Saturday, June 29, 2013

Quest for NT’s best young singer woos Casuarina shoppers

Twenty young Territorians raised the roof at Casuarina Square yesterday singing in Mission Australia's Urban Quest Semi Final.

The talented teens sang their best to secure one of ten places in the 2013 Urban Quest Finals Concert, to be held at the Darwin Waterfront next Saturday, 6 July.

Former Australian Idol judge Mark Holden delivered three touchdowns rewarding VJ Bumanlag, Tatiana Da Silva and Charlotte Gittins with their ticket into the Final.

"Darwin - Casuarina Square - a star is born," Mr Holden said about 14 year old Gittens for her memorising rendition of Regina Spektor's Samson.

“The talent this year is the best I’ve seen at Urban Quest over the past three years - it’s true,” he added.

The ten Urban Quest finalists include two performers from Katherine and Jenaya Allen from Alice Springs.

They will now receive three days intensive mentoring with Mark Holden and country singer Paul Costa ahead of the Finals Concert.

Holden and Costa will then team up with Darwin’s very own singer songwriter Dave Garnham and Music NT’s Amy Hetherington to judge the 2013 Urban Quest.

The Urban Quest Finals Concert is free for the public and will be held under the stars at the Darwin Waterfront from 6pm.

To follow the progress of the event visit

The 2013 Urban Quest Finalists are:

·         Jenaya Allen (14 years), Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Alice Springs
·         VJ Bumanlag (18 years), Darwin
·         Tatiana Da Silva (14 years), O’Laughlin Catholic College, Darwin
·         Brandon Folino-Driver (16 years), Darwin High School, Darwin
·         Charlotte Gittins (14 years), Dripstone Middle Collge, Darwin
·         Charlee Mullins (14 years), Taminmin College, Darwin
·         Helena Smith (16 years), NT Open Education, Darwin
·         Phoebe Wear (11 years), Larrakeyah Primary School, Darwin
·         Dakota Oxenham (13 years), St Joseph’s College, Katherine
·         Sarina Pech (18 years), Charles Darwin University, Katherine Rural Campus, Katherine 

Friday, June 28, 2013


New ‘leak detective’ skills and equipment have arrived in Alice Springs to help businesses and homes save water.

The leak detection initiative is the result of a partnership between Alice Water Smart and a local plumber.

The local ‘detective’ and plumber, Jordi Chalmers has already detected ‘mysterious’ leaks in several businesses, saving thousands of dollars going down the drain.

“Just recently I found a leak that was losing $13,700 worth of water (7.9 million litres) per year” said Jordi Chalmers.
“Water bills and a water audit can identify that there is a leak, but they are often difficult to find, particularly if they are underground.”

Of the 50 businesses and organisations that Alice Water Smart has worked with, 42 have been found to have a leak.

When Alice Water Smart was looking to the plumbing industry for help to detect some of the more difficult, unexplained leaks in buildings and gardens, Mr Chalmers visited Queensland to complete specialist training and invest in a state of the art acoustic leak detective device.

“It’s part technology, part experience and it works a bit like a bat’s sonar!”

“We use the acoustic listening device to sound out the leaks. Leaking pipes have a different ‘pitch’ to pipes that aren’t leaking.”
Large organisations are on average leaking up to 16.5 kilolitres (kL) per day, equating to just over $10,000 worth of water per year off their bottom line.

Small businesses are on average losing 25% of their water use to leaks, at a cost of $3,362 a year.

“The total volume of water lost by businesses audited by Alice Water Smart is on average 5,300 litres a day - that’s more than one average backyard swimming pool (30,000L) per week”, says Alice Water Smart Homes and Business project manager Liz Locksley.

“That’s around 22% of water that is metered and paid but leaking away unused on their premises.”

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

Developer responds to local housing affordability pressures

Locals looking for affordable land in Darwin may have had their prayers answered after property developer Urbex released its latest land.

The company, which is developing the communities of Johnston Ridge and stage one of Zuccoli in Palmerston, has new house and land packages starting at $540 000 and lots available for less than $290 000.

Urbex General Manager Wayne Rex said the company had listened to local buyers and provided living solutions to meet with both their affordability and living demands.

“We want every Territorian to have the opportunity to fulfil their dream of home ownership,” Mr Rex said.
“We’ve listened to the people of Darwin and worked really hard to price a range of products to suit both their budget and living needs.”

Mr Rex said Urbex conducts regular market research with its buyers to determine their lifestyle requirements and levels of affordability.

“We try to talk with all purchasers and potential buyers who have registered their interest with us to know exactly what they’re looking for and what their budget is,” Mr Rex said.

“First home buyers want to spend less than $600 000 on a new home to be eligible for the First Home Owners Grant of $25 000, while low to middle income earners are looking for more affordable options to be eligible for the Home Build Access loan options.”

This year alone Urbex has sold 19 affordable house and land packages to low to middle income earners under the Northern Territory Government’s Home Build Access buyer initiative. The latest successful family being Cedric Hoarau and Li Wing.

“Our team has worked diligently with government and local builders to deliver a range of quality house and land packages that provide options for all Territory buyers,” Mr Rex said.

“We’ve also held First Home Buyer Information Sessions to educate the community on the steps to buying a home or vacant land, the subsidies available to them and generally assist them on their journey to home ownership.”

Residents who want to take advantage of Urbex’s new house and land packages or vacant land under $290 000 should visit the Urbex Realty, Sales and Information Centre at 18 Cavenagh Street, Darwin or contact Janzey Pratt on 1300 556 950.

For more information visit,

Mt Todd EIS available for public comment

The draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Mt Todd Gold Project will be submitted to the Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority today.

Vista Gold General Manager Brent Murdoch Mr Murdoch said he welcomed the opportunity to clarify environmental aspects of the project through the EIS process.

“We are looking forward to working together with the Government and the community to take this project forward,” Mr Murdoch said.

“We are encouraged by the potential of the project and have consulted with a wide range of representatives from community, non-government groups and key organisations since January 2011 to ensure that we have a full appreciation of the range of factors involved.

“The EIS identifies potential environmental, social, transport, cultural and economic impacts associated with reopening and operating the Mt Todd Gold Mine.

“Community input is an important part of the EIS process. It will help the project team understand what issues are important to the community. It will also allow the project team to identify ways to avoid, mitigate or manage some of the negative impacts and maximise positive ones.”

Vista Gold proposes to re-establish, operate and rehabilitate the Mt Todd Gold Mine approximately 55km north-west of Katherine and 250km south of Darwin.

The draft EIS has been prepared by independent consultants GHD Pty Ltd to support key Commonwealth and Northern Territory Government approvals under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the Northern Territory Environmental Assessment Act 1982.

The document is available on the NTEPA and Mt Todd websites and will be on public display from today until 12 August 2013. A full list of where it is displayed can be accessed from our website.

Interested parties wishing to comment on the draft EIS are invited to make written submissions on or before 12 August.

For more information on how to comment on the draft EIS visit the NT EPA website: or

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Partysafe heads bush for first time

TIO’s Partysafe program promoting anti drink driving messages is heading bush for the first time.

TIO will be taking Partysafe and its broader road safety program to the Borroloola Show in a partnership with AFLNT and McArthur River Mining.

NT Thunder CEO Jarred Ilett, player Jack McEwin and AFLNT sponsorship manager Brad Stewart will also conduct a “Always Wear a Seatbelt” footy clinic for local kids as part of the event.

TIO Indigenous Community Engagement Officer Mike North said it would be the first time the Partysafe program would be held in a remote Territory community.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to reach out with this important message in Borroloola,” Mike said.

“When McArthur River Mining approached us about getting together to promote road safety we jumped at the chance.”

Partysafe is an educational program which aims to reduce the incidence of drink driving among Territorians. It teaches people that if they do have a few drinks, they should find a safe way to get home.

In addition to providing activities that demonstrate that message, TIO will also be promoting messages around wearing seat belts and not sleeping on roads.

McArthur River Mining will make road safety a central theme of its show display and will be running a colouring-in and poster competition on this theme. The winning entries will be turned into road safety posters for display in local communities.

AFLNT partners with TIO on a range of road safety programs. In addition to helping sell the road safety message in Borroloola, Jarred Ilett, Jack McEwin and Brad Stewart will run a footy clinic for local kids.

Borroloola Show is being held Friday 27 and Saturday 28 June. The footy clinic will be held on Friday from 10am while the Partysafe tent will be operating throughout the show.

Friday, June 21, 2013

New land priced to sell

Territorians looking for affordable land are expected to snap up lots in Johnston Ridge and Zuccoli.

Property developer Urbex has released 13  lots in the Palmerston East suburbs priced between $275 000 and $285 000.

With interest rates at an all-time low and increased local demand, Urbex General Manager Wayne Rex said the company expects the land to sell quickly to Territorian families.

“We have eight lots in Zuccoli and five in Johnston Ridge at great prices,” Mr Rex said.

“There are a variety of lot sizes available giving people an opportunity to choose a lot that suits their needs, whilst fulfiling the dream of home ownership at an affordable price.”

Johnston Ridge and Zuccoli each feature walking and cycle paths with easy access to schools, retail and commercial businesses in Palmerston and Coolalinga.

“There is a limited supply of land over the coming year and through to 2015, and property prices in the region show no sign of slowing,” Mr Rex said.

“I would encourage anyone looking to purchase land in Darwin or Palmerston to act now while lots are available and interest rates are at an all-time low.”

People looking to buy can view a scale model and development plans for Johnston Ridge and Zuccoli at the Urbex Realty, Sales and Information Centre at 18 Cavenagh Street, Darwin.

For further information visit, or call Janzey Pratt on 08 8930 4444.

TIO to sponsor Traeger Park Oval

TIO has entered into a long term partnership with the Alice Springs Town Council for the naming rights of Traeger Park Oval.

From today the premier sports field will be known as TIO Traeger Park Oval.
Alice Springs Mayor Damien Ryan said the sponsorship over five years was a win for the people of Alice Springs.

“This is a partnership with the people of Alice Springs through Council,” Mr Ryan said.

“Sponsorship from TIO will ensure Traeger Park Oval continues to attract national and international sports fixtures and major events for the people of Alice Springs.”

TIO Chief Executive Richard Harding said the Oval was important to the people of Alice Springs.

“Whether it’s through AFL, NRL, cricket, the Masters Games or a major event, almost every Central Australian has a living memory at Traeger Park Oval,” Mr Harding said.

“This sponsorship not only demonstrates our commitment to the people of Alice Springs, but also compliments our work with the CAFL to improve road safety.”

Mayor Damien Ryan said Council will use the sponsorship to enhance the sound system at the Oval.

“An improved system will increase sound and clarity and help Alice Springs retain and attract major events,” Mr Ryan said.

Mr Harding said TIO said TIO has a long history in Alice Springs and is very confident about its future.  

“We want to help build confidence in the Territory and a more resilient community through insurance, home ownership, safer roads and Territorians fulfill their dreams and lifestyle,” Mr Harding said.

“TIO has made a conscious decision to align our sponsorships and community engagement activities to provide lasting benefits to the Territory.”

TIO Traeger Park Oval features new signage around the Oval grounds and street entries.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New flights available from Alice Springs to Tennant Creek and Kiwirrkurra

Outback Central Australia has been opened up to more travellers with the commencement of new flights from Alice Springs to Tennant Creek and Kiwirrkurra.

Territory company Chartair has commenced twice weekly services between Alice Springs and Tennant Creek and weekly services between Alice Springs and Kiwirrkurra.
Chartair Alice Springs General Manager Chris Nguyen said seven passengers could be accommodated on each flight, although the company would upgrade to larger aircraft if demand increased.

“It’s great to be able to offer these new services to travellers,” Chris said.
“For people travelling to Tennant Creek it cuts a five hour drive down to less than two hours in the air.”

Chris said the services were supported by the Australian Government’s Remote Area Subsidy Scheme and began this week.
Flight details are as follows:

·        Alice Springs to Tennant Creek departs Mondays at 7am and Wednesdays at 3pm.

·        Tennant Creek to Darwin departs Mondays at 9.30am and Wednesdays at 5.30pm.

·        Alice Springs to Kiwirrkurra departs Tuesdays at 8am.

·        Kiwirrkurra to Alice Springs departs Tuesdays 11am.
The Alice Springs-Kiwirrkurra route is $120 and the Alice Springs-Tennant Creek route is $385, which is higher due to operating costs.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Territory singers battle for music mentoring

Mark Holden & 2012 runner up Monique Chong of Alice Springs
Twenty young Territorians will sing to win three-days intensive mentoring with some of the music industry’s best when Mission Australia’s Urban Quest Semi Final gets underway at Casuarina Square on 28 June.

The young singers will perform one song to score mentoring with former Australian Idol judge Mark Holden and country singer Paul Costa, who’s latest single Big End of Town is at the top of the Australian Country Music Charts.
Holden, Costa and Music NT’s Amy Hetherington will select 10 singers from the Semi Final to take through to mentoring and the Urban Quest Finals Concert to be held under the starts at the Darwin Waterfront on 6 July.

“The talent among these young singers is really impressive,” Mission Australia’s Adrian McCann said.
“Urban Quest is really about helping young people build confidence through music and providing opportunities for aspiring singers to develop their voice and music potential. It seems to be working with a number of participants from last year, trying out again.”

Now in its third year, almost half of the Urban Quest semi finalists are from Alice Springs and Katherine.
The semi finalists include five performers from Alice Springs, including 2012 Urban Quest runner up Monique Chong, four vocalists from Katherine and sibling rivals Taylah and Brandon Folino-Driver from Darwin.

The Urban Quest Semi Final gets underway at 3pm at Casuarina Square on Friday, 28 June. The public are encouraged to attend.
“The whole community has really got behind this event, and I’d really like to thank our partners Larrakia TV and Radio, the Darwin Waterfront Corporation, Dreamedia, Casuarina Square, Music NT, Inpex, the Office of Youth Affairs, Darwin Airport Corporation and the City of Darwin.”

To follow the progress of the event visit
The 2013 Urban Quest Semi Finalists are:

Alice Springs:
  •  Jenaya Allen (14 years), Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Alice Springs
  • Monique Chong (11 years), Ross Park Primary School, Alice Springs
  • Rita-Mae Ross (13 years), Our Lady of the Sacred Heart College, Alice Springs
  • Micah Rothwell (18 years),Alice Springs
  • Kirra Voller (19 years), Alice Outcomes, Alice Springs
  • VJ Bumanlag (18 years), Darwin
  • Tatiana Da Silva (14 years), O’Laughlin Catholic College, Darwin
  • Brandon Folino-Driver (16 years), Darwin High School, Darwin
  • Taylah Folino-Driver (13 years), Darwin Middle School, Darwin
  • Charlotte Gittins (14 years), Dripstone Middle Collge, Darwin
  • Charlee Mullins (14 years), Taminmin College, Darwin
  • Alicia Ruta (15 years), Darwin High School, Darwin
  • Helena Smith (16 years), NT Open Education, Darwin
  • Phoebe Wear (11 years), Larrakeyah Primary School, Darwin
  • Jason Woodward (17 years), Palmerston Senior College, Palmerston
  • Gabrielle Wright (13 years), Kormilda College, Darwin
  • Jasper Bowman (18 years), Katherine
  • Dakota Oxenham (13 years), St Joseph’s College, Katherine
  • Sarina Pech (18 years), Charles Darwin University, Katherine Rural Campus, Katherine
  • Noella Turland (14 years), St Joseph’s College, Katherine

Alice Springs’ largest electricity user gets energy efficiency overhaul

The largest single electricity user in Alice Springs, the Alice Springs Hospital (ASH) has completed a major energy efficiency overhaul to save over $200,000 on its annual power bill and 700 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per annum.

The savings have been realised through a joint $631,000 project between the NT Department of Health and Alice Solar City, with outcomes released in a case study report today.

“In addition to making big savings, the project has helped inform and motivate energy management initiatives at the other four public hospitals in the Northern Territory”, says Alice Solar City General Manager Sam Latz.

“ASH had a detailed energy audit in 2009 and we have been pleased to work closely with the hospital since then to assist them achieve the greatest financial and environmental returns possible.”

At the time of the audit it was found that 57% of electricity was used for heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and 24% for lighting.

One of the most important changes made was to the HVAC system, where outside air brought into the hospital was evaporatively ‘pre-cooled’.

“This allows evaporatively cooled and filtered outside air to condition the hospital during mild conditions - substantially improving indoor air quality and reducing the use of energy intensive refrigerative air conditioning.”

Stage two of the project saw the HVAC system fine-tuned to allow for further energy savings, and Stage three saw the upgrade of an existing gas fired boiler to improve the efficiency of the hospital’s piped steam system, used to pump steam around the hospital for a range of heating and sterilisation uses.

Other energy efficiency measures included:

 ·       Evaporative pre-cooling of the nurse quarters and re-instating economy cycles

·       Winding back air conditioning in the pathology laboratory after hours

·       Installation of motion sensors and time delay switches for split system air conditioners in 16 residential units

·       Replacement of electric hot water heaters in residential units with solar hot water

·       Installation of automatic lighting controls in the pathology laboratory

·       Variable speed drives on staff swimming pool pumps

·       Installation of 160 low flow showerheads to save both water and the energy required to heat water

 Health Minister Robyn Lambley commended the team at Alice Solar City and Alice Springs Hospital on their achievements through the energy efficiency project.

“The Alice Springs Hospital Energy Efficiency Project has been a model in cooperation in the Centre between government, industry and community. The result is an impressive reduction in the energy consumption of the town’s biggest energy user which means savings for the community,” Minister Lambley said.

The full Alice Springs Hospital Energy Efficiency report is available on the Alice Solar City website at

Thursday, June 06, 2013

New web-based interactive tools help Alice Solar City legacy live on

Alice Solar City has today launched two new interactive web-based tools to help keep its legacy alive as it prepares to close its doors this month.

A Google Maps solar trail and a virtual tour of the Sustainable Living House are now available via the Alice Solar City website as a showcase of some of what Alice Springs has achieved in the last five years.

The launch of the online tools also coincides with the last ever Home Energy Survey, conducted this week at Matt and Donna Digby’s home in Eastside. The Digby’s energy survey was number 2,767 – covering over 30% of all homes in Alice Springs.

“The online tools will help tell our Solar City story, along with the thousands of energy champions who have undergone a home or business energy survey and taken measures to reduce their energy use”, says Alice Solar City General Manager Sam Latz.

“The Google Maps solar trail will take you on a journey of some of the commercial and large scale solar installations around town.”
“Back in March 2008 when we launched, there were only two residential rooftop solar power systems in Alice Springs. Now there are over 700, with 317 of those installed with Alice Solar City’s support.”

“Alice Springs now has a range of nationally significant large solar installations, and it’s something we should be proud of.”

The Sustainable Living House virtual tour includes video and audio of all the energy and water saving measures installed at the private Kurrajong Drive home, which was open to the public for two years from 2009 to 2011.

“Over 1200 people visited the house to see first hand the range of measures they could implement at home to save power and water, and we wanted that resource to still be available after we close.”
Both of the online tools are available via the Alice Solar City homepage at

The website also contains residential and commercial case studies, an online ‘Wall of Champions’, downloadable fact sheets and detailed advice and information on going solar. A full report on the Sustainable Living House can also be download.
Alice Solar City’s Smart Living Centre at 82 Todd Street will close its doors on Friday 14 June, but the website will remain available into the future as a resource for the Alice Springs community.