In response an Army farms program was proposed, with the main centre at Adelaide River. Purchase of 50 hectares, as a farm and rest camp facility, was approved by the government, and the Commandant of No.7 Military District, Lieutenant-Colonel H.C.H. Robertson, acquired the plots at Adelaide River in late 1940. Three months later the farm was producing beans, cucumbers and melons. Adelaide River was followed by Army farms scattered through the Territory along the North-South Road. They included farms at Coomalie Creek, Elliott Staging Camp, Hayes Creek, Katherine, Wycliffe Well Army Farm and Spinifex Bore. The Hese family at Ti Tree Store also grew vegetables and provided the Army with produce, while vegetables were also grown at the Mataranka and Elliott army camps. In addition to these supplies, most military camps established their own gardens to supplement basic food rations.
Bankabanka cattle drover
View transcriptHide transcript
There were about a hundred thousand head of stock destined for Queensland.
We were plagued with Jap planes photographing the route, from Wave Hill Station to the border, as they were going to land at the Top End and march through that part of the country when the time was right. Thank God it didn’t happen.
The most successful Army farm was at Adelaide River. By 1942 it had produced 73 tonnes of produce, including tomatoes, cabbage, bananas, mangos and papaya. This production was stepped up to cater for an ever-increasing military population and by 1944 the farms were producing 1.7 million kilograms of fruit and vegetables from about 150 hectares under cultivation. Some 42,000-dozen eggs, as well as pork, poultry and honey were also produced and enough food was made available to feed around 55,000 personnel. There is no firm figure for the number of personnel who served in the Territory, though it has been suggested that it might be in the order of one million.