Sunday History Photo / NT

Submitted: Sunday, Nov 13, 2016 at 08:24
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Banka Banka Station is a location in the Northern Territory of Australia, 100 kilometres north of Tennant Creek along the Stuart Highway. The historic cattle station was the first operational pastoral lease in this region, and a supply camp during World War II, It was occupied and run by the Ward family and is still the site of a mudbrick homestead.

The Banka Banka mudbrick homestead is a single story, rectangular building with a pitched roof consisting of a timber roof frame and corrugated metal roof sheeting, mudbrick walls, concrete floors, surrounded by a veranda supported by concrete posts. The building consists of three rooms. The homestead, which was partly reconstructed in 2001, is of architectural interest for its extensive use of mudbrick. It represents an unusual construction material and technique for pastoral homesteads of this era.
Philip and Mary Alice Ward bought Banka Banka Station in 1941. Mary supervised the development of an extensive garden at the station. The homestead was a regular stopping place for travellers. In 1945, Philip Ward was among the first to truck cattle by road. After her husband's death in 1959, Mary ran the station. Due to her efforts, a government school for Aborigines openened at Banka Banka in 1961. She was known as "The Missus of Banka Banka." In 1970, suffering ill health, she sold Banka Banka and moved to Adelaide, where she died two years later.

Mary Alice Ward (1896-1972), teacher and pastoralist, was born on 1 September 1896 at Kooringa, Burra, South Australia, eldest of eight children of John McEntyre, an engineer from Victor Harbor, and his wife Margaret Anne, née Kelleher. By 1904 the family had moved to the Western Australian goldfields, living first at Kalgoorlie and then Coolgardie. Mary began teaching at Tunneys State School in June 1915, and gained her junior cadet training certificate in September next year. In 1918-24 she taught at Kalgoorlie, Boulder and Carlisle. Promoted to head teacher in 1924, she moved often—to Parkfield, Pingrup, Cottesloe, Wyering, Keysbrook and Latham—before transferring to Wyndham in 1932. On 27 December that year at the office of the district registrar, Wyndham, she married Philip ('Ted') Ward, a stockman.
For two years the Wards lived at Jack Kilfoyle's Rosewood station, 120 miles South-East of Wyndham. With Mary's brother Stuart they joined the gold-rush at Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, in 1935. Prospecting at a mine site that they called Blue Moon they struck gold, reputedly worth £80,000.

In 1941 the Wards bought the cattle station Banka Banka, a property of almost two thousand sq. miles located 60 miles North of Tennant Creek. Mary supervised the development of an extensive garden, and during World War II Banka Banka supplied the army (which had a staging camp nearby) with meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables.







The homestead, close to the Stuart Highway, was a regular stopping place for travellers and Mrs Ward's hospitality became legendary. In 1945 Ted Ward was among the first to truck cattle by road, and in the early 1950s the Wards acquired Lilleyvale in western Queensland (soon replaced with Fermoy, near Longreach) for use as a fattening station.


Mrs Mary Ward with Mr Ted Frank (also known as Day Day) on Banka Banka cattle station near Tennant Creek, Northern Territory. Ted Frank went to Banka Banka in about 1942 and did the mechanical work in the garage and cared for the water bores on the property until the early 1970s
Mary supervised the development of an extensive garden, and during World War II Banka Banka supplied the army (which had a staging camp nearby) with meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables. The homestead, close to the Stuart Highway, was a regular stopping place for travellers and Mrs Ward's hospitality became legendary.

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Reply By: Member - Bongo (NT) - Tuesday, Nov 15, 2016 at 18:03

Tuesday, Nov 15, 2016 at 18:03
A couple of years ago we were travelling along the track. It had been pissing down with rain. Sun was dropping quickly. Threeway's dongas were all booked out. Management said no campers because of the weather. Rang BankaBanka and they said keep travelling. When we got there water was everywhere. Nowhere to set up camp; too wet. What did they do? Put us up in the old school room. LEGENDS!!! Thanks Maree; your hospitality is amazing.
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