15 fascinating facts you probably didn’t know about the NT

by | Feb 27, 2022 | Uncategorised | 0 comments

1. What river do you Finke is the oldest in the world?

The Finke River is one of central Australia’s major rivers systems however it is thought to be the oldest riverbed in the world’.  It starts in the MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory and runs for around 600 kilometers into the Macumba River which then empties into Lake Eyre in South Australia

This ancient river is thought to have flowed through the center of the Australian continent 340 million years ago, before dinosaurs and even before geological processes formed the surrounding MacDonnell Ranges. According to the Northern Territory Government, the Finke River has been on its present course for about 100 million years.


2. When water in River is bad.  

The NT is home to the worlds only dry river regatta. The Henley on Todd Regatta occurs every August in Alice Springs and has done so for more than 60 years. In a competition that sees crews operate “boats” that are bottomless which enable the “rowers” to run. However, just this is not quirky enough for a fact of the Territory. In 1993, the regatta was cancelled because unusually wet weather meant there was water in the river. This leaving the NT with the title of the only river regatta cancelled due to having water in the river.


3. The only place in Australia to be under military control

During World War II, most of the Top End was placed under military rule. This is the only time since federation that part of an Australian state or territory has been under military rule.


4. Opium processing in Darwin

Well known Cavanagh Street property in Darwin, the Sue Wah Chin Building, was once home to a proposed opium export venture. The building of five commercial premises had identical shop fronts, however the one on the far left was a built a little more fortified.

In 1888, Kwong Sue Duk built the shops originally known as Stone Houses with the vision to exporting opium. He sold four of the shops keeping one for an opium packaging and export business, but the venture did not succeed.

You can drop into the Stone House today for an ale and admire Kwong’s fortified building.


5. What is closer by plane, Sydney or Melbourne?

Melbourne is closer to Darwin by plane. Yes, Melbourne is further south but Sydney is a long way east. Melbourne by plane is 3140km where Sydney is 3160km. We also asked Pythagoras and he agreed.

6. Is it Katherine or Catherine?

We may never know the answer but it all started in 1862, when John McDouall Stuart christened the Katherine River, after which the town and the Gorge are called.
Stuart reached the Katherine River on July 4, 1862, and wrote in his notebook, “Came upon another huge creek, having a flowing stream to the south of west and coming from the north or east.” This I’ve named ‘Catherine’, after James Chambers Esq’s second daughter.” Stuart’s greatest friend, and the sponsor of five of his northern journeys, was South Australian Pastoralist James Chambers. There is some debate over Stuart’s accuracy. According to most sources, chambers’ wife’s name was Katherine, while his daughter was Catherine.

7. NT’s first international conference

When Matthew Flinders circumnavigated Australia in 1803 he encountered a Makassan trepang fleet at present-day Nhulunbuy. He had a long conversation with a Makassan captain named Pobasso. Through his cook, who was also Malay, Flinders learned about the scope of the trade of Trepang (Sea Cucumber) from this interaction. In honor of this event, a beach near the meeting place was called Macassan Beach.

8. “G’day Mate, welcome to Australia.”

Hieu Van Le, came to Australia in 1977 on a tiny fishing boat following the communist triumph in Vietnam. The coastguards of Singapore and Malaysia had forced him out to sea not allowing him to seek asylum. But in Darwin Harbour, two lads in tinnies welcomed them, one raising his stubby and shouting “G’day, mate. Welcome to Australia!”

Hieu Van Le went on and become 35th governor of South Australia, in office from 1 September 2014 to 31 August 2021. He served as South Australia Lieutenant Governor from 2007 to 2014. He also served as chair of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission from 2006 to 2009.

9. All Black does a runner to Darwin

Keith Murdoch represented New Zealand from 1970 to 1972, playing for the All Blacks, including three test matches. His career ended when he was sent home from a tour in disgrace following a bar brawl in England. Instead of arriving in Auckland, he changed planes in Singapore and traveled to Darwin, abandoning rugby and New Zealand for good. Instead, he went walkabout through Australia’s north living the quiet life, working job to job. An ABC producer, Margot McRae, found him after 50 years after his disappearance in Tully, Northern Australia. He said he wanted to live a nomadic life, constantly on the road when she interviewed him. The next day, when she returned with the camera team, Murdoch had disappeared.

10. “Centralia,” “Kingsland,” and “Territoria”

The Northern Territory could have been called Centralia, Kingsland or Territoria. In late 1912, there was increasing dissatisfaction with the “Northern Territory.” The names “Kingsland” (after King George V and to correlate with Queensland), “Centralia,” and “Territoria” were offered, with Kingsland eventually winning out in 1913. However, the name change was never implemented.

11. Walking on the road could cost you $3080

It is an offense in the Northern Territory for a pedestrian to walk on a road when there is a footpath or nature strip available, unless it is impracticable to use it. However, if you must walk on the street, the legislation in the Northern Territory only requires that you stay as far to the left or right of the road as possible. There’s a maximum penalty fine of $3,080 or 6 months’ imprisonment.

12. Where does it snow?

It wasn’t a hoax; snow did fall on Uluru on July 11, 1997. This weather phenomenon is so rare that there is no record of it in any of the Pitjantjatjara Anangu people’s stories. Temperatures around Uluru, located in central Australia, have been known to drop below zero, but there is usually no precipitation in winter to create snow. It surprised the people who visited ‘the Rock,’ making for an interesting news item.

13. The Jewish homeland of the North

For Eastern European Jews, the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were a time of great devastation and fear. Eventually, they resulted in mass emigration, which greatly increased the Jewish population of Britain, the United States, and other allied and neutral countries.

Jews needed a home, and it was decided in Australia’s best interests to settle persecuted Russian Jews in the Northern Territory. Plans were made to purchase a million acres of land in Australia to settle between 500,000 Jews, but the project was shelved.

14. All other capital cities have had higher maximum temperatures than Darwin

Of all the state and territory capitals in Australia, Darwin has the coldest maximum temperature ever recorded. On October 17, 1892, Darwin recorded its maximum temperature of 40.4 C. This clearly makes us the coldest and there is no argument.

Second lowest is Hobart in Tasmania which recorded a maximum temperature of 41.8 C on January 4, 2013.

Sydney has the highest recorded temperature of all capital cities at 48.9 degrees, which was recorded on January 4, 2020.

15. Sleeping through Cyclone Tracy

All Territorians know what happened on December 24, 1974. Cyclone Tracy ravaged Darwin, for three hours, howling winds battered the city destroying 90 per cent of Darwin’s houses. Forty-five thousand or so people endured Cyclone Tracy’s winds of 300km with a total of 71 people perishing in the disaster.

However, someone not aware of all this was and was all snug in bed, was Mayor Tiger Brennan thanks to a cocktail of rum, antihistamine, and painkillers, who slept through the night.

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