Before European settlement, hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal people lived in the Northern Territory, speaking hundreds of languages. The Yolngu came from Arnhem Land and the Arrernet, Warlpiri and Pitjantatjara were from central Australia. Hundreds of years ago, Australian Aboriginals in the Northern Territory established trade with the Makassar from Indonesia, who traveled to Australia to harvest sea cucumbers.
Many Aboriginal cultures still exist in the Northern Territory, such as the Larrakia people, who are sometimes called the “Saltwater People.” They are the traditional custodians of the land and waters surrounding Darwin. Over 80 Aboriginal languages are still spoken in the Northern Territory. Around half of the Northern Territory land is owned by Aboriginal people, including famous national parks such as Kakadu and Uluru-Kata Tjuta, leased back to the government.
The first attempt to settle in northern Australia (which was a part of New South Wales) occurred in 1824, followed by later attempts in 1829 and 1849. Occupying the area was difficult due to its isolation, limited supplies, and harsh conditions, resulting in starvation, illness, and failure. In the early 1860s, northern Australia was taken under the control of the South Australian Government.
Finally, in 1869 a northern settlement was successfully established. It was named Darwin, after Charles Darwin, and was founded by Captain John Lort Stokes. Following this success, Alice Springs was launched to the south in 1871. The 1870s saw the discovery of gold in the Northern Territory. Over the years, many substances have been mined in the Northern Territory, including copper, tin, manganese, wolfram, mica, bauxite, uranium, oil, and gas.
On 1 January 1911, the Northern Territory separated from South Australia and became a part of Australia’sAustralia’s Commonwealth.