NT Scouting History
“The “Boy Scout” movement, which has taken such a firm grip of the popular imagination in the United Kingdom since its introduction by the Hero of Mafeking, has been introduced locally by the Rev.Godson, and we believe already has a membership of 19 boys.”(Northern Territory Times and Gazette, Friday 17 March 1911.)
Whilst many early records of Scouting in the NT were destroyed by Cyclone Tracy, there are scattered clues accessible through the State Library of South Australia and the NT Library Service, which indicate Scouting was underway in Darwin in 1911.
(Permission required from SLSA and NT Library for public use of images – free of copyright but certain conditions must be complied with)
It is quite possible that like elsewhere in Australia, boys were operating as troops outside of any ‘Group’ structure (ie a Scout Troop would exist, but its management would be entirely independent of the Cub Pack in the same area). The Group concept was implemented in the mid to late 1920′s elsewhere in Australia and possibly equally applied here in the NT.
The following articles appeared in the Northern Territory Times and Gazette, in September 1920:
The next known Group formation in the NT was in Darwin in 1928, with the formation of the 1st Darwin Group under the command of Captain Len Samut.
At that time NT Scouting was controlled from New South Wales but this changed the next year when control was passed to Queensland.
1937 The Second Darwin Boy Scouts, Cubs and Rovers in front of the Church of England, Smith Street. L-R Sid Lauder, ?, ?, Frank Perez (partly obscured), ?, ?, ?, ?, ?, Steve Abala, Ken Bowman (grandson of Mr Parer who owned the Pub), possibly Creed, Ray Perez, ?, ?, ?, Eddie, Cyril Ah Mat, Warne Parer. (Positioning on left uncertain)
Alice Springs formed its first official group in 1936, but it is believed the Movement had been operating there since 1923 .
Tennant Creek followed suit in 1941 but it wasn’t until 1957, well after World War II, which had seen Scouting go into recess, that the first Katherine Group was established, giving the Movement a foothold in all the main Territory centres of the time.
The war had taken its toll though, and when scouting control was passed from Queensland to South Australia in 1955, only two groups 2nd Darwin and 1st Alice Springs were registered.
Nhulunbuy Scout Group was formed in 1971 with the development of the mining town to service the bauxite mine, processing plant and wharf facilities.
1973 saw the formation of an official NT Area, but Cyclone Tracy dealt a blow when it destroyed records and memorabilia.
1988 was an important year for the Movement as it was the first time girls were allowed to join the younger sections at the time – Cub Scouts and Scouts. Girls had already been admitted into Venturers and Rovers since 1973. Girls joined in droves joining Packs and Troops right across the Territory and Australia.
1st April 1989 saw the Northern Territory become a Branch which meant that the then Administrator, Commodore Eric Johnston AM. OBE was sworn in by the then Chief Justice of the NT Mr. Justice Asche, as the Chief Scout of the NT a tradition that continues today with Her Honour The Honourable Sally Thomas AM the current Chief Scout of the NT.
Scouting continues to grow within the Territory with Groups in Darwin city and Northern Suburbs, Palmerston, Howard Springs, Humpty Doo, Batchelor, Katherine, Nhulunbuy, Alyangula and Alice Springs.
History of Individual Groups
1st Darwin Sea Scouts
Woorabinda Camp Ground