top of page

Ted Egan Is An Australian Legend And A Great Bush Musician

Ted Egan’s career has ranged from working with remote Aboriginal communities to songwriter, historian, entertainer and the Northern Territory’s top job of Administrator. Ted Egan AO is an Australian legend and one of the great bush musicians. He played to hundreds of thousands in the Ted Egan Outback Show in Alice Springs over 30 years; he was the presenter of the acclaimed TV series This Land Australia, and later The Great Outdoors. He is an inaugural Life Member of the Australian Stockman's Hall of Fame and has a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Golden Guitar Awards. He served as the Administrator of the Northern Territory 2003-2007.

For those of you who have recently travelled the Stuart Highway and who have diverted the 3km into the Newcastle Waters Historic Precinct, you will acknowledge the sad decline of the once vibrant township situated at the cross-roads of the Murranji Track and the Overland Telegraph Line. Originally known as ‘The Ridge’, Newcastle Waters has played a significant historic role in the establishment of Australia’s Beef Industry, and that of Australia’s Northern Territory. This is all but forgotten. The remaining buildings and precinct, whilst protected by Heritage Listing are in sad and declining disrepair, excepting ‘Jones Store’.

Newcastle Waters location was named by the explorer John McDouall Stuart. On his journey across Australia he reached the area on 23 May, 1861 and set up camp. He wrote: "We came across a splendid reach of water about 150 yards wide. This I have named Newcastle Waters after His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, The Secretary for the Colonies".

In songs like 'Matt Savage – Boss Drover' and 'King Paraway',

Ted Egan has long sung homage to some of the iconic drovers of the Murranji Stock Route. Ted's great passion for the area was also cemented by a year spent teaching at Newcastle Waters in 1965, where he lived in the old police station with his family and taught 22 pupils. On April 14 2021, Mates of the Murranji are holding a muster at Newcastle Waters to tell stories, sing songs and dream about revitalising the region as a tourism mecca.

History * Prior to the arrival of the Europeans the area was home to Jingili First Nation people who were part of the Pama-Nyungan language group. * The explorer John McDouall Stuart reached the area on 23 May 1861 and recorded in his diary: "We came across a splendid reach of water about 150 yards wide. This I have named Newcastle Waters after His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, The Secretary for the Colonies". Stuart established a base camp near the present site of the station. * The development of the Overland Telegraph saw the establishment of a relay station at Newcastle Waters in 1870-71. * In the early 1880s the pastoral lease at Newcastle Waters Station was taken up by Dr. W. J. Browne from Adelaide who had earlier established Springvale station near Katherine. * In 1883 D'Arcy Uhr overlanded cattle from western Queensland to stock Newcastle Waters. * Dr. Browne's pastoral investments failed and in 1895 he sold the Newcastle Waters Pastoral Lease to John Lewis of Adelaide. The Lewis family held the lease for over 50 years. * In 1886 G. R. Hedley successfully traversed the Murranji track from Victoria River to Newcastle Waters. A few months later Nat Buchanan and Sam Croker took the first stock across the route. They were guided by Mudbarra Aborigines. * In 1917 the government let a contract for the sinking of bores along the Murranji track. This helped the growth of Newcastle Waters. The town became a depot for the construction teams. * Syd Peacock won the contract to complete the 13 bores between Anthony's Lagoon to the east and Yellow Waterhole to the west. His plant consisted of six horse drawn wagons and a stationary steam engine. * Ross and Keith Smith's flight from England to Australia in 1919 required the construction of a number of airstrips for refuelling. The aeroplane refuelled at Darwin, Katherine and Newcastle Waters. A ground crew under the leadership of Hudson Fysh was employed to organise the airstrip.

* Work on the Murranji track bores was completed in September 1924. The 13 bores along the stock route were spaced every 30 km. * In 1926 Newcastle Waters was made the theoretical capital of the Territory of North Australia. The decision was repealed in 1931. * In 1930 the Government resumed one square mile from Newcastle Waters Station for a town site. The area already contained a Police Station and Works Department depot. * The Junction Hotel was built in the early 1930s by Jack Sergeant. * By 1935 Qantas Empire Air Services was using the Newcastle Waters landing strip as a link in its mail and passenger * The runway proved unsatisfactory for QANTAS and the service was halted in November 1937. * By 1942 62,000 cattle were being driven along the east-west stock route. * By 1944 140,000 were using the route which became seriously overcrowded. * Road trains effectively saw the end of droving and this meant that by the early 1960s Newcastle Waters had become a virtual ghost town. * By 2016 there were 64 people living in the area of Newcastle Waters station.


bottom of page