John McDouall Stuart ExpeditionPrint Page Print this page

The cairn commemorates John McDouall Stuart`s expedition crossing from Adelaide to the north coast in 1862. To mark the place where they reached the coast, Stuart had his initials JMDS carved into a large tree. 

In 1884 a search party set out by steamer from Palmerston (now Darwin) and found the tree with assistance of local Wulna Aboriginal people. Several years later the Government Resident on a visit to the site suggested the tree be cut down and the engraved piece sent to the Adelaide Museum. This was opposed as an act of vandalism. In 1902, a fire burnt the tree to a charred stump. In 1971 the Reserves Board of the NT placed a memorial cairn where the tree once stood, which is still in place today

The South Australian government was keen to open a route from Adelaide to the north coast and offered a reward to the first person to achieve it. In 1860, Stuart, accompanied by William Kekwick and Ben Head, set out on their first attempt. The party reached Attack Creek, north of Tennant Creek, before being forced back through lack of supplies and hostile aboriginals on June 27th 1860. Stuart, with Kekwick and 10 others, set out again on New Year`s Day 1861, and reached Newcastle Waters, but was again forced to return, this time because of the dense bushland.

They left Adelaide again in December, 1861 and seven months later, on July 24th 1862, finally reached the north coast at a place which they named Chambers Bay, after a sponsor of their expeditions. He arrived back in Adelaide on the 17th December 1862. On a public holiday on 21 January 1863, crowds lined the streets amid banners strung from buildings. He was awarded £2000, though allowed only the interest from it, and his party received £1500 between them. Stuart suffered from the gruelling effort required on these journeys and returned to Scotland shortly after and died in London in 1866.


Address:Point Stuart Road, Point Stuart Coastal Reserve, Point Stuart, 0822
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -12.23
Long: 131.901389
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Landscape
Source: MA, ADB
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au