Territory Stories

Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 August 1990)



Parliamentary record : Part I debates (16 August 1990)


Debates for 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990; ParliamentNT; Parliamentary Record; 5th Assembly 1987 - 1990




Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory





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Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

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Attribution International 4.0 (CC BY 4.0)

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Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory



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DEBATES - Thursday 16 August 1990 Mr FIRMIN (Ludmilla): Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise today also to congratulate the government on the declaration of the Gregory National Park. Unlike some other members in this Chamber, I have been to the area and, 1 ike several others who have spoken here today, I cons i der it to be a magn ifi cent and glorious pi ece of country. As has been said, it wi 11 probably become one of the most impressive national parks in Australia., I have travelled through the area many times since my first trip to the Kimberleys about 25 years ago. In those days, the Victoria Highway was just a gravel track. I was fascinated by the country when I first saw, it and '1 find it as fascinating now asI did then. Today, I wou 1 d 1 ike to touch on some of the hi story of, the anea and to add to what has been said already about it. The best documented and most famous visit to the area - and probably the first visit by white men - was that of the men of the HMS Beagle. They moved along the coast area after they had been in the Darwin region the year before. When they reached the coasta 1 area at the mouth of the Vi ctori a Ri ver, in 1839, they ded ded to map as far upstream as they possibly could. There are some very interesting aspects of that well-documented enterpri se whi ch sometimes sounds li ke a wonderful tourist trip. .. I noted the jocularity across the Chamber when Gouldian finches were mentioned. Members might be interested to know that the naming of that bird arose out of the voyage by the staff of the Beagle up the Victoria River. I think it was Mr Forsythe who named it. He was in a gig that was being rowed up the river by Captain Stokes. He saw this magnificent bird and he named it after his good fri end Mr Gould who had spent many years as a natural i st and was receiving specimens of animals and birds from the voyage., He thought this bird was unique and so attractive that he decided to call it after Mr Gould himself. Mr Speaker, I would like to read you a little about that voyage up the Vi ctori a Ri ver in 1839. I wi 11 read a coup 1 e of pages from the log of the voyage which was .kept by Captain Stokes. It makes fascinating reading and reinforces some of the passion that is felt for this area, particularly by the Mi n i ster for Primary Industry and Fi sheri es and the Mi ni ster for Labour, Administrative Services and Local Government. It is very difficult to describe the beauty of the area unless you are a poet or a talented writer. Captain Stokes wrote: The Beagle was now nearly 50 mi les up the Victoria River and might have gone 7 miles further, but a valley holding out a hope that we might find water by digging and the distance at which the r.iver was fresh being too great for us to think of completing our stock from it, we anchored abreast of it. Whilst onshore getting observations for the area from the chronometers in the afternoon, I could not avoid soliloquising as I gazed upon the sh i p lyi ng surrounded by lofty, rocky hei ghts that towered above her masts until they.appeared mere sticks. The contrast forcibly presented itself between the comparative insignificance to which she was reduced by the elevation of the hi 11 s around and the majestic appearance she was accustomed to bear when among the 1 owl ands of whi ch we had seen so much. The sight reminded me of early years of wandering within the narrow arm of the sea in Tierra del Fuego, save and except there were not the forests of ages to hide the nakedness of the land, which even there was close to the water's edge. 9913

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