We are not sure if these are prisoner trees but there is a high chance that the marks on these trees are from chains around prisoners neck as they waited to journey accross the city.
Penni has a particular interest in the significant and historic trees which have been earmarked for demolition to make way for Barneson Boulevard, and she has been doing some research on them.
Please see photos attached, taken today. The rings on the trunks and the yarn bombing to which Penni refers are clearly visible. There are also some messages from the trees to Minister Manison and the Chief Minister.
I note that the "prison trees" are located adjacent to the site of the creek that used to run through Frog Hollow. This creek was an important source of fresh water for the Larrakia people and the early settlers. Also the prison gangs apparently. Some people say that the creek was spring-fed and the spring was capped by the government. It certainly runs underground now. I note that it is marked on the title deed as a PowerWater easement.
I need to preface my answer by saying that, in my experience, it is difficult to get authoritative information about decisions that were made in relation to heritage listing in the 1990s. For example, today we do comprehensive assessment reports in relation to each place nominated to the Register, and that wasn’t necessarily the practice back in the 1990s. At this stage, I cannot locate an assessment report in relation to either ‘Frog Hollow’ or the Old Darwin Primary School.
What I can tell you is that ‘Frog Hollow’ (which sits on lot 5665 Town of Darwin) was nominated to the Register in March 1993, and that in March 1996 then Minister Mike Reed decided to declare it as a heritage place.The Old Darwin Primary School, now the Frog Hollow Centre for the Arts (which sits on lot 5672 Town of Darwin) was nominated to the NT Heritage Register in Sept 1995. In March 1996 Minister Reed decided not to declare it as a heritage place. I understand that this decision was based on his view that the place did not have sufficient architectural or historical significance, and also because the lot on which it sat was required for future road construction and commercial development.
I hope that provides you with some idea about the rationale behind the decisions that were taken in relation to this land. I don’t have any further information about the creek that once ran through this area.
I have attached for your information a copy of the instrument that was used to declare Frog Hollow a heritage place, and a google image showing the configuration of lots 5665 and 5672.I hope this information proves useful.
Director Heritage Branch
Department of Tourism and Culture
Here is an anonymous article captured by the Historical Society.
It begins: On the south-west comer of Wood and Lindsay Streets today, in 1990, there is a park-like area of open space. You can still see the signs of the small creek which once flowed through the site although now there are not as many trees along its banks as there once used to be and the two rustic bridges made of local wood which once crossed it are no longer there. When May Day celebrations have been held there in the past few years the organizers have turned the park into a beautiful scene of flickering candle:, music and dancing.
Read this article: MEMORIES OF FROG HOLLOW A School Ahead of its Time
The Darwin Primary School was built in 1952 on the area known as Frog Hollow; the schoolbuildings were on what is now Lot 5672 and the school playground covered the western portion ofLot 5672 and Lot 5665. Prior to the school Frog Hollow was a natural drainage line which becamea wet season creek. Lot 5665 of Frog Hollow was declared as a Heritage Place under the HeritageConservation Act in March 1996.
The Heritage Register states “Frog Hollow is open parkland thatwas originally utilised as worker camps in the initial years of Commonwealth jurisdiction over theNorthern Territory. The open land of Frog Hollow is highly valued by the Darwin community for itssocial and educational associations with the workers camps and later the Darwin Primary School. Itis also valued as natural parkland within the Central area of the city.”
During the war years soldiers wer accomodated and a wet mess existised.
During the depression swagmen where camping at Frog Hollow waiting to be repatriated down south as there was no work in the Top End.