Stott Terrace Observations

Stott Terrace Observations is a soft-cover booklet providing a minor history of an Alice Springs public place. The publication was produced in conversation with, and inspired by, renowned elder Alice Springs historian Dick Kimber. Between 1992 – 1995, Dick Kimber undertook an extensive study of Lhere Mparntwe, otherwise known as the Todd River, for the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority. The study mapped the cultural, environmental, and social significance of the river in order to better protect it from proposals such as a recreation dam, a recurrent election-year crowd-pleaser rolled out by local politicians.

 

Dick’s idiosyncratic mode of research includes a chapter devoted to graffiti under three bridges that span Lhere Mparntwe. By recording graffiti, he hoped to better understand the movements and vernaculars of the homeless or out-of-town population who socialised, drank, sheltered, and slept there. The graffiti is interspersed by Dick’s elaborations and speculations on obscure references to desert bands and football teams, or American pop-culture. In Dick’s words, this chapter was written because “it is clear from media reportage about the Aboriginal people who use the Todd River that they remain part of an unknown Terra Incognita for most other citizens”.

 

Twenty-two years after Dick’s study was first published, we undertook the same study again, documenting graffiti under one bridge; the Stott Terrace Bridge. We then took this documentation to Dick, who again provided his elaborations and speculation on family ties, affiliations, and changes in vernacular usage of language. By performing this attentiveness, we hoped to show care for a portion of citizenry whose usage of Lhere Mparntwe is often considered deviant and not imbued with the same cultural significance as that of local custodians.