A colonial chronology of Alice Springs

Since time immemorial Arrernte people have lived in the area which is now known as Alice Springs.

1825 British sovereignty was asserted over the area when the western boundary of New South Wales was extended to include what later became the Northern Territory.

1860 John McDouall Stuart passed through an area to the west of the claim area. He noticed camps and tracks, and was followed and observed by Arrernte people.

1863 The area now known as the Northern Territory was annexed by South Australia

1870 John Ross and Overland Telegraph Line survey party travelled around an area to the south-east of the claim area.

1871 Overland Telegraph Line survey and contruction parties entered the claimed area and re-named several features, including Heavitree Gap and Alice Springs waterhole.

1872 Construction of the Alice Springs Telegraph Station completed. Aboriginal people were employed by the station, and a large camp remained nearby.

1872 Applications lodged for leases which became Undoolya Station. Conflict between Aboriginal people and pastoralists in Central Australia over land and access to water led to many deaths in the following two decades - an estimated 1000 Aboriginal people were killed in this period.

1888 The town of Stuart proclaimed and surveyed on the west bank of the Todd River, 3 kilometres south of the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. [The town was later re-named Alice Springs].

1910 Northern Territory Aboriginals Act 1910 (South Australia). The Act applied to all those defined as 'Aboriginal', including those of mixed descent. It made provision for the establishment of Reserves, to which those subject to the Act could be removed, and 'prohibited areas'. The Chief Protector became the legal guardian of all Aboriginal children. The Act also regulated relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and conditions of employment.

1911 The Commonwealth Government assumed control of the Northern Territory.

1911 Aboriginals Ordinance 1911 (Commonwealth), which incorporated the Northern Territory Aboriginals Act 1910 (South Australia). Also gave the Chief Protector the power to take any Aboriginal person into custody.

1914 Establishment of the Bungalow, within the town of Stuart

1918 Aboriginals Ordinance 1918 (Commonwealth) replaced previous legislation. Also made provision for declaration of institutions for Aboriginal children (including those of mixed descent) and for further regulation of employment. The Ordinance made it an offence to supply an Aboriginal person with alcohol.

1928 The area within a radius of five miles of the proposed railway line was declared a prohibited area for Aboriginal people, including those of mixed descent

1928 The Bungalow was moved to Jay Creek, 40 kilometres west of the town.

1929 Railway line to Stuart from South Australia completed.

1930 Prohibited area amended to within a two mile radius of the office of the Government Resident (located in the centre of the township).

1932 Alice Springs Telegraph Station closed. The Bungalow moved to the former Telegraph Station site, gazetted as Alice Springs Aboriginal Reserve.

1933 Town of Stuart re-named Alice Springs.

1935 Little Flower Mission established in the Catholic Presbytery.

1936 Alice Springs Aboriginal Reserve extended southwards to include the Catholic Mission, which re-located the same year to the north bank of Charles Creek [Unthelke Ulpaye].

1937 Aboriginal Reserve at Jay Creek gazetted. Prohibited area changed to cover the whole area within the town boundary.

1940 Beginning of influx of military personnel. Alice Springs became a major strategic and supply centre during the Second World War, particularly after the bombing of Darwin.

1942 The Bungalow closed and children evacuated. The Alice Springs Aboriginal Reserve became a Native Labour Camp

1942 Catholic Mission moved to Arltunga, 110 kilometres east north-east of Alice Springs.

1943 Prohibited area redefined as land within a five mile radius of the Alice Springs Post Office but excluding Alice Springs Aboriginal Reserve.

1945 The Bungalow re-established at the Alice Springs Aboriginal Reserve. Reserve also functioned as a living place for local, working and Aboriginal people 'in transit'.

1951 Aboriginal people of mixed descent in Alice Springs staged a strike, withdrawing their children from school in protest at having their lives regulated by the Aboriginals Ordinance. They are granted general exemption

1953 Welfare Ordinance 1953 (Commonwealth). People of mixed descent are no longer defined as Aboriginal. However, almost all other Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory are defined as 'wards' and therefore subject to this new Ordinance.

1953 Catholic Mission moved to the present site of Santa Teresa Mission, 90 kilometres south-east of Alice Springs.

1957 Welfare Ordinance came into operation with the publication of the Register of Wards.

1960 The Bungalow closed and its occupants were re-located to the newly established Amoonguna, a government settlement 22 kilometres south-east of Alice Springs.

1962 Aboriginal people eligible to vote in federal, and hence Northern Territory, elections.

1964 The repeal of the Welfare Ordinance. This meant the end of prohibited areas and restrictions on consumption of alcohol by Aboriginal people

1967 A resounding 'yes' in the Federal referendum gives the Commonwealth Government responsibility for Aboriginal affairs throughout Australia and allows the inclusion of Aboriginal people in future censuses.

1968 The implementation of the judgement of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission meant the introduction of equal pay for Aboriginal men working in the pastoral industry. A combination of factors including equal pay, increasing fencing, road transport and mechanisation led to a large decrease in the number of Aboriginal people employed and living on pastoral stations during the 1960s and 1970s.

1972 The first legal recognition of town camps: Unthelke Ulpaye (Charles Creek) and Inarlenge (Little Sisters). This marked the beginning of the current legal situation of town campers, and the end of an unsuccessful 50 years of attempts by non-Aboriginal authorities to eradicate and/or regulate people camping in and around the town.

1974 Second report of the Aboriginal Land Rights Commission (the Woodward Commission). Recommendations include that Aboriginal people should be able to claim areas in towns on the basis of need.

1974 First meeting of the Central Land Council.

1975 Hearing by Interim Land Commissioner Justice Ward of Alice Springs Urban Land Claim. This needs-based hearing included 13 town camps, in a combined claim for areas with permission of senior Arrernte. The hearing was not resumed after November 1975 with the change of Federal government.

1976 A thousand Aboriginal people march in Alice Springs in support of Land Rights and Land Councils.

1976 Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 (Commonwealth). Unlike the earlier Bill, the Act does not include land claims on the basis of need, or claims within town boundaries

1977 Tangentyere Council recognised as representing the interests of Aboriginal 'town campers' in Alice Springs. 1978 Self-government granted to the Northern Territory.

1982 Destruction by Northern Territory Government of part of Ntyarlkarle Tyaneme, a sacred site registered under the Aboriginal Sacred Sites Act 1978 (Northern Territory).

1984 Seven Years On: Report by Justice Toohey to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs on the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976 and Related Matters draws attention to the situation of Arrernte people whose land is within the town of Alice Springs, and who have no access to land rights.

1984 A joint Commonwealth-Northern Territory Government Tribunal reports that the significance of the sacred site called Werlatye Atherre makes the area unsuitable for a proposed recreation lake. This followed a long campaign including a protest camp by custodians and their supporters to protect the site.

1992 Mabo (No 2) decision of the High Court recognises native title.

1992 Declaration made under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (Commonwealth) to protect sacred sites (Atniltye, Atnyere Arrkelthe, Urewe Aterle) in the vicinity of Junction Waterhole for twenty years, preventing the contruction of a proposed flood mitigation dam. Junction Waterhole is just north of the municipal boundary. Once again, this was the culmination of a long struggle to protect these places

1995 Lodging of Alice Springs Arrernte native title determination application with the National Native Title Tribunal.

1996 Application referred to the Federal Court.

1997 Hearing of Alice Springs Arrernte native title determination application commences.

1999 Justice Olney finds that native title exists in a majority of land claimed