Alice Springs is the town I've often dreamt about when thinking about settling somewhere far away from the distractions of a big city, where there might be time and space to think and write. In Alice you would not suffer from lack of company. I'd been impressed with the strong community there of artists and vagrants, sometimes 'new age', practically feminist, but resilient and cheerful. And the town is surrounded by Aboriginal communities that exist on a very different calendar to the mechanical time of white cities, reminding us of the relativity of our own particular capitalist order.
But rust never sleeps. There were a number of changes I noticed. First, the very charming Bar Doppio is being sold, with the promise of introducing 'the taste of Melbourne's Brunswick Street'. The local health food store Afghan Traders no longer sells wattle seed bread -- there's no one left who can make it. And they can't get the bush tomatoes. Todd Street mall feels like its been worn flat by the hordes of German and Japanese tourists who have poured through over the decades.
Still, the Beanie Festival is powering on. They took more than $100,000 this year. And tjanpi Aboriginal women's craft program is continuing to produce curious and wonderful work.
Maybe it's not the inexorable tide of global capital. Perhaps it's just the endless game of tag between development and exploitation. I hope so.