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Commonwealth Government Records about the Northern Territory

Edward John (Eddie) Connellan (1912–83)

Born in Melbourne in 1912, Eddie Connellan began his working life as a teacher, but his real interests were aviation and the pastoral industry in the Northern Territory.

Having obtained his pilot's licence in 1936 and with the financial backing of friends, Connellan was able to undertake two aerial surveys of the Territory in 1938 to assess the potential for aviation in the Territory's development. The results urged him to establish a service based in Alice Springs that in time became known as Connellan Airways. In 1939 Connellan persuaded the Commonwealth to grant him a subsidy (of one halfpenny per mile) to operate a mail service between Alice Springs and Wyndham, Western Australia.

Connellan's company flew routes throughout the Territory and the north of Western Australia and provided support for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. It later fell into financial difficulty and was bought out by East-West Airlines in 1980, but went into liquidation shortly after.

From the 1940s, Connellan and his family lived in Alice Springs. They established a home called Araluen west of the town, and also developed a cattle station on the property, Narwietooma, northeast of the town.

Connellan died on 26 December 1983 and is buried in the Alice Springs Memorial Cemetery. Adjacent to the cemetery is a museum devoted to Connellan and Connellan Airways.

Selected records relating to Edward John Connellan
National Archives, Canberra
E J Connellan – application to assist Northern Territory aerial survey, 1937–49 A431, 1949/1113
Connellan's air service, Alice Springs–Wyndham, 1938–44 A659, 1944/1/549
E J Connellan, application for agricultural lease, Northern Territory, 1942–45 A659, 1944/1/551
National Archives, Melbourne
Agreement between the Commonwealth and E J Connellan – Alice Springs to Wyndham air services, 1939 MP183/1, 112
Alice Springs to Wyndham air service – E J Connellan, 1940–41 MP347/1, 192/115/36
E J Connellan – aerial survey work Northern Territory – notes on method of aerial survey, 1940–42 MP508/1, 307/701/30
National Archives, Adelaide
Northern Territory airmail – Barkly Tableland to Alice Springs – Camooweal to Borroloola, 1944–53 D961, C1952/447
National Archives, Darwin
Inland aerial mail service contract with E J Connellan – Alice Springs to Wyndham, 1938–40 F1,1939/697
Inland aerial mail service contract with E J Connellan – Alice Springs to Wyndham – pedal radio sets at Tanami Desert, 1941 F1, 1941/69
Inland aerial mail service – contract with E J Connellan, 1944–47 F1, 1945/42
Narwietooma station – E J Connellan, 1954–62 E740, P86
Proposed purchase of privately owned residence 'Araluen', E J Connellan, 1955 F1, 1955/374


Chapter 16
Territory Personalities