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Preserving ruins in Northern Territory

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Issued b y : -

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The Minister for the Interior FOR PRESS:

Ruins of the third settlement in the Northern

Territory will be preserved under a proclamation by the

Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck. . ·.

The ruins are of the Victoria settlement at Port

Essington on Coburg Peninsula, about 120 miles north-east of

Darwin. Two attempts to found a permanent settlement at Port

Essington failed.

The Minister for the Interior, Mr Peter Nixon, said

today some work in preserving the ruins and clearing over­

hanging timber has already been done by the Army and the

Australian National University. .

Following the proclamation it is proposed to place the

area of almost 300 acres on Coburg Peninsula under the control

of the Northern Territory Reserves Board.

Previously the area came under provisions of the

Wildlife Conservation and Control Ordinance, but these do not

provide for the preservation or restoration of historical relics. .

The remainder of Coburg Peninsula will continue to be a wildlife

sanctuary. '


• .2.

Mr Nixon, said the Victoria settlement ruins consist

of five cottages, powder magazine, residence, lime kiln, and

what had probably been a store. Five tombstones remain in the


Port Essington harbour was first surveyed by Lieutenant

Philp King in 1817 and the first settlement was attempted in 1824.

This was abandoned after three days because fresh water could not

be found. Another attempt to found a settlement - named the i Victoria settlement - was made in 1838 but 11 years later this

too was abandoned. By then 27 of the 52 settlers had been invalided

home or had died. The relieving ship stood off shore and shelled

the abandoned settlement. ·

The first settlement in the Northern Territory was ■

founded on Melville Island in 1824 but abandoned five years, later.

Another attempt at permanent settlement - at Raffles

B a y , east of Port Essington - was made in 1827 but this, too, failed.

Mr Nixon said that although Victoria settlement ruins

could not be classified in any order of aesthetic importance, they

were a prime example of human achievement under the most adverse

conditions. ■ · .

-He said the Reserves-Board proposed to clear the area

of overgrowth and scrub and preserve the remains. The area would

be maintained as a public reserve of historical interest.