Northern Territory - Darwin, NT

Northern Territory

Formerly known to early surveyors as Alexandra Land, named after the them Princess of Wales, and first successfully explored by McDouall Stuart, who, in 1862, proved the practicability of an overland route from Adelaide to the seaboard in the North. Efforts to settle the Northern Territory by the South Australian Government in 1864, when land sales were held in Adelaide, met with little success. It was not until G. W. Goyder, Surveyor General of South Australia, selected Darwin as the main port in 1869 and progress was made. The climate over such a large area, 523,000 square miles, is variable. North of Alice Springs it is tropical, with the “wet” seasons commencing about the middle of November, and the “dry” season about the middle of may. The land is good but is sparsely inhabited. Large cattle stations are well established with nearly one million head of cattle being raised for the beef markets.

The sombre coast of the Territory is low and uninteresting, fringed mainly with mud flats and lacking the vivid colouring of tropical islands further north. Wherever the coast is high the cliffs are composed of sandstone and ironstone. Inland the country consists of plain, hill and desert. Railways from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs and from Darwin to Birdun have been constructed. An excellent bitumen sealed road, built by the fighting forces during World War II, and bearing the name of Stuart Highway, runs from Alice Springs to Darwin, a distance of almost 1610 km. Near Alice Springs are the MacDonnell Ranges, possessing a rare and rugged beauty and an ideal climate. The Ranges run east and west for about 645 km, averaging about 4000 feet in height. There are also large interesting tracts of tablelands rising to about 1000 feet. According to geologists the summits of these tablelands once formed the sea bed. Fossilised sea shells and other evidence of marine life bear out the theory.

The main rivers, the Daly, Roper, Adelaide, Liverpool, Katherine and Victoria, have proved to be of immense value in land so arid. The Territory is rich in mineral wealth and it would be safe to say that only a portion has been tapped. Gold, wolfram and mica are the main productions.

During World War II large army camps were established at various points, but the Territory is fast resuming its peacetime atmosphere. With a view to increasing the meat production plans are well in hand for the extension of trunk roads which will solve the difficulties of transport. Already many surveys have been completed in the north west. The last census of 1947 revealed that nearly 11,000 lived in the Territory.

Reserves have been set aside for aborigines and strict controls exist, prohibiting tourists from visiting these areas. It is possible to visit the established Mission Stations and arrangements can be made to do so. For the motor tourist the roads in the Territory require careful study and inquiries should be made before using them. Those from South Australia to Alice Springs are merely tracks leading through sandy and bigger country. Cars can be conveyed by rail from Quorn to Alice Springs on flat railway trucks, and arrangements for this service are easily made. From Tennants Creek to Camoweal the road, after the first few miles, is sealed and in good order. A mail and passenger service between Tennants Creek and Camoweal connects with the mail train to Townsville to Mount Isa. It is also possible to visit the large stations on a trip from Tennants Creek via Camoweal to Burketown in the Gulf Country.

For the tourist without a car there are conducted tours from Adelaide which include visits to places of interest throughout the Territory. The Northern Territory can be summed up as a place of immense distances, indescribable quietness, and the happy hunting ground of geologists, anthropologists, adventurers and tourists.

Location

Darwin, NT, 800