Old Heavitree Gap Police Station - south Alice Springs

Old Timers Home
The Old Police Station at Heavitree Gap.
AS South Map

The first police station in Central Australia was a thatched mud-hut at the old Telegraph Station, built around 1872. It is believed that the first police officer was Mounted Constable Edward William Priest. Later, Constables John Charles Shirley, William Henry Willshire and Erwein Wurmbrand were based there.
In the mid 1880's, the Heavitree Gap Police Station was built and on April 21st 1886, Constables Willshire and Wurmbrand shifted all police property from the Telegraph Station to the new Police station. They began operating from there the next day assisted by N/C's Peter Willie Wilkie Collins and 'Fred', (both presumably aboriginal).
In 1888 Willshire resigned from the police force after a dispute over payment for his additional role as mining warden of the Arltunga goldfields, and Mounted Constable William Garnet South arrived from Barrow Creek in March to take up his duties until 1895. Wurmbrand, an Austrian Count who was notorious for his brutality to aborigines, also left in 1888, and South was assisted by Constables Robert Hillier, Harry Chance, William Kean and John Marshall at various times throughout his posting.
In 1895 he was succeeded by Constable Charles Brookes who took up residence at the police station with his wife and four children around 1910. During his term there, a crude desert oak gaol was constructed on the site and officially opened in December 1904. In her book ' Alice on the Line', Doris Blackwell describes the building ' a log cabin....a shack with a single entrance and no other ventilation.... Her Majesty's Alice Springs Gaol ....and I'm sure Queen Victoria would not have been amused if she'd known of its 'existence.'
The old gaol was officially closed on the 2nd of September 1909, when all prisoners were moved to the Stuart Town Gaol (see separate story). The old gaol, like the old police station at the Telegraph Station, has long since disappeared.
In 1910, Sergeant Robert Stott took up residence at the new police station adjacent to the Stuart Town Gaol, and remained until 1929. He later became Commissioner of Police from 1930 until 1937.
Until 1911, police in Central Australia were under control of the South Australian Mounted Police Force. The northern sector was administered from Darwin. In that year the two forces merged to become the Northern Territory Police Force, (southern and northern sectors), administered from Alice Springs and Darwin respectively.
In 1929 a new police station opened at the corner of Parsons and Hartley Streets. At this time there were three police officers in Alice Springs, and several others at scattered stations including Arltunga and Barrow Creek. On the 28th of August, 1970 the current police station at the corner of Bath and Parsons Streets was opened, and there are now 90 police men and women on the Alice Springs force. There are an additional 16 aboriginal trackers attached to the station and a further 47 police at outback stations including Kulgera, Ayers Rock, Barrow Creek, and Tennant Creek. The southern sector extends from the West Australian to Queensland borders and as far north as Elliott and Borroloola.
On the 6th of February 1958, the then Governor General of Australia, Sir William Slim, through the Minister of State, Paul Hasluck, declared 'Historical Reserve No. 1010' - The Heavitree Gap Police Station, which came under the control of the Northern Territory Reserves Board (now the Conservation Commission), and in 1969 restoration of the building was completed.
It is now occupied as a private residence but you may approach and take photographs. Please respect the privacy of the occupants.

© Copyright Peter W. Wilkins