Commonwealth Bureau of Census and _ Statistics, Melbourne, Australia.


4th April, 1921.


Northern ‘Territory.


under instructions from the Minister of State for Home and Territories.



RENE aad AAR Cer [C.S. No. $86].—C,.2506.


4th April, 1921.



The Census of the Northern Territory was taken as on the night between 3rd and 4th April, 1921, under the provisions of the Commonwealth Census and Statistics Act 1905-20. The work was carried out under the direction of the Commonwealth Statistician, the local organization being under the control of a Deputy Supervisor stationed at Darwin. On the conclusion of the collection the whole of the material was forwarded to the Census Office, Melbourne, for tabulation in conjunction with the data for the rest of the Commonwealth. A summary of the results for the Northern Territory is given in the present bulletin, preceded by a brief account of the Territory, its physical features, population, resources and government.


1. Area and Boundaries.—The total area of the Northern Territory is 523,620 square miles, or 335,116,800 acres. Its length from north to south is upwards of 900 miles, while its breadth from east to west is about 560 miles. Its eastern boundary, dividing it from Queensland, is the 138th meridian of east longitude ; and its western boundary, the 129th meridian, separating it from Western Australia. Its southern boundary is the 26th parallel of south latitude, dividing it from South Australia. The northern boundary is the coast line of those parts of the Indian Ocean known as the Timor and Arafura Seas, at about the 11th parallel of south latitude. The length of the coast line is about 1,040 miles. The Northern Territory includes a number of islands, most of them small and of little importance. The best known are Melville Island, Bathurst Island, Goulburn Island, and Groote Island. the latter situated in the Gulf of


2. Physical Features.—According to Sir Baldwin Spencer, the Northern Territory may be divided into three main parts, a Southern Central plateau, gradually rising from the lowlands of Lake Eyre to the Macdonnell Ranges ; a Northern Central depression in the form of a great basin, bounded on the north by the Coastal Ranges, and lastly a fringe of coastland between the latter and the sea.

The low flat coast line seldom reaches a height of 100 feet. Sandy beaches and mud flats, thickly fringed with mangroves prevail. Sandstone, marl and ironstone form the occasional cliffy headlands.

The central depression is now and again broken by ranges of no great elevation; it comprises the Lake Woods basin, and extends to the smaller basin around Lake Amadeus, neither of which is drained to the sea. Most of the ranges in the Territory present steep faces to the south, and a more gradual slope to the north. '

The Macdonnell Range is by far the most important mountain range in the Northern Territory. It stretches in a huge red wall of granite 400 miles east and west. The main lines of the range have an altitude of 4,000 feet above sea level. At intervals it is broken by huge fissures which serve as outlets for a number of creeks. One of these fissures, the Heavitree Gap, situated 2 miles south of the township site of Stuart, and 4 miles south of the telegraph station at Alice Springs, serves as a gateway for the whole of the traffic across the Territory. The telegraph line passes through it, and it has been adopted as the most suitable crossing for the transcontinental railway.

Immediately south of the Macdonnell Range is a belt of country running east and west for a long distance, but not more than about 20 miles wide, which produces excellent grass. South of this the sandy desert stretches away far into South Australia.

8. Rivers and Lakes.—The most important rivers running into the sea are Victoria River, Daly River, Adelaide River, South Alligator River, and Roper River. Most of these waterways are navigable several miles inland. The Victoria River, which is estimated to drain 90,000 square miles, is said to be navigable by the largest vessels for 50 miles.

Inland rivers are. very numerous during and immediately after the rainy-season. In most cases they rise nowhere in particular, wind their way across the open plains in vaguely defined river beds, and gradually peter out. The best known of these more or less spontaneous inland rivers is the Finke. It rises on the north side of the Macdonnell Range, flows south through magnificent gorges of red sandstone in the James Ranges, and then south-east through more level sandy country until it is joined by the Hugh, its largest tributary. Continuing in a south-easterly direction for another 120 miles it spreads itself out in box flats north-east of Oodnadatta, then it forms again, joins the Macumba, and its waters eventually reach Northern Lake Eyre. The whole course of the Finke has never been traversed, but it is probably over 1,000 miles in length.

The most important lakes are Lake Amadeus in the south-western part of the Territory, and Lake Woods. The latter is a vast expanse of water during the wet season, but it soon dries up, and Stuart passed over it twice without knowing it was a lake.


4. Climate.—Generally speaking, the whole of Northern Australia may, from a climatic point of view, be divided into two sections, the -coast-land, and low-lying areas approaching the sea; and-the tablelands and steppes of the interior. The first of these sections has a typical tropical climate, which particularly in the rainy season becomes very enervating. The tablelands, on the contrary, are healthy, and the cool nights, which in winter may show several degrees of frost, counteract in a pleasant manner the warm days. In speaking of the Northern Territory, the year may, in the coastal area, be divided climatically into two seasons—the wet season, November to April; and the dry season, May to October. During December the north-west monsoon sets in gradually, with rain nearly every day, and increasing in force until about the end of January. At this period of the year the wet season penetrates into the heart of the continent. This monsoon dies away at the autumnal equinox, and is succeeded by light and variable winds till the end of April, when the dry season commences with the setting in of the south- eastern trade wind. Nearly the whole of the rainfall occurs in the summer months.

5. Plant Life.—The vegetation of the Northern Territory is tropical, many of the forms belonging to the Malayan and Oceanic regions. The timber trees are not of great commercial value, but in the coastal regions tropical vegetation grows luxuriantly to the water’s edge. The indented arms of the coast are thickly fringed with the mangrove. On the ranges, pines, fig trees, and orange trees flourish. The Roper River drains extensive forest lands. Leichhardt pines and palms form the vegetation of the table- land, which stretches across the Territory about the 14th degree of south latitude. On the higher steppes there are a few varieties of eucalyptus, and many fibre plants are also indigenous. On the wide expanses of plain country of the interior, there is little vegetation, tree growths being very scanty, consisting chiefly of stunted varieties of gimlet gum, black box, and desert sheoak. In the north-western districts there is an almost entire absence of lichens and mosses, though ferns are plentiful in the vicinity of the

Victoria River.

6. Animal Life.—The ordinary types of Australian fauna inhabit the Northern Territory. There are many genera of marsupials, and individuals are numerous. The birds also are typically Australian, having brilliant plumage, and being generally not gifted with song. Crocodiles and fresh-water tortoises frequent the northern rivers. There are some species of snakes, mostly non-venomous, the most numerous being the harmless python. Frogs abound, the water-holding frog being common in Central Australia. The rivers contain many varieties of fresh-water fish. The molluscan fauna of the coast are mostly ‘earnivorous, the vegetable feeders being very poorly represented, probably on account of the dearth of sea-weed. Among insects, many beautiful butterflies thrive in the warm damp atmosphere. Beetles, too, are strongly represented. The white ant is a pest, very few timbers being immune from its ravages. Anthills in the Northern Territory sometimes attain a height of 25 feet and a diameter of 10 feet. Another destructive insect, particularly active and mischievous inland, is the borer. Mosquitoes and. sandflies are very troublesome, particularly from January to April.


1. Discoveries and Surveys.—In all probability the coast of the Northern Territory was the part of Australia first to be sighted and visited by white men. The Portuguese navigators D’Abreu, Serrano, or Magellan, probably were there between 1511 and 1518. In 1623 the Dutch Governor of Java despatched an expedition on a voyage of discovery between New Guinea and Australia; the captain and eight of the crew were murdered on the New Guinea coast, but the remainder proceeded south, and reached Australia at Arnhem Land. Thirteen years later another Dutch expédition visited Australia, when Arnhem Land and other parts of the coast were described by them. In 1644 Abel Tasman sailed along a considerable part of the coast of the Northern Territory ; he passed between Groote Island and the mainland, north of Wesel Island, to the north-west point of Melville Island, which he named Cape Van Diemen. His chart shows Melville Island as part. of the mainland. A subsequent Dutch expedition in 1770 explored Van Diemen Gulf.

Arising from Captain Cook’s discoveries in 1770 of hitherto unknown parts of Australia, and the gradual occupation by the British of New South Wales and Tasmania, a thorough survey of the coastline was commenced. In 1803 Matthew Flinders surveyed the west coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria and Arnhem Bay. During the years 1818-1822 Captain King, of the Royal Navy, completed the survey of the shores of Northern Australia and determined the insularity of Melville Island, which by the Dutch was still believed to be part of the mainland. The harbor on which Darwin now stands was discovered by Captain Stokes, of H.M.S. Beagle, in 1839.

2. Early Exploration.—The exploration of Australia’s vast areas of land was taken in hand at an early date, and a considerable part of the eastern and southern districts was soon made known; but the natural obstacles attending exploration in the arid interior, and the remoteness of the northern parts, checked advance in that direction, and not till the forties of last century did the first overland expedition reach the Northern Territory. Leichhardt, starting out from the Darling Downs, on the east coast of the continent, at the end of 1845, beat his way north-west, crossed the Roper River and reached Port Essington. On a subsequent expedition Leichhardt and his party were lost, and as years went by without news of them another expedition, headed by Gregory and von Mueller, was fitted out in 1855, and sent to the Northern Territory. This expedition ascended the Victoria River and then travelled south south-west to Sturt’s Creek ; returning to the Victoria River, they travelled east, crossing a tributary of the Roper River, and skirting the southern shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria reached Rockhampton. The next expedition to the inhospitable north was undertaken by John McDougal Stuart in 1861-1862 ; starting from Adelaide Stuart discovered the Macdonnell Ranges, and proceeding. vid Newcastle Waters, Daly Waters and Roper River, reached the north coast at Point Stuart, Chambers Bay. Of other expeditions to the Northern Territory may be mentioned one undertaken by Ernest Giles in


1872, on which occasion Lake Amadeus was discovered. In 1883 Arnhem Land was explored by David Lindsay. Exploration on a smaller scale has, from time to time, been carried out by the Government or private individuals, and the major part of the Territory is now fairly well known.

3. Demarcation of Boundaries.—Captain Cook, in 1770, annexed for the British Crown the eastern part of Australia and named it New South Wales. The western boundary of this new colony was not determined till 1786, when it was fixed at the 135th meridian of east longitude. A considerable part of the Northern Territory was thus originally included in New South Wales. In 1829 the western half of Australia, which hitherto had been no man’s land, was annexed and created a separate colony, the boundary between Western Australia and New South Wales being fixed at the 129th meridian of east longitude. The whole of the Northern Territory thereby became part of New South Wales. In the month of May, 1846, all Australia north of the 26th parallel of south latitude, was formed into the colony of Northern Australia, with capital at Gladstone ; but this arrangement was revoked, by Letters Patent, in November of the same year, and up to 1863 the Northern Territory remained part of the mother colony. In that year South Australia, which had been founded as a separate province in 1834, took it over, and it was then for the first time called the “‘ Northern Territory.” It remained under South Australia’s control till 1st January, 1911, when it was taken over by the Commonwealth.

4. Early Settlements.—The motive for establishing settlements on the north coast of Australia must be sought in trade rivalry between the British and the Dutch in the Indies, the Indian Archipelago, and the far East. To strengthen the British position in these parts settlements were established almost simultaneously in Singapore and in Northern Australia. Captain Gordon Bremer, to whom in 1824 the founding of the latter settlement was intrusted, selected Melville Island as the most suitable place, and there he constructed Fort Dundas for its protection. He also annexed, for the British Crown, the northern shores between the 129th and the 136th meridians of east longitude. This early settlement consisted of 126 souls; of these 45 were convicts, 3 free mechanics, 10 formed the crew of the Lady Nelson, and the remainder were in the main military officers and men. Unfortunately there were no trepang (sea slugs) in the adjoining waters, and the Malays, who came over once a year in search of that commodity, kept to the mainland. ‘To establish trade with these people, the Melville Island settlement was relinquished in 1827, and a new one founded at Raffles Bay, the material for which was drawn from Sydney. Two years later the Raffles Bay settlement was transferred to Fremantle to secure the still unannexed western half of Australia for the British Crown. The reasons given for abandoning Raftles Bay were :— Unsatisfactory trade prospects; hostility of natives; and unhealthy climate. It is stated that the following year 34 Malay proas arrived with 1,050 men on board, all eager for trading, and that they were much disappointed at the British having left. As the settlement at Singapore rapidly prospered, and an unhindered passage of British ships became assured, the chances of a settlement on the North Australian coast becoming a success became remote, and nothing further was done till in 1838, when the French fitted out an expedition in Toulon with the object of annexing a port on the North Australian coast. To frustrate French plans Port Essington, with its excellent harbor, was promptly occupied by the British, the necessary men and material on this occasion also being drawn from Sydney. When the dangers of French occupation had passed the interest in Port Essington waned, and in 1842 Captain Stokes, commanding H.M.S. Beagle, was sent to report on the advisability of continuance. In his report Captain Stokes recommended that the settlement be retained, giving as reasons that by promoting immigration from the islands in the Arafura Sea it might become an important centre for trade activity in the Indian Archipelago, just as it would serve a useful purpose as a place of refuge for crews from ships wrecked in the Torres Strait. Commercial circles in Sydney, however, evinced no enthusiasm for Port Essington as a trading centre, and consequently it was kept on only as a military outpost, or perhaps, more correctly, as a naval station, a vessel carrying ten guns being attached to it. In 1849 it was abandoned, and for a long time no further attempts were made at settling the Northern Territory.

5. South Australian Control.—When Queensland was created a separate colony the authorities favoured putting the Northern Territory under her control. To this South Australia protested, basing her prior rights on exploration work done, particularly by John McDougal Stuart, the result being that the British Government, in 1863, handed the Territory over to South Australia. The first step taken by the South Australian Government was to appoint a Government Resident and the necessary officials to take possession of the Territory, to select a suitable place as seat of Government, to commence surveying, and generally to get things moving, the cost to be covered by the sale of land. The first Government Resident appears to have been ill chosen ; quarrels arose between him and his officials, and a considerable time went by without any progress being made. Meanwhile the South Australian Government had opened offices in Adelaide and London for the disposal of land, undertaking that it would be surveyed and ready for occupation within five years. But Darwin—which after much vacillation had finally been chosen as site for the future capital—was a long way off, communication was slow, and the Government was unable to keep its promise with regard to the five years. The purchasers of land claimed to have their money returned ; this was refused, and a lawsuit ensued, which went against the Government. In 1866 stock was brought into Macdonnell Ranges from South Australia, and in 1870 the first pole of the overland telegraph line was erected in Darwin, the line being completed in 1872. In the same year cattle were brought to the northern part of the Territory from Queensland. In 1874 the first coolies. were imported, and the following year duty on all imports was lifted and Darwin madea free port. Simultaneously steps were taken to promote the growing of sugar cane, cotton, and other tropical products. These efforts, in conjunction with the discovery that the Territory contained gold and other minerals, attracted a number of white people and caused an influx of Chinese, so that in 1880 the population had reached a total of about 400 Europeans and 2,000 Chinese. At that time prospects of progress were at low water, the attempt at promoting tropical agriculture had failed, and nothing was produced except gold. In 1882 the Northern Territory Land Consolidation Act was passed, whereby the price of land was raised to 20s. an acre, and in the same year an Indian Immigration Act was placed on the statute book. To serve


the gold mining district around Pine Creek some 146 miles south of Darwin, a railway line to that place was commenced in 1886, and completed in 1889,..3,000 Chinese being employed on it. The mining boom which developed during the eighties came to an end in 1890. _In the same year parliamentary franchise was conferred on the people in the Territory, enabling them to elect two members to the South Australian Legislative Assembly. In the case of the Legislative Council the electors were included in one of the already existing constituencies.

The remaining period, up to the time when the Territory passed under Commonwealth control, was one of hardly noticeable progress and gradually increasing liabilities. The population, excluding aboriginals, at the end of 1910, consisted of 1,173 Europeans and 1,832 others—mostly Chinese.

6. Commonwealth Control_By an agreement made between the Governments of South Australia and the Commonwealth, and ratified by the respective Parliaments, the Northern Territory was surrendered to the Commonwealth of Australia, the transfer taking effect as from Ist January, 1911. By this agreement the Commonwealth took over ‘all the assets and liabilities of the Territory, purchased the Port Augusta to Oodnadatta railway, and undertook to complete the transcontinental railway from Darwin to Port Augusta.

By the Northern Territory Act of 1910, and by subsequent Ordinances which were issued by the Governor-General, the future administration of the Territory was provided for. In 1912 a Resident Administrator was appointed, vested with supreme authority in internal affairs; simultaneously other important administrative offices were filled.

The Government's policy of populating the empty North with persons of European race was entered upon with much vigour, and was closely associated with the plans adopted for the economic development of the Territory. For several reasons the Government's efforts were not rewarded with the desired result, and the population has not increased at the expected rate. At the same time, there has been a great deal of unrest in Darwin, the reason for which, to a very large extent, has been political. As mentioned before, South Australia in 1890 extended a full and liberal franchise to Europeans living in the Northern Territory, and after the creation of the Australian Commonwealth they received exactly the same right as the people of South Australia in voting for senators. In respect of the House of Repre- sentatives, they were included in the nearest South Australian electoral division, that of Grey. By becoming a Commonwealth Territory in 1911 the residents in the Northern Territory ceased to be repre- sented in the Commonwealth Parliament, and as the local Council of six members, created to advise the Administrator, was rarely summoned, they were debarred from exercising any influence on the Government of the Territory, or in an official way voicing their grievances. The discontent came to a head in 1920, when certain of the citizens of Darwin took the law into their own hands and forced the Acting Administrator and his two principal officials to leave the Territory. Afterwards a Royal Commission was appointed to look into and report on Northern Territory affairs. As, however, the Prime Minister was away from Australia at the time nothing further was done. Impatient at the delay several of the citizens refused to pay taxes until parliamentary representation had been granted them. This challenge to the Commonwealth Government alienated much of the sympathy with which their claim to some sort of representation in the National Parliament had been viewed hitherto; the recalcitrant members of the community were imprisoned and an Ordinance issued whereby they could be banished from the Territory. It is the intention of the Government during next session to introduce a Bill in Parliament whereby the Northern Territory will get a member in the “House of Representatives, such member to have a voice in all matters under discussion, but no vote.


1. General Remarke.-The first attempt to cultivate Northern Territory soil was made by the small band of men stationed on the shores of the Arafura Sea in the early part of last century. They also introduced the first horses, cattle, and buffaloes, the latter from Timor. Some of these animals escaped from the settlements, or were left behind when the settlements were abandoned, and they became the progenitors of great flocks of wild horses, cattle, and buffaloes, which, particularly the buffaloes, in time grew into vast herds. The attempt made by South Australia to develop the three primary industries —pastoral, mining, and agriculture—only succeeded in part; the venture in tropical agriculture was a complete failure; mining, though promising well for a while, never successfully overcame the difficulties of transport, bad management and labour, and the pastoral industry progressed but slowly, the principal difficulty being lack of water. The Commonwealth, after taking control, has been faced with the same difficulties as confronted South Australia, and the results of the efforts made to develop agriculture and mining have so far been disappointing. The pastoral industry, which has received least encouragement from the Government, has done the best, and though the progress has not been rapid it is gradually being realized that this industry is the one to which the Territory is best suited, and is the line which future development must mainly follow.

2. Distribution of Land.—The acquisition of land, from the inception of Australian rule, was made as easy as possible. The South Australian Government had provided for the sale of land, for leasing, and for occupation by permit. Under the Commonwealth Government a complete re-organization has been effected. Only a leasehold system is provided for. No more Crown land can be alienated except in pursuance of already existing agreements. The land is classified and appraised, and leased in blocks, the maximum size of any one block being :-—

For Pastoral Leases— 1st Class—300 square miles. 2nd Class—600 square miles. 3rd Class—1,500 square miles. For Agricultural Leases— Subdivision A.—1st Class, 1,280 acres : 2nd Class, 2,560 acres. Subdivision B.—1st Class, 12,800 acres; 2nd Class, 38,400 acres,


The term for pastoral leases are, for Class 1, 21 years; Classes 2 and 3, 42 years; and for any miscellaneous lease, 21 years. All other leases are to be in perpetuity, making them almost equivalent to freeholds, but with re-appraisement of rent-values every fourteen years in case of town lands, and every 21 years in case of agricultural and pastoral lands. To encourage settlement the rent has been made low and the conditions of tenure elastic ; also provisions have been made for giving settlers financial assistance in the pioneering years. The principal conditions attached to land-leases are that the lessee must reside on the land leased for a certain period every year, must fence, stock, and cultivate it to the prescribed extent, and within two years must establish a home on it.

The total area of the Northern Territory is, as already mentioned, 335,116,800 acres, or 523,620 square miles. Out of this 211,946 square miles were held under leases, licences, and permits on 30th June,

1920, viz. :— Tenure. Number of Holdings. Area.

Pastoral lease... ee ae 402 i 166,641 square miles. Grazing licences .. he os 122 a S6:bTd o 5: ne Miscellaneous leases Ms 43 54 ie 1406"; 5 Pastoral permits .. ne sks 17 Be 1020 .oees de

In addition to the above, a further area of 75,301 square miles was surveyed and appraised for lease during 1920.

8. Pastoral.—The pastoral possibilities of certain parts of the Northern Territory were recognised at an early date, and already, in 1866, stock was, as previously stated, brought into the Macdonnell Ranges from South Australia. Six years later cattle were brought from Queensland to the northern parts of the Territory, and in 1879 Mr. Giles reached the Katherine with 2,000 head of cattle and 12,000 sheep from South Australia ; horses and goats were also introduced. The industry, though firmly established, received from time to time severe set-backs, and has almost been abandoned in the coastal regions.

The trouble, it is stated, commenced in 1871 or 1872, when the British-Australian Telegraph Company, or some of the men employed by it, brought eight cows and four bulls of the Indian or Zebu breed from Batavia to Darwin. By these cattle the tick was introduced to Australia, and there is even . reason to believe that the worm nodule arrived at the same time. When later on attempts were made to stock up near Darwin the cattle from the sduth came into contact with the descendants of the Indian cattle, “red water,” the blood disease caused by tick appeared, and being non-immune to the disease not only was the mortality heavy, but the plague spread to other parts of the country with such disastrous results that several stations were abandoned in despair. In 1900 a financially strong company, the Hast African and Australian Cold Storage Company, was formed in London. This company secured the area known as Arafura, containing 20,000 square miles of swamp lands, intersected with open plains. The object was to freeze and can beef with works and outlet at Mud Bay. Cattle were purchased in Queensland and driven into the bogs and swamps of Arafura. It is estimated that 20,000 head perished from red water” and swamp cancer. Naturally the project failed, the works were never erected, and cattle station after cattle station was either sold or abandoned.

Notwithstanding failures in the coastal regions, and occasional checks in other parts of the Territory, the pastoral industry has been progressing slowly. At the time the transfer to the Commonwealth took place there were 513,383 head of cattle, 24,509 horses, 57,240 sheep, and some thousands of goats. Up to the end of 1919 cattle had increased to 610,534, horses to 35,539, and goats to 12,582, but sheep had dropped from 58,620 the previous year to 8,811. Though horses thrive well in the Northern Territory, and sheep under normal conditions may be kept at a profit, the Territory is eminently a cattle country, capable of carrying 4,000,000 head of cattle without in any way being overstocked.

Mr. Staniforth Smith, late Acting Administrator, in his annual report stressed the fact that the Northern Territory is not subject to the periodic and prolonged droughts of Western Queensland, New South Wales, and other parts of Australia. This is caused by the moisture-laden north-west monsoonal winds regularly penetrating right down to the Macdonnell Ranges. On the other hand, as the rainy season only lasts.about four months, the remainder of the year is very dry, and the great heat quickly dries up all surface water. This obstacle, both to the raising and travelling of stock, he points out, may be overcome by artesian wells. Generally throughout the Territory it has been proved that unlimited artesian supplies can be got at depths varying from 100 to 350 feet. A certain amount of well-sinking and boring has already been done, both by the Government and by private individuals, and all the main stock routes are now provided with water. Still the progress in this direction is but slow owing to the exceedingly heavy expenses connected with the transport of machinery and supplies for long distances by primitive means in analmostroadless country. The dearth of surface water accounts for good grazing country often lying idle, while inferior country with permanent water is occupied. The great pastoral belt, stretches from Victoria Downs across Powell’s Creek and the Barkly Tableland to the Queensland border, and in the south along the Macdonnell Ranges, but according to Mr. Staniforth Smith there are very few parts of the Territory which are not able to carry a payable number of cattle when water is first


In regard to the well-watered coastal districts, including the huge areas of excellent country on the Adelaide, Alligator, Roper, Goyder, Macarthur, and other streams, Mr. Le Souef, director of the Zoological Gardens, Melbourne, points out that while conditions there are too severe for European cattle, the hardy and frugal Zebu cattle would do well. The success attending the introduction of Zebu bulls to certain parts of America and crossing them with Shorthorns and Herefords supports this contention.


4. Buffaloes.—While the swampy areas along the sea coast have proved unsuitable hitherto for cattle breeding, they seem excellently adapted for buffaloes. At one time vast herds of buffaloes spread throughout Melville Island and over the whole of the Coburg Peninsula, the coastal lands east of Van Diemen Gulf, and the areas on the East and South Alligator River. Buffalo hunters have, however, for many years been shooting them indiscriminately merely for the sake of the hides, and they are now confined to a small strip of coastal country on the mainland between the South Alligator and the Adelaide Rivers and to Melville Island. Their present number is estimated at only 20,000 head. ‘Attempts are now being made at domesticating them sufficiently to handle them like other cattle for the purposes of branding, yarding, and travelling, and as the flesh is declared by experts to be equal in quality to ordinary beef it is hoped that a profitable buffalo-raising industry will gradually develop.

5. Dingoes.— Unfortunately the buffalo herds, apart from the ravages caused by buffalo hunters, suffer greatly from dingoes and other wild dogs, and it is estimated that 50 per cent. of the calves dropped are thus destroyed. The same pest exacts a heavy toll from the herds of cattle throughout the Territory, destroying from 10 to 15 per cent. of all the calves.

6. Government Station.—T'o assist in promoting the pastoral industry the Government established. three experimental cattle stations in the Territory. These are Oenpelli, Mataranka, and Batchelor. Together they cover an area of 3,107 square miles, and carried at the end of 1919 about 2,000 head of cattle and over 300 horses; their carrying capacity is estimated at well over 10,000 head of cattle. It is now intended to give up these stations except Oenpelli as Government enterprise.

7. Meat Works.—The gradual development of pastoral pursuits has caused a secondary industry to come into being, viz., that of meat preserving and canning. In 1914 a private firm, Vestey Bros., commenced extensive meat works at Darwin. This firm had previously secured considerable pastoral interests in the Territory, but by agreement with the Government it is bound to treat cattle from other stations also. In spite of the many obstacles resulting from the war these works were completed in 1917. In that year 19,000 head of cattle were killed and made ready for export. The following year the number rose to 29,000, and in 1919 it amounted to 22,000. Unfortunately, in 1920, the works had to close down through lack of shipping facilities, whereby considerable inconvenience was caused to pastoralists and much distress resulted amongst the people in Darwin. In 1921 there were difficulties in obtaining the necessary coal supply, while undoubtedly labour troubles in Darwin aggravated the position. As yet the works have only operated four months in any year owing to the impossibility of travelling stock during the long spell of dry weather without serious loss of condition.

8. Mineral Wealth.—Gold was first discovered in the Northern Territory, in 1865, on the south side of the Finnis River. Four years later it was found on the Blackmore River, and on the Charlotte. In 1871 it was discovered at Pine Creek, and the year after near Brock’s Creek, at Port Darwin Camp, and at several other places. In 1900 the precious metal was discovered at Tanami, and later at Arltunga, in the Macdonnell Ranges. A rich lode of copper was found on the Daly River in 1882, and another at Settlement Creek, near the Queensland border, in 1890. During the great strides mining made in the Northern Territory, in 1886 and 1887, silver, tin, and copper were discovered at several places ; thus silver was found on the Macarthur River and tin at the head waters of the Limmen River. In 1891 mica in large plates was discovered in the Hart Ranges, while wolfram was discovered at Hatches’ Creek in 1914, and at Wauchope three years later. Brown coal has also been found. There are indications of certain stretches of the Territory being oil bearing, and lately over 150 licences to bore for oil have been taken out. These licences cover an area of 145,000 square miles.

. Though in certain districts a considerable amount of surface prospecting has been done, only an imperfect idea can be formed of the mineral wealth of the Northern Territory. Nowhere has. boring or shaft-sinking been carried on to any extent. The vast area of mineral country lying between Tennant’s Creek and the Macdonnell Ranges, and stretching from Western Australia to the Queensland border, has as yet been very little investigated. It covers an area of some 200,000 square miles but, being situated in the most inaccessible part of the Territory, this supposed storehouse of mineral wealth must remain locked until such time as the north to south railway becomes an accomplished fact.

9. Mining.— Alluvial gold-digging in the Northern Territory commenced in 1869, and up to the end of 1880 gold to the value of £79,022 had been produced. In 1881 the gold production reached its maximum, the value for that year being £111,945. During the following years it fluctuated considerably, but as long as the alluvial fields lasted the output was satisfactory. Unfortunately alluvial fields last nowhere more than a limited number of years, and it was at the difficult transition stage from alluvial to reef mining that the troubles of the mining industry in the Territory commenced. The big companies which were formed, mostly with English capital, spent money recklessly on buildings and equipment before sufficient ore was in sight to justify heavy outlays. The position was aptly expressed by a gentleman connected with one of these companies speaking at a meeting in London. He said :—‘‘ There has been in connexion with the Northern Territories of Australia the most shameful and the most wasteful management and incompetence that even the mining history of this market could produce. In one large company, which I shall not trouble you to name, I think something like £70,000 or £80,000 have been spent in residences, hospitals, telephone systems, buildings, and various interesting schemes of that kind, whilst the mines have been practically untouched.” :

The effect of inevitable failures of this kind, with the consequent loss of much capital, was that English investors became.alarmed: and often’abandoned valuable: properties,. . The remaining-leaseholders unable to-raise. capital transferred their rights. to Chinese on a royalty. These generally picked the. eyes out of the lodes and then left. The disrepute into which gold mining in the Northern Territory fell during that: disastrous period has not yet disappeared, and the gold output has gradually dwindled till in 1919-20 it amounted to no more than £3,192. Mtl a


The production of other metals than gold has suffered under the vagaries of prices, in addition to ‘the disadvantages peculiar to the Northern Territory, particularly the. high cost of transport and: white labour. The value of tin produced during the year ended 30th June, 1920, was £27,610, of wolfram £45,648, silver lead £299, copper £780, and mica £482.

The total value of the gold produced in the Northern Territory till the end of the financial year

1919-20 is shewn in the Administrator's report as £2,124,919 ; of tin £513,164 ; copper £238,100 ; wolfram

£205,409 ; silver and silver lead £62,015 ; mica £9,374; other minerals £812.


10, Agriculture.—The attempts made at developing agriculture in, the Northern Territory have so far not met with success. _ South Australia’s efforts at promoting tropical agriculture proved a failure, and of the settlers established on the Daly River by the Commonwealth Government only five are left, none of whom can be said to have done well. Not long ago the Government’s experimental farms at Batchelor and on the Daly River were closed, and on the whole the experiences gained suggest that natural conditions in the Territory do not favour agricultural pursuits; the principal obstacle being the annual spell of dry weather lasting for about eight months. The soil, too, though at places rich in phosphoric acid, lime, and potash, is generally deficient in nitrogen, and, finally, the isolation of the Territory from profitable markets would in itself be a deterrent to successful agricultural development. This does not preclude the local requirements being supplied by the Territory itself even when the population increases. At places where the soil retains its moisture, or which can be irrigated, vegetables and fruit trees suitable to the climate grow well. Fodder plants may be grown during the brief rainy season, and experts point out that, with machinery for harvesting, cotton-growing could possibly be made a paying proposition.

11. Minor Industries.—The pearling industry is of little importance to the Territory, and’ the number of boats engaged in 1920 only amounted to eleven, employing 4 Europeans, 10 Japanese, and 42 Koepang boys. The same applies to trepang fishing though, owing to the closing down of the meat works, an increased number of people found employment in it. The fishing industry employs about a dozen boats, and the local market is well provided with fresh fish. The waters are teeming with fish, but up to the present the obstacles connected with export have not been overcome.

12. Darwin and Inland Townships.—Darwin, the seat of Government and only town of importance in the Northern Territory, is beautifully situated on low red cliffs about 80 feet high overlooking a magnificent harbor. Jt has quite a tropical appearance from the luxuriant vegetation and well-kept gardens. The town is in need of a permanent water supply, but otherwise Darwin ‘is, in many ways, quite an up-to-date place with electric installation, telephone service, suitable Government buildings, ice works, skating rink and a moving picture show, besides jetties, stores, hotels, churches, and so forth. Around the meat works, which are situated on the Darwin River, quite a new suburb (Parap) has arisen. The principal buildings in Darwin are-of stone, and the whole place has a far more permanent air than is usual in the north.

The only places inland which may lay claim to the name of township are Pine Creek, Katherine, and Alice Springs. Pine Creek has a railway station, post and telegraph office, school, hospital, police station, a few stores, and an hotel. It was at one time the busy centre of a prosperous gold-mining district, but with the decline of the gold-mining industry Pine Creek has gone back. Katherine and Emungalan, which are separated by the Katherine River, and form the present terminus of the railway line, serve the Maranboy tinfields and a considerable area of pastoral country. They have a post and telegraph office, a police station, and stores. Alice Springs has a post and telegraph office, a school, a police station, a store, and an hotel, Post offices, police stations, and stores have been established, and townships planned at other places, such as on the Roper River, at Borroloola, Anthony’s Lagoon, etc. At Horse Shoe Bend, Borroloolaé, and Rankin River there are hotels.

18. Economic Problems.—The means whereby the resources of the Northern Territory may be developed and the white population increased have long occupied the minds of all thinking Australians. Those speaking with personal knowledge of the country agree that the foremost conditions for accelerated progress are cheapened transport and quickened communication with the south. With a freight bill amounting to something like 2s. 9d. per ton per mile for goods carried inland, and a postal service by which a letter from one of the southern States, say to Newcastle Waters, may take longer than one from Melbourne to the northern parts of Norway, there is little hope of progress. The actual position is, perhaps, best understood by comparing the mileage of railways in the Northern Territory with those, for instance, of Queensland. The former has 199 miles of railway, the latter 5,752 miles State owned, besides a great deal which is privately owned. During the last ten years 54 milés were added to the railways in the Northern Territory, while Queensland has added 1,884 miles to her railway system. Further, these 199 miles of railway are in a great measure rendered ineffective through failure to reach where they are wanted. Apparently the Northern Territory has progressed as far as is possible without further heavy outlay of capital, but should oil be found in quantity the problem might be readily solved.


1. Europeans.—The white population in the Territory, which had slowly increased to 3,767 on 30th June, 1919, totalled only 2,459 at the Census of 4th April, 1921, of whom 1,836 were males and 623 females. This decrease was mainly due to the temporary closing down of the meat works at Darwin. The disproportion of females to males, which naturally is a great deterrent to the increase of population, is due to the fact that the climate generally along the sea coast is not congenial to women and. children. ‘A Board appointed by the Government to report on possible remedies expressed the opinion that houses more suitable to the tropics than those hitherto built, combined with easier access to the tablelands for occasional spells of recreation, would go a long distance to make life in Darwin less trying.


2. Orientals.—The Oriental population, which at one time greatly outnumbered the whites, has gradually decreased from 3,754 in 1891 to 910 at the Census of 1921. A considerable number has drifted to Queensland and the southern States, while others have returned to their homelands. In pursuance of the White Australia policy immigration of these people to the Territory was discontinued several years ago.

8. Education—To provide for the education of the children, schools have been established in Darwin, Parap, Pine Creek, Alice Springs, Emungalan, and Cahlin Compound. Three hundred and sixty-four children received instruction during the year 1919-20. Owing to the departure from Darwin of a considerable number of families the number of scholars on 30th June, 1920, had dwindled to 299. Of these 124 were British, 16 Greek, 16 Spanish, 54 Chinese, 15