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Fort Dundas, Pularumpi, NT, Australia

Photographs None
List Register of the National Estate (Non-statutory archive)
Class Historic
Legal Status Registered (22/06/1993)
Place ID 18163
Place File No 7/01/015/0002
Statement of Significance
Fort Dundas is significant as the remains of the first attempted European Settlement of the Tiwi Islands and the first attempted European and military settlement anywhere in northern Australia (Criteria A.4, B.2 and C.2). The overgrown remains are evocative of the harsh and isolated conditions which people at these settlements suffered (Criterion A.4). It is important to the Tiwi people because of its association with many skirmishes between the Tiwi and the military. The Tiwi consider that the withdrawal of the British was a direct result of Tiwi victory over the colonisers. It is rare in European Australian history for Indigenous people to feel this way (Criteria B.2 and G.1). The site is likely to contain much archaeological information (Criterion C.2).
Official Values Not Available
Description
Fort Dundas was the first attempted European occupation of the Tiwi Islands and the Top End, and the first of three failed British trading posts established in northern Australia between 1824-49. It was established in 1824 as part of Britain's attempt to secure the sea lanes east of the newly established British trading post of Singapore against Dutch rivalry. The population of marines, convicts, ships' crews and a few civilians and families never rose much higher than 100 people. The settlement suffered from tropical sickness and isolation: access to the fort up the treacherous Apsley Strait discouraged traders and shipping. In addition, the settlers suffered sustained hostilities from the Tiwi people who resisted the British colonisation of the island. These factors eventually led to the abandonment of the settlement in 1829. The Tiwi people consider the British withdrawal to be the direct result of Tiwi victory over the colonisers which in fact drove them from the island. Similar attempts at settlement were made on the Coburg Peninsula at Fort Wellington (Raffles Bay) in 1827-29 and Fort Victoria (Port Essington) in 1839-49. The first successful European Settlement of the north was at Port Darwin in 1869. Fort Dundas buildings included a stockade 80m x 50m with gun emplacements, a wharf, commissariat store, hospital, barracks, gardens and at least twenty houses. Today the site is ruined and overgrown. Many features which have left no trace on the ground are known only from an 1827 map. Most of the remains are footings, terraces, ground irregularities and rubble. Only a few sections of Walling have survived to any height. There is likely to be much archaeological information still on site.
History Not Available
Condition and Integrity
Fort Dundas has deteriorated over the last century with forest growth and mortar decay. Most of the structures are in ruins, however some of the larger walls and turrets are still standing.
Location
About 40ha, at Barlow Point, 1.5km south of Pularumpi, Melville Island, comprising the area enclosed by a line commencing at High Water on the eastern side of Apsley Strait at AMG northing (Zone 52L): 8737500m north, then directly to AMG point: fn557370, then directly to High Water Mark (HWM) on the eastern side of Apsley Strait at AMG northing: 8736700m north, then northerly via HWM to the commencement point.
Bibliography
CROSBY, E. 1975 SURVEY AND EXCAVATION AT FORT DUNDAS, MELVILLE
ISLAND, NORTHERN TERRITORY, 1975. AUSTRALIAN SOCIETY FOR HISTORICAL
ARCHAEOLOGY. UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY.
DONOVAN, P.F. - A LAND FULL OF POSSIBILITIES - A HISTORY OF SOUTH
AUSTRALIA'S NORTHERN TERRITORY, UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND PRESS, 1981.

Report Produced  Sun Sep 21 11:07:04 2014