It's been 50 years since prawning became a major industry in the Top End and it feels like at least that long since you could do it commercially in this kind of getup. It all began with a two-year survey of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Even though the crew encountered "more cyclones, crocodile hunters and pirates than prawns" in the first year, they still had a major haul of banana prawns and the catches got better from there. Proved to be a goer, the Commonwealth then called for expressions of interest to operate fleets and factories as part of a push to develop northern Australia (sound familiar?). The fleet numbered at least 200 by 1970. There you go, a brief history.


Image: Northern Territory Government Photographer Slide Collection, Northern Territory Library


Published: 7 October 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