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Commonwealth Government Records about the Northern Territory

George Ryland (1855–1920)

George Ryland was born in Ireland in 1855 and emigrated to Australia in 1866. He became involved with the labour movement in Queensland in the 1880s and entered the Queensland Parliament as Member for Gympie in 1899, serving until 1912.

Ryland then moved to Darwin to take up duty with the Northern Territory's Director of Lands. His first official task as Director and as a Chairman of the Land Classification Board was to complete a survey of the Top End. The Board left Darwin by train in July 1912, and for the next 89 days they travelled by train, buggy and horseback through Pine Creek, Katherine, Roper Bar, and Borroloola before returning to Darwin in October.

Ryland carried a small notebook with him to record his daily experiences. It formed the basis of his report to the Administrator, John Gilruth, in December 1912 in which he discussed the Territory's landscape, soil, water and vegetation. He identified areas that might be suitable for livestock and other forms of farming.

Ryland's stay in the Northern Territory was brief. Financial restraints and rumoured personal clashes with Gilruth forced the termination of appointment in 1914. He left Darwin and returned to Queensland where he died in 1920.

Selected records relating to George Ryland
National Archives, Darwin
Photographs and invitations relating to George Ryland's activities as Member for Gympie, 1901–09 M1406
Press cuttings and articles relating to activities and interests of George Ryland, 1906–66 M1408
Report of journey from Darwin to Roper River by George Ryland, 1912 F1, 1969/240
Records (reports, diary and map) relating to George Ryland's activities as Director of Lands, Northern Territory, 1912 M1407


Chapter 16
Territory Personalities