Sunday History Photo / NT

Submitted: Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 06:31
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Alexandria Station is a pastoral lease that operates as a cattle station and is Australia's second largest pastoral property after Anna Creek station. It is located about 173 kilometres NW of Camooweal and 273 kilometres East of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.
Occupying an area of 16,116 square kilometres of open plains, floodplain and wooded sandhills situated on the Barkly Tableland and was established prior to 1877.

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. Alexandria shares a boundary with Mittiebah station, another NAPCo. property. (Mittiebah had been part of NAPCO in earlier days, prior to its resumption from Alexandria by the Northern Territory Government in 1965. re-purchased Mittiebah, in late 2001.
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 flock.
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.

In 1901 the area had the best rains since 1894 with 17 inches (432 mm) falling over 4 days that April. Drought followed the next year with the station's bores also running dry despite being sunk to a depth of 400 feet.
The period from about 1910 to the late 1930s were difficult years: World War 1 followed by severe drought and a market downturn. For most of that time Alexandria was the company's only station, although the first Channel Country property, Marion Downs, was purchased in 1934. The acquisition in 1939 of two other Channel Country properties, Monkira and Coorabulka, served to establish more firmly NAPCO's style of operation breeding cattle on Alexandria and fattening on, and selling from, the Channel Country.
The period up to the late 1960s was a time of consolidation and internal development for the company. Although labour and materials were scarce during World War II, major improvement programs were undertaken on the properties in the post-war years.

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.
Stock had to be quarantined in an area of 10 square miles around Borrodo waterhole in 1918 following an outbreak of red-water amongst cattle that were travelling to Brunette Station.
Periodical flooding is a way of life in Alexandria, with both the Playford and Rankin rivers breaking their banks. In 1939 over 6 inches 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.
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.

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

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Reply By: Nomad Navara - Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 08:04

Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 08:04
Great reading, thanks once again Doug.
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Reply By: Member - Bruce C (NSW) - Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 10:56

Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 10:56
As always Doug, your subjects are diverse and interesting.

Well done and many thanks for these little Suday Morning highlights.

Cheers, Bruce.
At home and at ease on a track that I know not and
restless and lost on a track that I know. HL.

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Reply By: Member - ken m4 - Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 18:53

Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 18:53
thank's Doug how did the cattle duffers fare at the hearing
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Follow Up By: Life Member - Doug T (NT) - Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 18:58

Sunday, Jan 06, 2013 at 18:58
Good question Ken, but sorry I don't have an answer....yet, I wasn't there at the time...

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Reply By: Kilcowera Station Stay - Tuesday, Jan 08, 2013 at 07:05

Tuesday, Jan 08, 2013 at 07:05
An excellent read thanks! Our eldest daughter worked there when she left school, it's a massive place.
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