Unruly Days:
Territory life 1911 – 1921

Ongoing
The Northern Territory has always been an impossible land to master. From its monsoonal Top End to its arid Centre, it promises bountiful resources, but almost every attempt to exploit them has failed. It is too immense, too remote, its resources too inaccessible. 

 

By 1900, the Territory had been largely neglected by its South Australian administrators. Few Europeans ventured there. The first peoples, the Aboriginal population, were the majority, and Chinese people outnumbered white Australians.

To Australia's statesmen the Territory's vast unpopulated reaches invited unwelcome foreign interest. So, in 1911, the Commonwealth took control. They invested in industries and infrastructure, bringing an influx of workers. It seemed the Territory might finally prosper.

But cracks soon appeared. World War One diverted the Commonwealth's funds, and the Territory's climate and isolation, as always, proved difficult to surmount. The government's own policies led to trouble in race and labour relations and threatened the investment they had made. Four governments and eight different ministers would take responsibility for the Territory over the next ten years. Ruling from Melbourne, the Commonwealth never understood the unique conditions at play.

Territorians grew restless with the new order, which had left them with no say in their own affairs. Conflict was inevitable, and the first decade of Commonwealth rule would prove to be the Territory's most unruly to date.

 

MAGNT Darwin

19 Conacher Street

The Gardens, Darwin NT

Open daily: 10am–4pm
The Discovery Centre remains closed until further notice. 
+61 8 8999 8264
info@magnt.net.au

Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and Good Friday

Image: Edward Reichenbach. Waldron Collection, MAGNT PIC058/085

Contact

Museum and Art Gallery
of the Northern Territory

GPO Box 4646,
Darwin NT 0801

+61 8 8999 8264

info@magnt.net.au
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MAGNT acknowledges the traditional owners of country across the Northern Territory and beyond, and pays respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
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ABN  22 932 713 682

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