Attempts to find economic opportunities in remote parts of the Territory have a long history. This week marks 90 years since the men of the Mackay expedition from Sydney to Arnhem Land crossed the Roper River on their way to Mount Delight then on to Oenpelli. The small group were looking for potential pastoral land, timber and gold. As was often the case, they had help from Aboriginal people they met along the way, including from two men called George and Buddy, pictured here catching fish for the party. The expedition lasted about three months, and while they decided the economic prospects were meagre, one of the group, Herbert Basedow created a valuable photographic record of the trip, and another, Walter Sully, produced a film called Mysterious Arnhem Land” which was screened around the world that same year.


Picture: Herbert Basedow, National Museum Australia


Published: 6 May 2018

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