DD Smith came to the Territory with the Commonwealth Railways in 1926-28 to supervise 3 rail surveys. Daly Waters to Dajarra, Dunmarra to Wyndham and Bourke to Borroloola. In 1928 he left the railways and joined the new Department of Works as the first resident engineer for Central Australia, responsible for an area from the border to the 20th. parellel, south of Tennant Creek. One of his first tasks was to develop his section of a road between Alice Springs and Darwin.
The existing track was a series of wagon tracks joining telegraph poles along the route and DD and his men set about upgrading the road through the MacDonnell ranges and north. At this time he was oiperating from 2 tents set up on a block in Parsons St where the DD Smith Park is now dedicated to him.
During and after the depression of the 1930s, DDs area was changed to cover the whole of the Territory to a point just south of Darwin, and the name was changed to the Department of Public Works and Railways. DDs administration covered a massive area comprising some 1/6th of the continent.
DDs initiative in seeing the importance of a road link between Alice Springs and Darwin was borne out when Japan entered World War Two in 1940. The government found funds and, assisted by the US, a 1500km. sealed road was constructed linking the two major Northern Territory cities.
By the mid thirties, DD had built a substantial house on the block and there were stables, sheds and outhouses. With the additional military troops stationed in Alice Springs during the war, there was a need for a power generating plant additional to the one at the rear of DDs house in Bath St.
A site was chosen on the east side on Tuncks Rd in a small valley which would be difficult to see from the air. During the war Darwin and Katherine were bombed by the Japanese and Alice Springs was presumed to some under attack at some time.
It was DD Smith who, in Adelaide, interviewed and appointed the first teacher to the Hartley Street School, Pearl Burton, and he was a tireless community worker, involved in scouting and guides, and assisting other groups with premises.
From 1962-65 DD was an elected member of the NT Legislative Council and he received an Order of Australia in 1983 for service to the community.
He died in Adelaide in July 1984 and received a state funeral.
|© Copyright Peter W. Wilkins|