Do we need the Army again to make large-scale farming in the Territory a reality once more?
The World War Two events described in the Alice Springs News story “After Darwin’s bombing, the Army made the desert bloom” sure seems to suggest it.
It was an era of huge population gyrations as the military moved in and out.
And the Army showed that some no-nonsense resolve can indeed make the desert bloom.
However, the army had "more farm workers than acres and no need to consider the cost of production”.
A botanist who provided technical advice for the army farms, warned that “the Northern Territory … is definitely not a land of milk and honey waiting to be tapped by the first agricultural adventurers".
While the Katherine region, headquarters for the army's 2 Farm Company, has gone on to be the focus of farm and horticultural production in the NT, Central Australian horticulture continues to languish. In this comment piece ALEX NELSON argues for the importance of a history of agricultural research and enterprise in Central Australia for us to understand why this is so. PHOTO above right: a great crop of silverbeet at Haasts Bluff Aboriginal community, mid last century. Courtesy Gross Collection – Strehlow Research Centre.