Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 26 September 1912


Senator STORY (South' Australia) . - I move -

That in the opinion of the Senate, and in furtherance of the Northern Territory Acceptance Act 1910, the Oodnadatta railway should be extended northward to the MacDonnell Ranges at the earliest possible date.

In submitting this motion for the consideration of honorable senators, I think I may fairly repeat the statement made by the Vice-President of the Executive Council this afternoon in introducing the Pine Creek to Katherine River Railway Survey Bill. He said that when the Northern Territory was taken over by the Commonwealth it was expected that every effort would be made by this Parliament to develop and settle it. Some time ago, feeling that no move had been taken by the Government in that direction, I asked whether it was their intention, during the present session, to take any steps towards the development of the rich mineral areas to be found in the southern portion of the Northern Territory. The official reply which I received was -

The matter will be brought to the notice of the Director of Mines and Government Geologist for the Territory who has recently been appointed, and is coming to Melbourne next week to confer with the Minister before taking up his duties in the Northern Territory. When that officer has studied the situation and made recommendations, the Minister will give this important subject full consideration.

That answer seemed to me to imply that the matter was to be delayed for a very considerable time. If the Government Geologist is first to be afforded an opportunity of examining and reporting upon the Territory, it is obvious that some months must elapse before any practical steps are taken to develop it. That would be a serious mistake. Last year an opportunity was given to the members of this Parliament to visit the northern part of the Territory. Many of us had a prior acquaintance with that portion of the country^ and, in common with others, I felt it would be a good thing if a parliamentary party could be, afforded an opportunity of inspecting the southern portion of the Territory - in fact, of making the trip right through from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. I know that several members of the Parliament expressed their anxiety to undertake that trip. I went to some little trouble to gain information in regard to the equipment that would be required for such an undertaking, and the cost that would probably be incurred. I supplied full particulars to the Minister of External Affairs, but the only reply which I received was that the Government had decided that nothing should be done in that direction at present. I propose to show that we have ample evidence of the quality of the country that requires to be developed in the southern portion of the Northern Territory, and of the urgent necessity which exists for the extension of railway communication in that region. I intend to place before the Senate the testimony of a number of men who have travelled through this country, who know it well, and who are eminently qualified, by reason of their training, to express an opinion as to its value. The gentleman who has kindly supplied me with information as to the best route to be followed, and the equipment which would be required by a party to cross that country, is Mr.' T. B. Wells, of Adelaide, who has been through it a number of times, who is a practical farmer, who has been engaged in pastoral pursuits, and who possesses a fair knowledge of mineralogy. At my request he has furnished me with a description of the land lying between Oodnadatta and Birts Well, which is a few miles north of the MacDonnell Ranges.. His letter contains a lot of valuable information, which I hope will have the effect of dispelling from the minds of honorable senators the idea that this is a desert country, and that it would be a waste of public money to build a railway through it. Mr. Wells writes -

In fulfilment of my promise I am now forwarding you a few notes of my impressions of the country between Oodnadatta and Birts Well, north of the MacDonnell Ranges. I have been, four times over the country, spending in alf fifteen months on the trips, and from a practical experience extending over thirty-five yearsof our Northern country I feel, without wishing' to be egotistical, confident to speak with some degree of authority regarding its possibilities from a mining, pastoral, and agricultural view.

Leaving Oodnadatta the country commencesto improve at Storm Creek - 18 miles out - and the Wire Creek Bore is met 3 miles further on, the overflow from which goes about 7 miles itv a north-easterly direction over a comparatively level plain, well grassed in ordinary seasons %. between there and the Alburga Creek low sandhills for 3 miles are met with, then 2 miles further on the Stevenson, a large gum creek is crossed and Macumba Head Station is come to. A few miles to the eastward these two creeks junction, and a large area of flooded flats - growing immense quantities of feed after ordinary rains. Country being timbered with gums in the creeks, and to a lesser extent wilh mulga on the sandy rises. Ten miles north of Macumba Station a bore has been put down on the edge of the Stevenson, and a large supply of water struck. To the ' north and east of this point, lies Dalhousie Station, on which are the famous Dalhousie Springs (artesian). The next bore met with is the Hamilton - approximately 70 miles north of Oodnadatta - this bore has been re-cased lately, and an enormous amount of water is running daily into the Stevenson.. At ros miles Bloods Creek Station is come to - here we are getting on to the outer edge of the artesian area, and the water does not come within 50 feet of the surface, in this neighbourhood are stations owned by Kidman, Bailes, Harvey, and Sandford, stocked principally withsheep - wool from here is scoured and sent by teams to the rail head. Settlement to the west extends for over 100 miles, and to the east 75 miles, when the Anacoora sandhills are met with. Sixteen miles further north the Adminga Creek is crossed - country each side, low ranges with rich flats, small creeks with mulga, well grassed. At 135 miles the Charlotte Waters Telegraph Station, the southern border of theNorthern Territory, is reached. The country here is flat, covered with gibbers, large and small, but carrying good grass with a smalt rainfall. A bore has been put down here, but water only rises to within 70 feet of the surface, from where it is pumped to the surface. Following the telegraph line, New Crown Point cattle station is met, but another track going N.N.W. passes through magnificent country, well wooded and grassed right through to the Goyder Creek. Undulating ranges fairly well' timbered and grassed are crossed when Old Crown Point on the Finke is reached. The same description of the country applies until Horseshoe Bend cattle station, on the Finke, isreached. Westward of this station lies Erldunda cattle and horse station, 3 miles north,, the depot sandhills have to be crossed, and at 15 miles the depot well is reached. These sandhills are covered with desert oak - many of the trees are from 2 to 3 feet in diameter - thewood is impervious to white ants, and would, be invaluable for cabinetmakers if a means, could be' found to get it to market. When dryit is exceedingly light in colour and weight.. An enormous quantity is available. After rain. these sandhills are covered with "parakyla' - a succulent growth on which cattle fatten and can go without water for weeks. Twelve miles further on is the Alice Well, on the " Hugh," the head station of the " Hayes " - father and sons who own Mr Burrell and Undoolza, in fact, the whole of the country north from here to the centre of the MacDonnell Ranges. At 22 miles the Frances Well is come to - country in between low sandhills - clay flats with mulga - well grassed between here and the Deep Well. Sixty-five miles south of Alice Springs the country is undulating with stony rises and well grassed. From the Deep Well to Temple Bar reek - 12 miles south of Alice Springs - the -same class of country is met with, but to the eastward the ranges commence to get much bolder, rockholes become more frequent. . Between Temple Bar Creek and Hearitree Gap - (the entrance to the MacDonnell Ranges at this point) - occurs the Emily plain, of enormous extent, and in an average season heavily grassed. Alice Springs, which is situated on the " Todd," and about 3 miles in the ranges, is on a sandy flat surrounded by hills. Eastward 12 miles is Undoolza Station, through which the track to Arltunga passes' (75 miles distant)'. North is Bond Springs cattle station, south-west Owen Springs cattle station, and further west Henbury and the Mission Station. The area of pastoral country to the westward unoccupied but fit for pastoral purposes, is enormous, and the same thing applies to the country north of Bond Springs station, and eastward from Arltunga to the Queensland Border.

With the exception of the Quartzite and Granitic Hills or Ranges, the whole of the MacDonnell Range country that I have passed over, is magnificently grassed, the schist hills to the top fairly well covered with mulga and well grassed.

North from the MacDonnell Ranges and eastward we come upon the long rolling tablelands, unstocked, but well grassed, and capable of Carrying millions of head of stock. The great drawback to this country is the lack of rapid and cheap communication with the sea-board. With a railway, provisions would be at least -50 per cent, cheaper. Boring plants could be get for testing likely, localities for local artesian supplies, and country now lying useless could be put to a profit. It is pitiful to see the enormous areas of well-grassed land without a hoof on them. The same remark applies to most of the country north from Oodnadatta.

In the Rangy country (which will not carry -sheep, cattle, or horses), which is the home of the Angora goat, there is room for millions.

The reference to the goats seems to have caused a titter in the chamber, but the Angora goat, where it can be successfully acclimatized, is, I think I can safely say, a more valuable animal to breed than is even the sheep. The quotation continues -

With a railway, abattoirs, and freezing works at several places along the line, an enormous trade could be opened up in frozen goat, mutton, and beef with the "Straits Settlements" and adjoining Eastern countries. From Oodnadatta to Pine Creek and the country east and west, it would be the rankest of rank folly to attempt to grow wheat or other cereals - it would only mean ruin to whoever attempted it. The country is purely a pastoral one, and with proper means of communication there is an enormous future before it. The Angora goat industry would yield enormous profits' - the mohair is in great demand - three clips are obtainable every two years, and the carcases if frozen would; as I have already stated, command a ready sale in the East.

Minerals. - So far as is known no payable minerals exist south from the MacDonnell Ranges to Oodnadatta. In the Ranges itself- and I can speak from practical experience - gold exists, and in payable quantities. The best deposit by far is the White Range, and if proper facilities for mining were given, the group of mines at this place would eventually prove to be one of the biggest gold propositions in Australia. In a diorite belt (3 miles north of the White Range) about 8 miles long and 5 to 6 miles wide, are hundreds of small fissure lodes all carrying good gold, some of these which have been sunk on are increasing in width at depth (75 to 100 feet) and carry values from 30 dwt. "to 3 oz. per ton. (The White Range lodes are fissures in quartzite.) Genuine prospecting would no doubt eventually lead, to many other discoveries.

Mica. - Very large deposits of clean mica exist in the Hart Range, 40 miles north from Arltunga, the sheets are large and very clean, unspotted ; and small consignments sent to London have commanded too price, but the cost of labour, transit, &c, was so high, that after £2,000 was spent, operations were discontinued.

With a railway in the neighbourhood, I know at least six deposits worth working.

That is the opinion of a gentleman who says that he has been in the country for fifteen months, and who is really qualified to express an opinion as to its value. I have a few more witnesses to corroborate his opinion, and these are all gentlemen who are well known in the exploring world. In furnishing a report to Mr. J. G. Knight, who was then the Government Resident in the Northern Territory, Mr. Alfred Giles says -

In answer to your request to be furnished with replies to a few questions relative to the character of the country between Adelaide and Port Darwin, and its suitableness or otherwise for agricultural and pastoral purposes, in the event of the construction of a transcontinental railway, I have travelled six times across the continent from Adelaide to Port Darwin ; five out of the six journeys with stock, i.e., sheep, horses, and cattle. These trips have not been, wholly confined to the course of the telegraph line, having made several tracks to the east and west of the line from different startingpoints and for considerable distances.

Taking Charlotte Waters as the southern base of the Northern Territory of South Australia, the principal creeks crossed on this route are the Goyder, Finke, and Hugh, the supplies of water in which are dependent upon the periodical floods. The country, although of such a sandy nature, cannot in the strict sense of the word be termed a desert. Large areas of these sandhills are richly grassed, and the flats of the Finke and Hugh Creeks, after a fair rainfall. are clothed with rich herbage and grasses. The latter also stand well in dry seasons of reasonable duration. This country is fit only for pastoralpurposes, and several cattle stations are now formed in its centre as evidence of its suitability.

Mr. CharlesWinnecke, who had charge of an expedition known as the Horn Expedition in, I think 1894, and who spent three years in the MacDonnell Ranges surveying, has made a report. I might mention here that I have in my possession his original plan showing the country to a very considerable extent. He describes the character of the country right along the route of the telegraph line, which, in all probability, will be the route of the transcontinental railway from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek. With your permission, sir, I shall have the map hung either in the chamber or in the lobby, in order that honorable senators may make themselves conversant with the character of the country. It is a very valuable map, and ought, I feel sure, to be very instructive. Mr. Winnecke says -

My experience of the Northern Territory extends over 35 years. I have been astounded at the freauent mention of desert country. My experience is that some of the finest pastoral country in the world is found in Central Australia. Water, principally artesian, is more abundant than supposed. Gold is scattered all through this vast area, one quartz range showing gold for fully 36 miles. The Orabarra Reef, in the Jervois and Tarlton Ranges, has never been visited by any white man but myself. Professor Tate and Experts Watt and Achimiovitch (members of the Horn Expedition, of which I was commander) all stated that the best indications of diamonds exist to the west of Charlotte Waters. Coal of good quality is found in the MacDonnell and more northern areas. It speaks for itself that more than a fourth of the Territory is settled with stations, mines, &c. I have no hesitation in declaring that it will be the finest and most remunerative country in Australia. The extent of auriferous country is simply unknown, and a railway would increase all these resources a hundred-fold. My past remarks on the fertility of the Northern Territory should be a guarantee that I am not in error.

Professor Spencer, another explorer, says that we have areas of magnificent stock country, which only requires water to make it habitable, and the needful water can be obtained partly by artesian boring and partly by conservation -

There is no finer climate in the world than that of the MacDonnell Ranges. Indeed, the winter in the interior was of the most perfect kind - bright, clear days and cool nights - admirable conditions for a consumptive sanatorium. With its splendid areas of pastoral lands, its gold-fields on the MacDonnell and Murchison Ranges; and, further north, the valuable copper deposits of the Gulf country, which has also the advantage of a good rainfall, Professor Spencer sees a future full of promise before that vast tract of country lying between the Bight and the Gulf.

If, instead of building up a few crowded cities on the seaboard, we were unlocking the treasures of the interior, there would be a gleam of additional cheerfulness in the outlook for Australia.

Mr. J.A. Giles, another explorer, says ;

From Alice Springs to Charlotte Waters Station - a length of 232 miles - there are large tracts of splendid land and plenty of water ; there is also an abundant growth of paper-bark timber, one of the best woods for railway sleepers or bridges.

Mr: Allan Davidson, a gentleman who spent three years in prospecting in the central region, says-

There were vast fields where prospect trials had yielded at the rate of 15 dwt. to 2 oz. to the ton. With the extension of the railway from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin the conditions would be modified, and the mineral resources of the interior would then become the great factor in the development of Central Australia.

From Oodnadatta to the northern boundary of South Australia is 120 miles. This is the driest region, with an annual rainfall of 5 inches, and vet it is fair stock country right away to the West Australian boundary, and 100 miles east to the sandhills. A few miles off the route to the eastward are found the wonderful nest of springs called Dalhousie - a group of springs nestling in a hollow surrounded by low hills. Here we find hot springs, cold springs, and intermittent springs, all fresh drinkable waters. Some with fish, some without. An inexhaustible supply for all purposes, including irrigation. Some are on top of mounds, some are on level ground. The growth of acacias, prass and reeds show the water is fit for irrigation. From the hot springs a strong stream of water flows for two miles Or more; losing itself in a swamp covered with rushes and reeds. Eastward for many miles the country stretches away level and suitable for irrigation farms.

When crossing the boundary line - the 26th parallel of latitude, 808 miles from Adelaide - one is struck by the sudden change from open stony tablelands to a country where trees, grass, and bush are growing in profusion - a marvellous change of scene, giving promise of fairer lands as the rainfall increases the further north one travels. Along the Coglan Creek there is rich pasture land. Salt and cotton bush and grasses and herbs of many descriptions. Water is of the finest quality and inexhaustible. Along the Finke River, which has a wide sandy bed, a fair number of gum trees grow luxuriantly. Numbers of sleepers could be obtained in this locality. For 30 miles, to the Goyder River, the country consists of mulga scrub, open plains, sandhills, and stony rises, patches of good grass.

From Charlotte Waters for a distance of 90 miles the road passes over the Goyder, Finke, Hugh, all large sandy rivers, winding through a sandhill country, broken by stony hills and rises. Large areas of these sandhills are richly grassed, and the river flats after rains are clothed with rich herbage and grasses in luxuriant profusion. The grass stands well in dry seasons.

This is a fair pastoral country producing a large number of fine cattle for the Adelaide markets, the prime quality of the beef being subject of comment by the newspapers. There are several prosperous and profitable cattle stations in this belt of country.

The Angora goat would thrive and be very profitable on the drier portions where the feed is rougher. To 980 miles at the south foot of the MacDonnell Ranges the country is decidedly better, the James Range being the limit of the high red sandhills, undulating plains, slightly stony and intersected by numerous creeks and hills richly grassed. There are several permanent springs and abundance of water obtainable at shallow depths. ' This good country has a width of about 150 miles east and west. The rainfall has now increased to ro inches. The surveyed line goes through Heavetree Gap with a ruling gradient of 1 in 80 to the top of the saddle, a few miles north of the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, 989 miles from Adelaide,, having an elevation of 2,500 feet above sea level, the highest point to be crossed.

I could quote at least half-a-dozen other authorities, all agreeing as to the character of the country which would be traversed by a railway from Oodnadatta northward. On his late visit to the Northern Territory, the Minister of External Affairs took with him Mr. Matthews, the Inspector of Mines for South Australia. This officer has visited the MacDonnell Ranges, and reported on the whole of the works there. He reports that there were 43 claims which had been worked, and had returned on an average over an ounce of gold per ton, but he points out that the expense of getting supplies to the MacDonnell Ranges makes it absolutely unprofitable to treat any stone that had less than from 11 to 12 dwts. of gold to the ton. I am sure that any of my honorable friends from Western Australia will agree that in Kalgoorlie and other mining towns in that State, stone containing at least 3 dwts. of gold per ton can be crushed profitably.


Senator O'Keefe - As low as 3 dwts. ?


Senator STORY - Yes. That will more than pay the expense of milling and crushing.


Senator O'Keefe - Will it not depend upon the size of the ore?


Senator STORY - In the MacDonnell Ranges there are at grass thousands of tons of stone, which was rejected because it contained only about 10 dwts. of gold per ton, but which with the provision of a railway could be profitably utilized.

Captain Matthews, referring to. the value of the stone, says -

I find the general average of the stone raised in bulk from the nine principal claims on the White Range for the past half year is 10 dwt*, of gold per ton. This, with a moderate amount of sorting, could be increased to probably i'. dwts. or 12 dwts. per ton by picking out the large barren portions that contain little or no cellular stone. This yield would not be of a sensational character, but with a good supply of water, economical management, and with the appliances indicated should prove remunerative and a fair mining investment.

The present mode of working is chiefly COPfined to the surface and to a vertical depth of from 15 feet to 30 feet, following the seams, vughs, and cellular quartz that contain the most valuable material. Below this depth the vein matter and enclosing rock are exceptionally hard, and the question of its size and value remains to be determined.

The mines that have been worked in the other parts of the field are not of such hard, dense nature, the enclosing rock being principally schist and granitic formations, but, in most instances, the veins are smaller, and the stone raised requires the same careful selection to bring the yield up to a payable standard. This is partly necessary owing to the high cost of transit from the claims to the reduction works and the gold contents not being equally distributed through the vein matter.-

Gold Yield. - The total quantity of ore treated^ from this field ended the 30th June, 1905, is 6,562 tons, yielding 7,949 ounces of gold, valued at ,£29,093, or an average yield of 1 oz. 4 dwts. of gold per ton.


Senator Keating - Does he say that 6,562 tons yielded that actual amount of gold, or that that was the estimated yield?


Senator STORY - The stone actually yielded that amount of gold. With regard to the mica fields, I have here a comprehensive report by Mr. Schlosser, an expert imported to report upon the subject for a foreign company. He estimates that there is at least 7,000 square miles of micabearing country, and that the mica is of a payable character. They get sheets up to 12 inches, which is an extraordinary size. Mr. Schlosser quotes the value of mica as procured in other parts of the world. Sheets 2J inches by 6 inches are valued at 2s. 6d. per lb; 3 inches by 6 inches, 6s. 6d. per lb. ; 3 J inches by 8 inches, 8s. per lb. So that it would appear that the mica field alone would be of immense value to Australia, and would lead to the employment and settlement of a large population, quite apart from the gold deposits.


Senator Rae - Does that expert say what size sheets of mica can be obtained?


Senator STORY - Mr. Matthews,in his report, says that they can be obtained np to 9 inches. All this evidence goes to prove that the MacDonnell Range country is eminently adapted to carry a large population. lt enjoys one of the finest climates in the world. There is an immense extent of the range country, extending from east lo west 400 miles, and from north to south from 20 to 50 miles. The area is roughly estimated at 10,000 square miles. Nearly the whole of the country is at an altitude of over 2,000 feet above sea level, varying from that to 4,000 feet. There is a good, though not heavy, rainfall amounting to about 11 inches, and plenty of water can be procured by boring and sinking. Quite a number of precious stones have been discovered. At one time, what were believed to be rubies were to be obtained almost by the bushel, but it was afterwards stated that they were garnets. They are certainly handsome stones. Genuine rubies have been found there, and also diamonds. There are immense possibilities, because the country has never been fairly developed. The cost of carriage from Oodnadatta to the MacDonnell Ranges amounts to is. per ton per mile.


Senator St Ledger - That ought to pay on rubies !


Senator STORY - If Senator St. Ledger had to pay is. per ton per mile on everything he ate, drank, and wore while searching for rubies, he would require to find an enormous number of stones to pay the cost. I' have said enough to show that the country is worth developing. When the Commonwealth took over the Northern Territory it became responsible for the railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta, upon which there is a deficit of about £80,000 a year. The reason for the deficit is that the line really stops in a desert, whilst, as Mr. Wells tells us, 40 miles further on the country begins to get better. There is every reason to believe that if the line were pushed into the good country it would be made payable. The sum of £80,000, capitalized at 4 per cent., amounts to about £2,000,000. Surely it would be wise, instead of allowing the deficit to increase - for it is growing at the rate of about £3,000 a year - to borrow £2,000,000 at 4 per cent, to carry the railway into the good country, make it profitable, and get rid of the deficit. In the country occupied by sheep, the wool has to be carried by teams, and in very dry seasons by camels, from 70 to 100 miles to Oodnadatta. That shows the disadvantages under which the pastoralists are work ing, and the enormous development which* must follow the construction of a railway. A preliminary survey has already been made by Mr. Graham Stewart. He surveyed three alternative routes, and I have before me a copy of his report, with plans explaining exactly the character of the country traversed by the line. Mr. Graham Stewart thoroughly agrees with what I have quoted as to the value of the country.


Senator Rae - Does he give an estimate of cost?


Senator STORY - His estimate is- £3,500 a mile with a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. I assume that the Government would in this case do the same as they propose to do in the case of the Pine Creek to the Katherine railway, namely, construct to carry a 4-ft. 8J-in. gauge railway, and lay down rails on the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge in order that supplies may be conveniently carried until the line is finished. Mr. Graham Stewart, in concluding his report, gives this very valuable advice to the South Australian Government, which I recommend the Commonwealth Government to follow. He says -

In conclusion, I would respectfully urge the advisability of having the route of the transcontinental railway between the Angle Pole and Pine Creek definitely fixed by trial survey. The advantages of such a course would be - 1. That the line could be constructed in sections as required, with the absolute certainty that the best route had been selected. 2. That the water supply could be provided along the route in advance of the construction. Before the trial survey could be extended north of the MacDonnell Ranges it would be necessary to make an examination of the country between those ranges and Pine Creek, similar to that recently completed from the Angle Pole- northwards, which forms the basis of this report.

I have shown that the country to be traversed is good country, but that, owing to the lack of facilities for getting supplies, it remains in an undeveloped state. I have shown that, in the very centre of Australia, there exists an immense area of rich country with a magnificent climate, a good rainfall, and a plentiful water sup- ply


Senator Rae - And plenty of gold.


Senator STORY - And, as Senator Rae interjects, with plenty of gold and other valuable minerals, which might easily be developed if prospectors had the advantage of railway communication to the country. The Federal Government have made- a start in taking the line from north to south, and with their proposal in that connexion I am in entire agreement. I think that a line from Pine Creek to the Katherine River is necessary for the immediate development of that part of the Northern Territory. But I desire to impress upon the Government, and upon the Minister of External Affairs particularly, that the rational way in which to develop the Northern Territory is to construct the line from south to north. If it is decided to construct the line from north to south we shall have to send men round to Port Darwin by a long sea voyage. They will be landed in a tropical region, and in conditions to which they are unaccustomed, and, in all probability, the majority of them will become invalided in a few weeks, or months, and will desire to return to the south.


Senator Stewart - Does the honorable senator mean to say that it is not healthier at Port Darwin than it is at Oodnadatta?


Senator STORY - Certainly. Every one knows that, with the exception, perhaps, of the climate of Alice Springs, the climate of Oodnadatta is the healthiest in Australia.


Senator Pearce - Just as is the climate of all the interior country of Australia.


Senator STORY - Undoubtedly the climate of the high, central table lands of Australia is the best in the world. In the summer time, though the days are warm, the nights are always cold, and the air is dry and very healthy. It would be a comparatively easy matter to construct the railway from south to north. We could draw the men required for the work from the southern parts of Australia, and many of them would, no doubt, take their families along with them. They would not remain permanently at work on the railway, but would engage in prospecting and mining, and so would settle the country as the railway progressed. By the time it was completed as far as the MacDonnell Ranges, there would, in all probability, be a large settlement in that salubrious district. As the line progressed further north, into the tropical regions, some of the men from the southern parts of Australia engaged upon it would probably suffer from malaria, but, instead of having to go to a hospital at Port Darwin, or round to Sydney, they would find, in the MacDonnell Ranges country, a magnificent sanatorium to assist their recovery. Everything points to the fact that the difficulties of developing the Northern Territory from the north are immensely greater than the difficulties in the way of its development from the south? The Federal Government have had possession of the Northern Territory for two years, and all that they have attempted to do in order to develop it has been to repeat what the South Australian Government did for forty years without success. But the Commonwealth Government are doing what South Australia did in a very much more expensive way. As they have more money at their backs than the South Australian Government had, no doubt the country will be developed under the Commonwealth, but the process will be very costly, and must necessarily be very slow. The South Australian Government proved, years ago, by experimental farms, that almost all kinds of products can be grown in the Northern Territory, and that is what the Federal Government are now endeavouring to prove by' the experimental farms they are establishing. When it has again been proved, how will the Government induce people to go there? People will hesitate to take a long sea trip and settle in a tropical country so long as land is available for them in the southern districts of Australia. I do not think I need detain the Senate any longer. I commenced by quoting the first sentence of Senator McGregor's speech in introducing the Pine Creek to Katherine River Railway Survey Bill, and I may appropriately conclude with a sentence which the honorable senator used a little later in the same speech. He said it is the duty of the Federal Government to endeavour in every possible way to develop the great Northern Territory. In my opinion, the best possible, and the only effective, way to develop this great territory speedily is by constructing a railway from Oodnadatta into the MacDonnell Ranges, to open up for settlement that enormous area of rich country.







Suggest corrections