Have you ever lived in Darwin?

Did you ever live in Darwin before 1978?  Did your parents or grandparents live in – or visit Darwin?  Do you have any good photographs of Darwin?  If so, I would dearly love to hear from you.

Hi!  My name is – obviously! – Kathy De La Rue, and I am passionately interested in Australian history.

My first book, Pearl Shell and Pastures, was published in 1979 as part of WA’s sesquicentenary celebrations.  The book deals with the history of the Pilbara region in north-western Australia.  My husband Colin was working as an Australian Inland Mission padre at the time, and we were living in Karratha with our two young children.  I was working as a freelance news correspondent at the time and I attended a meeting called to discuss the ways in which the people in our town, in the neighbouring town of Dampier and the Shire of Roebourne could participate in the sesquicentenary celebrations in 1979.  When someone mentioned writing a history of the nearby ghost town of Cossack, I jumped in with both feet and volunteered to do the job, without even thinking of the many other commitments I had.  Pearl Shell and Pastures was the result. 

In 1981 we moved to the Northern Territory where I worked as a librarian in Darwin for one year, then in Nhulunbuy for the following three years.  Needless to say, I was far to busy – and too isolated – to undertake any in-depth research.  We returned to Darwin in 1985 and I continued working for the NT Library Service.  As the kids got older I had some time on my hands, so I started studying again in 1988, but I was held up for over ten years by a serious illness.  I finally finished my Graduate Diploma in History in 1999, and my studies for this qualification led me to research on the history of Darwin.

My second book, The Evolution of Darwin 1869-1911, was published by the Charles Darwin University Press in 2004.  The date range dealt with in my book is significant:  this was the period when South Australia administered the Territory. 

I am now a PhD candidate at Charles Darwin University, studying the history of Darwin during the years 1911 to 1978 when the Commonwealth government administered the Territory. 

I hope to finish my thesis in the next couple of years and then rewrite it so that it can be published as a companion volume to The Evolution of Darwin.  I will be using many photographs in both the thesis and the book.  The Northern Territory Library has a wonderful collection of photographs, but they have been used countless of times in books and journal articles, and I am hoping to find some new ones for my work.  I am also very interested in learning about people’s experiences when they lived in Darwin.  These reminiscences help an urban history such as mine come alive.

If you think you can help me with photographs or reminiscences – or both! – please contact me on kathy@delarue.net.

I would love to ‘talk’ with you.


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