About stories from the archives

These feature stories will give you an insight into the collections and the range of research conducted at the Northern Territory Archives Service (NTAS).

Contact the NTAS for more information.

Gabarlgu Kaparlgoo Kapalga – South Alligator people, three ways Bill Lennox 

Bill Lennox’s History Grant talk at the NT Archives Centre on 22 June 2016 drew together the three strands of his research into the history of Kapalga near the South Alligator River in Kakadu National Park. Intertwined are the stories of Missionary and cyclist, Andrew Lennox; the history covering a century of leases, the CSIRO, the National Park; and the story of the Minitja family leaving their country around Kapalga and returning a century later.

Bill Lennox is a writer and researcher living near Wellington New Zealand. In 2009 Bill received a Northern Territory History Grant to research the history of Kapalga.

NAIDOC Week Lecture 2016 

On 6 July 2016, Carol Christophersen presented the annual NAIDOC Week Lecture at the Northern Territory Archives Centre to an audience of over 50 people.

The presentation shared the story of Carol’s journey through a scholarship awarded to her in 2011 by the Australian Government, to work and study at the Natural History Museum, London, funded through the Indigenous Repatriation program.  Read more on the  NAIDOC Week Lecture 2016.

WWI and sports in the NT

World War I provided the context for sports 'entertainment' and team sports which had not existed previously in Darwin. 

Dr Matthew Stephen explored this topic in the second WWI Centenary of ANZAC talk presented on Wednesday 15 July 2015 at the Northern Territory Archives Centre.

Read WWI and sports in the NT.

NAIDOC Week Lecture 2015

Ms Lorraine Williams presented the annual NAIDOC Week Lecture for 2015 at the Northern Territory Archives Centre on Wednesday 8 July 2015.

In her presentation, Lorraine shared the stories of her work in archaeology, enthralling the audience with discoveries that reveal the long history of Larrakia occupation in the Darwin area, from the shell middens, spear points, edge ground axes and other important objects and sites.

Read more on the NAIDOC Week Lecture 2015.

Smoke socials, meat works and rebellion

On 22 April 1915 a smoke social was held to farewell the first contingent of volunteers from the Northern Territory (NT) enlisting to join the effort in the Great War. 

A century later, Dr Matthew Stephen reflected on this event, and the NT at the time.

Read smoke socials, meat works and rebellion - Darwin 1914 to 1919.

History on the radio

Since 2010 the Northern Territory Archives Service has collaborated with the ABC local radio to present a short segment ‘live to air’ each fortnight about Northern Territory History.

Proving popular with listeners over the years the segment has covered a huge variety of topics. For more information and links to previous segments, go to the History on the radio page.

Diary of Goyder survey party 1869

A diary of George Woodroffe Goyder, leader of the survey party which arrived in Port Darwin in February 1869, is now in the collection of the NTAS.

Goyder and his survey team arrived on the ship Moonta on 5 February 1869 and set up camp at Fort Hill. The diary covers the period from 5 February to 1 March 1869 and provides a daily log of activities, information about the health of the party, livestock and descriptions of the land.

To access a copy of the original handwritten diary, a transcript and more information about the survey and initial settlement of the Darwin area, read more about Goyder's survey.

Images of Darwin Harbour

Dive in to discover the swimming baths in Darwin Harbour and cruise through the images of ships.

A selection of images which focuses on swimming baths and shipping in Darwin Harbour is available in Images from the Archives. 

Excerpts from oral history interviews tell the stories about swimming in the harbour and arriving in Darwin by ship. Included are a swimming carnival programme and a dinner menu from the MV Koolama's 1942 New Year voyage.

View the images of Darwin Harbour.

The evolution of Darwin 

Images showing the changing face of the city of Darwin.

The NTAS holds many collections which include photographs and slides capturing scenes and sites in and around the city of Darwin, from its earliest days until the present.

A selection of these photographs is available in Images from the Archives. The photographs have been arranged chronologically within a number of categories. Each photograph is accompanied with a caption which will provide you with further details.

View the evolution of Darwin.

Value of archives to the community

Recently the NTAS sought input from the public about the value they placed on archives. The feedback was very positive and formed the basis for a presentation called "The Value of Archives to the Community".

In 2010 a significant acknowledgement of the value of archives came with the United Nations Universal Declaration on Archives, recognising the key role that archives play in administrative transparency, and democratic accountability, as well as the preservation of collective social memory.

It wasn't all chop picnics

Images from World War II.

During the Second World War, many personnel who enlisted with the Australian Defence Forces and in related fields found themselves in the NT.

While in the NT many service personnel recorded their experiences on camera, capturing images of their daily lives, their work, and their mates. 

The NTAS has received donations of these collections, preserving and securing them as valuable records of this pivotal time in the NT's history. In addition to the personal collections, the NTAS has a large collection of oral history interviews with former service personnel and civilians recording their experiences from this time. 

You can view the selection of images and oral history excerpts It wasn't all chop picnics in Images from the Archives.

"The beautiful boys" – Aboriginal houseboys in Darwin

Victoria Haskins found a wealth of information in the archives' oral history collection for her research about Aboriginal houseboys in Darwin in the first half of the twentieth century.

"… the most important for me have been the oral histories… I only wish that such collections were available elsewhere in Australia. I also carry out research on Native American domestic service in local and federal archives in the USA and have not seen a collection in the USA that comes close to the NT's oral history collection."

Read The beautiful boys to discover how the oral history collection enriched her research. For more information about Dr Victoria Haskins' work go to the University of Newcastle website to view her profile.

Guide to Commonwealth Government Records about the NT

This guide written by Ted Ling brings together information about archival records created during the Commonwealth period of control over the NT which lasted between 1911 and 1979 and includes information about archives held at the Darwin, Brisbane and Canberra National Archives offices, and the NTAS in Darwin and Alice Springs.

Go to the launch of the Guide to Commonwealth Government Records about the NT.

Then and Now Project

When the NT News photograph editor Brad Fleet approached the NTAS to source photographs for their Centenary project "Then and Now: Celebrating the Northern Territory's 1-in-a-100-year souvenir" newspaper lift-out, we saw it as an opportunity to make photographs from our collections available to the NT Community.

View the Then and Now Project.

Thompson's list

In late 1899 Police Inspector Paul Foelsche, based in Palmerston (now Darwin), anticipating a request for information from the Minister, gave instructions to Mounted Constable George H Thompson to "report on the conditions of Aborigines and their relations to other nations..."

Read Thompson's list.

Cattlemen in the archives

Unravelling a near century of history from the perspective of NT pastoralists and documenting the development of lobby groups aiming to advance and protect the interests of cattle producers, the records from the Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association and its predecessors are of remarkable value.

Read Cattlemen in the archives.

Archives in fiction

In Di Morrisey's story, archives are described as a place of excitement, a place where crucial discoveries are made.

Read archives in fiction.

Newsletters 1993 to 2009

Records Territory, the Northern Territory Archives Service newsletter was published from 1993 to 2009 and all issues are available for you to read on our website. Go to the list of newsletters

Last updated: 11 October 2017