Alexandria Station (Northern Territory)

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Alexandria Station is located in Northern Territory
Alexandria Station
Alexandria Station
Location in Northern Territory

Coordinates: 19°03′28″S 136°42′28″E / 19.05778°S 136.70778°E / -19.05778; 136.70778 (Alexandria)

One of the stockyards on Alexandria Station, ca. 1921
Alexandria Station, homestead and outbuildings, Queensland, 1921

Alexandria Station is a pastoral lease that operates as a cattle station and is Australia's second largest pastoral property after Anna Creek station.

Description[edit]

It is located about 173 kilometres (107 mi) north west of Camooweal and 273 kilometres (170 mi) east of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.

Occupying an area of 16,116 square kilometres (6,222 sq mi) of open plains, floodplain and wooded sandhills situated on the Barkly Tableland and was established prior to 1877.[1]

The station is currently one of 15 properties owned by the North Australian Pastoral Company who has owned it since 1877, making Alexandria NAPCos oldest and largest property. The plains are covered with Mitchell grass that supports a herd of about 55,000 cattle and allow the owners to harvest some 10,000 bales of hay per annum for use on other properties in the group.[2] Alexandria shares a boundary with Mittiebah Station, another NAPCo. property.

50 employees live on the station with the main homestead being situated close to the Playford River. Two outstations are found on the property; Soudan is along the Rankin River and Gallipoli which is on the eastern side of the lease.

Initially Alexandria used to run Shorthorn cattle but in 1982 the decision was made that Brahman would be more suitable for the harsh environment, particularly the heat and ticks. Since then Belmont and Charbray cattle have been added to the herd.

History[edit]

A gruesome murder was committed at the station in 1885 when a station hand named Ross was killed by Aborigines using an axe they had stolen from the man's camp. The murderers were pursued the following day but never found. Another man named John Corbett died at the station in the same year when the dynamite he was using to deepen a well exploded prematurely causing him to fall to the bottom. He later died of shock and his other injuries.[3]

Heavy flooding occurred in the area about the station during the monsoon of 1895. Alexandria received 17 inches (432 mm) of rain in January 1895.[4]

In 1901 the area had the best rains since 1894 with 17 inches (432 mm) falling over 4 days that April.[5] Drought followed the next year with the station's bores also running dry despite being sunk to a depth of 400 feet (122 m)[6]

The cattle king, Sidney Kidman, announced in 1907 that he would be purchasing all the male cattle produced on the station for the next three years. Kidman expected a total of between 9,000 to 10,000 head of cattle to be acquired.[7]

Stock had to be quarantined in an area of 10 square miles (26 km2) around Borrodo waterhole in 1918 following an outbreak of red-water amongst cattle that were travelling to Brunette Downs Station.[8]

By 1923 the size of the property was estimated at 10,500 square miles (27,195 km2) and was the second largest run in the Northern Territory after Victoria River Downs, which occupied 13,100 square miles (33,929 km2).[9]

Periodical flooding is a way of life in Alexandria, with both the Playford and Rankin rivers breaking their banks. In 1939 over 6 inches (152 mm) of rain fell over the course of two days during the wet season. At the time Alexandria had no boat and a passenger who had arrived by plane had to be ferried across the Playford in a bathtub.[10]

Peter Sherwin was a Jackaroo at Alexandria in 1946 when he was 16 years old, he remained here for six years before leaving to Helen Springs Station. Sherwin would later on purchase a string of properties including Victoria River Downs Station in 1986.[11]

Alexandria and the rest of the Tablelands were struck by drought in 1952 which was eventually broken by heavy falls in May of that year.[12] The station had an estimated size of 11,000 square miles (28,490 km2) at the time and recognised as being one of the best developed and most keenly husbanded property in the north.[13]

In 1955, Alexandria and other stations in the surrounding area were victims of the largest cattle duffing ring since the war years. The duffers were caught after several months of tracking down the stolen beasts in hidden gullies around the area. A special court was set up at Alexandria to hear the charges.[14]

Much of the station was left underwater following heavy rains in 2009[15] and 2012 where flooding turned the area into an inland sea.[16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association". 2009. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "Northern Australian Pastoral Company". 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  3. ^ "News and notes". The Northern Territory Times (Darwin, Northern Territory: National Library of Australia). 23 May 1885. p. 2. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  4. ^ "Heavy floods in the Northern Territory". The Mercury (Hobart, Tasmania: National Library of Australia). 16 March 1895. p. 1 Supplement: The Mercury Supplement. Retrieved 19 February 2013. 
  5. ^ "News and Notes.". The Northern Territory Times (Darwin, Northern Territory: National Library of Australia). 24 May 1901. p. 3. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "News and Notes.". The Northern Territory Times (Darwin, Northern Territory: National Library of Australia). 15 August 1902. p. 3. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "Our Eastern pastoral letter". The Northern Territory Times (Darwin, Northern Territory: National Library of Australia). 20 December 1907. p. 3. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "G.N 35.18 Stock and brands Department". The Northern Territory Times (Darwin, Northern Territory: National Library of Australia). 15 June 1918. p. 15. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "Makin it good for a few. Million acre leases of the Territory". Northern Standard (Darwin, Northern Territory: National Library of Australia). 18 September 1923. p. 1. Retrieved 16 March 2013. 
  10. ^ "Rankine River notes.". Townsville Bulletin (Queensland: National Library of Australia). 9 February 1939. p. 10. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "Peter Sherwin: The Battles Of A Real Strange Critter". Toowoomba Hotel. 7 January 1989. Retrieved 14 January 2013. 
  12. ^ "Falls on tablelands". Sydney morning herald (New South Wales: National Library of Australia). 24 May 1952. p. 1. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  13. ^ "Beating NT drought". The Courier-Mail (Brisbane, Queensland: National Library of Australia). 16 May 1952. p. 2. Retrieved 10 March 2013. 
  14. ^ "Police say they've caught 'duffers'.". The Argus (Australia) (Melbourne, Victoria: National Library of Australia). 27 April 1955. p. 8. Retrieved 16 December 2012. 
  15. ^ "Floodwaters cover Alexandria Station in the Northern Territory". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 9 January 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2013. 
  16. ^ "Flooding hits Alexandria Station". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 27 April 2012. Retrieved 5 January 2013.