In the Northern Territory of Australia, the third largest town is called Alice Springs. The place is popularly known as The Alice. The place is situated at the geographic centre of Australia. The geographical area of Alice Springs is 327.5 km2 (Censusdata.abs.gov.au, 2018a). According to the 2016 census, the urban population of Alice Springs is 24,000 and it makes up about 10 percent of the population (Censusdata.abs.gov.au, 2018b). The Alice Springs is at equal distances from the Darwin and Adelaide. Alice Springs is 1499 from the Darwin and 1532 from Adelaide. The town is present at the beside the Todd River and is at the northern side of MacDonnell Ranges. The area that surrounds the Alice Springs is called the Red Centre or Central Australia. The elevation of the place is 545m and the density of population is 72/km2 (Australiangeographic.com.au, 2018).
Rationale for choosing Alice Springs
Alice Springs is the gateway to some of Central Australia's most stirring landscapes and with the presence of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. The MacDonnell Ranges is the chief attraction that runs from the east to west of the town centre. Alice Springs is the vital area for understanding the Australian Aboriginals within all its complexity. While it is important to mention that the place offers a lot of treat for the travellers from the practical to the inspirational aspect. The place has galleries of the indigenous art, wildlife park and excellent museums (Lonely Planet, 2018). Thus, Alice Springs has a lot to offer to the greater Australians populations and also the international tourist community that is interested to explore the natural beauty and Australian aboriginal community.
Analysis of Alice Springs
History- The history of Alice Springs began as Stuart, which was a telegraph station on the Adelaide to the Darwin line, and the line is the end of the Ghan Railway. In the year 1871 during the exploration of the MacDonnell Ranges and the construction of the Overland Telegraph Line led to the discovery of a waterhole which was named as Alice Springs by WW Mills, a Government Surveyor. The place Alice Spring was named after the Alice Todd, who is the wife of the Superintendent of Telegraphs named Charles Todd. The telegraph station was beside the waterhole. However, it is important to note that the due to the confusion especially for the administrators of Adelaide that in the year 1933 August 31st, the township if Stuart was officially named and gazetted as Alice Springs. In the year 1929, the railway line that links the Adelaide and Alice Springs was initially run by camel trains, however, it was later replaced by the mechanised trains. Air transport and motor transport to the centre of the place grew more frequently and reliably when it overcame isolation. It is however, it is important to note that until February 2004, the train lines were extended right through Darwin (Alicesprings.nt.gov.au, 2018).
The Afghan Cameleers found their place in the Central Australian history. The camel trains were driven 600 km across the desert for the purpose of delivering the essential provisions from the Oodnadatta to the Alice Springs. These Afghan Cameleers played a major role in opening up the area and making it accessible to the greater mass of the Australians. The very traditional sphere of the mining and pastoralism, the Australian economy all depended on the cameleers and the camels. The legacy of the cameleers and their camels can be seen all over central Australia and the Alice Springs. The cameleers opened the routes to the aridest zones. The cameleers also took part in exploration and majorly contributed to the local population of Australia. While it is important to note that a majority of the families that reside in Alice Springs are the direct descendants of cameleers (Alicesprings.nt.gov.au, 2018a).
Analysis of the transport arrangements- The capital of Central Australia is considered as remarkable for the non-motorised transport. It is important to note that the technical elements and the diverse socio-cultural elements play a major role in the success story of the non-motorised transport. It is seen that the walking, bicycle use and the other forms of the low powered forms of the transport are very popular in the Alice Springs. Walking is found to be significant among the aboriginals due to the economic and socio-cultural reasons. There are largely shared bicycle tracks and pedestrian tracks that correspond to the national Australian standards. The wealthy areas in the city are characterised by the high rate of cycling for the purpose of recreational activities and commuting. The city also has the provision for skateboarding and dedicated street biking, mountain biking encourages the interests of the younger generations. In Alice Springs, there is a high rate of bicycle usage. There is an almost 50 km of cycling walking paths that are best in class and the roads are of 1.6m width. There are 3 main bicycle corridors that have an extended length of 35km. Alice Spring also has a world-class mountain bike trail that is located in the West and the North sides of Alice Springs (Holyoak et al., 2018). The public transport system is seen in the form of public buses and it is being operated from Monday to Saturday. The public transport system is managed by the Northern Territory Department of Lands and Planning Public Transport Division and the public transport system is serviced by the contracted bus operators (Alicesprings.nt.gov.au, 2018b).
Analysis of current urban form- Land use-The central business district of the Alice Springs is the centre of all the vital activities that accommodate the civic, tourist, administrative, culture and commercial centre. The activity centres are identified as the commercial land and also include the areas along the Stuart highway, the railway line that contains the mix of the industrial uses, warehouses, office, and retail. The light industries are located to the north-west of the CBD. There are vacant lands that are zones for the industrial uses. The existing rural lands are kept for supporting the horticulture, agriculture, and pastoralism. Alice Spring provides the facilities, particularly in the health sector. There are facilities that include the sport and recreation facilities, educational establishments, child care centres and health services. The Stuart Highway provides the important and the only access through Alice Springs. The highway is used by a range of the vehicle types. This highway traverses through the Heavitree Gap and this is adjacent to the railway line. The Adelaide to Darwin railway line connects the passenger and the freight services (Nt.gov.au, 2016). Housing types- houses in Alice Springs are bigger than the majority of the Australian cities. Double storey buildings are rare due to the fact that the blocks are just 1200 m2. Due to the summer temperature that rises well above 35 degrees Celsius, thus the air conditioners are very common. The houses also accommodate the heaters because the night temperatures fall well below freezing (Alicesprings.nt.gov.au, 2018c). Population densities- the population density of the Alice Springs is about 85 persons per square kilometre and this is why the Northern Territory is considered as the most populated city (Population.net.au, 2018).
Water use and management- In the Alice Springs area, the water supply is taken from the Mereenie aquifer system and also from the Amadeus Basin. A Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) provides the option for treatment of the wastewater. The volume of water that is recharged by the site is 1.5 million cubic meters from the year 2011 to 2014 (Futuredirections.org.au, 2018).
Nature and support for the biodiversity- Alice springs has the MacDonnell Ranges and also the iconic Larapinta Trail. It is even considered as the heart of Australia’s Red Centre. The place also has a rich source of the Australian Aboriginal culture (Australia.com, 2018). The Alice Springs desert park is an attempt to restore and protect the biodiversity for the creation of a protected forest (Abc.net.au, 2018).
Impact of climate change on Alice Springs- the impacts of climate change will be less on the Alice Springs because of the high socioeconomic status. However, the urban areas the scattered small populations in Australia will be sensitive to the impacts of the climate change (Phys.org, 2018). Due to the climate change, there will be water stress in Alice Springs, where replenishment rate will outstrip the demand (Alicespringsnews.com.au, 2018).
Brief overview- considering the above study there are certain aspects that need to be highlighted. The first and the foremost is the transport system and it needs to be revamped in order to increase the connectivity. the second aspect is the water management issues due to the fact that the change in climate will pose a challenge in the upcoming years. The housing pattern also requires an urgent revamping due to the climate change. The surrounding area needs to be conserved for making it a viable tourist destination and so that it can sustain and augment the local economy. Considering the population growth, the communication networks, gas, electricity, water needs to be augmented.
Vision of the future area
The Alice Springs is one of the best areas which can be redesigned and redeveloped for the purpose of achieving the higher degree of sustainability. Alice Springs provides the perfect opportunity for the redevelopment due to the perfect blend of nature and the human intervention. Alice Springs can be a perfect tourist destination considering it to be the red centre for Northern Australia. The tourist destination thus needs to be revamped so that it can accommodate the large thrust of tourist and at a time will be able to sustain the increase in population.
Plan for the future
The plan for the redevelopment of the Alice Springs considers and takes into account the future transport and the land use changes that need to be implemented in Alice Springs. The plan is based on the population threshold of 33,000 to 41,000 persons.
The primary road which provides the main access to the Alice Springs is only through the Stuart Highway. The Stuart Highway is the only route that bisects the Alice Springs city and it performs the primary arterial function. The major focus is that the road network that services the Alice Springs links the Stuart Highway and in a radial manner. This signifies that the transport routes focus on the central point of the Alice Springs. Thus future developments will take into account the with the risks that are associated with the capacity constraints. The main challenge that arises here is from the lack of the alternative networks. Another major transport issue is posed by the Heavitree Gap as it is the only passage through the MacDonnell Ranges. At this point, the road becomes one lane and thus future development into the area will lead to the surge in the volume of the traffic. The surge will be noticed during the morning, afternoon and the evening (Dipl.nt.gov.au, 2018). Thus to mitigate this issue, the settlements to the south of the Gap can effectively reduce the traffic to a great extent. Increasing the number of lanes and duplication of the Stuart Highway can also reduce the surge in traffic during the peak hours. Stephens Road provides a from and to access to the Johns Valley urban development area. However, during the events of the flood, it has been seen that there is a surge in traffic. Thus mitigate such issues certain plans are suggested which are as follows:
- A connector road which will connect the Sadadeen Valley Road and the Stephens Road will effectively provide a road connection to the existing Stott Terrace Bridge.
- Or, a bridge can be constructed that will provide the access to the Stephens Road causeway crossing (Alicesprings.nt.gov.au, 2013).
It is important to note that the Sadadeen Connector Road provides a better option for the drivers and also helps in the better traffic distribution. It has been also seen in the Stott Terrace that there is an increase in the number of crashes at the signalling intersections. Thus implementing safety demands at this positions can be the best way to prevent the occurrences of accidents and the surge in traffic. The intersection of the Hartley Street and the Wills Terrace forms a four-way of intersection (Dipl.nt.gov.au, 2018). The presence of Anzac Hill High School has led to the increased amount of traffic at the intersection point. The four-way intersection can be upgraded to reduce the surge in traffic at this intersection point and safety features along with the traffic signals can be implemented for the purpose of improving the road conditions for all types of the users. The future planning also takes into account the high amount of traffic at the railway crossing of the Stuart Highway and the Bradshaw Drive. Thus, the construction of a flyover bridge over the railway crossing can significantly reduce the traffic at the crossing (Alicesprings.nt.gov.au, 2013).
Public transport- The public transport system has seen a rise in demand from the west to the south of the Alice Springs. The urban bus interchange is located in the Railway Terrace, thus future expansion in the central business district will require further development of the access points in the outskirts and the urban areas. Thus, new public transport access needs to be developed and the bus services for the schools needs to be increased (Ntcoss.org.au, 2018).
Active transport- walking and cycling has been seen to be the most favoured mode of transport for the people of Alice Springs. The rate of transport is more with respect to the other parts of Australia. Thus, it is beneficial for the environment as well when the residents will use more numbers of non-motorised transport. Thus, to promote the active transport among the residents, mountain bike paths and the shared paths can be constructed throughout the town. The future developments will also take into account of connecting the existing network of the paths to augment the same (Holyoak et al., 2018).
Rail- In the Alice Springs the train services connect the Darwin and the Adelaide railway station and it is located in close proximity to the Stuart Highway. The rail site thus suffers from the poor connectivity to the central business district and is due to the limited access and the historical road network. Thus, to cope up with the issue the new railway station is can be constructed for the purpose of promoting tourism. The site chosen for the construction of the railway network is at the western corner of the Whittaker Street intersection and the Stuart Highway. This will improve the pedestrian connectivity to the central business district. A new intermodal terminal is also constructed at the at the south of the Alice Springs. This new terminal will facilitate the movement of the freight separately from the commuter rail. This will allow the further development of the existing railway station (Ntepa.nt.gov.au, 2018).
Air- An intermodal airport terminal can be will be constructed to the south of the central business district. This will effectively reduce the travel time to and from the airport, consolidate the airport services. The airport services are planned for easing the traffic congestion in the Heavitree Gap (Alicespringsairport.com.au, 2015).
The Alice Springs requires big infrastructural changes in order to accommodate the increasing population, sustain and thrive as a tourist destination and at the same time reduce the impact of the climate change.
Water supply- Considering the non-renewable nature of the water supply, thus care should be taken to ensure that the groundwater resources are utilized in a proper way. The areas are shown in the map (figure 3) as the water management area will be managed and planned so that the critical areas are dealt effectively and not put to risk. Alternative water resources must need to be explored, and processes like the water recycling, reuse of the stormwater and to support the water efficiency objectives. This will improve environmental outcome. New bore field can be established at the Rocky Hill and it will be located at the South East of the Alice Springs Airport. Due to the limited water sources, water sensitive urban design will be followed and included in the design (Nt.gov.au, 2016). The south of the Heavitree Gap needs to be developed with the new water infrastructure and this includes:
- Elevated and the ground level locations at the sacred sites.
- Security of the supply areas.
- Trigger points for the construction of the infrastructure.
- Size and length of the transfer mains.
- Change in the overall pumping economics.
The urban residential demand will incorporate both the greenfield and the infill development for the development of the urban residential areas. The indigenous living areas are proposed to be integrated into the Urban land areas. Additional areas for the general and the light industries have been identified in the Arumbera and Abattoir Valley. The rural lands are kept away from the need of the water management and this includes the Roe Creek Borefield. The existing rural areas are kept intact so that it can support horticulture, agriculture and pastoralism. The land use plan also accommodates the conservation of the arid environment that will be beneficial to the Alice Spring community and the environment. Considering the future prospects of the population growth, the major factors that are taken into account are the based on the economic growth and the population growth. The economic growth will be able to generate more opportunities for employment and at the same time will support the household spending, consumer confidence, housing demand and population growth (Nt.gov.au, 2016).
Single dwellings are not the most efficient use of land and this results in the less value per hectare in comparison to the apartments, flats, and the other housing forms. Multiple dwellings and the dual occupancy can be considered as the perfect solution for tackling the increase in population that are existing near the existing services and local centres.
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