Territory Stories

The Garden Point Mob



The Garden Point Mob

Other title

Stories about the early days of the Catholic mission and the people who lived there, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the mission


Historical Society of the Northern Territory


Brogan, Thecla


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT




Garden Point


Published to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Roman Catholic mission at Garden Point (Pularumpi) on Melville Island begun in 1940; consists of stories mostly from the early days, prepared by people who were taken to the mission as children in the 1940s and by some of the staff of the mission in the early days; includes evacuation to Melbourne in 1942 and return in 1945, conditions at the mission, dormitory life, education, recreation including hunting, bush trips and football.


Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).

Table of contents

Early days at the mission at Garden Point / J. Pye -- Mission 1940-1945 / E. Bennett -- Gifts from the skies / L. O'Dwyer -- Arrivals at Garden Point; daily life / Sister Elsie, Mick Cussen, Marie Gardner, Thecla Brogan -- How Leon Gregory go the name "Foxie" / Luke S Morcom -- Ada's story / Ada Bailey -- Faye's story / Faye Gavenlock -- Happy days at Garden Point / Barbara Tippolay -- Evacuation 1942 / Eileen Ryan -- The first months / Sister Antoninus -- Harold Anderson / Luke S. Morcom -- Some of the boys / Jack Cusack -- Memories of Garden Point 1956-1964 / Sister Christopher Cleary -- Garden Point grows up / Peter Brogan -- Melville Island song / words by Sister Mary Annunciata.




Melville Island; Catholic Church; Missions; Aboriginal Australians; Religion

Publisher name

Historical Society of the Northern Territory

Place of publication



x, 85 pages : illustrations, maps, portraits ; 25 cm.

File type




Copyright owner

Historical Society of the Northern Territory

Parent handle


Citation address


Page content

' 1" I Quinn was a great favourite with the kids. He always had a smile on his face. He was often found telling jokes or chasing some kid. The houses for the boys and girls had been completed in 1941. Brother Bennett arrived in April to take charge of the boys. On 25 June Sisters Annunciata, Eucharia, Antoninus and their Provincial Superior from Sydney, Sister Concepta Henschke, arrived with fifteen girls from various parts of the Territory. They left Darwin on the St Francis and picked up at Bathurst Island fourteen girls who until then had been living with the Sisters. The girls' ages ranged from 18 months to 14 years. At the front beach to welcome them at Garden Point were Father Connors and Brother Bennett with their thirty boys whose ages ranged from 2 to 14 years. There was little time to settle down. With Australia now at war with Japan, a Japanese strike in the North was likely, so the first thing to do was to evacuate the girls with the three Sisters. They travelled to Darwin on the Southern Cross; Sister Eucharia reported that they were pursued by a submarine. A submarine was sunk off Bathurst Island shortly afterwards. Father Connors and Brother Bennett stayed behind together with Mrs Liddy who did the cooking and looked after their material needs. The girls were in Darwin on February 19 for the first air raid. Father J Cosgrove noted in his diary: I was writing at my desk in the presbytery about 10 am when I heard loud, strange noises. I walked onto the balcony and saw strange planes and bombs falling from them. I said aloud: 'Good God, the Japs! What do we do?' I then saw the Garden Point girls running around in the yard enjoying every minute of it; some were singing out 'over, got him'. I told them to go inside the Convent. The 10 Sisters were busy getting things ready for the long journey south by road. The Sisters had tried to call the girls inside .... Soon the girls and Sisters were taken out of Darwin by the American Transport Drivers, first to Adelaide River some 68 miles down the Stuart Highway and tlum on to Pine Creek. The Sisters and girls slept in police prison cells that night. They had to tie rope across the doors to keep the horses out; Father Henschke managed to get a bag of fiour and a bag of rice for them. When a train came along they were allowed to get into the cattle trucks to Larrimah. From there Australian Military trucks took them to Alice Springs. The Aussie soldiers treated the Sisters, girls and Bishop Gsell well. The refugees then travelled on to Melbourne and on to Mandeville Hall where they caused quite a sensation. This was the first time that people really understood that there was war in the North of Australia. For security reasons reports on the Darwin air-raid had been played down. A little later the girls were shifted to Carrieton, about 50 km east of Port Augusta, in South Australia and were well cared for by the Sisters during the three years of hostilities. Father AJ Conway of Carrieton accepted them into his parish and found a suitable home for them. Father Henschke, the Mission Bursar in Darwin, looked after their temporal needs. Bishop McCabe of Port Pirie and the people of Carrieton were very kind to them. When the girls returned they found that in spite of the war the place was much better than when they had left. The first thing to catch their eye was The Quail riding and bobbing at anchor. Its story has been told by Brother Pye in The Tiwi Story. Back at Garden Point during the war Father Connors told the Tiwis to go to Snake Bay (Milikapiti) since Garden Point was well known to the Japanese. It was a dicey spot. The Tiwis 11

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