In 1980, the Northern Territory Government established the Palmerston Development Authority to finance, plan, develop and manage a new town south-east from the Territory’s capital, Darwin.
This was done in a time when Darwin’s population was growing at the dramatic rate of about 6% per year, causing stress on land availability in Darwin and on services. The idea was to create a new town development at Palmerston using the latest planning techniques, building superior services and facilities from the start, and providing land at a price affordable to people wanting to build a house.
Initial capital works centered on roads, electricity and water supplies, earthworks and residential lot development. The first construction jobs completed were the Water Tower, Highway House and the Chan Park Nursing Home.
Palmerston welcomed its first residents, the Potterton family to a lot in Canonbury Circuit, Driver in 1982. First suburbs developed were Driver and Gray, with Moulden and Woodroffe soon to follow. Roseberry, Bakewell and Gunn were also delivered under the original development schedule. The Coles Shopping Centre was completed in November 1984, with the Palmerston Tavern opening a month later. Gray Primary School was completed whilst Driver High School was under construction.
The municipality of Palmerston was created in April 1985 by Barry Coulter, the Minister for Local Government, with Local Government Elections held in June. Palmerston Town Council took office on 29 June 1985 and the first Mayor was Michael Ting.
Palmerston continued to grow and was declared a City on 2 August 2000. Palmerston has 12 suburbs already developed: Driver, Gray, Bellamack, Johnston, Woodroofe, Moulden, Durack, Farrar, Gunn, Rosebery, Bakewell and Marlow Lagoon.
The new suburb of Zuccoli is now under construction along with the new area of Durack Heights. These mainly residential suburbs are complemented by the light industrial areas in Pinelands and Yarrawonga and the Central Business District, which contains several shopping centres and provides employment for a significant number of local residents.
Once these residential developments have been completed and in-fill opportunities realised, it is estimated the population of Palmerston will be close to 40,000 by 2020.
Photos supplied by Palmerston's first resident, Lewis Potterton to commemorate the City's 30th anniversary.