Scouts NT

‘Woorabinda’ Camp Ground at Howard Springs

1962 NT News Article: Darwin District Commissioner, Mrs Thrum announced that the Administrator, Mr Nott, had agreed to grant the Guides the lease on a special block of land near Howard Springs. The block is located about a quarter of a mile on the far side of the Howard Springs weir.  She said it was proposed to fence the area against wallabies and other animals.  It was expected to step up camping activities amongst Darwin Girl Guides.

1st Darwin Guide Camp at Woorabinda, Howard Springs, May 1963. Photo: Girl Guides NT.

21/8/1964: The Annual General meeting of Girl Guides was held in Darwin. A report on the progress of the building at Howard Springs was heard. The camp site at Howard springs is now being named "Woorabinda". Meaning: Camp by a Deep Water Hole.

'Woorabinda' cloth badge Girl Guides NT.


Woorabinda Camp, 1-7 September 1964.   Photos: Girl Guides NT and SA.

1-7/9 1964 : Report by Mrs Val Crohn on the ‘All NT Camp’ held at ‘Woorabinda’ at which she was the leader in Charge.

"Unfortunately the building on the block had not been started, so there were absolutely no amenities, except for a tap and a lot of bulldozed mess. A marquee was borrowed from the Army to provide recreation shade, and a gas refrigerator borrowed from NTA to cope with the large quantity of perishable foods.  The lats were quite the worst it has ever been my misfortune to provide for Guides, the same for the grease and refuse pits. The soil is quite unsuitable for digging, being full of large boulders surrounded by fine dry dust that just pours back into any excavation. Guides camped in Patrols, as it was less of a strain on the rather assorted equipment and much easier for inexperienced campers in an inhospitable climate. The Patrols were made up of Guides from different Companies and the spirit of the camp was exceedingly good. The Programme included daily swimming, preceded by rest hour in the shade of the springs. There was a ‘Wide Game’ that lasted all day, a sunset ‘Guides Own’, nightly camp fires, lessons in cooking in a camp oven and making bush larders."


Visitors to Camp: Mrs Cooper, Mayoress  and Mrs Nott, wife of the Administrator.
Leaders: Mrs Waldeck, District Commissioner, Mrs Crohn, Guider in Charge of camp.


New Fencing at the camp site.1964  Photos: Girl Guides NT.


Fun in the swimming hole at Howard Springs.

1965 Captain Ann Hughes held a camp to be tested for her Camp Permit and has a humorous story to tell of an invasion of wild pigs in the QM tent eating all of the supplies during the night.


Debora Johnson, Janice Joshua and Robyn Worthy Larrakeyah training camp held at Woorabinda 1965.

Morning Tea.  Photos: Girl Guides NT.

NT Divisional Commissioner, Mrs Helen Thrum, on camp with Darwin Guides.
Photo: Girl Guides NT.

The camp ground amenities block, which had been built by volunteers, was officially opened by World Chief Lady Baden-Powell in 1967 while on her second visit to Australia in thirty years. A plaque was unveiled by her as she officially opened the building (Note: the plaque still in place 2011). A NT News newspaper article wrote that there were 600 Guide & Scout youth members waving and cheering as she arrived in the army jeep.  There were also many dignitaries, including the Administrator, Mr Dean, adult members of the Guide & Scout movement and members of the public also in attendance.

Six Brownies from Elcho Island and had the special privilege of meeting Lady Baden-Powell. In her speech Lady Baden-Powell spoke of her pride in the growth of the movement in the NT.


Official Program: Girl Guides NT Archives


Scouts, Cubs and Visitors waiting for the arrival of Lady Baden-Powell. Mrs A Atkins, District Commissioner for Scouts, MJ Merritt leading the Official Party into the ‘Woorabinda’ Opening Ceremony.Photos: Girl Guides NT.

NT Commissioner, Miss Tucker, Divisional Commissioner,


Lady Baden-Powell and Mrs Buntine OBE, arriving at the camp site.  Photo: Girl Guides NT. 

The camp building at Woorabinda camp site   Photo: Mr Reg Worthy
Mr Reg Worthy was one of the volunteers who helped to build the amenities block


Lady Baden-Powell at Woorabinda  Photo: Girl Guides NT. 

Six Aboriginal girls from Elcho Island with Lady Baden-Powell.  Photo: Girl Guides NT and NT News

Lady Baden-Powell GBE, after the opening ceremony. Photos: Girl Guides NT.

It was Divisional Commissioner, Mrs Joan Atkins greatest wish that a Brownie Cottage be built at the ‘Woorabinda’ camp site at Howard Springs in memory of her husband Alan Atkins, who had been the Assistant Administrator before his untimely death. The cottage was to be named ‘The Alan Atkins Memorial Brownie Cottage’.

In 1972 a letter was written to the Reserves Board requesting permission to build the dormitory type cottage with facilities for 30 people.

The Reserves Board replied that it would not be wise as in accordance with a decision made in 1971 that further long term leases in National Parks or Reserves would not be renewed. The present lease was due to expire in 1984.  Therefore the cottage was not built.

The Lease to the Site was surrendered to the Reserve board in 1976 but guides still camped at the site up until the late 1990’s.

Over the years many Guide Camps and Campfires have been held at Woorabinda.  Guides attended Region and State camps, Unit and Patrol camps, Ranger Guides held lightweight camps and adult leaders enjoyed training weekends in the quiet bush setting.

In 1970 A Jubilee of Guiding camp was held and Guides from all over the Territory attended.

It was officially opened by Mrs Chaney, wife of the Administrator.

Swimming at Howard Springs.  Guide Calendar May 1978
(Note: the rotunda shown in the background was extensively used when girls were on camp for activities and as a lunch venue)


One of 1979 camps featured on the Front cover of the Girl Guide magazine “Adventuring”.

The Region Camp held in 1980 to celebrate 70 years of Guiding, was attended by 130 guides from all NT centres.     Photos: Girl Guides NT.




Camp Challenges at Woorabinda 1980’s.   Photos: Cheryl Flynn

In 1991 the 1st Nightcliff and 1st Darwin Guides held a Halloween camp for 40 guides.

In 1992, 1993 & 1994 as Guide Leader I held camps called ‘Justforfun’. The campers consisted of 20 Guides and 20 senior ladies from the Nightcliff ‘Evergreen’ club. The ladies slept on stretchers in tents provided by the army, assembled by Jack Hamilton and his men, but for all other activities and duties they joined the guides as part of their patrol.  It was a great experience for both the ladies and the girls. The ladies having never helped to make camp gadgets and cook chicken over an open fire made for many happy stories that are still recounted today. One patrol was in trouble for losing one of their ladies, Daisy Ruddick, during a blindfolded string trail through the bush, but she was found back at camp enjoying a cup of tea and good cry. The experience did not scar her too much as she came on all of the camps.



Fun and games on the ‘Justforfun’ camps. Photos: Cheryl Flynn.

In 1993 State Camp  ‘Space Mates’ camp was held. 130 Guides came from Interstate and across the Territory. The  President of NT Girl Guides, Dr Valerie Ash visited the camp. It was a fun camp with girls using  space junk in all sorts of ways, one Patrol, instead of using screening to cover their portable toilet used a huge fridge box painted and decorated to represent a space ship.  Each patrol made a space robot from the box of junk that each was given, the girls became very protective of their special space robot and gave them names, and proudly displayed them outside their tents.

The Interstate Guides said that they had never been on such a fun camp.

Quartermasters at work at the State Camp.

The Guide World flag and State Flags of visiting Interstate  campers. 


A Patrol of Space Mates with their ‘Robot’.   Photo: Girl Guides NT                  


1993 ‘Space Mates’ camp held at Woorabinda.    NT News article. 




Guide Leaders, Cheryl Flynn, Karen Jones and Val Hamilton
Photo taken at a barn dance in the Kiosk at Howard Springs 1990’s

Mrs Val Hamilton and myself, both guide leaders, have so many happy memories of our camping days together at Woorabinda.  We would always sit together at the end of day on the log fence around the campfire and talk about the day’s activities and just how much we both love the camp site.  We took girls camping to Howard Springs as often as we could, crowding into the old yellow bus belonging to the Nightcliff Sports club and heading off to another happy guide camp.

So often on meeting up with our ex guides, some of them now mothers with babies, their happiest memory of their guiding days are the camps especially the ones at Woorabinda. A 1st Darwin Queen’s Guide girls from the 60’s returned to Darwin recently and one of the main places she wanted to go was to Woorabinda, because of her wonderful camp memories. 

Val and I have had some very funny and some not so funny experiences in our years of camping at the site.  One of Val being chased by a buffalo when she went to the Rangers house to make a phone call. (before the days of mobile phones of course).  

One night the Curlews were driven crazy by a very strange high pitched signal being transmitted across our camp site, they made a loud screeching noise that was very frightening and we were very concerned, but on telling the Ranger the next day he thought we were imagining it and suggested it was just the flag flapping on the flag pole!!  We think perhaps he knew something.

Canoeing at Howard Springs 1990’s.                                                      

Camp challenge. Photos: Girl Guides NT    

One of the most enjoyable parts of the camp site at Woorabinda is being able to go over to the water hole and swim, canoe and just to enjoy the cool shaded areas around it. We just loved the bush setting so close to town.

Cheryl Flynn
Girl Guides NT Archivist.