Skip to content | Skip to document navigation

National Archives of Australia logoResearch Guides


Commonwealth Government Records about the Northern Territory


Appendix 1: Timeline of the Northern Territory

1824–38 Forts Dundas, Wellington and Essington established; all abandoned by 1849
1862 John McDouall Stuart's successful overland expedition reached the Arafura Sea
1863 Letters Patent were issued giving South Australia administrative responsibility for the Northern Territory
1863 South Australian Northern Territory Act passed
1864 First land sales in the Northern Territory
1864 Boyle Travers Finniss' expedition to Escape Cliffs, east of present day Darwin
1868 Second land sales in the Northern Territory
1869 George Goyder's expedition to Palmerston (Darwin)
1872 Gold was discovered at Pine Creek
1872 Overland telegraph line from Adelaide to Palmerston (present day Darwin) was completed
1872 South Australian Northern Territory Lands Act passed
1872 First pastoral leases issued in the Northern Territory
1874 Palmerston District Council established
1874 First Chinese migrants arrived in the gold rush
1881 First population census in the Northern Territory
1889 Railway line from Palmerston to Pine Creek was completed
1890 South Australian Northern Territory Crown Lands Act passed
1891 Second population census in the Northern Territory
1895 South Australian Northern Territory Commission appointed
1897 Cyclone damaged Palmerston
1899 New South Australian Northern Territory Crown Lands Act
1901 On 1 January the Commonwealth of Australia was established, when the six colonies federated
1901 Third population census in the Northern Territory
1902 Pastoral permits issued in lieu of pastoral leases
1908 South Australian Northern Territory Surrender Act passed
1910 Commonwealth Northern Territory Acceptance Act passed
1910 Commonwealth Northern Territory Administration Act passed
1911 Commonwealth assumed administrative responsibility for the Territory on 1 January
1911 Palmerston renamed Darwin
1911 Northern Territory Ordinances issued including the Supreme Court Ordinance
1912 Aboriginals Ordinance 1911 came into effect
1912 John Gilruth appointed Administrator of the Northern Territory
1912 Crown Lands Ordinance came into effect
1912 Land Classification Board established
1912 Grazing licences issued in lieu of pastoral permits
1913 Royal Commission into Northern Territory Railways and Ports appointed
1913 Tin discovered at Maranboy
1914–18 World War I
1915 Darwin Town Council replaced Darwin District Council
1916 Royal Commission to Inquire into Certain Charges against the Administrator and Other Officials of the Administration appointed
1917 Completion of Vestey's meatworks at Darwin
1917 Railway line extended from Pine Creek to Emungalan (Katherine)
1918 Darwin rebellion occurred on 17 December
1919 Former NT Administrator John Gilruth leaves Darwin
1920 Vestey's meatworks closed down
1920 Royal Commission into Northern Territory Administration appointed
1921 Senator George Pearce appointed Minister for Home and Territories
1922 Northern Territory granted a non-voting seat in the House of Representatives
1924 New Crown Lands Ordinance came into effect
1924 Land Board [I] replaced former Land Classification Board
1925 Report by George Buchanan on Northern Territory Development and Administration submitted
1925 Vestey's meatworks reopened briefly, then closed permanently
1926 North Australia Act passed; Territory divided into regions of Northern Australia and Central Australia
1927 North Australia Commission established, replacing the Land Board
1927 Robert Weddell appointed Administrator of the Territory
1928 Massacre at Conniston
1929 Northern railway line from Emungalan to Birdum completed
1929 Southern railway line from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs completed
1931 Darwin Town Council members resign and are replaced by appointed members
1931 North Australia Commission abolished and Territory reunited; new (second) Land Board created
1932 Pastoral Leases Investigation Committee established, which completes its report in 1935
1932 Killing of Japanese fishermen at Caledon Bay, leading to the arrest and sentence of death on Dhakiyarr Wirrapanda
1932 Electricity supplied to Darwin
1932 Gold discovered at Tennant Creek
1933 Proposal for a chartered company to administer the Territory
1934 Joseph Carrodus appointed Acting Administrator of the Territory
1934 Dhakiyarr Wirrapanda's case is heard by the High Court
1935 Joseph Carrodus appointed Secretary of the Department of the Interior
1937 Board of Inquiry appointed to Inquire into the Land and Land Industries of the Northern Territory
1937 Cyclone damaged Darwin on 10 March
1937 Charles (Aubrey) Abbott appointed Administrator of the Territory
1937 Darwin Town Council voluntarily dissolved
1937 Haslam report on the redevelopment of Darwin
1938 John McEwen appointed Minister for the Territory
1938 Second Land Board abolished
1939 John McEwen announced a 'New Deal' for Aboriginal people
1939–45 World War II
1940 Reticulated water supply to Darwin from Manton Dam
1940 First McInnis report on the redevelopment of Darwin
1941 First Darwin Town Management Board established
1942 On 19 February the Japanese bomb Darwin for the first time
1942 Commission of Inquiry on the Bombing of Darwin appointed
1943 Symons report on the redevelopment of Darwin released
1944 Interdepartmental Committee on the Development of Darwin and the Northern Territory established
1944 Second McInnis report on the redevelopment of Darwin
1945 South Australia assumed responsibility for school education in the Northern Territory
1945 Darwin Lands Acquisition Act passed
1945 Herbert Johnson appointed Minister for the Interior
1945 Northern Australia Development Committee established
1946 Arthur Driver appointed Administrator of the Territory
1946 Animal Industry Branch established, with Lionel Rose appointed Director
1947 Second Darwin Town Management Board established
1947 Northern Territory Legislative Council established
1948 First British Food Mission visited Australia
1949 Meat Production Development Committee replaced the Northern Australia Development Committee
1949 Third Land Board created
1949 Uranium discovered at Rum Jungle near Batchelor
1951 Paul Hasluck appointed Minister for Territories
1951 Frank Wise appointed Administrator of the Territory
1951 Cecil Lambert appointed Secretary of the Department of Territories
1953 Welfare Ordinance issued
1953 New Crown Lands Ordinance issued
1953 Housing Loans Ordinance issued
1954 Commonwealth Air Beef Advisory Panel established
1954 Land Court of the Northern Territory established
1955 Water Use Branch established, with Robert Eden as Director
1955 Agriculture Branch established
1956 James Archer appointed Administrator of the Territory
1957 Municipality of Darwin created, with Mayor and 12 elected councillors
1959 Committee of Inquiry into the Prospects of Agriculture in the Northern Territory appointed
1959 Legislative Council reconstituted with eight of 17 members to be elected
1959 Northern Territory Housing Commission established
1959 Darwin designated as a city
1960 Administrator's Council established
1960 Committee to Enquire into the Educational Needs of the People of the Northern Territory appointed
1960–61 Town Management Boards established at Katherine, Alice Springs and Tennant Creek
1961 Roger Nott appointed Administrator of the Territory
1961 Education Board established
1962 Beef roads program commences
1962 Electoral franchise extended to Aboriginal people
1964 Committee of Investigation into Transport Costs in Northern Australia appointed
1964 Land Court renamed the Land and Valuation Tribunal
1964 Northern Development Division created
1966 Manganese mining began at Groote Eylandt
1966 Agriculture and Animal Industry Branches amalgamated
1966 Vincent Lingiari led a walk-off of Gurindji Indigenous employees from Wave Hill Station in protest against the work and pay conditions
1967 Referendum approving Commonwealth powers to make laws in relation to Aboriginal people carried
1968 Elected members became the majority in the Legislative Council
1968 Northern Territory Member of Parliament allowed full voting rights
1971 Northern Territory severed links with South Australia's Education Department
1972 Department of the Northern Territory established
1974 Aboriginal Land Rights Commission established
1974 Legislative Assembly replaced the Legislative Council
1974 On early morning of 25 December, Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin
1975 Darwin Reconstruction Commission created
1975 Wattie Creek pastoral lease granted to the Gurindji tribe by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam
1975 Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry established
1975 Northern Territory elected its first senators, Bernard Kilgariff and Ted Robertson
1976 Executive Council of the Northern Territory replaced the Administrator's Council
1976 Commonwealth Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act passed
1976 Existing Territory railway lines closed down
1978 Darwin Reconstruction Commission abolished
1978 Self-government was granted to the Northern Territory on 1 July
1980 Completion of standard gauge railway line from Adelaide to Alice Springs
1980 Baby Azaria Chamberlain was taken from a tent in a camping ground at Uluru (Ayers Rock) on 17 August
1986 Chamberlain Royal Commission appointed
1987 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody appointed
1990 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission replaced the Department of Aboriginal Affairs
1990s Defence build-up in the north, including the establishment of Tindal RAAF base (March 1989), Robertson Barracks (May 1995)
1995 National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families appointed
1998 Referendum on Northern Territory statehood, held on 3 October, was defeated
2003 Completion of standard gauge railway line from Alice Springs to Darwin linked the capital by rail to southern capitals
2005 Indigenous Coordination Centre replaced the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission
2007 Northern Territory Emergency Response (The Intervention) introduced

TOP OF PAGE