In 1980, the Northern Territory Government established the Palmerston Development Authority to finance, plan, develop and manage a new town 19 kilometres from the Darwin capital.
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 turning off land at a price affordable to most people wanting to build a house.
Long term planning envisaged a future population of 50,000 for Palmerston, living in eight suburbs. Development of further towns around Darwin Harbour would then proceed to cater for future population growth.
Initial capital works centered on roads, electricity and water supplies, earthworks and residential lot development. 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 mall 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.
Palmerston’s first local government election was held in May 1984 with four residents to replace appointed representatives on the Palmerston Town Management Advisory Committee. Elected residents included Bill Briscoe, Steve Kelly, Ian Spooner and Lewis Potterton. After Mr Kelly’s resignation he was replaced by Kieth Boakes.
The Municipality of Palmerston was created in April 1985 by Barry Coulter, the Minister for Local Government, with the first local government elections held in June. Palmerston Town Council took office on 29 June 1985 and the first mayor was Michael Ting.
Photos supplied by Palmerston's first resident, Lewis Potterton to commemorate the City's 30th anniversary.