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Northern Territory - Royal Commission - Reports of, on Northern Territory Railways and Ports

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P resented by Command: ordered to be printed 24th June, 1914.

[Cost of P ap 1w.- Preparn.tio n, not given ; 95::> copies ; approx im ate cost of p ri ntinl:' and publ. >hi ng, £ 3!1. ]

Printed an d P ublish e-d for the G O V ERNMENT of the C OMMO:-

Go vernment Printer for the State of

No. 31. - 1'.458 1.


To His Excellency the Right Honorable SIR RoNALD CRAUFURD MUNRo· FER.GUSON, a Member of His Mafesty's Most Honorable Privy Council, Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and

St. George, Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief of the Common­ wealth of Australia.


. . 1: We, your Commissioners, appointed on 28th March, 1913, with authority to Inquire Into and report upon the following matters in their relation to the development of the Northern Territory : (a) On the Routes necessary Railways ;

(b) On the Classes of such Railways; (c) The desirableness and practicability of creating new· Ports; (d) The desirableness of setting apart an area for the eventual creation of a New Capital; have the honour to report as follows :-


2. With a view of obtaining at the outset all relevant information about the Northern Territory procurable in the south, also of ascertaining the official standpoint of the railway authorities ;of the different States as to connexions with any railway system projected for the Territory, and likewise of obtaining the view of the Department of

Defence, it was decided to hear evidence in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Brisbane. . In each of these cities officials, and, as far as possible, private individuals, having experience of or interest in the Territory, were examined. Your Commissioners arrived in Darwin on the 21st May, taking with them vehicles and camp equipment for an extended journey within the Territory. Having been advised that horses suitable for the work were not obtainable in the Territory, arrangements were made for procuring them from Queensland. In the meantime,

evidence was Darwin and Pine Creek. Some of the mining centres to the east and south of Pine Creek were visited, and the railway route, as then surveyed to the Edith River, was traversed. Your Commissioners thereupon determined the plan of inspection which they

considered necessary to enable them to form satisfactory judgments with respect to the northern half of the Territory. For the inspection of the coast, the Gove rnment steamer Stuart was the only vessel available. The Administrator, holding the view that the requirements of the

Commission 1nust be subordinated to the ordinary trading obligations of the steamer, plans had to be so arranged as to fit in with the movements of that steamer. This necessity involved delays, and in some cases a duplication of journeys, which, while deplored, could not be avoided.


3. Your Commissioners adopted an itinerary as follows :-(a) The inspection of the coast east of Darwin as far as the Roper River, by sea 700 miles, and of that river to the head of navigation at Leichhardt's Bar , about 90 miles.

(b) A traverse of the Roper Valley from Leichhardt 's Bar to Bitter Springs, and thence across the country to Pine Creek, 260 miles, and return to Darwin by rail. A. 2

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(c) From Darwin, proceeding again east by steamer as far as the McArthur River, in the Gulf of Carpentaria, 800 n1iles, inspect the harbor site at the Pellew Islands, the river channel as far as Borroloola, 50 miles, and the route suggested by Captain Barclay for a railway to connect the Pellew Islands with the Barkly Tableland, 136 miles from Borroloola. (d) Thence across country westerly to Daly Waters, thence northerly to

Flora Falls, via the Katherine River, thence to Pine Creek ; and returning via Flora Falls to 'Villeroo, thence to Victoria River, and down the Victoria.River to the mouth, and round the·sea to Wyndham, 1,000 miles. ·

(e) Returning to Victoria River Depot, proceed south through the heart of the Victoria River country to Gordon Downs Station, 300 miles. (f) Thence via the stock route to Newcastle Waters, 370 miles. (g) South from Newcastle Waters along the overland telegraph line to

Tennants Creek, 180 miles. (h) Thence across the Barkly Tableland, via Anthony's Lagoon, Brunette Downs, Alroy Downs, Alexandra, and A von Downs to Camooweal, 400 miles, As satisfactory shipping arrangements could _not be made, the visit to Wyndha1n was subsequently abandoned.


4. In acquainting the Minister with particulars of this plan by telegram, dated 7th August, 1913, it was intimated that the country would be examjned by April, 1914, and an interim report submitted covering the whole of the northern half of the Territory in May of the same year.


5. In the telegram referred to it was stated that after the presentation oftheinterim report in May, 1914, an inspection of the southern portions of the Territory would be undertaken, starting from Oodnadatta. The final report was pro_ mised for :March, 19J5. The extensive investigation outlined-covering 1,800 miles by sea and upwards of 2,500 1niles overland-was considered essential to enable recommendations to be made. It is here indicated, in order that it may be compared with the area covered up to the time of the recall of the Commission.


6. Your Commissioners made an examination. of some of the mineral country within the Pine Creek district, covering a distance of 176 miles. On their first sea journey they visited the East Alligator ·River, and Port-Essington, and examined the Roper River, the Roper Valley, and the country on to Pine Creek. On their s·ea journey they visited the Pellew Islands, and the McArthur River, and traversed the river valley south to the edge of the Barkly Tableland; and from Billy Day's Lagoon, near Borroloola, westerly to Daly Waters, via Bauhinia Downs, Tanumbirini, and Nutwood Downs, and back to the Katherine, where they arrived on 30th October, having covered 1,600 miles by sea, 200 miles by river, and ahout 1,200 miles by land

(see Plan No. .


7. On arrival at Daly Waters a telegram was received the Minister intimating that Government desired a report much earlier that the proposed date . . · -- At. the Katherine a further telegram was received from the Minister asking your

Commissioners to return to Melbourne immediately, and submit a report by 31st December, 1913. While surprised at this direction, your Commissioners immediately complied, and the report which they now have the honour to present is only such as they have been able to base upon that section of the Northern Territory personally inspected, and upon the general evidence collected.



8. Your Commissioners _labo:ur u.nder the disadvantage of not having seen either the_ Barkly Tableland or the VIctoria River country, the two extensive pastoral districts whi?h already show the greatest amount of development, and which, on common testimony, offer the greatest possibilities· of increased settlement when connected with the seaports by railways. Neither have they seen the country to the south of these

districts. While the evidence taken in the capitals of the south and east in the various visited in the Territory itself, is valuable and interesting, as far as it goes, it

IS not of such a nature as to furnish a sufficiently reliable or comprehensive basis for the detern1ination of a railway policy which, it is assumed, must be continental in its widest conception. While there are many men whose testin1ony is valuable in respect of those portions of the Territory which they know, there are very few men whose persqnal knowledge extends to a sufficiently wide area of this vast province to give them a

comparative standpoint in dealing with the merits of stretches of country situated far apart. Still fewer witnesses were there who combined knowledge of the conditions in !he Territory with knowledge of the conditions in similar but more developed regions In other parts of Australia which would enable them to offer reliable opinions as to

what given districts might reasonably be capable of if provided with adequate trans­ port facilities. Nor is the evidence gained from official sources within the Territory of much help. With the exception of the n1ining areas-which appear to have been well delimited, and concerning the character and requirements of which a considerable

amount is known-the Territory is still largely shrouded in vagueness. Most of the public officials are comparatively new to the Territory. The Lands and Survey Department had not yet collected sufficient data for the definite classification of any area. On the specific question of railway routes, the chief railway official stated that he had not been further south than l\1ilner's Lagoon, near Daly Waters, and

therefore was not in a position to offer an opinion. The Administrator's evidence was not obtained. At His Excellency's ovvn wish his examination was not entered upon at the commencement of the inquiry in Darwin, and he was absent in the interior when the Commissioners last passed through that town.

Your Commissioners think it necessary to direct attention to these difficulties and unusual aspects of their investigation as far as it had proceeded, and to show that there still remains mhch investigational work to be done before the problem of the general railway development of the Territory can be addressed with confidence.

Mr. ·Commissione_ r Combes, not being in agreement with some of the views here­ inafter expressed as to railway route, s:ubmits a minority report.

THE NORTHERN TERRITORY TO-DAY. 9. In order to correctly: gauge the magnitude of the inquiry with which your Com­ missioners were charged it may be useful to refer to t he spaciousness of the Northern Territory and to its position of extreme isolation frorn the rest of the Commonwealth.

The Territory comprises an area of 523 ,620 square miles , or nearly 335,116,800 acres. It represents a dista!lce of north to 560 miles east to

west. It is six times the size of VIctoria. It Is nearly t wwe the size of New South vVales. It is nearly as large as Queensland. . . .

Exclusive of natives, the bulk of the populatiOn (white and coloured) IS centred at.Darwin and Pine Creek. There ar e a few Chinamen at other centres and scattered throughout the Territory, their numbers are negligible. _ Outside Darwin and Pine Creek the total number of whites probably would not exceed bOO or 1 to the 1,000 square

miles. Darwin is 3,200 miles by sea from Melbourne, 2,620 miles from Sydney, and 2,100 miles from Brisbane. It takes longer to journey to Darwin by sea fro m nearest of the State capitals than it does to go fro n1. Darwin to . H ong .Kong or Singap.ore.

The traveller wishing to go inland ?an get a bi-weekly. train to illlles ,

and a mail coach on to the Katherine, a further 60 miles. That Is the limit of travel by public conveyance . At. that however, he 40 miles distant from the Maran?oy tin-field, 80 miles from Bitter Springs, and 80 mil es fro:n the J?-earest cattle Should he wish to reach the Barkly Tableland from. DarWin, he Will h.ave approXImat ely

800 miles of wa;ter journey to Borroloola 139 miles by land to arnve at edge of the To reach the i ame di strwt from the east or . outh Wlthout aon:. ·

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through Darwin he could take the steamer to Townsville, 1,800 miles from Melbourne, rail to Cloncurry 480 miles, and by coach 200 miles to Camooweal, which is on the eastern edge of the Tableland. . To reach the Macdonnell from Adelaide would necessitate a rail journey of 688 miles to Oodnada tta, when a further stretch of 300 miles would have to be travelled by horse or camel to Alice Springs.

The conditions are further reflected in the exceedingly high rates of inland carriage. Rates on the railway from Darwin to Pine Creek range from £3 upwards per As the roads are clo'sed for severarl months each year during the wet · season,

teamsters are compelled to fix rates at a figure which will compensate them for the long period of enforced idleness. In the mining districts of the north cartage averages 2s. to 3s. per ton per mile. (Qs. 933, 1496-7.) The same disability exists in regard to the development of the pastoral industry. Carriage from Burketown in the Gulf of Carpentaria to stations on the eastern border of the Territory costs £10 to £12 per ton.

(Q. 141A.) To Brunette Downs, 430 miles from Burketown, up to £20 has to be paid. From Borroloola to the same centre on the Tableland the rate is £12 per ton. The southern and central portions of the country served Inainly from South Australia are subject to similarly high charges. Carriage by rail from Adelaide to Oodnadatta. is £7 per ton. From Oodnadatta to Alice Springs the rate is £10, and to Newcastle Waters £23. (Qs. 197, 269.) .

The average cost of carriage from Oodnadatta to Arltunga Goldfield is £14 to £17 per ton for provisions, and for mining machinery £35 to £40 per ton. (Q. 367.) It is clear that, with such high rate of transport charges, development suffers extreme handicap.

In other parts of Australia railways have usually followed settlement. In the Northern Territory there is a unique opportunity for the railway policy to lead settlement. But, while the unpopulated and undeveloped condition of the country gives absolute freedom in the selection of routes, there is obviously the drawback that it is impossible at this stage to venture upon even approximate estimates of the financial results of any railways that may be


10. As the disposition of the inland railways must, .· of . necessity, be largely conditioned by the location and character of the ports which are or m.·ay be made available to deep-sea vessels, your Commissioners directed their :first attention to an investigation as to what ports, other than Darwin, might with advantage be made ·the terminals of any railway system. Of the total length of coast-line, about 1,200 miles, your Commissioners were only able to the section east of Darwin.


11. The East Alligator River, which is the natural outlet for a considerable extent of country, was visited. It can only be regarded· as a shipping place for purely local requirements. ·


12. Port Essington is a fine natural harbor, but its proximity to Darwin, and its situation at the end of a peninsula with no back country for immediate development, places it outside consideration. No other ports of immediate importance or utility exist until the Roper River, which is about 700 miles by sea from Darwin, is reached.


13. The land at the mouth of the Roper River is " flat .and fringed with mud and mangrove." ·

On the bar, which is estimated at about half-a-mile wide, there is only 6 feet of water at low tide, about 12 feet at high tide, and all the shipmasters examined agreed that, while a harbor at the mouth of the Roper is scarcely an impossibility, the cost of 1naking such would be prohibitive. At the same time the Roper River is unquestionably one of the great waterways of Australia. Westerly from the Gulf of Carpentaria it leads some 200 miles to Bitter Springs. Captain Edwards stated in evidence that he had navigated the river in the South Australian Government steamer Palmerston, drawing 11 feet, to within 4 miles of Leichhardt's Bar, the head of navigation. (Qs. 848-849.)

Your Commissioners are of opinion that, for a comparatively small expenditure in buoying the entrance and channel, the Roper River for about 80 miles may be made permanently navigable for suitably constructed vessels drawing from 8 to 10 feet; .but they do not think a deep-sea harbor at the mouth is practicable. ·


The Roper Valley and the River from Leichhardt's Bar to the source of the river at Bitte: was for a of 120 miles, with a view to ascertaining

the .possibilities of the river as a waterway, If locked, as suggested by the Administrator. Owing, however, to the fact that in places the river divides into several channels and has 1nany bars, it is considered that a locking scheme would be outside practical consideration.


14. proposed harbor off Centre Island, in the Sir Edward Pellew's group, is about 10 miles from the entrance to the McArthur River and about 800 miles from. Darwin. Captains Barclay, Edwards, and Mugg were and stated that a safe anchorage be obtained. (Edwards, Q. 855, Mugg, Qs. 1774, 1272-4.)

Captain Barclay put forward the proposal that within the Pellew Islands a great deep-sea harbor could be made, and connected by rail with the mainland. He describes the harbor as being sheltered on the north, east, and west by the various islands, and on the south by the mainland. The entrance channel from the open gulf has a depth

of only 4 fathoms at low water, and in the anchorage the soundings ransed from 4 fathoms close to the shore to 8, 11, and 12 fathoms; while a further area of about 25 square miles showed 6 to 8 fathoms. (Qs. 1771-3.) Plans were submitted by him showing his soundings and surveys (see Plans Nos. 7-8).

The proposed railway would have to cross the channel between Rocky Islet and Centre Island (2,600 feet), thence across Centre Island (8 miles 60 chains), and the channel to the South-west Island (2,183 feet), thence across South-west Island (7 miles 43 chains), and the channel to the mainland (1,316 feet); thence between McArthur

River and Batterns Creek, crossing four shallow salt water arms, totalling 4,974 feet. Summarized this proposal involves-(1) Construction of wharf. (2) Construction of railway from wharf to the Borroloola side of Carrington's

Crossing, a total distance of about 39 miles, of which about 2 miles 17 chains would be across tidal channels. The foregoing lengths have been supplied by Captain Barclay (see Appendix). There is not sufficient data upon which to base a reliable estimate of the cost of the above works, which, however, would probably be about £250,000.

Your Commissioners regret that they were unable, owing to a failure of the 1notor launch, to make a closer examination of this proposal, and they suggest a more detailed engineering survey. . . · . . .

The importance of hav1ng a deep-water port In the Gulf of Carpentaria which, with railway connexion, would most directly serve the of the

Northern Territory and the north-western part of Queensland, Is keenly realized.


15. The McArthur River is navigable for vessels drawing 3ft. 6 in. for 40 miles up to Borroloola. There are rocky bars in the riv:er which it is s_aid might be removed foran expenditure of £1,500 so as freely to vessels draWing 6 feet. (Q. 1968.) To this possibility your Commissioners draw attention.


16. The Victoria River appears to be the only possible port of any importance to the west of Darwin but the evidence shows that, while it is a fine waterway, the entrance is difficult and owing to the strong tides and shifting nature the channe_l.

(Qs. 863-4, 1755-65.) A detailed hydrographic survey of the nver and Its entrance IS advisable.


17. No evidence was furnished by the military authorities on the_ defence aspect of railway connexions. Your were eVIdence by Rear­

Admiral Sir William Creswell respecting the Importance of DanVIn from the naval point of view. The witness stated- · .

At Darwin, on the other hand, you have the whole territory of the Commonwealth behmd you and the whole of the resources of the can. be brought to bear there for defe?-ce. But

is another point of importance about Port Darwm . It 1s not only the most northerly pomt of .A ust.ra1ta


that will carry any reasonable population but it has to be considered also from this further standpoint. From Torres Straits to Singapore may be considered the entrance to the Pacific from Europe. This stretch, which is I think about 2,000 miles, is pretty well covered by the Dutch Archip'elag6: and there are only certain passages through the Islands that form a communication between the west and east. If at any time it is required to close these passages against enemies' cruisers it an excellent thing to have a base such as Port Darwin from which to operate. Of course, it could be better if Darwin had been more centrally placed, but even where it is it is a most excellent strategic position. (Q. 100).

Another naval witness gave reasons for preferring Bynoe Harbor to Darwin as a naval base; but, as this harbor adjoins Darwin, the preference has no bearing on the question of railway routes. (Qs. 871, 889.) Your Commissioners direct attention to the evidence as furnishing a strong reason why, if Darwin is to be made a naval base, it should be brought in railway connexion with the rest of Australia. Quite apart from these considerations as a com­ mercial harbor all the evidence goes to show that it is not only the best for the accommo­ dation o£ shipping, but it enjoys the geographical advantage of being on the main sea route to the East.

Captain Mugg, whose experience dates from 1886, stated that he regarded Darwin as the natural harbor on the coast of the Northern Territory. (Q. 1754-55.) Captain Edwards stated:-My experience of the coast extends from 1884. I think I have been up every harbor and river that there is on the coast of the Territory. As regards a harbor I have not seen anything on the coast to approach Darwin. (Q. 836).


18. Neither the evidence before them, nor their limited observation of the country, qualifies your Commissioners to any definite opinion about the future of agricul­ ture in the Northern Territory, considered in relation to railway policy. They are satisfied that in the Coastal Division, most, if not all, tropical products may be grown. There i& a general agremnent that cotton of good quality can .be produced, and there is practically an unlimited area of country It was stated in evidence that good crops of maize and other produce had been grown upon the Daly River, but your Commissioners did not visit the Government Experimental Farm in that locality. On the Roper and McArthur Rivers, however, and in other parts of the country traversed, there was ample evidence that fodder-plants, vegetables, and other crops can be grown if artificially watered during the dry season.

To come to any satisfactory determination about agriculture generally, it would semn to be to have evidence not merely as to what crops the soil will produce, but as to what can be grown .profitably, having regard to the special economic conditions, and also having regard to tropical division of the year into two clearly defined seasons; the one-say from November to March-subject to an excess of rain, and the other without any rain at all.

As to irrigation, apart from what may be possible rby ·direct pumping from the rivers, or from sub-artesian supplies, a cursory examination of .the features of the . country passed through in the Roper and part of the McArthur districts suggests the practicability of storage for irrigation supplies by gravitation.

In any case, the future of agriculture in the coastal belt does not, in your Commissioner's opinion, bear in any material way upon the present determination of the routes of railway lines, as the coastal districts in which the main agricultural experiments are carried on may be seryed for many years to come by a suitable river steamer service, and the present railway to Pine ·Creek.

The total held under agricultural leases in the Northern Territory is 8,317 acres. These leases are chiefly within the coastal district, and the rental averages 4!d. per acre. (Administrator's Report, 1912.) . · · · ·

The possibilities of agriculture on the Tableland, and particularly in the neigh-: bourhood of the telegraph line between, say, All Saints' Well and Daly Waters, stand on a different footing. If it .can be demonstrated that wheat or other crops (in the cultivation and handling of which machinery is extensively used) may be grown profitably, the ec?nomic prospects of any railway proposal will be brighter. 'While the soil appears suitable, . the disposition of the seasons presents difficulties. The question, however, is purely one for systematio experimentation, and until the practicability 9f agriculture on broad scale is the. of this country c::tn be

considered only In a pastoral connexion, · ·



. . 19. Your were !llore with the immediate prospects of

mining than of as a factor In attracting population and promoting develop­ me:r:t. The existence of populous mining centres, by providing local markets for and products, would aid in the permanent settlement of a rural

population on sections · of country which otherwise might be found difficult of development.

The extent of known metalliferous country is great, and the fact that minerals to v-alue of some £2,800,000 have been won by comparativelysmallnumber of miners, . working under great difficulties justifies a hope that the Territory will take a permanent place as a metal producer.

Efforts to establish large permanent payable mines so far have been unsuccessful, but the failure is ascribed by Dr. Jensen, Government Geologist and Director of Mines, and others, as due, chiefly, to mismanagement and to the scarcity and unreliability of labour. (Qs. 1353-4.) Most of the work now in progress is performed by Chinese,

of whom 542 are engaged in the Darwin district as against only 84 whites.

. Dr. Jensen stated that the companies which were engaged in mining in the Territory some years ago, had unfortunately expended large sums in very extensive improvements on the surface in the shape of houses, smelters and n1achinery, not to speak of tennis courts and hospitals, before they really knew what was underground, and that one of these mines was closed down although still on payable ore. (Qs. 1353-1354).

No shaft was put down by the companies to a greater depth than 200 feet. One of two shafts in tlfe Territory have reached 300 feet, but they ·were sunk by syndicates of comparatively poor men who wanted to test the particular locality. (Q. 1355). Recent borings undertaken by the Government at Pine Creek and Brock's Creek to 500 and 600 feet respectively show that the lodes continue to much greater depths. (Adminis­

trator's Report 1912, page 11). The mineral district extending from Coronet Hill to Horseshoe Creek offers good inducements for systematic and scientific exploration, containing as it does gold, copper, tin and wolfram. The Coronet Hill district, having an area of about 20 square miles,

gives promise of becoming a big copper producer. (Qs. 1357 -60). Dr. Jensen stated in evidence: "It seems to me that the district between Mt. Davis and Coronet Hill will become as important a copper producing centre as Cloncurry." Dr. Jensen had previously examined Oloncu:rry in Queensland. (Qs. 1367 and 1368).

Evidence was given that the branch railway ljne from Coronet Hill district through Wolfram Camp and Horseshoe Creek to the Pine Creek-Katherine Railway would pass through the richest section of the Darwin mining district. (Q. 1366) .

Having visited some of the centres refer:red to your Commissioners consider that whjle a cheap line could 1easily be constructed, they do not think expenditure in this regard is justified until developmental work has definitely disclosed the existence of large and permanent ore bodies. .

There are other metalliferous areas between Marranboy and the Queensland border-on the same strike as the Cloncurry field-not yet prospected but known to contain· gold, copper, silver and lead. (Qs. 1370-1371).

· The recently discovered Marranboy Tin Field,40 miles south-east of the Katherine, although only in the initial stages of prospecting, is promising. ·

To the development of the nlineral deposits of the and 1\1urchison Ranges, the construction of line will prove of great assistance. At present rruning costs, Including almost proh1 bitive rates of cartage, are an insuperable difficulty.

In the opinion of Mr. H. Y. L. Brown, late Government Geologist of South Australia, Mr. L. C. E. Gee, Captain Matthews and others the country has great mining possibilities . (Qs. 365, 406-1.2,. ?40). A!l.tunga In the Macdonnell Ranges, up to 1910, under the most pnrrutlve working conditions, produced over £51,000

worth of gold. Referring to the central portion of th e Mr. H .. Y. L. Brow?- in one of

his reports says :- " Thou and of miles of tln · coun-vry are h1ghly metalhi roue ancl gold-bearing.''


Mr. Allan Davidson, who spent nearly three years prospecting north and north­ westerly of the Macdonnell Ranges, has recorded :-These are vast fields where prospect trials yielded at the rate of 15 dwts. to 2 ozs. of gold per 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. (See Journal of Exploration in Central Australia, under the leadership of Allan A. Davidson, 1898 to 1900).

These quotations from the evidence and official reports are given chiefly as indicating the extent and distribution of metalliferous areas. '

In no case, however, could lines be definitely recommended for the special service of mining fields until these sanguine expectations have received reasonable confirmation by actual developmental work. 1\!Iost of the fields could be served ultimately by short branches from the main trunk lines, hereafter indicated, and their expediency could be a matter of later consideration in the light of the particular circumstances. In the meantime other and less costly forms of government assistance might be extended.

It has been suggested that motor waggon services might be established in the Darwin district, but while the cost of carriage in the dry season would probably be reduceq by this means, during the long wet season the roads would be in1passable for the waggons. (Q. 1369). The cost of making roads fit for motor traffic would be great.


20. The coastal region, containing about 100,000,000 acres is very well watered by numerous rivers, viz., Victoria, Fitzmaurice, Daly, Adelaide, Mary, Alligator (3), Liverpool, Blyth, Goyder, Walker, Rose, Roper, Limmen, McArthur and· Robinson, which have many large and small tributaries containing permanent water holes. Springs also a bound. -

Near the heads of the rivers, there are large areas without permanent surface waters, but sub-artesian and, in places, artesian supplies are to be obtained. Generally speaking in all parts of the coastal division surface conservation could be extensively and cheaply carried out.

The Victoria River District is well watered by streams and the natural supplies could be indefinitely extended by wells and dams. Away from these districts permanent natural waters are few, this being the reason why much of the country has not been taken up and why much more of it is only lightly stocked. Except on the Barkly Tableland no expenditure has been incurred by pastoralists in well-sinking or the.conservation of rainfall. Although surface conservation will doubtless be 'Practicable to a greater, or less extent over large areas of the interior where the surfaces are suitable and the rainfall of fairly regular occurrence, reliance, mainly, must be upon the underground supplies. Sub-artesian 'Yater in unlimited supply has been proved by boring practically all over the Barkly Tableland, while the wells sunk along the overland telegraph line right to the · southern boundary of the Territory prove the existence of supplies through the drier regions. (See Map No. 2).

That over the great inland plateau artesian supplies may be located by deep bores is the opinion of Dr. Jensen, who in his evidence said :-Taking the ordinary water supply first, the only portion of the Territory until quite recently supposed to be artesian water bearing was the extreme south-east near the South Australian and Queensland borders,

but sub-artesian bores giving large pumping supplies are found all over the Barkly Tableland, and the number of failures in striking water are remarkably few; I think considerably under 10 per cent. of the . total. The water on the Barkly Tableland is got at a depth of from 200 to 300 feet, and in some cases it is very good drinking water, and so pure that it could be used for irrigation. But in other cases ·it is very saline and can only be looked upon as a good stock water. One of the Brunette bores gives a water which contains arsenic. It does not injure stock, but it is not suitable for domestic purposes. (Q. 1374).

These sub-artesian bores are all in the Cambrian limestone formation which extends continuously from the Queensland border across the Barkly tableland right over to the vicinity of the Katherine Trigona­ metrical station. There is no reason why sub-artesian water should not be obtained everywhere in the Northern Territory where the Cambrian limestone is predominant countrJ rock. (Q. 1375).

I should think that the bulk of the Cambrian limestone would be between latitudes 14! and 21 south and all this area should contain a plentiful supply of sub-artesian water from longtitude 132° to the Queens-land border. ·

Artesian water was obtained in one of the coal bores at Borroloola. The bores were sunk in the carboniferous formation, from 500 to 1,000 feet, and in the first bore an artesian flow was struck at 4l5 feet, and the water continued to fl ow over the casing until the latter was pulled. (Q. 1376). It shows that artes ian water can be obtained in formations older than the Cretaceous, and the Cambrian sandstone and limestone of the Barkly Tableland structurally resemble the carboniferous rocks of that part of the Territory, and there is a likelihood that artesian wat er may be met wit h under the Cambrian formation. (Q . 1377).


That suggests the possibility of getting artesian supplies on the Barkly Tableland and further south. (Q. 1378). The South Australian Government put a bore on Alexandra station to a depth of over 1, 700 feet but only sub-artesian water was found. (Q. 1379).

I think that one failure does not prove anything. It is not a sufficient test. (Q . 1380.)

This view as to the probably wide occurrence of artesian water is supported by Mr. H. Y. L. Brown, in his report on Explorations in the Northern Territory, dated 31st July, 1895, from which the following extracts may be given :-At 30 miles reached Renners Springs. The Springs occur in a line about half a mile along a low

outcrop of quartzite and quartzoxe sandstone rock. . . . . . The water is fresh and suitable for

irrigation purposes. . . . The Spring area occupies a plain of black clayey soil. . . . . I believe

that this rock formation is an outcrop of older primary rock lying beneath a shale formation, which in its turn underlies the horizontal quartzite and sandstone of the Tableland and hills previously mentioned. I also think that the water is derived from a gravel and sand bed at the base of the shale formation which is brought to the surface by the protrusian of the older primary rocks. If this theory is a correct one, artesian

water should be obtained by boring in the surrounding country. (Page 26). Westward of Eva Downs as far as Powell's Creek and southward to Alroy Downs and Attack Creek there is a large area of downs country which is worth trying for artesian water. It is apparently a basin and at a lower level than the eastern portion of the Tableland, and might therefor e be t est ed with a reasonable chance of success . (Page 27).

This question is obviously of such prin1e importance to the development of the Territory that, in your Con1missioners opinion, early measures should. be taken to test these expert theories by boring.


21. From what they have actually seen, and from such information as they have been able to obtain, your Commissioners have formed the clear opinion that the Northern Territory is primarily a stock country, and that railway policy on its developmental side must be considered mainly in relation to the stock industry. While agriculture is in the experimental stage and the possibilities of mining, on a considerable scale,

have yet to be demonstrated, stock-raising is a well established industry, the expansion of which is limitable only by the carrying capacity of the pastures, the transportation facilities and the market opportunities.


22. In the absence of any definite classification of the lands, as also in the absence of any diversified local experience in the matter of sheep, it is possible to discuss -pastoral capabilities of the Territory, as a whole, only in the n1ost general t erms. Failing anything more precise, map (No.3) may be referred to as indicating in a very approximate way, the geographi_ cal distribution of the different classes of country.

Under this clasification we have:-(a) Coastal Division (coloured pink).-Grazing country, generally well watered ; good soil along rivers and creeks ; tropical vegetation (in parts) ; coarse grasses in t b,e 1nain but with patches of better

grasses in the Roper and McArthur River Districts ; good feed in the dry season after burning ; subj ect to tropical rainfall (54 to 60 inches at Darwin down to 20 inches at the southern boundary). Approximate area 158,000 square miles . (b) The Victorian River District (brown).-Often rich, volcanic soil, well

grassed ; basalt, sandstone wide J2lai ns

river flats ; well watered ; subJ ect t o 1ntenn 1ttent t ropical rains. Approximate area, 34,000 square miles . (c) Barkly Tableland (green). - F irst -class pastoral country ; open Mitchell grass downs, intersected with of. spn1Ifex

scrub ; in parts possibly agricultural; subj ect to Int ermittent t ropical rains. Approximate area, 29 ,000 square miles . .

(d) Second and Third-class Pastoral (blue). - Patch es of good chiefly along rivers and creeks ; patches of spinifex scrub sandhills; uncertain rainfall. Approximate area, 149, 000 square miles. (e) So-called "· desert " country (yellow) .- Spinifex , s -rub , and

wi th patches of inferi or pastoral country ; badly watered and rainfall ur.certain . Approximate area, 162,100 square miles .



23. The foregoing classification appears to be confirmed by the voluntary choice of stock owners, as shown by the figures and situation of actual holdings. . Of the total area of the Northern Territory, 523,620 square miles, 105,745 square miles are held by 59 holders under pastoral lease, whilst there is an additional area of 25,996 square miles held under pastoral permit, a yearly tenure with right of renewal.

Most of the permit holders are also pastoral lessees. The distribution of leases and permits, as ascertained from official sources, is as follows:-


Southern Macdonnell Ranges Central . .

. .

North-Western . . North-Eastern . . . ..

Coastal and semi-Coastal ..

Southern . .

Macdonnell Ranges Central ..

North-Western .. North-Eastern .. Coastal and semi-Coastal ..

Area in sq. Miles.

16,750 1,867 6,008 27,610 28,077 25,433

Number of Average Area Locality. Holders. pet Holder.






11 17

2,393 South of Macdonnell Ranges 311 Alice Springs and Arltunga 667 Newcastle waters 3,068 Victoria River District 2,553 Barkly .Tableland 1,494 The coastal fall

105,745 59


Nil . Nil. Nil. South of Macdonnell's

4,091 19 215 Alice Springs and Arltunga

2,310 7 330 Daly Waters

11,193 15 746 Victoria River

2,439 6 406 Barkly Tableland

5,963 18 331 Coastal fall

25,996 65

(See Map No. 1.)

Such is the result of selection before survey which may be taken as the safest guide in estimating the quantity and economic value of the country under present conditions. The table goes to show that the Victoria River· District and the Barkly Tableland have proved by far the most attractive to stock owners. In both districts practically all the available country is held under either lease or permit. Of the coastal

district, estimated to contain 158,000 square miles, only 31,396 square miles are held under pastoral lease and permit. The Southern, Central and Macdonnell Range subdivisions are seemingly the next most desirable from a pastoral point of view, the area held under lease and permit being 31,000 square miles.


24. While the terms of their commission do not entitle them to make recommenda­ tions respecting the conditions of land occupation in the Northern Territory, your Com­ missioners think that attention should be directed to the size of holdings and length of leases. .

Putting pastoral permits and reverting to the table previously given it will be seen that 105,745 square miles are under lease to 59 holders. The total number of leases is 245. Of this latter nu1nber, 9, comprising an of 1,743 square miles, expire about the year 1916. Eleven, totalling an area of 4,250 square miles, are for 28 years, and expire about the year 1920. The remaining 225 leases, comprising an area of 100,000 square miles, are for 42 years, and expire at periods ranging from 1933 to 1944.

·The. rents_ range from sixpence to 3s. per square mile, the average being Is. 3d. per . square mile. Taking the two most desirable sections, the Victoria River District and the Barkly Tableland, it wnl be seen that twenty leases absorb nearly 56,000 square miles, an average area per lease of about 2,800 square miles (1,792,000 acres). But the citation


of convey .a co n1plete idea of the fact s as to occupation. In

the· VIctoria River District one station embraces 11,500 square milEs or 7,360 000 acres. (Q. 1649), while that immediately adjoining it is a little less extensive, 'having an area of 10,700 square miles, or 6,848,000 acres. (Q. 1805). On the Barkly Tableland, adjudged by witnesses to be probably the most valuable

pastoral in the Northern Territory, areas run from 400 square miles to 10,000 square miles the whole of this section being in the hands of eleven

holders. While · doubtless It IS true that settlement under the conditions which have existed and still.exist, was only :practi?able in huge areas, it is also true that the presence of these extensive leaseholds Intensifies the difficulty of forecasting the probable economic results of any policy of railway construction.

Part of the evidence collected may be interesting in the consideration of the best means of dealing with these long leases. One station owner stated that in the event of the railway serving his country he would be prepared to surrender, under certain reasonable conditions, some of the land he now held. (Qs. 1223-26).

Another part owner -of a station stated:-In the event of a railway passing through a country I think that every pastoralist would be quite prepared to surrender portion of his land. The Northern Territory Land Act should be so framed as to allow for that. We can do nearly as much on 3,000 miles of country with a railway as on 6,000 miles without a railway. . .

. With compensation for improvements we would be quite prepared to surrender portion of our lease. (Qs. 1916-17).


25. The Chief Inspector of Stock and Chief Veterinary Adviser at Darwin gives the number of stock for the year 1912 in the Northern Territory as follows :-Cattle, 405,552; horses, 18,382; sheep, · 75,808; pigs, 168; goats, 7,406. (Q. 1741).


26. It is difficult to obtain exact gures as to the number of stock depastured in each of the divisions, but from official records it appears there are on Barkly Tableland, approximately, 191,506 head of cattle,; 5,116 horses, and 58,000 head of sheep. Evidence goes to show that under more favorable conditions the stock carrying

capacity would be largely increased. One witness stated that on 6,000 square miles his firm at the present time carried 35,000 head, but that he hoped to see the day when the run with improvements would carry 100,000 head. (Qs. 1913-15). In other words, the carrying capacity is capable of being almost trebled.

The same witness speaking of the Barkly Tableland generally said :-" I think it . is the finest horse a.nd cattle country I have ever seen. . . I have seen n o finer horses or cattle in AustraJia.:' (Qs. 1900-3). The foregoing expression of opinion of one personally knowing the Barkly

Tableland, and possessing a long experience of stock raising in Northern Queensland, is regarded as valuable and reliable evidence. On one station on the Barkly Tableland, sheep have been raised for many years, the present number being 58,000. . The under great owing to

insufficiency of water, cost of fenCing material, high rate of freight , .

Inarkets, and scarcity of labour. (Qs. 544, 549, 558, 560- 572, 577). These disabilities would be certainly minimized with railway communicati?n. It was stated by several witnesses that other parts of t he Tablelands

were well adapted for sheep raising. (Asch e, Qs. 118, 143, 144. Lewis, Q. 175. l ,.A. Wells, Q. 220. K elly, Q. 1542. McLellan, Qs. 1590- 91. H eron, Q. 1734. Scrutton, Q. 2220. Mara, Qs. 2264-5). The opinion was espressed by one witness that t he_ sheep ?arrying capacity of

the Barkly Tableland would be about 100 to the square mile, or six acres to the (Q. 144). A draft of 1500 fat wethers had been sent from Avon Downs to Darwin six or seven years ago. They were of good quality, carrying good wool. (Qs. 1142- 3).

Only one a doubt of the success of sheep on the Barkly

Tableland owing to Its high latitude. (Qs. 1903-5).

B8 9



27. According to official records the stock grazed in the Victoria River District numbers 280,516 cattle and 4,443 horses. On the evidence, however, it is far from being fully stocked. •

One witness, an ex-station manager, stated that on an area of about 11,000 square miles (7,040,000 acres) his company yvas carrying 107,000 head of cattle and 900 head of horses. He believed that by providing water it would safely carry 30,000 head more. (Qs. 1548-50). ·

· The adjoining station carried 75,000 head of cattle and 1,500 head of horses on 10,725 square miles (6,864,000 acres), but with a full water supply the' run, according to the evidence of the manager, would carry 40,000 to50,000head more. (Qs. 1805-1809). Another witness, owner and manager, held 1,500 miles of country carrying 5,000 head of cattle and 700 horses. In the event of a railway he would be willing under certain conditions to surrender part of his country. The block he would surrender would carry 10,000 head of cattle and not be overstocked. (Qs. 1690-91, 1722-26).

The manager of Wave Hill Station, speaking of the Victoria River District, said :­ The Northern end is adapted for cattle, the Southern end for sheep. Sixty-five per cent. of Wave Hill is suitable for sheep and would carry 120 head to the mile. (Qs. 1802, 1810, 1821).

l\1r. Cusack, as ex-station manager, regards the top end of the Victoria River as suitable for sheep. (Q. 1670). Mr. L. A. vVells, Surveyor and Deputy Commissioner Federal Land Tax, South Australia, prepared a statement for the Cmnmission. In that statement he says :-

In the Victoria River district, and east from the river source, there are some 20,000 square miles of excellent fertile valleys and downs highly suitable for sheep and cattle raising. There are also similar lands of large area in the vicinity of Sturt's Creek and the Ord River. (Q. 220).

There does not appear to have been any sustained or serious- effort made to introduce sheep into the Victoria River country. This no doubt may be safely attributed to its remoteness fron1 market. It was stated in evidence that many years ago 2,000 sheep had been sent to Victoria Downs and did splendidly whilst there. They were subsequently sold. The managers of the station wer.e not sheep n1en a..nd put obstacles in the way. (Q. 1141).

One station owner and manager t{xpressed the opinion that the whole of the Victoria River country from the 16th parallel south was, generally speaking, good sheep country. He estimated that with railway facilities that country would carry from twenty to thirty million sheep easily, and a great number of big stock as well. (Qs. 1699-1700).


28. There appears to be no reliable or complete record of the number of stock depastured in the coastal district, but probably it is qute safe to say that there are 30,000 head of cattle and horses grazing there at the present time. The evidence taken on the whole is not at all unfavourable to the pastoral prospects of much of the coastal district.

Mr. Wells, surveyor, in describing the north-eastern part of the Northern Territory over which he had passed, stated :-Fron the source of the Gregory River to the north coast, approximately 150 miles, the country suddenly changes from Mitchell grass downs to rugged and precipitous, almost impracticable, country, until the Nicholson River is crossed, when mixed country is encountered to the coast, parts of which are good pasture lands. (Q. 220).

Mr. W. Lawrie, a pastoralist of Darwin, stated:-From Darwin to the Alligator is all good for stock. . . . . On the Adelaide River, 35 miles from Darwin, you could hold all the stock in the Territory. (Qs. 1113-14). ·

The witness was referring to the holding capacity in the event of freezing works being Established at Darwin. Mr. John McL ellan, ex-manager of Elsey Station, observed :-The Pine Creek country is of little value. Stock do not hold their own through a heavy wet season, and then again just before the wet season starts everything gets burnt up. . . At the Elsey I always advised the owners to sell before the latter end of June when the country up there used to get burnt.

(Qs . . 1577-79). Ringbarking had never been tried; the undergrowth after ringbarking was regarded as a drawback. (Q. 1580). The introduction of new grasses was regarded with favour. (Qs. 1581-2).

There were only a few months in the year when the Katherine River country could hold stock. At times cattle could be driven to Port Darwin and keep their condition. (Q. · 1583).


Mr. Giles, a pastoralist at Pine Creek, and one of the pioneers of the Territory, stated:-It is now recognised that cattle bred on coastal country will do just as well as on the downs country awayback; but they want a greater scope .of country to range over. There is a certain amount of fodder

bushes on the coast country, and every year the cattle are eating new bushes. (Q. 1891).

The evidence of Mr. Giles and Mr. McLellan is somewhat conflicting. Both men are of long experience in pastoral matters. Evidence taken at Borroloola, on the McArthur River, supported the belief that stock bred and fattened in that locality held their condition, also that heavry stocking

improved the quality of the grasses. (Qs. 2050-53, 2129). John Henry Amos, manager of McArthur River Station, said:-• The area held was 4,000 square miles, carrying at present 10,000 cattle and 250 horses. By carrying out .certain improvements, chiefly providing water, estimated to cost £10,000, the carrying capacity would be mcreased to 40,000 head. (Qs. 2131-37).

With the exception of a few introduced a short time ago by the Department of Agriculture, and understood to be running on Batchelor Farm, and possibly a few others said to be on the Elizabeth River, there are no sheep on the coastal division. Although it is believed that there are parts of the country on the Upper Roper

and Upper McArthur, more particularly, which will carry sheep, local opinion does not favour sheep on the coastal fall. Mr. Alfred Giles, who took the first sheep to the Territory in the seventies, and in the eighties endeavoured to form sheep stations on tP.e coastal country, in his evidence stated :- ·

An attempt was made by me some years ago, about 1888, to establish a sheep station at Springvale,· on the Katherine River. A mob of 12,000 was overlanded from Adelaide, after great hardship and difficulty' On arrival at their destination there were further difficulties encountered, shepherds were not obtainable and owing to the lack of knowledge of Northern Territory. climatic efiects many lambs were lost. The

wethers were finally sold for 30s. per head and the experiment was not a success, although the wool showed no signs of deterioration. Some of the progeny of these sheep are still in the coastal country of the Northern Territory. (Qs. 1856-9). Sheep can be rasied successfully as far north as'Walhallow, straight across to the Victoria. But

the wool is not good on the coast. (Qs. 1590-1). There are patches of country all through Hodgson Downs that will carry sheep, providing water were made. The previous owner of Hodgson Downs was an old sheep man from Queensland, and he reckoned there were parts of the country that would carry sheep. (Q. 1440).


29. ],or the sake of conciseness, those districts referred to as the Southern, Macdonnell Ranges, and Newcastle Waters are treated as one. The approximate number of stock in the Southern and Macdonnell Ranges is :-Cattle, 33,075; horses, 7,304; sheep, 11,000; Newcastle Waters: Cattle, 10,000;

horses, 500. William Richard Murray, Surveyor, Department of Forests, South Australia, in his evidence, said :-There is country to the north of the Macdonnell Ranges where I have seen grass you could mow, and that country is unoccupied. There is some fair country also in the vicinity of the Truer Ranges which is untouched at the present time. (Q. 263).

William James Magarey, Chairman of the Crown Pastoral Company, which holds an area of between 6,000 and 7,000 square miles, in two holdings known as Bond Springs and Crown Point, stated :-At the present time the two holdings carried about 10,500. head of cattle and 1,800 On an

average they sent away about 1,500 head Of fats per year, but m bad seasons they were. obliged to hold them over or sell as stores. With a railway from Oodnadatta to the Macdonnell Ranges this country would carry many more stock, because necessary improvements in providing water would be possible. (Qs. 267-284).

Robert McEwin, Fruitgrower and Pastoralist, had been director of the Willo:vie Pastoral Company which owned Undoolya Station, and had ridden about 400 miles over the Macdonnell Ranges, said :-The country in the ranges and round about very good indeed. J:inds. grass seem to tpere_:._Mitchell grass on the plains and on hms, silver grass and other van eties,. to groWir:g

in the Mt. Lofty ranges . The country so Impressed me that I t ook up. an add1t10r:al 2,0?0 miles. This was in 1900. I have no direct personal interest there now, but would hke t o have If a ra1lway were put through. I was so impressed with the possibilities of the country that I promot ed a company to construct the railway north and south on the Land Grant Syst em. (Qs. 488-500).

89 1


F. B. Wells, Mining Agent, Adelaide, referring in his evidence to the Macdonnell Ranges, said :--Taking them as a whole (outside of the quartzite ranges, on which nothing grows, and over the w:.hole schist country) they form the finest belt of pastoral country I have ever seen in my life. I have travelled for 150 miles east and north-east from Alice Springs, with feed up to my horse's knees at nearly every place I went to. The country east of Star Creek at the present time carries not a hoof of stock. The only drawback to the stocking of that country is the want of permanent water, the difficulties of getting· machinery up for sinking and boring, and the great cost. There is no doubt there are scores of places where artesian supplies could be obtained. (Qs. 378-379). ·

L. C." E. Gee, Chief Registrar of Mines, South Australia, in his evidence, stated :-The country round Hergott did not look well, but from about the Coward northward right to Arltunga feed is luxuriant and water abundant-that was when I was up in March. When I came down in December of the same year the country was dry in parts, and had I written my description then I might not have been so enthusiastic. The Macdonnell Ranges struck me as being a most wonderful place for horse breeding.

( Qs. 412-415).

So far as official records show, there are only 11,000 sheep in the southern part of the Northern Territory, inclusive of the Macdonnell Ranges. Simpson Newland, Pastoralist, of Adelaide, stated in evidence :-South of the Macdonnell Ranges the country is purely pastoral and the whole of it could be utilised. The Macdonnell Range country is first class pastoral country and was capable, with railway communication,

of carrying a large number. of sheep. (Qs. 663-679-680).

W. J. Magarey, Chairman of the_ Crown Pastoral Company, Adelaide, stated :­ If we have a railway a lot of the Macdonnell Range country would be put' un?er sheep. (Q. 285). R. McEwin, of Adelaide, said :-The Macdonnell Ranges is the best horse country I have ever seen, and right through that country sheep and cattle do well. (Q. 490). ·

The Hon. John Lewis, M.L.C., of Adelaide, said:-Sheep did not do well at Newcastle Waters. They got cancer in the eyes and nose, and do not thrive on the coarse grasses. (Q. 190).

Henry Francis Lewis, Pastoralist, Adelaide, said :-I have travelled across (north and south) six times, and .J consider that every mile of country between Oodnadatta and the Katherine is good country for cattle and horses. Anywhere north of Newcastle Waters would be too wet for sheep, but there is room for plenty south of that. (Q. 333).


30. There appears to be an impression that most of the unoccupied lands of the Northern Territory are barren wastes generally, thoughtlessly referred to as "Desert Country." It is shown by yellow tint on Classification Map No.3, and is estimated to contain 162,100 square 1niles. _

The area in the south-east corner of the Territory, although partly within the artesian basin, is mostly barren sand hills and apparently irreclaimable. In the much larger area on the western boundary, however, there appears· to be extensive sections of spinifex country, which, in the opinion of some witnesses, would carry stock if water' were provided and transport facilities available.

Speaking of the country between the Upper Victoria River and Tanami, L. C. Gee in his evidence said :-I was absolutely astonished when I got through this so-called desert country and encountered magnificent stock country. In the vicinity of Tanami we struck good water at 160 feet . . (Q. 414). -

vV. H. Tatlock, grazier, said :-South of the Camfield River in a south-easterly direction is prineipally spinifex country, and I believe that it extends across to the telegraph line, although l have never been in that part. I a:q:t familiar with the spinifex country in the north-west of Western Australia, and I think that the country I allude to in the Territory is equal to anything around Port Hedland district in Marble Bar, includi1,1g the ·whole of the De Grey River, which is principally sheep country. (Qs. 901-909). '

In an uncertain rainfall country, if you have spinifex, it is a certainty your stock will not die of starvation. (Q . 911). W. R. Murray, referring to the country in the south-western corner, which he had traversed, said :-

It is unoccupied. To promote settlement more than a railway is needed. Liberal aid to boring fo r water would have to be given. Sub-artes ian was, he thought, obtainable. There are considerable areas of very poor spinifex, but on the other hand about 50 per cent. carried edjble bushes and grasses, arid. the sand hills carry edible bushes t o a great er extent than t he level country. Given water the country could be occupied in large areas. I would not look upon it as desert. The rainfall is only 5 inches. (Qs. 244-250).


As bearing on the general value of some classes of spinifex for stock, the opiniOn of Mr. A. J. Cotton may also be quoted:-spinifex is the best insurance you can have against drought. There is the

porcupme S_Pimfe::c, which IS not good as the other, but it occurs only in patches, and if a drought is on the will. eat It. I had.a run m Queensland, near Hughenden (in the 1900 drought) which was practically all spmifex ndges, and while. my neighbours all round me in the black soil country were losing thousands of stock I came through withou.t any loss at all. (Qs. 1954-55).


. These numerous extracts from have been given in order to bring out ·

the opinions of those who have had experience of the country, and who are in the best position to indicate the grazing values of the various parts. Inevitably a lot of the testimony is vague. This vagueness arises out of the conditions. Outside the sub­ artesian bores in the Barkly Tableland, it would be generally true to say that no attempt has been made to improve the country.

The stock in the other divisions of the Territory are carried entirely on the natural waters, which means that the grazing capabilities of any particular run are ultimately determined by the feeding values of the country within walking distance of the waters that last throughout the long dry season. While it is not possible, on the information

available, to arrive at anything like a clear notion of the carrying capacity of any part of the country, there is no doubt in the minds of your Commissioners that all of it is capable of carrying a very much larger number-of stock if reasonably improved. The provision of more water is the prime essential, but this is only one phase

of the process of general improvement which Inust take place before the country can be in a position to support the pastoral industry on a basis of effective settlement. Owners, however, will not undertake improvements while the market for stock is resticted and unremunerative as it is at present. Of the stock reared on the Victoria River, a proportion are sent through Wyndham to Fremantle. Some are shipped to the East,

and some, again, are overlanded, via Queensland, to the South, where they arrive as stores, and have to be sold as such. The stock routes to the south are not passable every year, and under any circumstances it only pays to send big mobs. Under the most favorable conditions it costs ls. per head per hundred miles to drove stock down,

but the owner of the small mob has to pay much higher rates. The evidence is that the value of cattle on the run is from £3 to £3 12s. 6d., but instances came under notice where very much lower prices were accepted for small mobs.

With railway communication and freezing facilities it is reasonable to suppose that cattle on the run will have the same value as cattle in Western Queensland, where, according to the evidence, the average price has been in the vicinity of £6 per head, but the market is improving. If there were a quick market for Northern Territory

cattle at anything from £5 per head upwards, grazing would be sufficiently remunerative to justify owners in effecting and working the country in a syst.ematic

fashion. Allhough the coastal country Is less for stock than the country Inland, there is evidence to show that stock can be raised ther e successfully, and were there facilities for marketing fats directly they were " ripe " there is no reason why this division should not in time support a considerable population of graziers.

It is a matter for regret that more definite and detailed evidence was not obtained respecting sheep, having regard to th: relative superiority of sheep to big. stock, a factor in developing country and .. There .some relating

to the breeding of sheep under tropical conditiOns which reqmre Investigation, but there was general agreement among practical witnesses that sheep c?uld be. depastured successfully almost anywhere south of say the parallel. Vanous estimates, some of them running into many millions, have giv:n as to the number of sheep the

Territory will carry, but all these of necessity are In t he nature guesses. On the general evidence .it reasonable expect t hat, In th.e Table­

land and in the VIctona Dtstnct together, there Is room for fif teen nnlho:r: sheep, and it is possible that the district s to thA south will in time be capable of upport ing ten million, not to speak of the large of cattle, hor es, and _goats which Will

continue to be bred, even when the sheep Industry has been e tabhshed. N 0 development, however, possible in the absence of railways, as the cost of carnage is· too high to allow of Improvement of the country for sheep . F.458l. B




(See Map No. 1).

32. The principal trunk routes of railways suggested for the general opening up of the Territory and giving connexions with the other States are :-A.- South-East.-Pine Creek to Camooweal to junction with the projected Qu eensland Great Western line,

connecting ultimately with the systems of the Southern States 660 miles

B.---North-South-Oentral.- Pine Creek to Oodnadatta by the most direct route C.--North-South, with deviation east D. - North-South, from Brock's Creek E.-North- South, with deviation west F.-Pellew's Islands to Barkly Tableland

G.- Newcastle Waters to Wave Hill These may be considered in their order.


1,070 1,200 1,020 1,074

230 160







33. Seven witnesses suggested a line from Pine Creek to Camooweal only, as the Territory section of the trunk connexion with the rest of Australia, and included in these seven were Mr. Harper, Assistant. Commissioner for Railways of New South vVal es ; Mr. Pagan, Deputy Commissioner for Railways, Queenslard ; and Mr. Alexander Wilson. As Mr. Harper voiced the official view of New South ViTales, and may also be said to give representative expression to the contentions of those who hold that this route should receive consideration to the absolute exclusion of any connexion south through the centre of the continent, we invite attention to his statement in full.

(Taken at Sydney.) FRIDAY, 25TH APRIL, 1913.

J ohn Harper, Assistant Commissioner for Railways, New South Wa les, sworn and examined. 606. By the Ohainnan.- I believe you have a statement to put before the Commission ?- Yes, and I may say that it also represents the opinion of the Chief Commissioner and his colleagues. The statemen t is as follows :-

NORTHERN TERRITORY AGREEMENT AND CONSTRUCTION OF TRANSCONTINENTAL RAILWAY TO PORT DARWIN-1. The ques tion of a connexion from South Australia to the Northern Territory and Port Darwin is one which has a very important interest, not only to that State, but to all the States of the Commonwealth. The undertaking is a large one, and it is a matter of grave concern to five out of the six States comprising the Commonwealth of Australia as to what benefits

will accrue from the expenditure involved in such a huge undertaking as that contemplated. 2. It appears that an agreement has been arrived at. that the Commonwealth shall be responsible for the accumulated debt on account of the Northern Territory, and it is understood that an undertaking has been given that a connexion shall be made between Port Darwin and South Australia. Since the agreement was ratified, however, the circumstances have materially changed, particularly in regard to the policy of State railway extensions, and this has a most important bearing on the Commonwealth point of view of this undertaking. The extension of the line north from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, whilst giving a more direct route than that via Camooweal, in Queensland, would be located in such a position as to be without direct means of communication with the whole of the eastern seaboard, and the proposal should be fully weighed before any decision is arrived at.

3. The important question of uniform gauge has had recent and special attention by representatives of the various State railway administrations sitting in conference, and the 4ft. S! in. has been recommended as the standard gauge. This question, of course, includes the determination of standards for railway rolling-stock and other appliances throughout the various States affected. This recommendation having been arrived at, and a line from Kalgoorlie, in Western Australia, to Port Augusta, in South Australia, being under construction, the question naturally arises as to how far this line may be utilized for the purpose of determining the direction of a line which shall be of mutual advantage to the eastern States by traversing land for the most part suitable for settlement, or which is already settled, and also of determining the very

important consideration of connexion with the large centres of population on the eastern coast. . 4. The existing agreement between the State of South Australia and the Commonwealth provides that the Common. wealth Government shall acquire 479 miles of existing railway from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta (3-ft. 6-in. gauge) at actual cost. If this be carried out it will be necessary to convert this line to a 4-ft. Sf-in. gauge, and to complete 1,063 miles of line from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek, and at the latter point convert the existing narrow-gauge line of 146 miles from Port Darwin to Pine Creek. It must be strongly pointed out that, as already stated, the construction of this line would give no communication of any value to the eastern coast, and, so far as the present information goes, would traverse country more or less unsuitable for development. · .

5. A more comprehensive study, in the light of modern railway practice and development, would have suggested the importance of giving the populous eastern seaboard direct communication with the Northern Territory, and this could be accomplished with much distinct advantage to both the States concerned and the Commonwealth. To make the south-north connexion with the Territory it is suggested that-

The existing line from Port Augusta to Broken Hill be altered to 4-ft. Sf-in. gauge (2S5 miles ). Existing line from Broken Hill to Tarrawingee be altered to 4-ft. Sf-in. gauge (40 miles). A line be constructed from Tarrawingee to Tobermory, in Queensland, 4-ft. Sf-in. gauge (330 miles). Construct a line from Tobermory to Camooweal, on the Queensland border, 4-ft. Sf-in. gauge (662 miles). Construct a line from Queensland border, near Camooweal, through the north-eastern portion of the Northern

Territory, to Pine Creek, 4-ft. Sf-in. gauge (660 miles). Existing narrow-gauge line from Pine Creek to Port Darwin be altered to the 4-ft. St-in. gauge (146 miles). Total length of new line to be constructed 1,652 miles.

Total length of line to be altered in gauge . . 4 71 miles.


A map of the Commonwealth is submitted, indicating in detail these suggestions.


6. Of the length of new line to be constructed, the cost of 663 miles through Queensland territory, from Tobermory to Camooweal,. should be deducted, as the Government have already authorized the carrying out of the construction of a 3:ft. 6-m. gauge the purpose of developmg the country and connecting their coastal ports, and a further length of 33_0 miles from to Tobermo_ry, partly N South Wales and Queensland territory, although not authorized

might be re_gaided as havmg claim for local contrrbutwn towards construction. This leaves, outside the question of the conversiOn of the gauge wh10h has already been referred to, a balance of 660 miles of new lines to be constructed wholly through the Northern Territory, and 471 miles of line to be converted from narrow to standard gauge -as being properly chargeable to the scheme, in conjunction with the settlement of that portion of the Northern Territory

nearest to Port Darwm.

7. As against this proposal! the if carried_ out, would involve the construction of 1,063 miles of railway from Oodnadatta to Pme m additiOn to conversiOn from narrow to standard gauge of the existing lines, Port to (419 miles) and Port Darwm to Pine Creek (146 miles), and in the event of the latter scheme being

earned out the :vould stand,. when completed, practically by itself, without any other communication than that from south to n?rth, extremely Improbable that any of the States concerned would construct western lines for t he purpose , of connectmg With t hiS route, the great bulk of the country being such as not to offer very great promise of development. 8. In the case of the line as suggested, the advantage would be obtained of havincr two additional cmmexions with Sydney, viz_., via Bourke a?d via Broken Hi.ll, to be used according to the points at which "mails and passenger traffic might

be landed, Port Darwm or Perth, and m Queensland several connexions would be obtained with the most important ports of that State. 9. The following is a comparative table of distances to the principal cities of the eastern seaboard from Port Darwin via Oodnadatta, as per agreement, and from Port Darwin, via Camooweal, as now suggested :-

From- To- Route. Miles.

Port Darwin .. 00 Adelaide 00 0 0 Old scheme 00 .. 1,896

do. .. 0 0 do. 00 00 New proposal .. 2,172

do. 00 .. Melbourne .. .. Old scheme .. .. 2,379

do. .. 0 0 do. .. 0 0 New proposal .. 2,419

do. .. .. Sydney .. .. Old scheme . . .. 2,961

do. .. 0 0 do. .. .. New proposal .. 2,206

do. 00 00 Brisbane 00 .. Old scheme .. . . 3,686

do. .. .. do. 00 0 0 New proposal .. 2,143

do. 00 0 0 Rockhampton .. Old scheme .. . . 4,082

do. .. .. do. . . .. New proposal . . 1,885

do. .. .. Townsville 00 .. Old scheme .. .. 4,492

do. .. 00 do. .. .. New proposal .. 1 .. 565

To-day the through distance from Brisbane to Adelaide is 1,790 miles. By the proposal submitted this distance would be decreased to 1,379 miles. 10. From the foregoing it will be apparent that the original suggestion will prove to be more costly and less effective than the one now put forward for the development of the Commonwealth and the Northern Territory; and so far as the

material prospects and trading interests of South Australia are concerned, getting into inrmediate touch with Western New South Wales and Queensland, and direct communication with Brisbane,Rockhampton, and Townsville, as well as still getting a. fair share of the Northern Territory trade, is a better outlook t han even the direct line from Port Augusta to P ort Darwin. Obviously, the development of the Northern Territory must be very gradually carried out, and provision having been made

in this new proposal for serving the north-east portion of it, a guide can be obtained as to future requirements, when, no doubt, the question of extending the existing Oodnadatta line to serve a portion of the land on the southern boundary of the Territory could be considered. Herewith are submitted maps showing the location of the proposed line--

(a ) With regard to the river systems, showing that the suggested route has the merit of being better watered. (b) With regard to the geological formation, indicating that the suggested route runs through the centre of the artesian area. (c) With regard to the altitudes of the ranges, showing that the suggest ed route avoids the higher levels, and

therefore co uld be constructed with better gradients. ll. Presumably one. of the most important features in connexion with this line will be concentration and transport of t roops," and it is that unless com1exion is and from large .centres of population the line will fail to be of

any strategic value, fa r as the of malls 1s concerned, the line as proposed seems to be the re-asonable

one in· which acceleratiOn m1ght be accomplished. As already stated, 1t may be regarded as absolutely unlikely that the States of New South Wales and Queensland, or that the State of South Australia, would attempt to cons truct lines from the t ermini of the present railway systems of the two first-mentioned States to any point junctioning with the proposal from Oodnadatta to Port Darwin.

607. By Mr. Combes.- Has an estimatE) of cost been made of the connexion between Bourke and the Queensland border It will not be long before we extend from Bourke to the Queensland border, and I think it probable Queens_land will extend. from _Cunnamulla to border. certainly will be one of the lines which wlll be bmlt when money IS avail able, and the pohcy can be earned out.

608. Is the Bourke to Nyngau section payable the section out to Brewarrina it is not

very far ofi payable. Brewarrina, of course, robbed the Bourke trade, as also the Queensland extension down to Cunnamulla. The extension to Walgett also diverted some of it. 609 . What is the estimate per mile of the line from Broken Hill to Condobolin ?- I cannot tell yo:U from memory.

610 . By the Chairman.-In the preparation of your. statement, you looked at the railway from an Australian stand-point ?-Absolutely. I have read With a great deal of mterest the correspondence and official report dealing with the proposal with a north to south direct line across the continent ; but none of t he eastern States would think of extending out for the purpose that line. The

north-south transcontinental from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta would remam an lSolated hne as far as t he east ern States are concerned. 611. You lay great stress on the connexion with. the eastern States Its. value must

be apparent. Supposing that the territ?ry through wh1ch the line became very productive of stock, there must of necessity be connex10n With the eastern part of the contment. I may mentwn that we carry over 560,000 tons of stock in the year- over 7,000,000 sheen. B 2


612. By Mr. Oombes.- At the present price of stock, how far would you say trucking would ba profitable ?- That depends upon the rates fixed. Our rates are fixed on a sliding scale, which when you get from 250 to 500 miles out diminishes to about 3d. per truck per mile for each additional mile. 613. By the Chairman.-Have you any knowledge as to how stock retain their condition when trucked over long distances ?- A series of experiments were carried out some time back by the Riverstone Meat Company as to the effect of travelling upon sheep which had been unwatered before entering the trucks, and the experience was that sheep lost only 1i lbs. in weight.

614. Over what distance ?- Up to 400 miles. 615. By Mr. Combes.- Do you think there is a possibility of this line being built from Wentworth to Broken Hill ?-I do not thipk so. Our Government has practically concluded an agreement with the Government of Victoria, under which the latter is to extend its line to not less than 40 miles from Wentworth, running north, and the same distance from Euston running north. The agreement specifies not less than 40 miles, and that probably will be also the maximum, otherwise the line ·would come into competition with the line from Condobolin to Broken Hill.

616. By Mr. Lindsay.- You do not want any competition with that ?-We would not consent to the construction if there were to be competition. To have two lines serving one district would be absolute loss. 617. By the Chai1·man.- Would you expect stock from the Northern Territory to be trucked to the eastern parts of Australia rather than to Port Augusta?-Yes, but much would depend upon where the markets were. ·

, 618. Do you think stock would be sent from the Northern Territory to eastern ports for shipment oversea ?- That would depend upon the operations of those buying the stock. 619. By Mr. Lindsay.- Is not the distance from the Northern Territory to the eastern ports of Queensland greater than to the ports of the Territory itself ?- From some parts of the Territory, yes. It is nearly twice the distance to the northern ports.

620- 21. Are you aware that the co·ntract with South Australia absolutely binds the Commonwealth to construct the direct line from north to south are looking at it from a railway point of view only. 622. By M1·. Combes. - Would the system you suggest b e used for trucking starving stock in times of drought ?- Undoubtedly.

623. By Mr. Lindsay.-In suggesting these eastern connexions, you are not looking at the develop­ ment of the Territory as the prime reason for building railways ?- No. 624. Do you not think that is a most important consideration in developing a country ?-I think the most important consideration is to establish communication with the western coast of Australia by the trans-Australian line, which is now in course of construction, and with the northern coast by a line which will give connexion with the large centres of population in the east of the Commonwealth, both for mails and for defence. . 625. You consider the Darwin to Sydney connexion as a mail route as well as that from Fremantle

to Sydney ?- Yes. 626. How would the distances compare ?- The former would be considerably less. Of course, the mails coming from Fremantle would be carried via Broken Hill and Condobolin to Sydney. It would be an advantage to have an alternative route from Port Darwin.

Your Commissioners are 1nuch impressed by the natural advantages of this suggested connexion easterly, and think it should be made, but they find no justification for the view that it should stand alone. The evidence goes to show that the Barkly Tableland, while probably the best, is riot the only area within the Territory capable of development, and a line traversing this district alone would be of no service to the

Victoria River country, which at present c.arries by far the largest number of stock, or again to the very extensive districts lying in the, south and the centre. The contention that if the north-south line were built the Territory must remain isolated from the whole ot the eastern seaboard (pars. 2, 3, 7 and 11 and Q. 610) can only rest

on the assumption that the connexion with Ca.mooweal would never be made, an assumption which is not compatible with any general view of the transport necessities of the country. Viewed as a trunk connexion with the south, the scheme promulgated by Mr. Harper is open to the objection that, of the 1,652 miles of new line directly required to be built, the Commonwealth would be dependent upon New South Wales for the building of 220 miles, and upon Queensland 772 miles, to give the through connexion with Darwin. Although Queensland has obtained parliamentary sanction for the western line fron1 Tobermory to Camooweal as part of a great railway scheme, 620 miles of other lines have to be pushed out to the point of intersection before the main line can be started. (Map No. 5, also Qs. 804-5, Pagan). Thus a total of 2,272 miles

would have to be laid down before the scheme would be complete. The scheme is further complicated by the different gauges, that of Queensland being 3-ft. 6-in. and New South Wales 4-±t. 8i-jn. Mr. Harper contemplates a 4-±t. 8i-in. line right through, but obviously this would involve, as between the Commonwealth al1ld the States concerned, arrangements the nature and outcome of which are at present merely conjectural. The difficulties entailed by the break of gauge are recognisEd by Mr. Pagan. (Qs. 802, 821 to 826-30).


It may be pointed out also that the Queensland western line will pass over country subject to inundation, thus rendering it liable to interruption for a week or more at a time. (Q. 732). While this is no great objection to the route considered as alternative it is a weakness in a main trunk connexion.

The straight line from Camooweal to Pine Creek, as indicated generally by Mr. (Map No. 4), would not be practicable or desirable having regard to the features of the country; an easie1 · and more serviceable connexion would be

from Camooweal to, say, Renner Springs. Assuming this to be finally adopted, the 500 miles between Darwin and Renner Springs W01.1ld be common to the south -eastern and the nortn-south routes. In your Commissioners' views, therefore, lines north and south and to the east · are in no way .but both are necessary to the development of Australia.

· Mr. Pagan agrees with this v1ew. (Q. 793.)


34. Thirty witnesses advocated this route, and of these twenty favoured also a branch to Camooweal. The arguments in favour of this as the route of the main trunk line may be summarized briefly as under :- -

The length of line required to connect the present dead ends at Pine Creek and Oodn?'datta is 1,070 miles as near as possible through the centre of the Territory enabhng branch hnes to be thrown out east and west. It is the most direct line between the natural deep-sea harbors of Port Darwin

on the north coast, and Port Augusta on the south coast. !The terminal ports, as also the entire length of line, being under the sole control of the Con1monwealth, construction may be carried out when considered desirable without reference to any State authority.

As construction could proceed from both ends it could be constructed in the shortest time-a consideration of great importance alike from the stand-point of defence and development. Taking a strip of country for 200 miles on each side, the line could facilitate the occupation of 440,000 square 1niles or 281,000,000 acres, and while from the information available it is in1possible to say what proportion of this vast area is capable of profitablE' pastoral and mining development, there is sufficient to indicate that it must be very large. (See Map No. 6).

, Apparently there are no engineering difficulties. The grade obtainable through the Macdonnell Ranges is easier than that between the Katherine and Port Darwin, viz., 1 in 80 as against 1 in 75 and 1 in 60. " It would be a , cheap line to construct, the principal difficulties being the bridges, w"P.ich must be long and low." (Graham Stewart : Q. 294).

C. - NORTH-SOUTH, WITH DEVIATION EAST. 35. This route, suggested. by l\1:essrs. Ryland (Q.1322) and Day (Qs. 991 - 992), and supported by two witnesses, follows the telegraph line to Newcastle Waters, then runs south-east through the Barkly Tableland, and curves south-west to Alice Springs, for

the purpose of bringing the whole of the Barldy Tableland district into touch with Darwin. At its furthest east point it would be 112 miles from the telegraph line, and 150 miles from Camooweal. The distance by this route from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta would be 1,200 miles.

The line suggested by Captain (Qs.1303-1304) keeps so far to the that it would pass through country that w1ll be served by the Queensland trunk hne when built ; would leave all the western r egions of the Territory quite out of touch, and would be about 1,300 miles long.

D.-NoRTH- SouTH FROM BRo cK' s CREEK . 36. The direct line from Brock's Creek suggested by Mr. P earce and supported by six witnesses, would be 1,005 miles long to Oodnadatta, thus being theshortest. Keeping nearly 100 m1les. of th.e line at Bitter and Daly vVaters it

bring the Victoria _Rrv:er (see l\1:ap No.4), conta1n1ng 45 ,000 square miles, in direct communication with 1ts natural outlet, Port Darwin. It would also pass within 180 miles of the Tanami gold-field on the west, and enable all dry but reputedly fair to good pastoral country lying to the west of the telegraph hne as far

south as to be develop ed .


22 .

Although no permanent surface waters exist after leaving the Victoria River valley, supplies can be had by sinking. No expert examination of the country between Brock's Creek or Pine Creek to Willeroo on the route proposed has been made.

E.-NORTH-SOUTH, WITH DEVIATION WEST. 37. As Parliament has lately sanctioned the extension of the line from Pine Creek to the Katherine, the westerly deviation would require to be considered as starting from the latter place.

Your Commissioners suggest the consideration of a westerly swing from Katherine via Willeroo to Renner Springs. The exact route can only be determined after an expert examination of the country. This deviation would have the merit of serving the Victoria River country, thus Qbviating the necessity for a branch line. It probably would gather more traffic than the eastern swing, via Bitter Springs, while being practically

of the same length. (Map No. 4.) The important question to be decided in selecting the route from Katherine southerly is which will serve most country capable of development and producing highest railway revenue. · . ·

F.-PELLEw's IsLANDS TO BARKLY TABLELAND. 38. Of the 52 witnesses examined, thirteen suggested railway connexion with a harbor to be made near the mouth of the McArthur River. The McArthur River is so situated as to be the natural outlet for the Barkly Tableland as far east as Camooweal, and as far west as the telegraph line, an area of about 45,000 square miles (28,800,000 acres). A further area of about 25,000 square miles (16,000,000 acres) of coastal country, much of which is of good pastoral quality, would also be served.

The distance from the Pellew off the mouth of the McArthur . River, to the edge of the Twbleland, is about 180 miles, and providing that closer examination discloses that the Pellew Harbor can be rendered accessible to large deep-sea ships, this line would bring the 1nost promising pastoral area of the Territory into close touch with the sea-board, an advantage of situation which should make possible the highest degree of development of which this . particular section of country may be capable.

While the short section of the line from the harbor to Oarrington:s Crossing will be relatively costly, from the latter point to the Tableland an easy grade is obtai nable with no constructional difficulties. All the,evidence taken respecting this line is entirely in its favour. We

quote from the views of two witnesses i:n . particular. Dr. Jensen stated:­ Personally, I favour the direct line along the telegraph route or thereabouts; but I think that, simultaneously with the construction of that line, it is imperative that a developmental line connecting the Barkly Tableland and the Pellew Islands port should be pro.ceedeq with.

The Barkly Tableland would carry a large population, having soil, plentiful supplies of underground water and a good climate. The leases there should be subdivided into small areas, say, 50 or 100 square miles each. The tablelands and Borroloola districts are quite capable of carrying a population of 10,000 people if supplied with a railway and port. (Q. 1387).

Mr. Cotton, in his evidence, stated :-What I can see of Borroloola and the river and the facilities for making a port, I think if there were a railway from Borroloola to Camooweal, it would be desirable. With such a railway I think Borroloola in a few years time will be an important place. (Q. 1906).

It could be worked in much smaller areas than at present. The Barkly Tableland at present is not a poor man's country, and I do not think it will be for many years to come, not until such time as proper means of communication is provided, including a railway and the opening up of a port. (Q. 1907). I have only been along the main route from Camooweal to Borroloola. But from Camooweal, coming 350 miles towards Borroloola, one could not wish to pass through finer country, country that is capable of good development. (Q. 1924).

The justification of this line rests on three assumptions-( a) That the harbor will accommodate ships of large tonnage. The staple industries likely to be developed are all such as will be dependent mainly upon oversea export, and unless the type of vessel engaged

in this trade can berth without difficulty the port will be handicapped. (b) That the Barkly Tableland can be profitably utilized for sheep holdings. of reasonable size as well as for cattle stations. - (c) That fre ezing works are established.


Pellew Island_s Harbor would also serve the Roper District, being 110 miles from the mouth of the river, down which suitable rive! craft could take produce. Cattle could be overlanded to Borroloola or some spot on the line. ·

G.-NEWCASTLE WATERS To WAvE HILL. . witnesses their views as to the best means of serving the Victoria

Four these we!e more or personally interested in that

and Its trade with DarWin, and whilst they adlll).tted that other possible ports,

VI_z., W;:ndham and Bay, were nearer than Darwin, expressed the opinion that, With railway con?exion and freezing works, the latter port would secure the trade. The other five witnesses, who may be classed as disinterested all favoured a branch· f!om the mai11 trunk line at. Newcastle Waters westerly to the Victoria River

District, and two of them favoured its extension ultimately to some point on the west coast of Western Australia. Mr. T. C. Cusack, ex-Inanager of Victoria River Downs Station, in evidence stated:-

.With a view of reaching a sea-port on the West Australian coast, say at Wyndham, would you suggest any hne across that way ?- I do not think so-not at present. (Q. 1669). Do you regard Darwin as the best port for the Victoria River ?- Yes, with a railway through. For travelling stock "\Vyndham is the best port. (Q. 1673).

Mr. H. Seale, manager of Wave Hill Station, after indicating the position of the main trunk line, north-south, was asked :-. Would you suggest any line to tap other country of which you have knowledge ?- Yes, down on to the Sturt on the West Austrahan border. That would tap the Wes t Australian country, and bring

that country into touch with the port of Darwin. (Q. 1813.) Do you think Port Darwin is the best port for shipment for that country ?- Yes, providing we have a railway. (Q. 1822). But providing you had a railway .to Wyndham ?- Wyndham would be better, it is 200 miles nearer. (Q. 1831).

Mr. Wm. Lawrie, grazier, residing at Darwin, after indicating what he regarded as the best main trunk line route, was asked-What about the Victoria River country ?- That is good country, but the main trunk line I have suggested would run within 300 miles of Wave Hill, that was not too far to travel stock. If freezing works

were established at Darwin and a railway constructed to Victoria River, all the cattle from there would come to Darwin. Cattle from the Victoria River were now being shipped from Wyndham to Manila alive (Q. 1092-1105). '

Mr. Gordon Buchanan, owner of Gordon Do·wns, situated at the head of Sturt's Creek, near the source of the Victoria River, suggested the connexion from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek with a deviation east of the telegraph line to serve the Barkly Tableland, or possibly a deviation west of the telegraph line to serve a lot of good sheep land. In

the event of the latter route being adopted, then some provision would have to be made for the Barkly Tableland, possibly by an outlet at the mouth of the McArthur River. His present shipping port is Wyndham, 280 miles distant, and his only markets 2 000 miles by sea from In the event of the south-north bne being

along the telegraph 1!-earest point on that line to his. statio.n would

be 300 . Iniles. A port on the VIctoria River would be the nearest to his statwn, and '\Vyndham would be nearer than Darwin.. He had not been through country to Wyndham but knew it pretty ro:ugh 1n places. In the event of works. at

Darwin he would very hkely send his stock there. It would be a questwn of pnce. Instead of constructing a railway line . from the Vict?ria River port to tap the Victoria River country he thought a branch hne from on the route about

Katherine would be better. If the western deVIatiOn of the trunk line were made this branch would not be necessary. (Qs. 741-774). One witness, Mr. L. A. Wells (Q. 220), suggested a branch line from t he vicinity of Newcastle Waters . to the westward, keeping south of the creeks and rivers forming

the Victoria River watershed and ext ending Sturt's Cr ee k t o the West border, with the view of an ultimate ext ension to Broome on the west keeping south of the·Fitzroy River. Mr. W. H. Fatlock, wh en asked what branch hne he would suggest, answered- . .

I would like eventually to see lines t aken to east as to t he :vest, m the latter case pass mg through to connect with the present Marble Bar ra1_lway hne Po:·t M1dland: (Q: 917) . .

Mr. T. E. Day, chief surveyor, DarWin, after Indi cating t he directiOn of t he main trunk line, suggested a branch line from about Newcastle Wat ers westerly t o tap t he head of the Victoria River country. (Q. 992). . . .

Mr. Nicholas Waters, Inspector of Police, Darwin, favoured a branch hn fr om Newcastle Waters out to the Victoria River to the west. (Qs. 1066, 1074).

1:2 _ o n_ Pv u

24 •

. . Barclay proposed to serve the Victoria River country by a line from

Newcastle Waters to the vicinity of Illawarra station, a distance of about 120 miles. (Q. 1307). Your Commissioners have given very careful consideration to all these proposals, but particularly to the proposed connexion westerly from Newcastle Waters to serve the Victoria River country.

A line projected in that direction, connected ultimately with a suitable port on · the west coast of Australia, and extended easterly to connect with the Queensland system, may have a prospective value, viewed from a continental stand-point. But as a line for the development of the Victoria River country, it is not regarded as suitable for the following reasons :-

(1) Port Darwin, situated on the direct oversea route, is regarded as the most desirable outlet for the Victoria River District. (2) The suggested line running easterly from the Victoria River District to Newcastle Waters, thence northerly to Port Darwin, would not

give the most direct route to that port. (3) A connexion by rail to Broome to serve the Victoria River is objectionable owing to its great length, and also that it would lie for 450 miles of that length within the State of Western Austra.lia. · (4) The suggested connexion to Wyndham needs investigation as to route,

there being no sworn evidence before your Commissioners of tl: e physical features of the country approaching Wyndham, but it is said to be broken. There is evidence, however, by master mariners that the harbor of Wyndham is dependent on tides, and therefore not naturally adapted for deep-sea shipping. (Mugg, Qs. 1793-4-5. Edwards, Q. 872). (5) The prospects of a deep-sea harbor at Blunder Bay are nota tall promising,

according to the evidence of Captains Edwards and Mugg (Q. 863-4, Q. 1755-65), but assuming that a harbor for moderate sized vessels to be practical, the country approaching such harbor is said to be very rough and inaccessible, even for driving cattle. (Papers: External Affairs 11/13146.) In order that a comparison may be made of the lengths of various routes suggested for serving the Victoria River District the following table has been prepared, showir g

the distances from Wave Hill, the largest station on the southern end , of the district, and therefore the most favorable to Pellew Islands and the most unfavoraple to Darwin:-Miles.

Wave Hill to Blunder Bay , 184

· Wave Hill to Wyndham 300

Wave Hill via Katherine to Darwin 430

Wave Hill via Newcastle Waters to Pellew Islands 510 'V ave Hill to Broome .-. 580

Wave Hill via Newcastle Waters to Darwin 620

The distances given are by scale from point to point on existing maps.


40. Your Commissioners recommend :­ RAILWAYS.

(1) That the main trunk line be continued from the Katherine River to Oodnadatta, via Renner and Alice Springs, as nearly direct as is consistent with the best engineering and revenue producing considerations, and that the construction be commenced from both ends.

Length of line (about) 1,020 miles. _

(2) That the Victoria River District should. be served by railway connexion with Darwin as its natural and most convenient port. Preferably the connexion . should be made by a westerly swing of the trunk line south-westerly from the Katherine, passing near Willeroo,

thence to the telegraph line at about Renner .

Should this westerly swing after examination be found ImpractiCable, a branch line from or near the Katherine is recommended to serve the Victoria River District.


(3) That the P ellew Islands be connected with the Barkiy Tablelands by a line up the McArthur Valley to say Anthony's Lagoon, ultimately junctioning with the Camooweal line. Length of line (about) 230 miles. Your Commissioners consider that the two railways mentioned will enable the N ?rthe:n Territory to be occupied and developed, ard give the most direct connexion With the southern states.

When Queensland extends a railway to Gamooweal and begins the construction of the Great Western trunk line, a branch line from the main trunk line to the Queensland border will be a necessity to give the important direct connexion of Darwin. with the Eastern States.


41. (1) That complete surveys of the harbor site at Pellew Islands, and the railway connexion with the mainland, enabling estimates of costs to be prepared, should at once be undertaken. (2) That surveys be made of the Victoria River, East Alligator and Roper

Rivers, and that the channels and entrances to these rivers and the McArthur River be improved and n1arked by buoys and beacons.


42. Your Commissioners cannot recommend that any land be reserved in the neighbourhood of Bitter Springs for the purpose of an inland city reserve. The course of and junction of railways, and trade routes will fix a position best sUited for the purposes of an administrative centre when needed.


43. Your Commissioners consider the question of railway gauge is an impcrtant one. The railways to be built, although primarily developmental, must also be considered in relation to the other States of Australia.

Fremantle being as near Colon1bo as is D_ arwin, it is not considered probable that the 1nails from Europe would be diverted via Darwjn. A 3-ft. 6-in.line would give an unbroken connexion with all the ports of Queensland and to the border· of New South Wales, as well as to Port Augusta .

. The Queensland Government, by adopting a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, has built 4,524 miles of railway, probably a greater mileage than would have been financially possible with a wider gauge. The narrow gauge is found quite satisfactory for the transport of stock. Mr. Pagan, in evidence, said:-

" We carry stock better than any of the other States, and as fast, if not faster." (Q. 824.) It is known that the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line fron Broken Hill to Port Pirie carries very heavy traffic.

The State of Western Australia has been developed by a narrow-gauge railway, the total mileage being 2,854. In. the construction of the lines proposed by a majority of your Commissioners, 1,250 miles in length, a saving of probably £2,500,000 may be effected by adopting

a 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. Mr. Combes estimates £6,000 per mile for the broad gauge. On the other hand Mr. Pagan (Q. 806), stated that the line from Tobermory to Camooweal ought to be built for £4,000 .per . . "

Mr. Franms, Superintendent of the Northern Territory Railways, says :- From Katherine to Daly Waters we would call it about £3 ,000 per mile country in the south. " (Q. 1016.) . . . . ,.,

The cost of building 1,250 miles at £6 ,000 per mile would be £1 ,500 ,000. · The cost of building 1,250 miles at £4,000 per mile would be £5, 000 ,000. If any other gauge be adopted ther e will b.e a Queenslar:.d b?rder

and another on the New South vVales border, while t he ex1 stlng hnes from Darwin to Pine Creek, 146 miles, and from Port August a to Oodnadatta, 479 miles, ''rill have to be altered, entailing additional heavy expense .

D. J. GILBERT, Secretary . Melbourne) 20th F ebruary, 1914.

FRAN K CLARKE, Chairman. DAVID LINDSAY, Co m1n i. sioncr.

70 1



I dissent from the views of Commissioners Clarke and Lindsay, as expressed in tbe foregoing Report, to the extent of considering it advisable to submit a complete and separate Report as under:-1. The Territory was transferred from the control of South Australia to the Commonwealth on the 1st January, 1911.

At the end of March, 1913, a Royal Commission of three members, of which the writer was the third member, was appointed to "Inquire into and Report upon the following matters in their relation to the Development of the Northern Territory:-The routes of the necessary railways ;

The classes of such railways; The desirableness and practicability of creating new ports; The desirableness of setting apart an area for the eventual creation of a new capital."

2. The Commission took evidence relating to the Territory in Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane. Arriving at Darwin on the 21st May, evidence was taken there and at Pme Creek, and an inspection made of the mining :fields to the south and east of Pine Creek. On the 28th June, the Commission left Darwin by steamer for the Roper River, calling on the way at the Alligator River and Port Essington. From Leichhardt's Har on the Roper River, the Commission travelled overland to Bitter Springs, Katherine, and Pine Creek, again leaving Darwin by steamer on the 8th August, for the Pellew Islands, and Borroloola on the McArthur River .

. From Borroloola the ·commission travelled up the valley of the McArthur River to the edge of the Barkly Tableland, and by way of Bauhinia, O.T., Tanumbirini, and Nutwood Downs to Daly ·waters, thence along the overland ·. telegraph line, arriving at Katherine on the 30th Octo where instructions were received to immediately : return south and prepare a report. The writer caught the :first steamer and reached Melbourne o:q. the 27th ,November, 1913. ·

3. Although as regards the of the country and its suitability for

development, there is a vast amount of valuable information to be obtained from the evidence given before the Commission, and from and reports of previous investigations, the writer is conscious that from an point of view much

remams to be seen, and that, before a comprehensive report on the northern portion of the Territory can be written, a great amount of engineering inspection and survey work is necessary. Consequently, while the writer submits, with some diffidence, his views and recommendations, hereafter given, as regards details of location, he is satisfied that in the main there is sufficient information available to determine within certain limits the routes of railways necessary to develop the northern portion of the Territory.

4. The Territory occupies the centml northern portion of the continent, and is bounded on the east by Queensland for a distance of 650 mjles, on the south by South Australia for 560 miles, and on the west by Western Australia for 770 The coast line on the north has a frontage to the Timor and Arafura Seas and the Gulf of Carpentaria, estimated to be 1,240 miles long.

The extreme length from north to south is about 1,030 miles, and the width from east to west is 600 miles. The area of the Northern Territory is 523,620 square miles, which is more than one-sixth of the Commonwealth, or nearly six times as large as the State of Victorit or one-third greater than New South Wales and Victoria combined. .

Of the above area, less than 150,000 square miles, or 28 per cent., is


The population of the Territory is approximately as under :-White .. 1,930

Coloured (exclusive of Aborigines) . . . . 1,530

In June, 1913, the Protector estimated the number of aborigines at from twenty to twenty-five thousand. The number of stock 1s estimated to be-



Horses Cattle Sheep tb.e year 1912, cattle to the number of 45,529

18,382 443,444 75,808 were exported from the·

5. general id.ea of the elevatio'!ls and contour of the country can be obtained from. the he1ghts (aJ?proXImate of pomts along the overla:nd telegraph line, which, startmg from Darwm, runs a httle east of south through the centre of the Territory to Oodnadatta in South Australia.

Darwin Pine Creek Katherine Bitter Springs Daly Waters

Tennant's Creek Barrow Creek Gap in Macdonnell-Ranges north of Alice Springs .. thence falling to Oodnadatta and Port Augusta.

Distances. Miles.

145 200 270 380 620



H eight above sea-level. F eet.

675 600 500 800 1,320 1,720


6. About 30 miles south of Daly Waters, the divide separating the waters flowing north to the coast and south to Lake Woods is crossed. From this point on the telegraph line, the divide between the coastal and inland waters runs a little south of east to Collabirrian at the head of the McArthur River, and thence south-east to the head of

the Gregory River, 50 miles north of Camooweal. To the west of the telegraph lire the divide runs south-west, passing about fifteen miles south of Mucka station, on the head waters of the Victoria River, and thence a little north of west to the Western Australian border, about 20 miles north of the 18th parallel of latitude.

7. To simplify dealing with the classification of the country and the railway routes necessary for the development, the writer thinks it advisable for the purposes of this Report to divide the northern portion of the Territory into four districts, as under :-(1) Barkly Tableland;

(2) River District ;

(3) Central District _ (from Pine Creek along overland telegraph route to Powell's Creek) ; (4) Coastal Districts. Before considering the above districts in detail, it will be expedient to deal with harbors and rivers, and to glance at the different railway scheme.s that have been proposed to open up and develop the Territory.


8. Darwin is a good harbor, but not quite the wonderful place it is often represented to be. . .

Lieutenant H. N. M. Hardy, of the Royal Navy, gave ev1dence before the Commission as under-878. I understand you have so me information to place before the Commiss ion ?- The question of establishing a naval base near here is at present under consideration, and I am engaged in examining Bynoe Harbor with that idea. My examination leads me to regard Bynoe H arbor as an infinitely better one than Port Darwin from a sailor's point of view. There is no poss ibl e comparison between t he two.

879. What are the advantages of Bynoe Harbor as co mpared with Darwin ?- In the place that 1 am suggesting for buildings, the tide I have been there has never bee n more than one lrnot. Here, at the pier, it is three knots, and sometimes more. The n se fall at spnngs IS 16 feet 2 mches. The harbor is very much more sheltered . You get far less sea mto It than you do here.

Bynoe Harbor is about 20 miles south-west of Darwin.



Speaking _ of th,e depth of water at the Darwin pier, Mr. H. V. Francis, 3uperintendent of stated, in __

It is shown in t he original drawings as 24 feet 6 inches to 28 feet alongside the jetty, but it must be silting fa st , as the Empire was touching ground, according to the captain last' ye ar, when drawing 21 fe et forward, and it is possible that dredging will be required before many years. is an L shaped pier at Darwin. Railway trucks cannot be direct alongside

ships, but have to be taken over a Inan-handled turntable at the elbow in the L. Mr. Francis stated-The turntable is a drawback . . · . but we can put 20 ·tons an hour over it. 9. In the event of the railway system being so laid out as to make Darwin the port of the Territory, heavy expenditure will be necessary in altering the railway

line from near the station to the water's edge, and in building a bTidge fron1 the shore to connect with the existing pier where the ships now lie. This would allow trucks to be run alongside the ship's side and enable cargo ·to be handled more expeditiously than at the rate of 20 tons per hour. In any case, the existing jetty should be lengthened sufficiently to allow two ships to berth at once. The writer has not sufficient information to make an estimate of the cost of the above necessary improvements, but the alterations are not likely to cost less than did the existing structuTe, said to be about £80,000.

10. For a ·long time to come Darwin is likely to be -the depot and tTade centre for the north coast, from Cape Wilberforce (entrance to the Gulf of C&rpentaria) to the Daly River on the west, and, unless a deep-sea port is made ·at Bay, the lower reaches of the Victoria River. To the east of Darwin there are a number of rivers, such as the Adelaide, Alligator (2), Liverpool, Goyder, an.d others which some persons think in the near future will carry a considerable agricultural population. All these rivers are navigable for various distances from o tfhe sea by craft drawing from 4 to 10 feet, and if the settlements eventuate as expected, there can be no difficulty in arranging for cheap transport by sea between the rivers and the distributing and export centre at Darwin.

11. The Daly River enters the sea about 70 miles S.S.W. of Darwin. It is about 60 miles up this river that an attempt is being made to form an agricultural settlement. According to Captain H. C. Edwards, who has had experience of the Territory coast since 1884, vessels drawing 11 feet, by taking advantage of the tide, can get just inside the mouth of the river. Beyond this point, the Tiver is only navigable for craft drawing 4 or 5 feet, and could not be improved except at a prohibitive cost. In addition, Captain Edwards stated:-

The river is practically speaking hopeless for even 10 fe et vessels; nothing but small fry can navigate it. The reaches are so wide, and there is nothing but shifting sandbanks, and no definite channe( In the Daly River there is a "bore" or tidal flood, which at times makes navigation by launches 'or small difficult. - ·

12. The entrance to the Victoria· River is about 200 miles south-west of Darwin and near the Western Australian border. This river drains a·n area of country nearly equal to the State of Victoria, and if a haTbor suitable for deep-sea ships;.. could be obtained within the entrance to the river, and a railway route from there inland at a reasonable cost, it would develop a very large area of well-watered and fertile country.

According to Captains Edwards and Mugg, who have been trading to the Vjctoria. River for 25 years, and know n1ore about it anyone the prospect of getting a port and railway, except at an enormous cost, Is not promising. The Queen's Channel leads from the Timor Sea to Blunder Bay at the mouth of the Victoria River, a distance of about 30 miles. For seven 1niles or more this channel has a shifting bottom of sand, and, in recent years, the depth at low water has varied from 6 fe et to 16 feet. Tides rise to 20 fe et and run very strongly. The charts in use are from surveys made early in the last century, and there. may be a better channel, . but it is not known. From Blunder Bay to the Depot, a distance of 90 to 100 miles, the river is only suitable for craft drawing 3 feet 6 inches. On portion of this distance there are a "bore" and bad tide rips.

13. Wyndham is in Western Australia, about70 miles from theNorthern Territory . border, and it is possible that investigation will prove this port to be the best outlet .. for the country at the head of the Victoria River, and on St urt's Creek Before the Con1mission, Captain EdwaTds gave evidenc e as under:-

872. Would you call it a good port ?- Not exactly a good port, but it is suitabl e in this way, that you do not require t o go any length up a river. Ships of 3,00 0 or 4,000 tons berth there now! and load and discharge aground on soft mud at the jetty. There are better facilities at Wyndham yo u would get by going up one or t hese rivers . There is a good channel although you have to work the t1d es .


Captain 1793. Have you been to Wyndham ?- Yes, there is a good harbor there used by some fairly big ships. 1794. Could it be made a good deep-sea port ?- I do not know if you could dredge it as the tide

runs strongly, but a vessel drawing 20 feet or more could go up there. 1795. Without waiting for a tide ?- - No, they always go in and come out on the flood. You could make lots of wharves and jetties there. 1796. It is a better place than the Victoria River ?-Much better, because you can get away there.

There are plenty of roads out, and a good place for holding cattle.

14. Port Essington settlement was aba:n.doned over 60 years ago. The harbor is a fine one, but the back country is poor, and as a commercial port, Essington has no prospects. 15. The Roper River enters the sea on the western shore oi the Gulf of Carpentaria.

The Roper has a very large catchment area, and from a navigation point of view, appears to be the best river in the Territory. In the Gulf, about 6 miles from the mouth of the river, there is a sand and mud bar, perhaps half-a-mile wide, and carrying at low tide about 7 feet of water. The rise and fall of tide is about 7 feet. Once over the bar,

there is deep water for some distance. up the river. In 1872, steamers drawing 14 loaded with material for the overland telegraph line, were ta;ken up to near the junction with the Wilton River, a distance of 75 to 80 miles, but the writer understands that the river was in flood at the time and that the stea1ners had tugs to assist. The remains

of one of these steamers are still to be seen in the river about 50 miles from the mouth. At the time of the writer's visit in July, 1913, in the Government steamer Stuart, drawing 9 feet, . it was found advisable to stop about 25 miles from the mouth and take the passengers and cargo the remaining 55 miles to Leichhardt's Bar by means of launch

and punts. A few weeks previous to this trip, a small steamer drawing about 8 feet had to lighter cargo it was _found possible to get past the reach that stopped the Stuart. Without expenditure, it cannot be said that the Roper River is navigable to

the Wilton (75 or 80 miles) for vessels drawing more than 7 feet. A suitably built steamer of this draft should be sufficient for Roper River trade requirements for a long time to come. 16. The tide in the Roper River reaches to Leichhardt's Bar about 80 or 85 miles

from the mouth. At the Bar, the river has a fall of 10 or 12 feet in a few chains, and, except for a canoe, is impracticable for navigation beyond this point. It has been suggested that it might be possible to pl'ovide locks in the river, and so make it navigable for steamers as far as Bitter Springs, about 100 miles by an air line above Leichhardt's

Bar. No more absurd scheme has ever been proposed. Between the above points, the Roper River has a rise of nearly 500 feet, and for five months in the year is merely a succession of water-holes with stretches of dry, or nearly dry, channel having a steep fall between the lagoons.

17. The McArthur River has a mud or sand bar at the entrance with a depth of about 4 feet at low water. The rise and fall of tide is very uncertain, the maximum being about 7 feet. The McArthur _River is regarded as navigable for vessels drawing 8 or 9 feet as far as Carrington's Landing, 10 miles from the mouth, and for the remaining

40 miles to Borroloola for craft drawing 4 or 5 feet. It is said that an expenditure of from £1,500 to· £2,000 in clearing away rock bars between Carrington's and Borroloola would make the river practicable for vessels drawing 6 feet. Beyond this, except at a prohibitive cost, it does not appear possible to do anything with the McArthur River in the way of making it navigable.

18. Carrington's Landing on the McArthur River is, by sea, about 760 miles from Darwin, and Leichhardt's Bar on the Roper River about 750 miles. Darwi . is merely an import depot and port for these districts. It is to? far out of

the way, and is not the natural outlet or Inlet for the McArthur and Roper RivEr valleys. In the event of a deep-sea harbor being made at the Pellew Islands, RopEr Valley trade would be well served, as it is only ·115 miles from the mouth of that river to the proposed harbor. In any case, with the development of the Gulf it

seems imperative that in the near future .some port for must

be established on the Gulf of Carpentana to provide a transh1ppm.g depot for the shallow-draught steamers capable of navigating the rivers and inlets along the Gulf coast line.



DEEP-SEA HARBOR TO SERVE GULF COUNTRY. . 19. A deep sea harbor in the Gulf of Carpentaria, in either Queensland or Territory waters, would provide an outlet for the immense area of fertile and well-watered country in North and Central Austr:alia. As regards the Queensland portion of the Gulf, the prospect of obtaining a harbor at a reasonable cost is not encouraging. In giving evidence before the Commission, Mr. W. Pagan, Deputy Commissioner for Queensland Railways (formerly Chief Engineer) stated as under :- ·

814. Has Queensland ever considered the possibility of building a deep-water port in the Gulf - of Carpentaria ?- The present Premier has been, and still is, very desirous of developing a port there. 815. Any particular place ?- There have been examinations made, but, unfortunately the shores of the Gulf are very shallow. In some places you would have to go 10 miles out to get five fathoms of water. It is rather unfortunate that there are no tides worth mentioning in the Gulf. There is only a tide once a day and sometimes none at all fo"r three or four days together. Consequently you cannot count on the assistance of the tide at all in entering the port.

816. Some places are better than others ?- Normanton, Burketown, Point Parker, another place to the south of Mornington Island, these are some which have been examined. There is also deep water a little further on than Mornington Island, but it would have to be reached by a viaduct about three miles long, and that would be costly, and there might also be want of shelter from the north-west monsoons.

817. Has anything been · definitely settled yet ?-Not yet. 818. Still under investigation ?-Yes, the Premier and myself went down to the mouth of the Norman River about three weeks ago. There is a splendid water inside the Norman, arid ·there has been a passage dredged out for two miles to 12 feet deep, but that, of course, is no use except for small vessels.

819. No use for deep-sea trade ?-No; there is splendid deep water up to 30 feet, one mile long and three-quarters of a mile wide, inside the Norman River, but the trouble is to reach it. There have been also proposals to shelter under Bentinct Island. There is a deep water roadstead there, and plenty of good shelter, but the difficulty is that all the products from the Gulf country would have to be lightered, or taken in small steamers.

820. Any deep-sea ports in that vicinity would do an extensive trade ?-Yes.

20. In the Territory part of the Gulf, the most promising place £or a harbor, having regard to depth of water, shelter and accessibility for a railway £rom the tablelands is between Centre and North Islands of the Pellew group. Owing to some bungle in the arrangements, the writer was unable to make as detailed an examination o£ the locality, and possible route for a railway to Borrolool;.:t, as he would have liked, but is satisfied that a harbor with a depth of 25 feet, possibly 30 feet at low water, and a tailway route to the mainland are practicable at a reasonable cost.

In connexion with this proposed harbor, evidence as uftder was placed before r the Commission :- n

Bv Captain H. V. Barclay, Licensed Surveyor :-126S. Wha.t were your er>pclusiops ?-That there was certainiy an available anchorage. I then proceeded to try whether I could get a line from that anchorage to B?rroloola.

1269. Where is the anchorage ?-The suggested anchorage is bound on the north, east and west by the islands of the Pellew Group, including Craggy Islands, and on the south by the mainland. 1270. Have you any soundings ?-Yes. - . ··


1271. And the chart?-Yes, they are marked on the chart I' produce. On the map produced I have shown the soundings from · the open Gulf to the proposed harbor:' The channel carries· 4 fathoms at low water. At the same time, 6 fathoms could be got quite close. 1272. That is the depth of your proposed harbor ?-No, only of the approach to the anchorage. In the anchorage the soundings run from 4 fathoms close to the shore, to 8, 11, and 12 fathoms. Then there is a area carrying 6 to 8 fathoms, you might say over an area of 25 square miles.

1273. Is that a harbor sheltered from all weathers ?- It is sheltered by Vandelin Island on the east and south-cast, and on the west by Centre Island and North Island, and to the northward by Observation Island and several unnamed small islands. You can anchor within, I think, about If chains from the edge of the ledge in 4 fathoms , having a sand and mud bottom. Immediately outside, within 100 feet, there are 8 fathoms, and half a mile out, 11 fathoms , and 1 mile out, 12 fathoms, and so on. That is in the protected basin.

1274. You regard that as a good safe harbor, with sufficient water and good protection ?-Yes decidedly. If the wind is blowing from south or south-east, there is a reach to enable a choppy sea to get up:

(See Captain l\1ugg's evidence re position of piers, page 31). 1275. How about the wind from the north-west ?-The harbor is completely closed ·against that. 1276. Do you wish to tell us anything more ?- The whole of the indicated harbor is a good holding ground. The Admiralty instructions for navigation state that there are numerous good anchorages to be obtained in that locality.

1277. Will you tell us how you propose to reach the harbor from the land ?-I suggest making a line through the country from Borroloola, following approximately the direction of the McArthur River, running in a northern direct ion from the delta. The line would go down the left-hand side of the river running to the mouth.


127.9. Are there any difficulties to encounter until you get to the coast ?- Not until you get to tht' first crossmg place. I have already told you that there is a river running parallel with the McArthur, and between the two passages occur at intervals. 1280. From the mainland out to your harbor, have you got soundings?- Yes, detailed soundings.

. 1285. Is there a good. foundation for a railway on the delta ?- Yes, it is quite hard except within a ?ham or two of where the saltwater arms cross. I would like to point out to the Commission that the filling m of saltwater arms Batten Creek and the McArthur would greatly improve both channels by confimng the :flood waters mstead of allowing them to run backwards and forwards, which they do now .

. . . 1298. Is there anything else you would like to add ?- There is ample holding ground for cattle in the vimmty of harbor of. south-west and centre islands. They are well watered by springs, particularly south-west Island, on whiCh there are four large running springs, which are said by the aborigines neve1 to have been dry.

By Dr. H. I. Jensen, Government Geologist :-. 1381. What opinion have you formed of the possibility of making a harbor at some of the islands m Group ?-I agree :with Captain Barclay that an excellent harbor, probably the best

obtamable m the Northern Terntory, exists between Centre Island and North Island in the Pellew Group. is deep water right off the shore, sufficient to enable the biggest vessels to make use of that harbor,

lf wharfage were provided. e

1382. And a railway connexion ?-Yes. I saw the whole of Barclay's surveyed line, from Borroloola on to Centre Island. It seems to me that there are no engineering difficulties in the way, but I think the work of construction of the island part of the railway line would be rather costly. There are two shallow straits to be spanned by an embankment, because it might be difficult to get foundations for bridges. Between

Batten Creek and the McArthur there ·are a of shallow connecting passages, chiefly running through a belt about 6 miles wide from the mangrove lined coast. The engineering difficulties commence at the coast line. 1385. On the island there would be fair elevations for settlement ?-The ridges on each of these islands average 300 feet in height, and there is a fine breeze blowing all day in summer, and probably also

in winter. I believe we could get artesian water similar to that at Borroloola on these islands. There are fairly good supplies of surface water, but you cannot rely on that only. By Captain Mugg, H.M.C.S. Stuart :-1574. How long have you been connected with shipping along the coast of the Northern Territory?­

Since 1886, with an intermission of five or six years. 1774. Do you think it possible to get a deep-sea harbor at the Pellew Islands ?-Yes; there is a good harbor between North and Centre Island. There are 4! to 5 fathoms there. 1774A. How would you _propose to get there from the main line ?-By a railway along the west

bank of the McArthur along South-West Island, and across over Centre Island. 1775. Would not the harbor be exposed to the south-east?-You would place your jetties so that they wo.11ld have shelter. For some eighteen months or more a survey of the proposed harbor at the Pellew Islands and of the McArthur River from its mouth to Borroloola has been in hand, but unfortunately the

results are not yet available, and without them no estimate

of cost can be attempted.

RAILWAY ROUTES THAT HAVE BEEN PROPOSED OR SUGGESTED. 21. The writer understands that, as a first instalment of a railway construction scheme to open up and develop the Northern Territory, it is proposed to construct a

main trunk line, fgHowing the existir:.g overland telegraph route from

Oodnadatta to Alice Springs, Tennant's Creek, Newcastle Waters, Katherine and Pine Creek, with a branch line south-east from Newcastle Waters to the Queensland border near Camooweal. In pursuance of that a permanent su!vey ha:s been made, and .the

construction of the section from Pine Creek to Kathenne, a distance of about 54 miles, has been authorized by Parliainent. Also during last year, a so,.called flying survey (by contract) was made from Oodnadatta to Katherine, and from Newcastle Waters to Camooweal. In addition to the above at a later stage, presumably to complete the main

line system for the Territory, from Newcastle Waters west to the. Western

Australian border, and from Anthony s Lagoon on the N ewcastle-Camooweal hne down the McArthur Valley to a proposed harbor at the P ellew Islands, have been mentioned. These proposed railways would be in length about as under :­ Miles.

Oodnadatta to Pine Creek Newcastle Waters to Camooweal Newcastle Waters to Western Australian border Anthony to P ellew I slands


1,070 360 320 230


With other necessary public expenditure for water supply, harbors, roads, telephones, &c., to develop the country, to provide r evenue for the above the t 9

tal capital cost of the scheme would probably be from twelve to fourteen rrulhon pounds.



22. Of the 73 witnesses examined by the Commission, 26 advocated the construction of a railway from Pine Creek to Oodnadatta, along the route of the overland telegraph line, but none of these witnesses was aware that it is practicable to make a deep-sea harbor at the Pellew Islands ; only one of them has had any experience of the location, construction and working of railways, and he had no personal knowledge of the central 700 miles of the telegraph line route. Of the 26 witnesses favouring this route for the railway, seven had no personal knowledge of any of the 1,070 miles between Pine Creek and Oodnadatta; five had seen 55 miles south from Pine Creek, eleven had travelled over portions of the route, varying from 130 miles to 510 miles.

One of the witnesses examined before the Commission had been through the Territory from south to north and east to west. He prefern:d the Camooweal route. Five other witnesses had been through the Territory from south to _ north; of these, three favoured the telegraph line :route, and . .tw-o (who had a much- wider knowledge of the Territory) advocated a line from Pine Creek through the Victoria River country, and thence south east to Alice Springs.

Many other routes to connect Pine Creek and Oodnadatta were placed before the Commission. At Newcastle Waters, 300 miles south of Pine Creek, these routes varied as widely as from Mucka, 200 miles to the west, to Anthony Lagoon, 120 miles to the east.

23. From his long experience and wide _ knowledge of the Territory, considerable must be given to the views of Mr. L. A. Wells, who gave evidence before the

Commission in Adelaide. Mr. Wells recommended:-Fi1·st.-A railway from Camooweal through the Barkly Tableland to Newcastle Waters, and then along the overland telegraph line to Pine Creek. .

Second.-A railway from Newcastle- Waters to the West Australian border, keeping to the south of the head waters of the Victoria River. Third.-The extension of the Oodnadatta railway to the Macdonnell Ranges, and thence North north-easterly to junction with the Camooweal-Newcastle Waters line at Alroy Downs or Anthony Lagoon.

Mr. Wells had not been over the country from Newcastle Waters to Katherine, and when framing his scheme, was not aware that a deep-sea harbor at the Pellew Islands was practicable at a reasonable cost; otherwise, the writer thinks he might have expressed · a different view as regards the northern terminus of the proposed north and south railway.


24. There is a remarkable unanimity of opinion amongst those who have seen the country and are competent to judge, that the Barkly Tableland is the most valuable area of pastoral, and possibly agricultural land in the Northern Territory. According to the map of the South Australian Government Geologist (H. Y. Brown) the Barkly Tableland extends from the Queensland border (near Camooweal) in a north­ westerly direction to within 40 miles of the overland telegraph line at Powell's Creek, a distance of about 300 miles, with an average width of about 100 miles, and contains, roughly, twenty million acres.

The elevation of the tableland is from 600 feet to 1,000 feet above sea level. The rainfall for the twelve years 1901-2 to 1912-13 at Alexandra Station (near the centre of the Barkly Tableland) has been as under :-

ti 'lear. ;:l >. b en i5. a ;:l ::: .-.r. ""' ,..., ....., .-.r. - - - -

1901-2 . . 8 . . . . . . ..

1902-3 . . . . . . . . . . . .

1903- 4 . . 54 . . . . . . . .

190!- 5 . . . 111 179 7 . . . .

1903- 6 . . . . . . 68 . . . .

1906- 7 . . . . 16 . . . . . .

1907- 8 . . . . 4 23 . . ..

1903- 9 . . 312 . . . . . . . .

1909-10 . . 9 10:1: 8 . . 89

1910- 11 . . 52 . . 33 . . . .

1911- 12 . . 202 . . . . 32 . .

1912- 13 . . . . . . 160 14 . .

-- - - - -

Average .. '62 '25 .24 '03 ·o1

. '

-: p p

2 8 s "' :> "' A . ..., 0 <:.l

A z

-- - -

8 / 8 5 184

. . .. 70 157

. . .. 151 1067

. . 119 .. 290

. . 7 30 275

130 45 103 280

. . 120 79 440

2 .. 106 51

.. 50 73 113

.. 102 276 255

100 57 92 140

.. 20 40 47

-- - - - - -- 1'20 •44 '85 2'74

i i '" ;:l ;:l .s "' ....., F; - - - -275 58

198 72

214 1021

63 172

175 149

'902 690

198 510

13 102

294 502

63 55

40 634

417 311

- - --

2'37 3'56

""' - -


1856 99 32 35 ..

125 340 311 137 105 161

-- 2'67

556 2353 2606 973

739 2166 1499 926 1553

973 1402 1170



25. It appears to be proved beyond doubt that sub-artesian water is obtainable over the Barkly Tableland, as already about 70 successful bores have been put down in that region. ,

In his paper on the Geology of the Northern Territory (published under authority of the Departn1ent of External Affairs), Dr. H. I. Jensen, Government Geologist, writes:-The Barkly Tableland which stretches from the McArthur River country south to Lake Nash, eastward to the Queensland border, and westward almost t o Powell's (on the telegraph line) consists almost

entirely of cambrian limestones and quartzites, which are but gently folded, and contain inexhaustible supplies of sub-artesian water.

The fact that the supplies are sub-artesian instead of artesian means considerable expenditure for lifting and storing, but has, to some extent, a compensating advantage, in that water will not be allowed to run to waste, with consequent decreasing flow every year from the bores, as is the c:;tse in Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia.

26. Wben giving evidence before the Commission, Dr. Jensen and Messrs. Guthrie, Cotton and A1nos, supplied much valuable information in support of the scheme for a harbor at the Pellew Islands, and a railway from there up the valley of the McArthur to Anthony Lagoon, and thence through the Barkly Tableland to Camooweal. The

more important points in the evidence are given below. Dr. H. I. Jensen, Government Geologist and Director of Mines, Northern Territory, who has inspected the country that would be traversed by the route :-1370. Is there a metalliferous area on the McArthur River any promise ?- Around the· McArthur

head. station, about 40 miles from Borroloola, there is a large metalliferous limestone area, in which I think several permanent lodes will eventually be discovered. So far only the small lenses of the nature of aggregations have been worked. The ores found in this limestone country are chiefly complex silver-lead zinc ores, which do not pay to work in such a remote region. l believe that when railway communication is

established between the McArthur River and a port in the Pellew Islands, this metalliferous area wm support a great many gougers, and it might then become possible to open the large ore bodies and erect smelting works in the district. The development of. this field would. certainly not pay under existing conditions. Further back at Yah Yah, still in the McArthur River district, there are other copper lodes, out of which a few

tons of excellent copper ore have been taken. But, of course, mining did not pay, for the reasons already given. The Yah Yah country is very to the district between Carlton Hill and Argilla in the

Cloncurry district. 1387. Have you considered the question of railway routes in general ?- For the development of mining, a branch line, such as I have already indicated, would be an important factor in bringing population to the Territory, and settled labour conditions; so as to encourage capital to come here, we · want a transcontinental railway very badly to give us speedy communication with the south. Personally, I favour the direct line from the telegraph route, or thereabouts, but I think that simultaneously with the construct.ion

of that line it is imperative that a developmental line connecting the Barldy Tableland and the Pellew Islands port should be proceeded with. The Barkly Tableland would carry a large population, having excellent soil, plentiful supplies of underground water, and a good climate. The leases there should be subdivided into small areas, say, from 50 to 100 square miles each. The tableland and Borroloola districts are quite

capable of carrying a population of 10,000 people if supplied with a railway and with a port. 1388. Would you propose a connexion to Camooweal to link up with the Queensland lines ?­ Not immediately. I think that for developmental purposes a line from Anthony Lagoon to the Pellew Islands is desirable, and it could be linked up with the continental line somewhere about Tennant's Creek or Powell's Creek. Then there is another line which could later on be co nstructed from Anthony Lagoon to Camooweal, to link up · with the Queensland system.

1391. Do I understand you to favour the construction of the line to the McArthur first ?- Yes, because it would bring a population immediately, and would tap what I consider to be the fin es t pastoral and agricultural country that I have seen in the Northern Territory. Mr. J. F. Guthrie, Chairman of Directors, Avon Downs Pastoral Company:-

544. Have you a personal knowledge of the Northern Territory ?- I have not been there personally, but I have been connected with it for a long while. I an managing director of the Avon Downs Pastoral Company. · 545. How long has your connexion with Avon. Downs extended ?- About 31 years.

546. What area does your company hold ?- 2,100 square miles. ·

547. How many head of cattle does the station carry ?- At the present time we are shearing 58,000 sheep, and carry besides 14,000 head of cattle and 400 horses . 548. Is the place fully stocked ?- It is stocked as fully as we have been able to get it. We have had great difficulties travelling stock about. In December, 1910, we bought 6,000 ewes at lOs. per head

150 rams at Winton, and lost all but 500 on the way out to Avon Downs . We had a smash near Bouhs ; we struck an exceptional heat wave on a dry stage. 549. Would that loss have been averted if there had been a railway in existence ?- Yes. In the t ime of the great drought, in we had and wethers going to which would not have.

been the case if we had had ra1lway commumcat10n w1th t he so uth . The gr at d1fficu lty at Avon D wns is that only about one year in three has it been possible to travel tock over rout s. The of developing the country for sh.eep are enormous. F r sheep you reqmre fencmg, and. 'f of 1t bores, windmills, or pumps, and draftmg and t he . st of haulage pr . ent condi wns J. very_ gr at

We are putting down bores and eqmppmg them w1th 22 fe et Co met nnlls. We have now 12 bores muse. The average cost of these bores is £700 each. f.4581. c



550. What is about the depth ?-About 300 feet on the average. 551. Have you tapped sub-artesian water ·?-:Yes, we have never failed to do so. The water rises from 50 feet to 100 feet in the bore. The supply is unlimited and the water is good. 552. Where do you sell your wool ?- We have paid as much as per ton to get the wool across to Burketown, but now carriage costs us about £10 out and £8 lOs. back. We have got to give loading both ways. We would like to see a port at Borroloola, which, I understand, could be made the best port in the Northern Territory. If you had a port at Borroloola, and the railway to Barkly Tableland, you

wquld tap the whole of the Tableland trade. 554. What is your principal market for fat stock ?-Generally, we have marketed in Adelaide. We generally travel the stock down through the south-west corner of Queensland to Hergott Springs and Farina. We have, as a matter of fact, topped the Adelaide market with fat bullocks and fat wethers, but that was more or less of a fluke. Generally speaking, as I have said, there is only one year in three that

you can get through. 555. What would be the total distance from your station to the railway at the closest trucking place, say, Farina on the South Australian line ?- About 1,200 miles. Some years you could not get stufi through in any kind of condition. Lately we have been sending to the meat ·companies in Queensland, delivering at Cloncurry. We have got 1,700 head of bullocks and now under offer to the meat company for delivery at Cloncurry.

556. The Barkly Tableland is good sheep country, is it not?- Yes, when it is improved. The wool is good. 557. What improvements do you find necessary for sheep ?-You must have fencing and drafting yards, and water and shearing machines, &c. Wehave had shearing machines in use for years.

558. Are the grasses all right ?- As in other parts of Australia, they improve under stocking with sheep. Mr. A. J. Cotton, part owner of Brunette Downs Station, Barkly Tableland, a North Queensland cattle station owner of 30 years' experience :-

1900. What were your impressions of the Northern Territory ?-Speaking of the part I am familiar with, I think it is the finest horse and cattle country I have ever seen. 1901. You were speaking of the Barkly Tableland ?-Yes.

1902. From Camooweal to Borroloola ?-Yes, that is the only part I have passed through. 1903. Have you had opportunities of observing the stock that came off the Barkly Tablelands?-Yes, I have seen no finer horses or cattle in Australia. 1906. Have you formed any opinion as to what would be the routes for railways to develop the Barkly Tableland?-What I can see of Borroloola and the river and the facilities for making a port I think, if there were a railway from Borroloola to Camooweal. it would be desirable. With such a railway I think Borroloola in a few years' time would be an important place.

1907. And what would the efiect be on the tableland country ?-It would be worked in much sm'l.ller areas than at present. The Barkly Tableland at present is not a poor man's country, and I do not think it will be for many years to come, not until such time as proper means of communication is provided, including a railway, and the opening Up of a port. I r ·

1913. How many head of stock have you at Brunette Downs ?-We have about 35,000 head, and -I hope to see the day when it will carry 100,000. 1916. In the event of a railway being constructed, and a demand arisingfor land in the locality, would you, as an interested party in Brunette Downs, be prepared to surrender some of your country to

meet the demand ?-In the event of a railway passing through the country, I think that every pastoralist would be quite prepared to surrender portion of his land. The Northern Territory Land Act should be so framed as to allow for that. We can do nearly as much on 3,000 miles of country with a railway as on 6,000 miles without a railway. . ·

1917. You would expect compensation ?-Compensation for improvements. On those conditions we would be prepared to surrender portion of our lease. 1924. Would you care to indicate in detail any particular route you would favour ?-I do not think I am qualified to express an opinion as to route. I have not seen sufficient oj the country. I have only been along the main route from Camooweal to Borroloola. But from Camooweal, coming 350 miles

towards Borroloola, one could not wish to pass through finer country, country that is capable of great development. Beyond that, I cannot express an opinion. 1925. You have tested the sub-artesian supplies of water on Brunette ?- We have six sub-arte.3ian bores to average depths of 200 feet ; we have had no failures.

1927. What is the supply ?- The supply, · which has not been tested to its fullest capacity, is 2,000 gallons per hour per bore. ·

1933. Are there any serious diseases in stock on the tablelands ?- They tell me that they have no diseases whatever among stock. Certainly the cattle I have seen are very free indeed from even the common warts, tuberculosis and lumpy jaw, which you see in most herds.

1937. Supposing you had a railwayfrom Camooweal to Brunette Downs, would you use it for sending your cattle away ?- Certainly. If the railway is constructed from Camooweal to Cloncurry we will truck all our cattle from Brunette right through, from 8,000 to 10,000 a year. I will undertake to truck that number if we get a railway. It always pays to truck cattle, whether stores or fats, in preference to droving

them. 1938. In the event of a railway ending at Camooweal from Cloncurry, for the present, would you get your stores that way the expense of getting out stores from the eastern seaboard (Townsville) to Camooweal by rail would · be so great as to be prohibitive as against the Borroloola route.

1939. You look upon the McArthur River as the natural outlet for the Barkly Tablelands ?- Say inlet. It would also be the outlet, if you had freezing works there.


. 1940. In the event ?f an important harbor being made available at the Pellew Islands, would you be m favour of the of a meat works .near. the seaboard, or further inland ?-At the port.

'!'hat has been the exper.Ien?e of east coast. If killed mland, the extra handling of the beef has been does not the colour as well as if the beef is killed close to the port. The meat

works hitherto established mland m Queensland have all closed down. Could yo"?- give us a rough estimate of the probable stock from the BarklyTableland that would

be ava1lable for freezmg purposes if works were est ablished ?- If meat works were established on the McArthur, I should think there be n? difficulty in obtaining a supply of at least 30,000 to 40,000 head of cattle per annum, and that IS suffiCient to keep any one meat work s going profit ably. . 1943: Would that number be distributed over the year, or would it b e in a certain period ?-A certam perwd. In Queensland we regard only five months as the period when cattle ar€) fit to treat. I see no reason why it should be otherwise in the Territory.

Mr. ·J. H. Amos, Manager, McArthur River Station:-2130. How long have you been in the Northern Territory ?- Sixteen years, during the whole of which time I· have been on the McArthur River. '

2131. What area is embraced in the McArthur station ?- Four thousand square miles. 2132. What number of stock are you carrying ?- 10,000 head of cattle and 250 horses . 2133. Are the stock healthy ?-Yes, free from disease. 2134. Is your country fully sto,cked at present ?- No. 2135. Could the carrying capacity be increased ?-Yes, by water conservation on the southern portion of the run, and also by ringbarking and scrubbing.

2136. Have you any idea of the cost of improvements ?- It depends largely upon the price of labour and transport. The improvements I have in mind, with necessary fencing, would probably cost £10,000. .

2137. In the event of a deep sea harbor being created at the mouth of the McArthur River, and the improvements you suggest carried out, what stock could you carry ?-40,000 head. 2138. Do you find that stocking improves the grass ?- Yes. It kills out some of the coarser varieties.

2139. In stocking, you do so on a dry season basis ?- Exactly, and also take into consideration distance from market and dry stock routes. 2140. Assuming that a practicable harbor were made at the mouth of the McArthur River, how would it affect your prospects ?-It would enable us to get drafts of fats away with certainty, and thus permit

us to stock heavily, and save our having to carry fat bullocks over to the following year. 2142. Have yo:u formed any opinjon as to the most desirable railway routes in the Territory for developmental purposes?- With a port at the McArthur River mouth, a railway to t he Barkly Tableland is the shortest possible rout e for development.

2149. What is your average rainfall ?-About 24l inches, extending over 30 years, the fall being confined practically to the months from December to March inclusive. 21 50. W.b,ere do you market your st ock now ?- Queensland, Sydney and Melbourne. We drove to Charleville, 1,400 miles ; Bourke, 1,600 to 1,700 miles ; Melbourne, 2,100 miles .

.:.J2151. Are these stock routes available every year ?-No ; possib ly three out of five.

2152. Could these routes be provided witli p ermanent waters ?- Judging by the privat e bores just off them, I think they could. 1 Private bores, except by arrange ment wit h the owners, are not available for travelling stock. 2153. In the event of a harbor at the mouth of the McArthur River being practicable, would you

favour freezing works there ?- Most certainly. Such would save the loss in condition in travelling stock, or in trucking :long distances to other centres . 2156. What are the mining shows and prospects of this locality ?-There are numerous galena and copper prospects which be worth developing the r ailway is constructed and transport cheapened.

Development is not possible under present conditiOns.

27. Speaking of the Eastern portion of the Barkly Tableland, Mr. L. A. Wells, Deputy Federal Lar:-d Commissioner., South Australia, a surveyor with 30 years' experience in conne:x1on with pastoral country, and.who was on the survey of the boundary line between Queensland and the Northern Tern t ory, stated :-

220. From the south-east corner of the Northern Territory for a dist ance of 180 miles north ar e parallel sand ridges trending north and .south south-west, and these ext end easterly for about 30 to 50 miles and west erly for a considerable dist ance . From the 180 mile point, via Camooweal, to the source of the Gregory River, a dist ance of about

300 miles, there is a fi:qe stret ch of splendid pastoral country, extending many miles east and west, which is suitable for raising sheep, cattle and horses. . F rom the source of the Gr egory River t owards t he north coast , 150 :niles,

the count ry changes .fro iT: Mitchell grass to rugged. and preCipitous and almost ImpractiCa?le country until the NICholson River 1s crossed, when mixed country IS encountered t o the coast , parts of whiCh are good pasture lands. : .

Mr. John McLennan, of Pine Creek, also gave valuable evidence beanng on the Barklv Tableland. " . . ,

· It will be found under Coastal D1 stn ct.

It will be noted from the evidence of Messrs. Cotton and Amos t hat the country upder notice is capable of very great development . c 2

71 1


28. Existing cattle stations on t he Barkly Tableland and coastal district that would be best served by a railway from a harbor at the Pellew _Islands to Anthony Lagoon and Camooweal :-I Years' Stock. Area-Squar e I Name of Station. ! Tenure Miles . ' from 1914. Cattle. Horses.

( Rocklands . . . . 1,849 29 35,000 ..

I Austral Downs . . 776 19 2,800 7- 0

0 Lake Nash .. .. 2,808 29 11,000 34

I Avon Downs 2,100 28 {

14,ooo I

400 .. . . 58,000 5


. . I Alexandria sheep Barkly Tableland .. .. ( 10,212 33, 100 500 l 300 Alroy Downs .. . . ( 1,188 27( 9,330 280 l . 240 1 1J Herbert Vale . . .. 410 20 3,010 220 Brunette Downs .. s 4,988 51 35,000 400 l 1,099 1J Creswell Downs .. 753 23 2,700 220 Eva Downs . . . . 303 23 No record ---Total .. . . 27,026 . . 145,940 2,435 c

JMcArthur River .. s 3,587 24 1 10,000 300

( 317 1J

O.T. .. .. s 305 23(. 900 390

oastal District . 'l Bauhniia Down.s ( 542 lJ .. 400 28 !r, OOO[ 80 Tanumbirini . . .. { 1,212 2f} 5,500 200 100 Grand Totals . . 33,489 .. 165,3401 3,405 Acres 21,432,960 .. J);:, .. ·- , .. j t; I N OTE.- Some of the stations contain a number of lyases expirihg , at different dates. Where this is the case, the · figureE( above are for the larger areas only. Pastoral penp.its _, ,sh,qwn as expiring In one year from date. _ · ' ' · ;,·. 29. Estjmates of the stock carrying capacity of the Barkly Tableland vary widely. ·, ;. ·1 ',)J.lL ( Evidence given before the Commission went to show that Avon Downs is no better pastoral country than other parts of the Barkly Tableland. Mr. D. Mara, manager of Tanumbirini cattle station, stated :-2262. Prior to coming to Tanumbirini, where were you located ?- Avon Downs. 2263. So that you have some lmowledge of sheep ?- Yes. 2264. Do you regard Avon Downs as good sheep country ?- It carries sheep, but it is not the bes t sheep country. It does not compare with the best of Centra.! Queensland, but the tableland will carry sheep. Avon Downs does not appear to· have been too much of a success, but improvements m'l.y make it better. 2265. What class of improvements? More water ?- More water and smaller paddocks. 2266. Does that apply to the rest of the tableland ?- Yes. I do not consider Avon to be the pick of the t ableland. Any part of it is as good as Avon. The management of the Avon Downs Station, who have had 30 years' experience with the country, are of the opinion that their property of 2,100 square miles can be improved to the extent of carrying 200,000 sheep and 25.,000 hfad of cattle. -On this basis, the Barkly Tableland of 20,000,000 acres should be capable of supporting 3,000,000 sheep and 375,000 head of cattle.



30. There is a consensus of opinion amongst those. qualified to judge, that, after Tableland, the most valuable. area of country In the Territory is the Victoria

River distnct, and of that a.rea portwn Inost capable of development, and likely to produce for a railway, Is the country near the head waters of the river and

Creek. The formation of the fertile the district is mostly volcanic.

Unlike the Barkly Tableland, the VIctona country Is Intersect ed by numerous rivers creeks, and water-courses, and only requires conservation works to insuTe a plentiful supply of surface-water. . The rainfall for the twelve yeaTs 1901- 2 to 1912- 13, at Victoria River Downs

Station has been as under:-I

Year. April.\1\lay. June. July. Aug. I S•pt. Oct.

I Nov. Dec. Jan. Feb. March. I April io

-- ---- --

1901-2 . . 41 . . .. . . . .

1902-3 . . . . . . . . . . . .

1903-4 .. 211 . .. . . . . . .

1904-5 .. 212 98 22 . . . .

1905- 6 .. . . . . . . . . . .

1906-7 .. 26 . . . . . . . .

1907-8 .. . . 23 72 . . . .

1908-9 . . 52 .. . . . . . .

1909- 10 . . 102 .. . . . . 124

1910- 11 .. 240 225 . . .. . .

1911- 12 . . 290 . . . . . . . .

1912-13 . . . . . . . . . . . .

- - - -- - - -

50 . . 81 158

. . 102 303 436

2 10 244 1018

66 245 120 327

. . 73 96 427

202 92 120 840

. . 60 293 1090

. . . . 122 644

. . 110 557 195

. . 155 516 1105

. . 204 370 543

. . 17 103 285


341 583

632 420

1984 575

133 210

334 145

874 513

258 373

341 200

425 E09

170 544

202 938 . 386 708

56 I

364 I 1063 I I 100 I 67 I 141 I 394 136 I 149 I I 505 540 I 286 :M:arch.

131 225 510 153

114 2€0 256













149 217 345 308


------ -- -- - - ·-- -- -- -- -- . - - - - - - - - - - - --Average .. · 97 ·')8 I ·07 .. · 10 •26 •89 2·43 5•89 5•02 4·76 3·16 28·8 9 I 31. Valuable evidence bearing on the Victoria River district was placed before the Cornmission by Messrs. L.A. Wells, M. R. Seale, T. C. Cusack, T. H. Pearce, W. Heron, and N. Waters. Mr. L. A. Wells, Deputy Commissioner, Federal Land Tax, South Australia, who was · for three years engaged in making a trigonometrical survey of the Victoria River District, stated ;-. 220. In the Victoria River District, and east from the river's source, there are some 20,000 square miles · Qf excellent fertile valleys and downs, highly suitable for . sheep and cattle raising, whilst in the vicinity of Sturt's Creek and the Ord River run (which is partly in Western Australia) there are also similar lands of large areas. . .. . 1 '' For the most part, natural waters are pleri.tiful, except to the east of the source of the Victoria River, where, I am informed by persons who have seen the country, a large tract of fine rolling downs exists, but without water. • With facilities'fbi transit, this country; in addition to cattle which at present depasture on it to the extent of from three to four hundred thousand head, is highly suitable for sheep raising, and if fenced and improved would carry several millions. At the time of my visit to the Ord River station there was a small flo ck of 100 head of sheep which were not allowed to increase beyond that number, being shepherded about the station home, and these, although in breeding for ten years, looked well and strong, and the small parce ls of wool, I was informed, realized about the same price as that of southern sheep. On the Fitzroy River, in Western Australia, sheep have been successfully raised for many years. sheep. (Fitzroy River is about sa1ne latitude as Anthony Lagoon.) Mr. M. H. Seale, manager, Wave Hill cattle station, Northern Territory, said:-1799. How long have you been in the Northern Territory ?-;-Nine years. 1800. And during that period, have you been manager of Wave Hill ?-Yes. 1801. You have a fairly extensive knowledge of the Victoria River country?-Yes. 1802. What is the co11ntry best adapted for ?-The northern end for cattle, the southern end for 1803. Have you ever tried .sheep on Wave Hill ?- Not in my time. 1804. Have they ever been tried there ?-Yes. 1805. What area is there in Wave Hill ?-10,725 square miles. 1806. How many head of stock 1- 75,000 head of cattle, and 1,500 horses . 1807. I s the station stocked up to its full capacity ?-Yes, at present on account of t he water. 1808. Have you made any attempts to use sub-artesian water ?- Not up to the present. 1809. If you had a full water supply could you carry more stock we could carry 40,000 or 50,000 more. . 1810. Is there any portion of the Vfave Hill holding fitted for sheep 1-Yea ; I should say b u t f)p pent.

1819. On the country you refer to as being tapped by the line you propose, how many head of cattle do -you think could be carried, assuming improvements ?-About 500,000. .

1820. How many sheep ?-About 3,000,000 sheep. 1821. What do you think would be the carrying capacity of Wave Hill station on the portion suitable for sheep ?-I think, safely, 120 to the mile.

Mr. T. C. · Cusack, ex-managEr of Victoria Downs station:- · 1644. How long have you been in the Northern Territory ?-A little over twelve years. 1648. How many head of stock were there on Victoria Downs at the end of last year ?-There were 107;000 head of cattle and almost 900 head of horses, but no sheep.

1649. What is the area of the run ?-Between 11,000 and 12,000 square miles. 1650. How would you describe it ?-It is mostly Flinders grass country, very well watered. 1651. Would you regard it as fully stocked ?-It would carry more stock. 1652. How many more ?-It is a matter of making water. I should say it would carry another 30,000 head safely.

1653. What is the rainfall ?-Between 23 and 24 inches. 1656. Can you tell us of the country to the south of Victoria Downs ?-I have been on Wave Hill. That is first-class stock country. 1657. Coming north, what is the country like ?-It gets inferior as you go north. There is some fair country, but no extent of it.

1658. Is there any agricu tural country down on the Victoria ?-I do not think so. 1670. Is the Victoria River country suitable for sheep ?-I think the top end is. 1671. Would the railway you suggest permit of much closer stocking ?-Yes; if there .were sheep on the country.

1672. Without the railway, can you carry sheep ?-No; the carriage is too long and costly. 1676. In Victoria Downs, has there been any expenditure on water conservation ?-No. 1677. Is underground water obtainable there ?-I think so. 1677 A. It has never been tested ?-No.

Mr. T. H. Pearce. owner, Willeroo :-1687. How long have you been resident of the Northern Territory ?-I have been in the Northern Territory 30 years. I spent ten years at Alice Springs, in the southern end of the Territory. 1688. The last twenty years ?- I have been on the northern side of Newcastle Waters.

1690. What area do you hold in Willeroo ?-A little over 1,500 miles. 1691. What stock have you there ?-At present about 5,000 head of cattle and 700 head of horses. 1692-3. Have you ever tried sheep ?-No, unfortunately, I have n(wer been able to so do . . I think, however, that portions of the country would be suitable for sheep.

1700. Have you formed any estimate of the number of sheep the country would carry if provided with railway facilities ?-I should say from 20 to 30 million sheep easily, and a great number ofbig stock as well. The country is never subject to droughts. Up as far as Wave Hill there is a rainfall from 20 to 25 inches, and in the so-called "desert" country it diminishes as you go south, from 20 inches to 13 inches at Ti-tree Well.

1707. What is your opinion of the Victoria River country for dairying purposes ?-I believe that about 10,000 square miles in the neighbourhood of Longreach and Wave Hill would carry dairy cattle if you had a railway. · ·

1708. You think dairying could be carried on successfully if you had railway facilities for reaching a market ?-Yes. 1709. Is any dairying done at Willeroo ?-Only for station use. · 1710. Do you find any difficulty in making butter ?- No difficulty in the colq weather. ·

Mr. W. Heron, horse-dealer, rrr•. ' _

1727. How long have you been in the Northern Territory ?--I reside principally in Queensland, but I have travelled five times aeross the Territory from Cai:nooweal to the Negri Crossing in Western Australia, and once by the coast route from Burketown, and then across the Victoria River and past the Keep into Western Australia. I have travelled once from Camooweal through Borroloola, branching

off at Anthony Lagoon. ·

1728. What were you doing ?-I buy horses in Queensland and take them to Western Australia and supply some of the stations on the Fitzroy. I was once through from Oodnadatta, bought horses at Alice Springs, and brought them up the telegraph line to Newcastle, and then across by the same route to Western Australia.

1729. What impressions have .you formed of the Northern Territory from the pastoral -The best country is from Camooweal out through Brunette to Newcastle Waters. This is all Mitchell grass country, and it stands drought best. There is, however, no permanent water, when you get west to Victoria River Downs country there is plenty of surface water; although there is more grass, which is not so good as Mitchell grass. Flinders does not stand drought like Mitchell grass, and -it takes more rain to make it grow. _ ·

1730. But the Victoria River has the advantage of having water, has it not ?-Yes. _ Of course I am not stating that there is no Mitchell grass on the Victoria River, but there is not the proportion that there is on the Barkly Tableland. That is why I consider the Barkly Tableland, with water, would be the bes t country. ·

1734. And does the country over which you have been strike you as sheep ceuntry ?-The Barkly Tableland and the Victoria River country, opinion, are before the Fitzroy River in Western Australia, where they are getting good returns from sheep. ·

. 1735. Do you think the parts of the Territory you mention would carry 150 to the mile ?-Parts of it would. .

Mr. N. Waters, inspector of police, Northern Territory:--1060. How long have you been in the 'rerritory ?-About thirty years. 1061. During that period, you have travelled much over the country ?- Yes. 1069. Have you been along Victm;ia country ?- - I have been over a good deal of it. ·

1070. What 1s the character of 1t ?-It IS splendid country for cattle and sheep, but it is unimproved. No have been down and, so far, stock-owners have depended solely upon the natural water supphes. As a result, m the dry season, stock have often to go 20 miles to water, and this does not do them any good.


1071. Are the stations _stocking sheep but in 1891, Messrs. Goldsborough, Mort and put sheep V1ctona Downs head and kept them there for three years.

time they did well, health was good, the mcrease above the average; the fleeces a fair weight,

and the wool of good quahty. They were sold to Mr. Bradshaw, of Shaw's Creek, in 1894 or 1895, and he took them down on to sandy coastal country, which was unsuitable for them, and nearly all of them died.

32. cattle stations in the Victoria River country that would be best

served by a railway to a deep-sea harbor at the Inouth of the Victoria River, or at Wyndham (Western Australia).

33. The evidence placed before the Con1mission, and other information available is fairly conclusive that the greater part of the southern half of the above area is suitable for sheep, and, therefore, likely to produce much more revenue _for a railway than the northern portion whi on_ly for cattle. m_ form,ulating a r_aihyay

scheme to serve the VIctoria River country, the Wave H1ll and Sturt s Creek districts must be regarded as of much greater from a railway point of :riew the

Victoria Downs, Delan1ere, and other distncts on the lower reaches of the VIctona River. Practically the whole of the Victoria River country is situated within a radius of existing or proposed deep-sea harbors as under :-. Blunder Bay 225 miles.

Wyndham 300 " Darwin 435

P ellew Islands 565



Katherine, the projected terminus of the Darwin railway 360 ,

34. If practicable, at a reasonable cost, a harbor at Blunder Bay with a railway up the valley to the head of. the . Vict?ria River be undol!-btedly the natural outlet and inlet for the Rn:-er country; but the evidence and

information available are not encourapng, and 1t appears hkely that the cost of the scheme would be prohibitive. . .

Wyndham, as already pmnted out under Har?ors . and Rivers (page 28), is- at present used by of 3,000 or 4,000 tons, and JUdging from the chart, could be cheaply improved If necessary.

71 5


Mr. M. H. Seale, manager nine years of Wave Hill station, stated In evidence before the Commission :-1829. you been to Wyndham ?- Yes.

1830. Do you think . that would be a better port for the Victoria River country than Darwin ?______: Providing there is a railway to Dar'Yin, No. Otherwise, Yes. 1831. But providing you had a railway·to Wyndham?-Wyndham would be better, it is 200 miles nearer.

Wave Hill is at the eastern end of the most fertile belt of country, consequently, the western portion is still further away from Darwin and more favorably situated as regards Wyndham. There is no evidence or reason to assume that the cost of a railway from the

country under notice to Wyndha1n would be prohibitive. Mr. T. J. Worgan, Chief Draughtsman, Lands and Survey, Northern Territory, who had been over the country from Wyndham to Halls Creek, 250 n1iles, and Tanami, stated in answer to a question (1211) as to what the country was like from a railway construction point of view, that " It is only rough in places."

In the event of neither Blunder Bay nor Wyndham being a practicable sea outlet for the southern portion of the Victoria River country, there remains Darwin, or the proposed harbor at the Pellew Islands, and the writer is of the opinion that a railway eastward to junction with the Pellew Island-Camooweal line at Anthony Lagoon or Collabirrian would be to a railway northward to Katherine and Darwin.

The unoccupied lands that would be traversed by this route between Wave Hill and Newcastle Waters, and the latter place and Anthony Lagoon, contains much fertile and well-grassed country, only requiring water conservation to enable it to carry stock. 0± the land unoccupied to the east of Wave Hill holding, Mr. L. A. Wells writes :­ "Extensive open downs country, beautifully grassed aud devoid of stones."

Of the country betw·een Newcastle Waters and Anthony Lagoon, M-r. W. H eron stated:- ·

1729. The best country (in the Territory) is from Oamooweal out through Brunette (Anthony Lagoon) to Newcastle Waters. This is all Mitchell grass country, and it stands drought best.

36. The central east ern portion oi the Victoria River District is occupied by the Victoria Downs station, of between eleven and twelve million acres area, and earrying over one hundred thousand cattle. The distance by an air line from the nearest point of the main holding to Wyndham and Darwin are respectively 150 miles and 250 mjles. From the head station, it is by stock route 300 miles to Wyndham. To Katherine by track, it is about 190 miles, thence (it the proposed Pjne Creek-Katherine line is constructed), 200 miles by railway to Darwin. "J;·

On the figures given above and from information available, Wyndham, given a railway and fr eezing works, appears to be the most likely port for the Victoria River country, but inspection and further ·· investigation is necessary before any definite recommendation can be made.


37. CENTRAL DISTRICT j · ,it•)

The central portion o± the ·Nbrthern Territory, from Pine Creek and

following along the overland telegraph line to Powell's Creek, a distance of 370 miles, has a width at Bitter Springs of 80 miles eastward to Hodgson Downs, and 90 miles west to Willeroo. At Newcastle Waters (300 miles) it extends about 70 miles east to the Barkly tableland, and · 80 miles to the Victoria River country.

The overland telegraph line was constructed in 1872, and along the line has been the recognised overland track since then and consequently the country is well known, but the m.aps show that only a small percentage is occupied. Within this district are areas of fair pastor2llands and patches of fertile soil, suitable (jf irrigated) for agriculture, but the greater part of the district is poor country. Also south to ·Newcastle Waters and west from Bitter Springs it is badly watered. Between Bitter Springs and Daly Waters, 110 miles, there are three wells, each about 240 feet deep. At the time of the writer's visit in October, 1913, there was no surface water, and the well nearest Bitter Springs was waterless, necessitating a "dry " stage of 47 miles to Warlock Ponds; the second well, about midway, had sufficient to water 35 horses only, and the third,. 15 miles north of Daly Waters, had a plentiful supply. The writer has no other

information as to whether underground water js to be obtained in this district; but owing to the general poorness of the l2nd, he doubts if it would pay pastoralists to g;o to the expense of tapping a sub-artesian supply even if it is obtainable. . ,


38. The rainfall at Daly Waters, which is about the centre of the district for the last twelve years,_ 1901-2 to 1912-13, has been as follows:- '

- April. May. June. July. Aug.

. ' -- -- -- -- --

1901-2 .. 4 . . . . . . . .

1902-3 .. . . . . . . . . . .

1903-4 .. 90 . . . . . . . .

1904-5 .. 298 86 46 . . . .

1905-6 .. 328 . . 80 . . . .

1906-7 .. . . . . . . . . . .

1907-8 .. 160 8 84 . . . .

1908-9 . . 168 . . . . . . . . .

1909-10 .. 49


. . . . 227]

1910-11 .. 242 . . 28 . .

1911-12 . . 439 . . . . . .

1912-13 .. I . . . . . . . . . .

-- --· -- -- -- 1·48 ·09 ·17 •02 ·19

Sept. I Oct. Nov. Dec.

- j - - - - - -


3 . . 41 78

. . 72 111 348

. . 38 255 446

346 61 304

118 30 1! 118 I 159 ' 119 37 454 . . 6 98 944 . . 42 123 482 . . 68 469 231 . . 72 228 1576 89 24 513 349 43 . . 223 173 -- - - -----·45 ·75 2·05 4 ·58 I

Jan. Feb.

-- - --

896 354

372 346

1369 970

589 156

527 306

425 819

688 621

279 289

613 1322

200 544

394 433

404 536

-- 5 •36 5 •58



185 640 861 213

85 77 372 121 233 286 545 161

--3 ·15

April to March.

156 188 402 235 186 209 298 150

323 317 278 154















39. Existing cattle stations that .would be best served by the proposed Pine Creek, Katherine, Ditter Springs and Newcastle Waters Railway (telegraph line route):-Stock. Name of Station. Area-Square Years' Tenure Miles. from 1914.

Cattle. Horses.

Katherine and Dry River .. . . ..

" "

.. . . . .

Willeroo .. . . . . .. . .

, . . .. . . . .

Hodgson Downs . . .. . . . .


.. . . . . .. . .

Elsey (McMinn's Bar) .. . . . .

Nutwood Downs . . .. . . . ..


.. . . . . . .

Beetaloo .. . . . . . . . .


, .. . . . . . . . .

Newcastle Waters . . .. . . . .


.. . . . . . . . .

Total . . .. . . . .

Acres .. . . . .

410 28

395 1

1,664 29

290 1

2,176 22

724 1

908 23

306 29

412 1

400 23

200 . .

3,574 25

500 . .

11,949 . .


} 1,

} 5,

} 4,

} 5,

l 2,

} 10,





000 000





400 115



Newcastle Waters is included in this table, but this station is 115 miles nearer to the sea-board at the Pellew Islands than to Darwin. On the other hand, the north­ east corner oi the Victoria Downs holding containing about 1,800 square miles, is included under "Victoria River Country," although _perhaps it would be better served by the telegraph line route.

40. The evidence given before the Comn1ission supports the view that if water is supplied much of the central district will carry cattle, and part of it horses ; but the carrying capacity of the country and prospects of development are very poor compared 'vith the Barkly Tableland, and the country at Wave Hill and Sturt's Creek. It will

be noted from the above that although Hodgson Downs and Elsey station contain over three· thousancl. six hundred square miles of country, it is carrying only 4,600 head of cattle and 400 horses. Elsey head station v.ras fonnerly at Warloch Ponds, 12 miles south of Bitter Springs, but some years ago the hmnestead was moved about 25 miles north-east to McMinn's Bar on the Roper.

Mr. John McLennan, butcher, Pine Creek, gave evidence as under:-1569. How many years have you been in the Territory came in 1896. 1570. You have had a considerable amount of experience of the Territory, I understand have been nearly all over this northern port. I of Elsey station for _nearly seven years. .

. 1572. Would you suggest any branch hnes With feeders to the lme would favour a l.m e

from the Katherine through the Wtlleroo country and south-west fr?m. the

from 75 to 80 miles, you get into good pastoral but nothm. ms1de of that 1 much good; 1t ts on a par wttlt the Pine country.


.. 1577 . You have had long experience in dealing with stock in the Northern Territory; what is your oprmon of its fattening properties ?-The Barkly Tableland have no superior in Australia as fattening country. The Pine Creek country is of little value. Stock do not hold their own through a heavy wet season, and then again, just before the wet season starts everything gets burnt off. · Stock do well for a while, and then later on in the wet season they fall off. The vegetation gets, too rank. The cattle live in the swamps when the grass is sour and long. The country is not suitable for stock raising. You can grow horses about here right enough, but you must have an immense area to run them on.

1578. What do you think of the agricultural country ?-There are some patches on the rivers. 1579. So you regard the tablelands as the stock country ?-There is no doubt about that. Stock raised there will carry their condition for years. Here they will not carry their condition from year to year. At Elay I always advised the ownersjo sell before the latter end of June, when the cduntry up there used to get burnt.

1580. Do you think anything could be done to improve the inferior country around Pine Creek for stock ?-Ringbarking has never been tried, but I should say that the would be a great

drawback. Look along the telegraph line and you will see that they have to clear the undergrowth away every year. 1583. Is the country between fine Creek and the Katherine suitable for ·holding stock ?-There is only a few months in the year when it is suitable for holding cattle. There ate times in the year here, though they only run for a few months, when you can take cattle on the off to Port Darwin and land them in condition.

1584. What time of the year would that be ?-During the wet season. If they start when the rivers are crossable they can land them right from the Victoria River country. 1585. They could not travel them up from the Katherine ?-Newcastle cattle used to come down here. 1586. How about water ?- In most years there is a 105-mile dry stage.

1587. Do you think that if a railway were built from the trunk line through the Katherine down to the Victoria River that it woulli be used for cattle ?- In most seasons it would pay them better to travel the cattle. In Queensland they rail cattle from Charleville to Brisbane. While the people here can get food it will be cheaper to travel them in than to rail them, and another thing, in travelling the cattle would not get bruised.

1588. But would they have to rail them finally to get them to Darwin ?-Not all the year. For four months in the year they could travel them right into Darwin.

At Bitter Springs there is some limestone country· on which horse:s are said to do well. Mr. W. Laurie, owner of H odgson Downs and Elsey Station, stated :-1145. You have had some experience with horse-breeding ?-I started breeding thoroughbreds twenty years ago at lVIarrakai, on the Adelaide River, and found out a.fter losing a lot of money, that I coula

not make a do of it. I then shifted the horses to Elsey Station, where they are now. 1146. You found the coast land unsuitable ?-Yes;· for-breeding horses . What I bred were pretty good, but I could not get a sufficient percentage of foals. Alligators, cancers, and mosquitoes were no help. 1147. Are you breeding successfully on your other stations ?- There are about four stallions and 100 mares at Elsey Station, and they are doing all right.

1148. Are there any wild horses ?-There are about 400 there, We got 200 of them'1ast year. .They have been breeding for twenty years, and have not run out. · · •1

On the other hand, of country (block 2210) commencing only 15 miles north of Bitter Springs, Mr. T. H. P earce spoke as under:- . 1694. You hold some more country besides Willeroo ?-I hold a block on the Waterhouse Rived and stocked it with 500 of mixed cattle and 30 or 40 head of horses. I lost most of the horses through disease in the fir st year. The following year the experience was repeated. The ,cattle did fairly well,

but my ambition at that time was to go in for horses as well. I decided to take up the blocks I have now, call ed Willeroo, and I have remained there ever since, viz., seven years. I have found cattle, horses, goats, and pigs do very well. 1695. What disease decimated your horses ?-Walkabout. I cannot say what causes it. I do not think anybody really knows.

42. Nutwood Downs Station, situated about 65 miles east of ·Daly Waters, is one of the best of the station properties that would be better served by the telegraph line route than by any of the other proposed railway schemes. A number of ·the more important points brought out when the owner, Mr. J. S. Farrar, gave evidence before the Commission are . as under:-

228S. H ow long have you been in occupation of Nutwood Downs ?-I have been here thirteen years, and in the Territory 33 years, first on the other side of the Roper, 40 miles from the Bar, then at the Limmen, and t hen here. 2293. On Nutwood Downs, how many head of stock do you run ?-About 5,000 cattle and 300 horees.

2294. Do you regard the run as fairly stocked '1-Yes, under present conditions. 2295. Could the carrying capacity be increased ?-Yes, by making water. 2296. H ow would you propose to make water ?-By boring. 2297. Are you satisfied that sub-artesian supplies of water exist?-Yes ; there is a well here, and an)'\'l'here in the river you can see the water coming up.

2298. Why have you not put down bores ?- Simply· because I do not know where my country is. The boundaries have not been defined. 2304. Do you lose stock owing to scarcity of water ?-I cannot say exactly for the w;ant of water, but for the want of grass- both. There is plenty of water at the northern end of the nm, and when we stock cattle down there we find there is not enough grass for them.


2306. What are the worst months here for stock the latter end of July up to November. 2307. And the best fattening months November till March.

2308. Could you give us any idea of the number of fat stock you can turn off Nutwood Downs per year might turn off about 800 per year.

2309. At present what is your principal market 2310. Do you send away to other places ?-No. 2314. You have had some experience of t he Barkly Tableland country ?-Yes, as part owner and manager of Lake Nash.

2315. How does this country compare with the Tableland country ?-I would rather have 1 mile there than 10 here. -

2316. H ave you any of the tableland grasses down here are grasses here which are similar, though not exactly the same. There are Mitchell and Flinders grasses here, but stock do not seem to touch it at all.

2317. From your thirteen years' experience, do you think the grass has improved with stocking It has gone back. My experience of this part of the Territory, when you stock the country, it goes back. 2318. You would regard this as coastal country . 2319. Are there any edible bushes here used to be any amount of cattle bush, but the cattle eat 1t out, and it does not grow again.

. . · 2323. Is this country better or worse than the country you occupied on the Roper s1m1lar. There is much better looking country, but I do not think that stock do any better on it all the same. 2346. Do you regard Nutwood as good fattening country ?- Yes, in the rainy season.

2347. On a low carrying capacity ?- Yes. 2348. About how many head to the mile might carry four- I do not think any more.

2350. Would this country carry sheep ?-No. 2350A. Is the soil adapted for agriculture ?-I don't think so.

43. In the opinion of some authorities, the country under notice is capable of carrying sheep. In October last, fencing, yards, shelter sheds, &c., were in course of erection at Bitter Springs for a Government sheep farm, and the sheep bought at Avon Downs were on their. way to the proposed station.

The information available is all against the central district from Pine Creek along the telegraph line to Newcastle Waters, 310 miles being suitable country for sheep. Mr. Alfred Giles, of Pine Creek, who has lived for over 40 years in the district, and has had practical experience with sheep, gave evidence before the Commission.

Starting in 1870, Mr. Giles made a number of trips droving horses, cattle, and sheep from South Australia alopg the overland telegraph line to the northern portion of the Territory. In about 1880 Mr. Giles, for Dr. Brown, of Adelaide, brought 2,000 head of cattle

and 12,000 sheep from within 300 miles of Adelaide to the Katherine River, a distance of about 1,300 miles through Central Australia. Although the season was a bad one and long dry stages had to be got over, no sheep and only a few head of cattle were lost. A station was formed at Springva.le on the Katherine River, close to where it is

now proposed to make the terminal point of the Pine Creek- Katherine railway extension. After a few years trial at a heavy expense, the attempt to maintain a sheep station was abandoned. Mr. Giles states :- ·

1856. Then we took 3,000 sheep out to Delamere in 1882 . We t hought they wou ld do better out there but they did not, although the country looked better, We brought them back. · (Delam·ere is between Willeroo and Victoria Downs head stations and is about 100 miles south-east of Katherine.

1858. So far as your experience went, the sheep raising experiment_was _not a success ?- Not on the Katherine. As far as the wool was concerned, I could not see any detenorat10n. 1879. Do you consider a large partion of the Territory fit to carry sheep but no t on the

coast. 1879A. Where would you draw the line at Newcastle Waters, from t here south, east, and west. There is good sheep couutry on Hodgson Downs and Nutwood Downs, but all the coast country is not good for sheep.

The Honorable John Lewis, owner of Newcastle Waters Station, when giving evidence before the Commission, stated :-190. Will the Newcastle Waters country carry sheep ?-We had sheep there, but t hey did not do well. They got cancer in the eyes and nose, and they did not thrive on the coa rse grass .

Mr. John McL ennan, butcher, Pine Creek:-1590. How far north can sheep b e successfull y raised \Valhallaw straight ac.ross to the Victoria. (Walhallaw, at the head of the- McArthur River, is about the same parallel as Newcastle Waters.)

. 1591. Will sheep do on the coastal country ?-No. The woo l is no good . I have shorn sheel? in, Pine Creek, and w)lile the carcasses were all right, the wool was useleas.

71 9


It has been frequently stated that the extension o£ the Darwin-Pine Creek

Railway to the Katherine, 55 miles, would bridge the poor country and reach the edge of the good, from where traffic would be received to make the railway as a whole a paying proposition, but it will be seen from the particulars and evidence that the facts of the case are quite the other way, as it is 75 or 80 miles south-west from the Katherine to the commencement of the nearest continuous stretch of good pastoral country at Willeroo, and about the same distance south-east to Bitter Springs, which is the commencement of an area of second-class pastoral country, including Elsey, Hodgson Downs and Nutwood Downs Stations and the Roper River Valley.

As regards the Katherine ground for cattle awaiting shipment, the

evidence is against there being sufficient country to carry the number of cattle required in a season to keep a freezing works going at Darwin. l\1r. J. S. Farrer, owner of Nutwood Downs (output, 800 head of cattle per year), stated:-

2340. As a matter of fact, the Katherine is not good holding country is it ?-It is riot bad up the nver. 2341. You could hold cattle there for a sufficient time ?-Oh yes.

Mr. M. H. Seale, 1nanager of Wave Hill (7,000 per year) :-1841. Do you consider Katherine telegraph station a suitable terminus for stock ?-No. It is bad country. Right enough early in the year, but not later on. 1842. Bad country reaching it, and not good holding ground when you get there ?-Exactly.

Mr. H. V. Francis, Superintendent of Railways :-1027. Is there no better holding country for cattle further down the river from the Katherine 1-I believe there could not be worse. The Katherine in the dry s_ eason is looked upon as bad country.


45. The most likely area for mining development in the near future to require railway facilities extends south-east and east for about 40 miles in each direction from Pine Creek, and includes the Coronet Hill, Mt. Davis, and Mt. Diamond copper shows, Wolfram Camp, wolfram, copper and tin :field, and Horseshoe Creek tin :field. The railway survey of the proposed extension from Pine Creek to Katherine passes about 9 miles to the south-west of Horseshoe Creek, which is at the-south-west corner of the

above area ; consequently, if railway is constructed along the surveyed route, it can have little influence on mining develop1nent. It has been suggested that a branch line · can be constructed from the trunk railway, through Horseshoe Creek-1tnd Wolfram Camp, to Coronet Hill, but this would be a very circuitous route to the seaboard,

likely to meet the requirements of the copper :field, which, 'if it comes up to the expecta­ tions of the Governrnent Geologist and others, is likely to require a railway direct from Pine Creek eastwards. The :first 35 miles of this route would be over fairly easy country for railway construction, but the remaining 5 miles to Coronet· Hill is decidedly rough.

The recently discovered Maranboy tin :field is .about 40 miles south-east of Katherine; it is promising but not yet past the' ·prospectirig ·- stage. South of Maranboy for 300 miles or more along the telegraph route, there is no possibility of mining development.


46. Roughly speaking, all the country drained by the McArthur, Limmen, Roper, Katherine and Daly Rivers, and the north-western half of the Victoria River, can be regarded as coastal country. . Starting from the Queensland border, approximately, the d.ivide between the and tableland country is parallel with, and distant about 130 miles from the

coast line as far as the mouth of the Roper River, thence to Bitter Springs and Katherine, which is about 160 1niles from the north coast line. From Katherine the divide turns south-west, passir .g north of Willeroo, curving south of theN ewcastle range, and crossing the West Australian border about 140 miles from the coast.

The rainfall of the coastal country varies from 60 inches at Darwin to 41 inches at Katherine, and 27 inches at Borroloola. Usually, practically all of this fall is within . the months November to April inclusive, and in the remaining s.ix months of the year there is . a drought. The coast districts are intersected by numerous rivers and creeks,

which are, during the wet seasons, and for some time after, running streams, but for some months towards the end of the dry season they are, above the point reached by the tidal waters, mostly a succession of waterholes.


On the McArthur, Roper, and Daly RivE rs there are areas of limestone, but the most common. in the. coastal districts is sandstone. The co untry is ·broken and

72 1

·uneven, .carrying In elevation fu;om sea to approaching 2,000 feet. The highest country.Is proba?ly to be found In Land, at the heads of the Goyder, Liverpool, and Alligator Rivers. speaking, the greater part of the coastal districts is

poor land, _us:less for any purl?ose, ?ut along the rivers,

there are hmited areas of fertile sml, capable, If sufficient mmsture Is supplied, of growing anything that can be produced in the tropics. In many cases the largest areas of level and fertile land are along the lower reaches of the rivers and are of doubtful value for agriculture', owing to the heavy yearly rainfall concentrated into six months or less

causing high floods which inundate the country every wet season. ' ·

With a six months' drought every year, the \vriter cannot see how agriculture can be carried on in the coastal districts without irrigation. The provision of a water supply and the preparation of land for irrigation is an expensive business even in Victoria, but in the Territory, owing to the high cost of labour and materials, it would necessarily be much more so.

Much has been written and said of the possibilities of irrigation and agriculture in the valley of the Roper River, but the WTiter travelled from end to end of the valley without seeing any large areas suitable for farming, and as regards irrigation in the valley, as a commercial enterprise he doubts if it is ever likely to get beyond the vegetable garden ·stage.

If irrigation with intense culture on a large scale is to be tried in the Territory, the writer thinks better place than Borroloola could be selected. At the juncture of the McArthur River and Western Creek, about 15 miles above Borroloola, there is said to be a good site for a storage reservoir. From this site down to Borroloola and beyond there are large (for the coastal districts) areas of fertile land with an even surface

above the flood level of the McArthur River. It is to be expected that as the Territory is opened up and developed and settlement increases, agriculture to the extent of supplying l9cal market s will follow, but the writer very much doubts if agriculture for export from the Territory will be found to be a

profitable industry for a long time to come. '

As regards the pastoral industry in the coastal districts, evidence given before the Commission by Messrs, Giles and McLennan, of Pine Creek, Mara, of Tanumbirini, of Nutwood Downs, Macansh and Scrutton, of Bauhinia Downs, and Amos, of

McArthur, shows that cattle bred· in the coastal districts do fairly well, but that the carrying capacity of even the best of the countr:r is very low. owing to disease, insect pests, and other reasons, do not 9-:o well In the coastal distncts. ,


47. The existing 3,Jt. 6)in. gauge railway with 41-lb. rails, 145! miles long, was opened for traffic in 1889. The capital cost was £1,180,263. Before construction it was predicted that this railway "would pay from the start," but it never has paid its way, the annual deficit for the last 10 years varying from £43,000 to £48 ,000.

If ever this railway does pay working and inter est charges, it will be owing to the development of the mining fields along the line, and t o the east and sout h-east of Pine Creek, providing a heavy mineral traffic. .

It is now proposed to extend the Darwin- Pine Creek R ailway a distance of 55 miles at a cost of £482 ,000, but as this ext ension will stop on the north bank of the Katherine River and may frequently be cut off (sometimes the river runs 70 feet deep) from the south where the traffic is expected to come from, it appears to the writer that t he bridge

over the K.atherine should be included in the ext ension, bringing t he total cost up to about £600,000. It has been stated t hat the building of t his extension will bring traffic sufficient to make the whole 200 miles of railway to Darwin a payable proposition, but the writer, who during the past t welve years in Victoria a d Malaya. bas

and reported on proposed railways estimat ed to cost over £1 5, 000 ,000 , I S o.f opiniOn t hat the financial history of the extension will be more hopeless than th hi tory of the existing railway to Pine Creek. 48. If the existing line is to form par t of the Ra.ilway, it r qui!es

relaying with 70-lb. rails and new sleepers, and the bndges will requne strengthening


or . The Darwin pier have to be altered, and new rolling stock provided.

Allowing credit for the old material, the above works are not likely to cost less than £400,000, which will bririg the capital cost of the 145 miles o£ railway up to £1,580,000. Taking the cost of the extension to over the Katherine River at £600 000 this means at 4 per cent. an interest bill of £87,000 per annum. ' ' · .

The cost per train mile on the Darwin-Pine Creek 'railway is 8s. 10d., while in Queensland it .is 3s. 8!d. No doubt with increased business, an improved, roadbed, and stock, traffic be handled to much better advantage than at present,

but chiefly owing to the heavy capital cost of the railway and the small amount of traffic to be expected, rates, to be profitable, must be fixed very much higher than in Queensland or any other Australian State. • The gross revenue of the existing railway in 1911-12 was £15,939, of which nearly half was for wharfage, rents, sale of water, &c. The working expenses were £16,666. Leaving out of consideration for the moment the possibility of a development in the cattle trade, and assuming that the earnings of the extension will be proportionately the same as on the existing railway (the writer thinks they will be less), the total revenue for the Darwin-Katherine Railway would be about £22,000 per year. ·

To estimate for traffic for from more than 150 miles south-east or south-west of the Katherine would be encroaching on country whose natural outlet is either a harbor at the Pellew Islands or Wyndham, and not Darwin. Allowing that water conservation and other improvements increase the stock carrying capacity of this area by 100 percent. over the present number, the output of cattle for the five or six months of the year which constitute a season would be not more than 30,000.

At 50 per cent. increase on Queensland rates for the 200 :tniles to the seaboard, this would represent £20,600, making the gross total revenue of the railway £42,600 per annum. Assuming working expenses absorb two-thirds (average of Commonw:ealth railways) of the gross'revenue, this would leave a yearly loss of £75,000 on the Darwin­

Katherine Railway.


49. The writer has no personal knowledge of the Macdonnell Range and Central Australian country, but much valuable evidence as to phe pastoral and mining possibilities of that region was placed before the Commission, and, considering that Port Augusta. is the natural port for the inmmese area of country in Australia, reaching probably

as far north as Barrow's Creek (840 miles), he 4as little doubt that the construction of the section . from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs (300 miles) is justified without further investigation. Passing over the next 300 miles and leaving this section for later consideration, Tennant's Creek is reached, and from this point the writer difiers widely from the generally accepted view as to the route 'and terminus of t'he north and south Transcontinental Railway. ·

50. From the description of the country, evidence and particulars of existing settlement given under "Central District" in this . Report, it will be seen that a railway north from Tennant's Creek along the route of the telegraph line to Pine Creek would not traverse or directly serve any extensive area of good land or country capable of much development, and if constructed, in the writer's opinion, the time is not within sight when this section, or any portion of it, could have any possible prospect of paying working expenses, let alone interest charges on the three million, or so, which it would cost. Assuming that a railway froin the south reaches Tennant's Creek, the writer is decidedly of the opinion that, instead of following a little west of north along the telegraph line, the railway should turn north-east to Anthony Lagoon, and thence down the valley the McArthur River to a deep sea harbor at the Pellew Islands.

51. The main points in favour of this route compared with the telegraph line route to Pine Creek and Darwin are:-(a) From sea to sea it would be the shorter route by about 250 miles, the through distance from Port Augusta to Darwin and Pellew Islands

being 1,654 miles and· 1,395 miles respectively. Considering the long distance to be hauled from Central Australia north to the seaboard,


this saving of .250 miles is in1portant. (It would include traffic from the and ot,her promising mineral areas.) In

addition to thegrades,andconsequentlyoperating

expenses, are In favour of the McArthur route. On the existing railway Darwin Pine Creek, are numerous grades (both ways) of 1 In 60, whiCh would requue heavy expenditure to reduce to the grades of 1 in 75 that the writer understands are being used

on the survey of the proposed extension from Pine Creek to I{atherine. On the other. hand, from the Barkly Tableland down the valley of the McArthur River, the haulage of produce and freight to the seaboard wo"?-ld be practically all down-hill, 900 feet in 180 miles, certainly a·

ruhng grade of 1 in 100; perhaps easier can be got without heavy expenditure. (b) It traverse better. country. According to Geologist Brown's

marking of the border hne of the Barkly Tableland, the telegraph line would pass 30 miles to the west of the edge of that country,

while the McArthur route would pass through it for 110 miles. (c) A railway from Anthony Lagoon down the McArthur Valley to a deep-sea harbor at the Pellew Islands is the natural outlet and inlet for the Barkly Tableland, and compared with the proposed route from Anthony

Lagoon toN ewcastle Waters and Darwin, it would save about 350 miles of haulage, the through distances being about 580 miles and 230 miles respectively. Based on Queensland Railways stock rates, this would mean an extra charge of lOs. per head on cattle sent to freezing works

at Darwin. Proportionately, there would be the same increased rates for sheep, wool, materials, stores, &c., and it would be a serious handicap to the development of the Barkly Tableland. (d) The telegraph line route would be about 105 miles longer to construct

and the extra capital cost would be about, as under:-105 miles of construction (say) . . £600,000

Converting existing railway to broad gauge and strengthening bridges 400,000


The Katherine River bridge, the regrading of the existing line from 1 in 60 to 1 in 75, and the necessary new works and improvements at Darwin Harbor, are not included in the' above estimate, but are put against the construction of the 'proposed new harbor at the Pellew


51A. Going back to the central section of the proposed north and south railway between Alice Springs and Tennant's Creek, if practicable, the route from near Barrow's Creek might be kept more to the eastward, passing through Murray Downs and the Frew River, and junctioning with the Anthony Lagoon-Camdoweal Railway somewhere north

of Alroy Downs. This alternative route might increase the length of the north and south line by 30 or 40 miles, but it would lessen the length of the line to Camooweal by 55 or more miles, and the writer understands would traverse better country than the country along the telegraph line route between Barrow's Creek and Tennant's Creek, which has

been described as poor sandy -country. 52. From the evidence and information available, it appear E:. undeniable that the proposed raihvay south-east from Anthony Lagoon to Camooweal would not only traverse the most fertile area of country in the Territory, but it would be t he cheapest to build and operate, and would have better financial prospects than other railway lines in the Northern Territory.

53. Although by an air line Darwin is about 130 miles nearer to the Vict oria River country than the Pellew Islands, owing to the necessity of the Darwin route skirting round the heads of the streams running into the Victoria River fr om the east, to save prohibitive cost in, P ellew I sland route, having no engiJ?-eering difficulties

to avoid, could be run fauly d1rec t, and would be only about 50 miles longer to the seaboard.


The distances would compare as under:­

Western Australian to Darwin­ Common Point (near Mucka) Katherine Pine Cre.ek

Length to construct

Existing railway Length to seaboard

, ..

Western Australian Border to Pellew Islands­ Common Point (near Mucka) Newcastle Waters Colla birrian

Length to construct

Proposed Anthony to Pellew Island line


115 295 55


145 610

115 200 160



Length to seaboard 660

If the east and west line were run from Anthony Lagoon instead of from Collabirrian to Newcastle Waters, about 20 miles of construction would be saved, but the through distance from the Victoria River to the seaboard would be lengthened by 25 miles.

Strong points in favour of this route are the facts ·that it would connect the two most valuable areas of pastoral. country in the Northern Territory and would give a direct railway route from the north-west of Australia to Queensland and the eastern seaboard.

FUTURE CONNEXION BETWEEN NORTHERN TERRITORY AND QUEENSLAND RAILWAYS. 54. Some years ago the Queensland Railway Department after investigation designed a railway scheme to open up and serve the western portion of that State.

Queensland has three main lines of railway running west from ports on the eastern coast, and it is proposed to extend these lines-all in a south-westerly direction-as under:­

In a

Brisbane-Charleville and Wallal to Tobermory Rockhampton and Blackall to Windorah .. Townsville- Hnghenden and Winton to Springvale Townsville-Cloncurry and Malbon to Sulieman Creek To connect these inland terminal points it is .proposed to north-westerly direction as under :-

Tobermory to Windorah Springvale ..

Sulieman Creek And thence on to Camooweal


Mile& .

175 185 175 85

construct a railway


145 195 160 162


Mr. W . . Pagan, Deputy Commissioner, Queensland Railways (formerly Chief Engineer), gave evidence before the Commission bearing on this Great Western scheme:-787. Have you any information to give us with respect to projected railways in the State of Queensland that might connect with the Northern Territory ?-There is the great western scheme, which I think is indicated on some of the maps I see before me. A line is being projected from a place called Tobermory to Camooweal, with connexions from Blackall to near Windorah, and from Winton to Springvale, and Malton to Sulieman Creek.

788. Has that line from Tobermory to Camooweal been considered at all by the Government of Queensland ?-Yes. In fact, it has passed Parliament. That is to say the general scheme has passed, but there may be alterations in the route to avoid any difficult country. 804. Is there any all on the part of Queensland to build this line from Tobermory to Camooweal ?-Yes, but not until we get out west with our existing lines. It would not do to build the western line north and south until we get the east-west lines out to it.

805. How long do you think it likely before this western line is built by Queensland-five years, or ten ?-Certainly within t en years, I should think. It is a very difficult thing for me to answer, because so much depends upon the money market, and, again, upon the policies of successive Governments. 806. The Tobermory to Camooweal line has been inspected and a estimate of cost made, is not that so 1-Yes; it ought to be built for £4,000 per



This scheme totals 1,282 miles. of proposed railway, and in 1910 was estimated to cost at the rate of £3,258 per mile.

55." In a Report presented to in 1910, supporting the adoption of the

Great Western scheme, the then Commissioner of Queensland Railways (Mr. J. F. Thallon) wrote:-"Many parts 'of. Queensland carry more to the J?lile than others, and the numbers vary as the seasons, but takmg an average of 128 (whwh IS moderate m vrew of the following figures taken from

the stock returns, published annually):- '

Number of Square

1900. 1905. 1910.

Sheep per sq. Sheep per sq. Sheep per sq.

Mile. Mile. MilE).

142 95 161

333 460 554

35* 181 274

70* 203 219

degrees, viz., 22 to 23 lat., 143 to 146 long ...

160-Mount Abundance . . . . . . . .

392-BU.renda I

962-W ellshot ..

* These low fi gures represent the losses due to drought, but with rail communication to the North I conclude losses by drought will be very much reduced, as sheep could then be depastured. on the Gulf Barkly Tableland . . The railway districts combined should carry 24,000,000, or, say, 21,000,000 more tha n the country carnes at whwh, at the average freight per fl eece, would give an additional revenue wool traffic !'lone of to new rarlways, but. to the State railways generally; so that, although the new railways

only their. diV.lsiOn the receipts may not. p ay drrectly, they will be remunerative to the State as a whole. Another

but real gam Will m the roa?- carnage ?f wool and stores from and to holdings in the far West. Take, for instance, a station 300

miles of the present railway carn;mg 100,000 sheep. I compute the annual saving in freight at £1,900, and the saving in time-­ at ,least six weeks--equal to £166 mterest on a clip worth £30,000.


It is difficult to give a reliable estimate of the revenue and expenditure of 1,282 miles of railway through comparatively unknown country, but, taking two existing lines into similar country, viz. :-

Hughenden to Winton Charleville to Cunnamulla

Miles. 132 121

I find the revenue averaged £143 per mile and the expenditure £104, leaving a balance of £39 per mile for interest. Working on this basis for 1,282 miles, there should be a profit of £50,000 on the working, which would go towards the interest charge of 3 per cent. amounting to £132,810, leaving a balance of £82,810 to be contributed by the ratepayers and the Treasurer on vacant lands within the railway districts. These comprise 187,640 square square miles of country, and to make up the deficiency referred to a contribution

of about 8s. 9d. per square mile will be required. This levy on the ratepayers should, after the lines have been completed, and as the earnings approximate to expenditure and interest decrease year by year until it is ultimately extinguished.

I n view of the ravages of drought on pastoralists in past years, the decreased cost of managing their holdings, the facilities of getting from one place to another, the improved conditions of life generally following on the construction of railways to remote parts of the State, the interes t accruing from quicker returns, and the reductions in freight, will far more than compensate fo r any contribution required to make up the deficiency in the interest charge.

I find that the rents derived from holdings within the railway districts amount to £99,120, an average of 12s. 9!-d. per square mile of the occupied areas, and with the advantages of the railway they may reasonably be considerably increased. Any additional· revenue from rents, however, will go to the Lands Department, and any deficiency of the railway revenue t o meet working expenses and interest at the

rate of 3 per cent. on the capital cost must, under the 1906 Act, as I have said, be made up to the Railway Department by the ratepayers and the Treasurer."

56 . With the construction of the proposed railways in the north of the Territory and of the above Great Western scheme in Queensland, the building of an inland link between the Queensland railways at Tobermory and t he New South Wales railways at Bourke will be an urgent necessity to provide a direct railway route. fr om ·S.ydney

to the Northern Territory. The distance from Bourke to Tob ermory Is 230 illlles, of which about 100 miles is in New South Wales . Speaking of this sectiori., Mr. J. Harper, Assistant Commissioner for Railways, stated in evidence as under :-607 . Has an estimate of cost been made of the connexion ·bet ween Bourke and the Queensland

border 1- Yes. It will not be long b efore we ext end fr om Bourke to the and I think

it probable that Queensland will ext end fro m Cunnamulla to border. cert amly Will be one of the lines which will be built when money is available and the policy can be earned out. F.4581. D



Assuming that all of the above railways are constructed, the through distance from Pellew Islands Harbor to Anthony Lagoon, Camooweal, Cloncurry, and Townsville would be about 1,220 miles. As Camooweal is 460 miles from the Pellew Islands, the half-way point between deep sea harbors there and at Townsville would be 150 miles over the Territory border, and in Queensland. No doubt if there is a break of gauge at Camooweal, it Would be the dividing point for freight, but with a uniform gauge, a deep sea at the Pellew Islands should draw traffic from a portion of Western Queensland, particularly as the gradients and summit levels would be in favour of the Territory port.

The distance from the Pellew I slands to Brisbane by way of Camooweal and Tobermory would be 1,800 miles, and to Sydney via Bourke 1,860 miles.


57. To go fully into the gauge. question in this Report would require more time and space than is at the writer's disposal. He is of the opinion that the best gauge for the Northern Territory (and Australia) is the 5 ft. 3 in. · · In comparing the merits or otherwise of the different gauges, the main advantage that is claimed in favour of the narrower gauges than 5 ft. 3 in. is that curves of sharper radius can be used, enabling the milway line to be :fitted more closely to the contour of the country, and by lessening the depth of cuttings and heights of embankments, the quantity of earthworks is reduced. ·

In difficult and mountainous country requiring much and sharp curvature to keep the earthworks (and sometimes heights of bridges) down to a reasonable limit, a . narrow gauge railway is justifiable, but these conditions are not present in the Territory - at any rate in the parts where railways are ever likely to be built-which is country not requiring curvature as sharp (12 chains radius) as is common on the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge in Victoria. ·

. From what he has seen and from information obtainable, the writer judges that on none of the projected lines in the Territory will sharper curves than 15 chains radius be required. . .

The widely held opinion that the 5 ft. -3 in. gauge requires a greater width of earthwork formation than the 4 ft. 8! in. gauge is not in accordance with the general practice. In the United States of America, vvhere by far the greater part .of 4 ft. 8! in. railway mileage of the world is to be found, the width of formation for the main lines is from 18 to 20 feet, and for branch lines 16 feet, while in Victoria for the 5 ft. 3 in. gauge the main lines are built 15 ft. 6 in. wide and branch lines 13 ft. 6 in. ·

On New South Wales railways the formation width for the 4 ft. 8! in. gauge is from 15 feet to 18 feet. -


58. The last 1,000 miles of railways constructed in Victoria (direct labour system) have averaged £3,200 per mile. In the Malay States, metre gauge railways, built by low priced Asiatic labour, average over £8,000 per mile. Railway construction costs in the Territory are likely to be nearer the Malayan than the Victorian average.

. In Victoria most of the new railways are laid with serviceable rails taken from existing lines requiring a heavier rail to carry increasing and heavier traffic ; also bridges and waterways are mostly built of wood. For various reasons this economy in :first cost is· not possible in the Territory. Another point is that in Victoria the necessary but very expensive terminal stations are in existence, while in· the Territory they would have to be provided.

· To obtain labour from the southern and eastern States for railway construction in the Territory, much higher-probably 50 per cent.- rates of wages than at present rule in Victoria would have to be paid. Water supply for railway purposes will, most parts the Territory, an expensive item. · Bore water, unless softened, IS unsmtable for locomotives, and artificial surface supplies will have to be proVIded.

. Victorian main lines are :mostly laid with 80-lb. (some 75-lb.) rails, but they carry heavier traffic than can be expected on Territory railways for the. next · and the writer is of the opinion that 70-lb. rails are sufficient for Territory _lmes. The difference in cost between 80-lb. and 70-lb. rails represents about £160 per mile. On the Great Western scheme in Queensland, 61-lb. rails are to be used.


· The existin.g railway from Darwin to Pine Creek (built mostly by Chinese labour) cost £!,177 per mile. The extension to the Katherine is estimated to cost about £8,850 per mile, but if the Katherine Bridge is added the cost will probably be from £10 500 to £11,000 per mile. '

South of the Katherine and the mouth of the McArthur River the country is more favorable for railway construction than is north of the Katherine, and the writer judges . from obtainable that railways likely to be built in the near

future m the Terntory will average about £6,000 per mile.


59. The last 600 miles of permanent railway survey in Victoria (by the writer) cost from £15 to £98 per mile, the average being £37. In the Malay States the cost of permanent surveys averaged about £140 per mile. . In the Territory surveys will be much more expensive than in Victoria. Much

wages will have to be paid to ·obtain first class officers and men, and, owing to the

little supervision possible, only first grade engineers will be of any use in the Territory. !rar:sport, and in parts water supply, will be expensive, and in the coast districts mabihty to do proper work in the "wet" season will add to the cost. When· before the Commission, Mr. Graham Stewart, Engineer-in-Chief of South Australia, estimated permanent surveys in the Macdonnell Range country to oost about £70 per mile. Where

the country is of any difficulty the writer recommends that trial surveys costing about £25 per mile be made. This survey should be accurate enough to prepare an estimate of cost to within 10 per cent. of the final outlay, and should be sufficiently dose to the final location to enable the project to be submitted to Parliament for approval to

construct . . · In easy country, as on the Barkly Tableland, a detailed inspection by an experienced rmlway location engineer is all that is required before making the permanent survey. 60. Before leaving the subject of surveys, the writer thinks it would not be out

of place to make a few remarks on the importance of proper location of railways. The location of railways is the one department of engineering in which waste, on a gigantic scale, is possible, from probable errors of judgment, and it is the one department of engineering in which no natural check exists against such errors. Errors and incompetency in connexion with railway location are less observable by the average mind than the errors of constructive design, for the reason that the latter errors lead to

personalordirectmonetarydisaster, while the former lead only to more or less unnecessary annual expenditure in working and maintenance, but which, if capitalized, would appear infinitely more disastrous than the mere collapse of a structure. The ill-designed bridge breakso down, the ill-designed dam gives way, and the engineer's bungling is betrayed,

but a knowledge of surveying instruments and a little study in field geometry will enable any one of ordinary intelligence, without any engineering knowledge whatever in the larger sense, to lay out a railway from almost anywhere to anywhere, which will carry the locomotive with perfect safety, and perhaps show no bad defects under what is too

often the only test- inspection after construction from the rear end of an observation car. The Northern Territory, being a new country, where vested interests, and other influences that tend to divert railway routes from their proper location, scarcely exist, offers a great opportunity for the laying out of a railway system to the best advantage.


61. The prospect of obtaining coal or oil fuel of commercial value in the nor.thern portion of the Territory is not encouraging. . the sm.all of timber

on the BarklyTableland, the question of fuel supply IS likely to be Important m the.near future, and the following information r egarding coal in Western Queensland Is of interest. QUEENSLAND GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.

Publication No . 239. CRETACEous CoAL MEASURES.

" The strata belonging to this system extend over a very large area in Western Queensland, reaching from the Gulf of Carpentaria down to the and south­ western borders of the State, the area embracing 400,000 square miles : It has been found to be coal-bearing in a great number of th e localities where artes1an b.or es have

been sunk, but the records which have been made of these occurrences are very Imperfect. It has been proved however that some of the coal seams were penetrated at shallow depths, and that others fou nd at depths between 1,000 and 2,000 feet."

72 7



''Cretaceous Coal Fields.-The coal area between Winton and Hughenden may be considered as proved, coal seams having been found at Warrwah, Flinders River, Blantyre, Lammermoor, Winton, Marathon, and Vindex, the extent of the area being 2,000 square miles.

In Western Queensland the coal seams existing in the cretaceous beds are little known. As previously stated, they have been penetrated in sinking for artesian water, and data concerning the strata passed through have not been recorded for future reference, those interested in finding water having no interest whatever in looking for coal seams. This oversight is now apparent, as railway construction is taking place over the whole length and breadth of this artesian water-bearing country."


62. As regards the "desirableness of setting apart an area for the eventual creation of a. new capital," the writer is not prepared at this stage- of the development of the Territory to make any recommendation, but thinks the matter should wait until the routes of main railways are decided on, and that then an inland and more central site than Darwin for the administraion of the Territory should be selected.

From a health point of view no one could speak with greater authority than Dr. C. L. Strangman, Government Medical Officer, who gave evidence before the Commission as under:-1218. How long have 'JOU been here ?-Nearly seven years.

1219. What conclusion have you come to in regard to the health of the residents of Darwin and of the Territory generally ?-From Darwin to the Katherine is not, in my opinion, nearly as healthy as the country south of the Katherine. 1238. Do you consider it is desirable to establish the capital inland ?-Yes ; when the population warrants it.

1239. You speak from a health point of view ?-Certainly. 1240. Have you any particular site in view ?-No; but I am inclined to regard the country around Borroloola as better than the near country. There have been a number of people in Borroloola, and it has been a very healthy place. Water and drainage are very good.

The writer understands that Bitter Springs has been suggested as a site for the new capital, but after seeing the locality he does not consider it a suitable one. Most of the witnesses before the Commission who had local knowledge were asked their opinion as to whether Bitter Springs was a suitable site for the capital, and the cannot recall any one _ who favoured it, and one, Mr. J. McLennan, who was for seven years manager of the station _ which included Bitter Springs, stated as under :- .

1593 .. Have you given any consideration to the question of the capital or administrative centre inland? -I am not in favour ofBitter Springs. That water is not good for human consumption. It contains salt and lime, and is not even good for irrigation purposes. It is about the worst place on the overland telegraph line that you pass. -

Also Mr. T. H. Pearce, who has 20 years' experience of the country north of Newcastle Waters:- ·

1711. Do you know Bitter Springs co1.mtry at all ?-Well. . ·

1712. Do you think it would make a desirable site for an administrative centre ?-No, I do not thmk it would. 1713. Why ?-It is too low-lying in relation to the surrounding country. I regard it as unhealthy. · -

1714. Is it liable to submergence in flood time ?-Immediately around Bitter Springs, yes. 1715. Is there any high country there which would be suitable for a city ?-I do no_t know of any. 1716. Is there any good agricultural country ?-Yes, patches, but they are m area. 1717. What is the water like ?-It is bitter. 1718. Do you think it unwholesome ?-Yes. I think that any one using it for anf length of time would suffer. The water is highly ·


The writer has lived and w-orked in the various climates to be found between Hobart in Southern Tasmania and the tropics, under and north of equator, and is satisfied that the Northern Territory climate-particularly of the country 100 miles or more from the coast-is a healthy one. At the same time the writer recommends that great care should be in the coastal districts-when employing ·

large bodies of men on railway or other public works construction. The employes and ·.· camps should be under medical supervision. Also men from the southern States should _ be sent to the Territory in April or May at the beginning of the "dry" so as to becom e accustomed to the climate before the "wet" season commences In November or D ::c <.:;mber.



. 64. As a of a nine of subj-ect, the writer submits

following concluswns and recommendations on the question of railways and ports necessary to develop the northern portion of the Territory :-(1) The most valuable areas of country in the Territory are the Barkly Tableland and the country on the head waters p{ the Victoria River and Sturt's Creek. The former

probably contains from fifteen to twenty million acres of good land, and the latter somewhat less area. With water conservation, railway communication, and station

Improvements, these districts -are capable of carrying probably four or more times the they do at present. The evidence and information available are fairly conclusive

that the Barldy Tableland and the Victoria River country are suitable for sheep . . (2) The coastal country extending inland from the seaboard for from 120 to 160 miles, and the central district from Pine Creek along the overland telegraph line to J?-ear Newcastle Waters (280 miles by about 160 miles wide) have limited areas of fer.tile lands, but are mostly poor country. Evidence and past experience show that

ne.Ither the coastal country nor the central district is suitable for sheep. Cattle do fairly well, but the carrying capacity and the development possibilities of this country are greatly inferior to those of the Barkly Tableland and the Victoria River District. (3) As the country is developed and settlement increases, agriculture sufficient for local requirements is likely to follow, but there exist so many difficulties to be over­ come before it appears possible for agriculture for export at a profit to be established that the writer regards the Territory as likely to be mainly a pastoral and mining country

for the next generation or longer. (4) The natural outlet for the Barkly Tableland and an immense area oflessfertile country in North and Central Australia is a deep sea port in the Gulf of Carpentaria. The best, in fact the only site, in the Gulf where it appears practicable to establish a harbor,

accessible by a railway from the interior at a reasonable cost, is the Pellew Islands, near the mouth of the McArthur River. (5) Further investigation is necessary to determine the best outlet and inlet for the southern and more fertile portion of the Victoria River district. It may be Wyndham, in Western Australia, or the Pellew Islands; or a deep sea harbor at Blunder Bay, at the mount of the Victoria River, but it is not likely to be Darwin.

. (6) Darwin is the natura) deep sea port and business centre for the country as far south as the Katherine (including the mining fields) and of the coastal districts and islands for 150 miles to the west and 350 miles to the east. Darwin has no trade relations or. business interest of any importance with either the Barkly Tableland or the

River District, and the establishment of a new port or ports, with the necessary ra1lw3:ys to serve those districts, will not affect the existing vested business interests of Darwin, -but it will disappoint the expectations of those who anticipate increased and fictitious prosperity from the expenditure by the Commonwealth of some m1lhons _of

money in extending the existing Darwin railway southwards to Central Austraha. One of the arguments used by advocates of connecting Darwin with .the railway system is that it is an urgent necessity from a defence pmnt of v1ew, but although General Gordon, Chief of the General Staff, and . Colonel

Chief of Ordnance of the Australian Army, were called before the. both declined to express any opinion on the necessity or otherwise for. -ways in the Territory. Admiral Creswell also gave evidence ?efore the .

. He · point.ed out the "excellent strategic position" occupied by Darwin for. a naval base, but beyond stating "the greater the population the better the for the naval base," he declined to express any opinion on the railway .

In any ease this Commission is charged to report on the routes of railways '.' 1n their relation to the development of theN orthern Territory, not defence," and the wnter is in agreement with Mr. D. J. Gordon, of South Australia, who, in evidenc e, told the Commission-

Q. 461. We should, in expending public money, be more in building our railways mainly for developmental purposes than to meet any imaginary military necessity . .

(7) The railway routes that would best develop t he nort hern port i?J?- of t he Territory, and also give most promise of (in time) turning out payable propos1t10ns, are as under:-·Pellew I slands to Anthony Lagoon and Camoo -

weal . . .

. 460

Collabirrian or Anthony Lagoon westward, pass-ing south of Wave Hill to t he vV estern Aus-tralian border . . 47 0 "


The best connexion from this n()rthern railway system to the Macdonnell Ranges and the,n seaboard at Port AJlgusta appears to be from the Anthony Lagoon­ Camooweal line thr.ough Alroy Downs, and the Frew River to Alice Springs and Oodnadatta, but if the Alroy Downs-Frew River section of this route were found impracticable, the alternative route from Anthony to Tennant's Creek and thence ,ll,long the overland telegraph line could be . ·

.. The proposal to extend the Darwin-Pine Creek railway through the Katherine7 Bitter Springs, and Newcastle Waters to Anthony Lagoon (and Camooweal) will not stand investigation. For . nearly 300 miles from Pine . Creek it would traverse poor country, nqt .capable of much development, and as the distance from Anthony Lagoon to the seaboard at the Pellew Islands is only 230 miles (in the event of the latter not being

built), Barkly Tableland inward and outward traffic would be handicapped to the extent of 350 Il1iles of extra haulage, whil_ e if both connexions to the seaboard were built, the longer line would have to depend on its localtraffic, with no possible prospect o'fpaying working expenses, let alone interest charges. No doubt, in the it will be advisable

to connect the railway systern outlined above with the Creek ana Ri.tilway, but the writer thinks that the time is so .far distant whe.n the connexion will be justified from a commercialpoint of view, that it is unnecessary this stage to: go the of route. ·

65. Recommendations for development of the Territory. to provide traffic for railways to be ·:

(1) Water conservation and bores for artesian or sub-artesian water, along stock routes, tracks, and on areas of good country at . present unoccupied or only partly stocked because of want of permanent water. ,

(2) Improvement of existing. and opening up of new tracks for · · ·

of ·and agricultural farms in , the

vicinity of :Lagoon and at so1ne point on the hea(l watey;s of the Victoria River. · (4) Re1noval of a number of rock bars in the McArthur River to enable craft _ feet to reach :Borroloola 50 mjles from the mouth . . Perma­

.. nent marking of the bar. and channel at the entrance to the McArth:ur

River, also at the Roper River entrance.

66. Recommendations. as a preliminary to railway and other works ·(1) Survey of proposed harbor at the Pellew lslands, and trial railway survey from there to Borroloola and Anthony Lagoon, 230 miles. . .. (2) Permanent survey from Oodnadatta to Alice Springs {including water · .supply for construction and xailway purposes), 300 miles.

(3) . Temporary engagement of a high grade harbor engineer to report and advise on proposed deep sea port at Pellew Islands. (4) Inspection and report by a railway engineer on the Victoria River country, . inchiding the mouth of the Victoria River and Wyndham (i.n Western

Australia), and a railway route from the Western Australian border to Newcastle Waters and Anthony Lagoon. (5) Examinations and report by a railway engineer as to classification of. country, probable traffic, and cost, of the following

Anthony Lagoon to Camooweal. Anthony Lagoon to Tennant's Creek. · _ Alroy Downs to Frew River and Barrow's Creek. Accompanying this Report · are maps as under:-Map of. the Northern Territory, scale 32 miles to 1 showing lands occupied and routes of proposed railways. . . .·., - ..... , .. I ' ; ,

. Map of Australia showing Northern Territory and proposed In relatiOn to the States of the Commonwealth.

19th February, 1914.

A. COMBES, Commissioner, Late Superintending Surveyor in charge of Railways Surveys, Victoria, 1906-13; Chief Surveyor, Malay States Railways, -1902-6.



. vi_ewing Mr. Combes' Report, and recommendations, it is apparent that his first obJect IS to make Pellew Island harbor the terminus of developmental and through railways to the exclusion of Darwin. . Pellew Island harbor, on the evidence before your Commissioners, will be

available for _drawing 20 feet or a little over. The entrance shows a depth

of 24 _feet With a tidal rise .of from 1 to 3 feet. It cannot therefore be compared with a deep sea harbor. Another disadvantage of Pellew Island harbor is its

situation In the Gulf of Carpentaria, 350 miles off the direct trade route. This position also makes it unsuitable as a strategic naval base for defence purposes. Darwin harbor and fairway have a minimum depth of 42 feet, with a rise and fa,ll of 12 feet at neap tide, and 24 feet at spring tide, enabling the largest ships afloat to enter and anchor with perfect safety _ at any state of the tide.

It is proposed under the Minority Report to serve the southern portion of the Victoria River district by rail easterly to Newcastle Waters and Anthony Lagoon, thence northerly to Pellew Island harbor, a total distance of about 540 miles from Wave Hill. Against this, under the Majority Report, it is suggestEd as a preference that the

main trunk line be so located as to serve, for some years to come, all the Victoria River district, with Darwin as its port. Assuming this suggestion to be adopted, the nearest suitable point on railway from Wave Hill Station would be about Willaroo, 150 miles to the north. The rail distance from Willaroo to Darwin, via Katherine, would be about 275 miles.

As the country between Wave Hjll and Willaroo is well grassed and watered, it may be safely predicted that Wave Hill stock would be trucked at Willaroo and thence to Darwin, 275 miles. It is also only .reasonable to expect that the same point of railing {Willa roo) would be used by other stations situated westerly and northerly of Wave Hill.

Your Commissioners have no data upon which to base reliable estimates of cost of the following works :-(a) Improving and regrading existing railway line fr9m Darwin to Pine Creek.

(b) Cost of providing better wharfage and shipping facilities at Darwin. (c) Cost of building bridge over the Katherine River. With regard to the probable revenue on the railway from Darwin to Katherine extension, although no _reliable esti!llate ca?- at present be . of the :probable increased traffic, it is beheved that with freezing works at Darwin It will be considerable. Whilst the Katherine· remains the terminus fat stock from much of the Victoria and Rop-er River districts would be drawn to and trucked f!om the. }\atherine. .

As the railway is pushed further south, and partiCularly If It be located to still better serve the Victoria River District, the traffic should increase enormously. Country already occupied will by improvements, which are now in cost, carry much more stock, whilst country not now capabl_e of occupatiOn, oWing to non-permanency of water, will be brought under occupation. .

Without railway extension there can be no substantial progress or development of the Northern Territory.

Melbourne, 20th February, 1914.

FRANK CLARKE, Chairman. DAVID LINDSAY, Commissioner.

Printed a.nd Published for the GOVERNMENT of th.e CoMMONWEALTH of AusTRALIA bv ALBERT J. MULLETT, Government Printer for the State of Victoria.

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