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McKinlay's route from Adam Bay to the East Alligator
Title : McKinlay's route from Adam Bay to the East Alligator McKinlay's route from Adam Bay to the East Alligator
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Creator : McKinlay, John, 1819-1872
Source : Parliamentary paper (South Australia. Parliament); no. 82 of 1866
Place Of Creation : Adelaide
Publisher : Government Printer
Date of creation : 1866
Additional Creator : Edmunds, Robert Henry, 1834-1917
Format : Map
Contributor : State Library of South Australia
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In 1862 John McDouall Stuart successfully crossed the Australian continent from Adelaide in the south to the northern coast, travelling through the northern lands. The South Australian government laid claim to the territory and on 6 July 1863, the British Government issued Letters Patent which annexed the Northern Territory to the southern colony.

John McKinlay's 1866 expedition was to examine the country in the Northern Territory and to search for a suitable site for the main settlement. At this time the settlement for the newly declared Northern Territory of South Australia was at Escape Cliffs at the mouth of the Adelaide River in Adam Bay (north of present day Darwin). However it was unsuitable for a permanent settlement.

McKinlay left on his expedition in January and the onset of the wet season came soon after. The deep mud greatly affected his travel. In the end he had to escape by using the hides of his horses to build a punt which was sailed down the East Alligator River and around the coas, back to Escape Cliffs. He subsequently explored along the coast by ship and recommended Port Darwin as a suitable site.

At this time there was very little knowledge of this area. Previous explorations had been led by John McDouall Stuart who in 1862, had followed the Adelaide and Mary Rivers to the sea, after crossing the continent from Adelaide; Augustus Gregory in 1856; and Ludwig Leichhardt in 1844-45. Both Gregory and Leichhardt had travelled overland from Queensland.

The extreme conditions of the dry and wet seasons were not fully comprehended by the explorers who came from the south of the continent. They did not appreciate the need for an early departure before the northern wet season arrived. This was one of the causes of dissent between McKinlay and his surveyor, Robert Edmunds.

Permanent settlement was established from 1869 at Port Darwin after several earlier British settlements in Northern Australia had been abandoned. In February 1869, Surveyor-General of South Australia, George Goyder, founded Palmerston, later known as Darwin.

In the early 1870s the Overland Telegraph was constructed, following the route forged by the explorer Stuart. This led to further exploration of the Territory and opened up communications between Australia and overseas. In 1911 the Northern Territory was transferred to the direct control of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Related names :

McKinlay, John, 1819-1872

Edmunds, Robert Henry, 1834-1917

Coverage year : 1866
Period : 1852-1883
Place : Top End, Darwin
Region : Northern Territory
Further reading :

John McKinlay's Northern Territory explorations, 1866: South Australian parliamentary papers 1865-66 Adelaide: Friends of the State Library of South Australia, 1999

Browne, LFS John McKinlay and the Mary River mud Darwin: State Library of the Northern Territory, 1993

Lockwood, Kim Big John: the extraordinary adventures of John McKinlay 1819-1872 Melbourne: State Library of Victoria, 1995

Powell, Alan Far country: a short history of the Northern Territory Carlton South, Vic.: Melbourne University Press, 2000

Internet links :
Exhibitions and events :

State Library of South Australia: Mortlock Wing. Taking it to the edge August 2004-



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