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Exactly 135 years ago this week, some newcomers appeared at Rapid Creek, in the territory of the Larrakia and Woolner peoples. A group of four Jesuit Missionaries led by Father Strele established St Joseph's Mission in 1882 on the site known as Gorumbai, meaning an 'elbow' in the creek. Aboriginal people helped the missionaries to establish a plantation of banana, pineapple and tobacco, and within a year there were more than 50 people living at the camp. Two years later the first baptisms would take place. When the missionaries unpacked a life-size statue of St. Ignatius “the blacks fled thinking it was a person”. The mission lasted nearly ten years before being moved to Daly River.

Published: 15 October 2017


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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