Happy 130th birthday to the Arltunga goldfield, site of the first major European settlement in Central Australia. Eastern Arrernte people have lived in the region for thousands of years, but things changed forever when gold was reported by prospectors on a dry dusty creek bed in 1887, later known as Paddy’s Rockhole. And so they came, fortune seekers catching the train to Oodnadatta and then walking or riding along the Overland Telegraph Line towards the goldfield. It grew into a hectic little gold-mining town far bigger than Alice Springs was at the time. By 1905 a township was surveyed, with a well, store and hotel. But as activity on the field waned and gold became harder to come by, one by one the miners moved on. In 1913 the battery closed, and despite short-lived waves of interest over the next 50 years, today it is a ghost town.


Published: 29 October 2017

Picture: Battery Works, Arltunga [B 1435], State Library of South Australia

Forgotten Territory was a weekly photo column of historic images in the Northern Territory News which I curated from 2016 until 2019 supported by the collections of the Northern Territory Library and other cultural institutions around Australia, as well as local history Facebook groups. 

Click on the images to read the story behind the image.

Warning: May contain images of people who have died.

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These works were made on Arrernte, Larrakia, Gaddigal and Lenape land that was never ceded