Towns in the Northern Territory – late 1800s

Where did your ancestors live in the late 1800s? Follows is a list and brief description of the townships in the Northern Territory as described in 1877.

This information may help those who are tracing the path of their ancestors within Australia. Basic information such as location and the main activities in the district may indicate why an ancestor went to the location.  There is more information on each place available in the source material such as the buildings, businesses and population at each in the 1870s and in many cases, the means of travel to, or communication with, the town.

PALMERSTON, Port Darwin, the metropolis of the South Australian settlement in the northern territory, is situated on the eastern side of Port Darwin, on the peninsula dividing the main portion of the harbour from Frances Bay, and terminating at Fort Point. It is in the county and police district of the same name, hundred of Bagot, and electoral district of Flinders lying about 2,000 miles NNW. of Adelaide. The site of the city is a most eligible and healthy one for a tropical climate, being about sixty feet above the level of the sea, and almost surrounded by it. From the nature of the ground the heavy rains of the wet season run off into the harbour immediately after falling, and so lessen the danger of malaria. Cool breezes blow almost constantly throughout the year, and so temper an otherwise unbearable climate. The town building include a court-house, post-office, land and survey office. The entire area of the township is 800 acres, including roads and reserves.

SOUTHPORT is the name of an inland town about 24 miles south of Palmerston and is placed on the banks of one of the arms running out of the harbour of Port Darwin, and up a river called the Blackmore. It is, in fact, situated on a peninsula formed by a junction of the river Darwin falling into the Blackmore at this particular point. This inland town has become a place of some importance since the discovery of a large number of gold-bearing quartz reefs in the territory, it being the only available landing-place for machinery and stores for the development of the mines. A substantial jetty is now erected for the accommodation of shipping and lightering.

Source: The Australian handbook and almanac and shippers’ and importers’ directory.

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