.5 million, an investment which would repay itself in savings in less than three years.
“Further, we would reduce peak demand on our electricity network depending when the pumps run, avoiding the need for more expensive investment in power lines and generators.”

Mr Latz says that the savings were evidenced during a recent push to get pool owners to undertake a free Pool Energy Consultation.

“We know that homeowners are keen to find ways to reduce their electricity bills, especially with the recent increase in power prices. So we offered pool owners the chance to have a free Pool Energy Consultation over summer, highlighting that pools typically make up 30% of the power bill.”

“We conducted 42 consultations as part of the competition and consistently found that 50% energy savings could be achieved if a new variable speed pool pump was installed, or a variable speed controller installed onto the existing standard pool pump.”

“We also found that pool pumps are often set to run more than necessary, and pool owners can further reduce their pool-related electricity costs by altering the pool pumping schedule.”

One lucky Alice Springs household Fred Miegel took up the offer of the pool consultation and won the draw to win the competition prize of $1000 towards a variable speed pool pump, which will help them save $400 on their power bills each year.

“It’s nice to know that what we were doing was pretty close to getting maximum energy savings, but with the new pool pump we’ll be able to save even more”, said Mr Miegel.

Sam Latz said, “If all pool owners switched to the variable speed pool pump it would present a great opportunity for not only the town, but for homeowner’s hip-pockets.”

Friday, April 05, 2013

Five families secure affordable futures

The lives of five Territory families changed last week after they secured an affordable house and land package at Zuccoli.

Five packages, priced from $475,550 to $542,000, went on sale for low to middle income earners who had progressed their application to approved purchaser status under the government’s Territory Government’s Real Housing for Growth Plan.

Sold on a first in, first served basis, Jenna Hingston said she was delighted to be one of the successful buyers.

“It’s a dream come true. I couldn’t breathe and they (Urbex) were trying to ask me questions. I think I was in shock,” she said.

Ms Hingston, who’s always wanted to own her own home, said she seriously looked at buying a property for more than a year.

“I’m just really grateful. I missed out on the last housing release in February, which was disappointing.

“To be the first caller through this time and know that a brand new home will be mine makes it all worth it.”

Urbex General Manager Wayne Rex said the sales followed the recent success of the housing release at Johnston Ridge.

“Urbex is committed to providing a range of affordable home ownership opportunities for Territorians,” Mr Rex said.

“Our team has worked hard with government and local builders to deliver a range of quality house and land packages at affordable price points.”

The house and land packages included home designs by the Bendella Group, NIMM Constructions and The Total Group.

To be eligible for the government’s Real Housing for Growth Plan home buyer initiative,  buyers must meet eligibility criteria including income limits and have finance approval in-principle.  

Zuccoli is a master planned community developed by Urbex in partnersip with the Northern Territory’s Land Development Corporation.

When complete the suburb, located along Lambrick avenue just off Stuart Highway, will be the largest in Palmerston and will incorporate schools, sporting facilities, commercial/retail centres, community facilities and an extensive range of walking and bicylce tracks.

People wanting more information on life at the Village can visit or call Janzey Pratt on 1300 556 950.

Application kits and further information about the Territory Government’s Real Housing for Growth Plan can be found at