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The glorious Victoria Hotel in the Smith Street Mall was built by legendary entrepreneur Ellen Ryan. She and her husband moved to the Territory from Adelaide in 1873 after hearing reports of the discovery of gold in the north. They went straight to Pine Creek, where Ellen realised that ‘liquid gold’ was also a lucrative opportunity. She leased the Miners' Arms Hotel and over the next 15 years earned a reputation for keeping the “best table out of Darwin”. After separating from her husband she bought up land throughout Darwin, then named Palmerston, beginning work on a new hotel, eventually named the Victoria Hotel. When it opened to general acclaim, it was said that interior arrangements were “both elaborate and tasteful”. She became one of the richest women in the Northern Territory and loved a punt on the horses. Ellen Ryan is one of the few Territory women who have a page on Wikipedia about them. This International Womenís Day on Wednesday 8 March, youíre invited to Northern Territory Library from 5-7pm to help create new pages about Territory women.

Published: 5 March 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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