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The lengths some people go to over an election campaign... This is Harold George Nelson, the NT's first federal member, who served in the House of Representatives for 12 years. The Territory was granted a seat (but no voting rights) in 1922, which former union leader Nelson won as an independent, later joining the Labor party. While campaigning during the 1925 election, Nelson gave an impassioned two-hour speech in Alice Springs before leaving the telegraph station en route to Darwin. He lost his way somewhere near Barrow Creek, travelling in circles with no water, scattering papers with rough directions scribbled on them. Getting more desperate, he wrote a farewell letter to his wife with an "assurance that a power stronger than the electors had taken a hand in his destiny". He lit fires and even resorted to drinking engine oil for over 48 hours (not recommended), before he was found, probably just an hour or so from his death. He went on to win the December election by 34 votes and ended up serving until 1934.

Published: 19 May 2019


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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