The title of this guide, Commonwealth Government Records about the Northern Territory, seems designed to disguise the rich offerings within its covers lest there be an outbreak of historical research and writing.
Ted Ling and the many staff at the National Archives, in both the Darwin and Canberra offices, and at the Northern Territory Archives Service have put together a scintillating storyline of the Commonwealth Administration of the Territory from 1911 to self-government in 1978, introduced by a brief but delightful account of earlier attempts at settlement and the South Australian attempts to form a viable colony from 1863 to the late 1890s when the dream had faded away. At each point you are guided to selected records, which if you choose to go there, will open the door of discovery into a host of topics, as diverse as Aboriginal people of the Northern Territory, customs, immigration and population, law and order, and Territory personalities.
I suspect that this guide will make it easy for those who ask questions such as, 'how or why did that come about?' to get to the heart of the matter. I have frequently called upon the National Archives to track down historical documents. With this guide my appetite for digging down is whetted.
All associated with its production deserve congratulations. For generations to come researchers will praise them, as the Territory story is told in ever more depth and detail.
Tom Pauling AO QC
Administrator of the Northern Territory
3 June 2011