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Travel Tips Alice Desert Festival, running from September 14-23, is a celebration of the Territory’s distinct, laid-back lifestyle. Top events include DESERTsong, which brings together indigenous choirs from remote communities in Central Australia to share their traditional stories in their own languages. This year they will be accompanied by the Darwin Symphony Orchestra. The DesertMOB exhibition, one of the most diverse collections of Aboriginal art, highlights 35 community-based Aboriginal art centres from across the desert regions of the NT, South Australia and Western Australia. A myriad of cultural infl uences from throughout the region come together in events such as the Wearable Arts performance and the Wild Foods Cooking Competition. Music plays a major role in the Festival and includes performances such as The Bush Bands Bash, Home Brew, and UTH Central. Alice Desert Festival TOURISM NORTHERN TERRITORY CONTACTS: CENTRAL EUROPE FRANCE/BELGIUM USA/CANADA UK/IRELAND/NORDIC COUNTRIES/NETHERLANDS ITALY/SPAIN ASIA Alice Springs is regarded by many as the capital of Abori ginal art – and a visit is not complete without a trip to one of the town’s many art galleries. Mostly located around the city centre, the galleries show a selection of works from high-end to pocketfriendly prices. From the Papunya Tula Artists who preserve the culture of the Western Desert and fl aunt their knowledge of traditional sand and body painting in their works, to the surprisingly bright colours of the paintings from Keringke Arts, an hour southeast of Alice Springs at Santa Teresa, the works vary in style An artful experience depending on the artist’s culture and history. Whether you are interested in more traditional works, or Indigenous art with a more developed, contemporary feel, you are sure to fi nd it in a tour of Alice Spring’s many excellent galleries. DesertMOB’s Desert Dance Aboriginal art J u l y 2 0 0 7 w w w . S E L L I N G D O W N U N D E R . c o m 11

Only a few selected luxury accommodation experiences have so far managed to come up with an environmental balance that fi t the picture for an Advanced Eco Tourism certifi cate, and one of them is Thala Beach Lodge, which is located within easy reach of Cairns in tropical North Queensland. Thala Beach Lodge is owned by Rob and Oonagh Prettejohn, who also run the highly popular Kewarra Beach Resort. It was in the early 70’s that the Prettejohns purchased the 58-hectare peninsula that juts out into the Pacifi c Ocean close to Port Douglas, where rain forest dramatically spills down from the Great Dividing Range. “When we fi rst came here, I realised what a unique place it was, and I knew we had to make the living eco-system the centre of the experience,” says Rob Prettejohn, who adds that in many of the world’s other magical destinations you will fi nd that over the time just the opposite has happened. An affi nity with nature Fortunately, Rob and Oonagh’s strong affi nity with the natural environment, enhanced in building up Kewarra Beach Resort, meant that they had the experience necessary to make their plan work. The gardens at Kewarra are carefully maintained with lush tropical plants which attract a wide range of birdlife to the property – more than 170 species have been spotted over the years. Taking a leaf from the Thala experience As more and more tourists look for eco-friendly accommodation on their travels, the demand is growing for properties that have gained Advanced Eco Tourism status from Eco Tourism Australia. Spa and pool at night “The concept of eco-tourism is often misunderstood and in practise is often abused, allowing operators to sell destructive developments that stifl e the landscape,” says Rob Prettejohn, who is both passionate and outspoken about the need to sustain the eco-environment. Thala Beach Lodge 12 w w w . S E L L I N G D O W N U N D E R . c o m J u l y 2 0 0 7