Hamilton Downs Station
takes its name from a spring, in the headwaters of the Jay Creek, which was
discovered by explorer John McDouall 'Stuart in 1860. It commemorates George
Hamilton, a prominent South Australian who supported Stuart's three
expeditions between 1860 and 1862.
The Station was
established) just before World War 1 by Sid Stanes Jnr. and Ted Harris. Stanes had
worked at various jobs in the early 1900's including cook at the Telegraph
Station (1904 -1905) and manager of the Stuart Arms Hotel (1907).
In 1909 he entered into
some agreement with Ted Harris, formerly of Broken Hill, to take on some
pastoral country in the hills north and west of Alice Springs. By 1913 they
had settled on the homestead site and given it the name Hamilton Downs
In the early years Stanes
and Harris made their money by mustering Brumbies running wild in the hills
and gullies of the MacDonnel1 Rangers. At this time horses were worth more
than cattle because of the war-time need for cavalry and horse drawn
artillery. However, it lasted long enough to give them a good start.
In 1920 Stanes sold his
share of the station to Harris and brought Erldunda Station. In 1923 Harris
married Emily Francis from the Oodnadatta area and she joined him on the
property in 1924. Two years later, however, they sold the station to Sydney
Kidman and moved south to Adelaide.
The station was
subsequently managed by Charlie Wright (for Kidrnan) from 1927 until 1929
when Harris bought it back again in partnership with the Davis family.
(Harris held a half share and three Davis brothers held one sixth each).
Harris maintained his share in
the station until the 1940's when he sold out to the Davis brothers.
In 1948 the old Homestead
was abandoned and a new one established in a more accessible site to
the northwest. Damien Miller bought an interest in the property in 1952 and
acquired sole ownership in 1968.
The old homestead
buildings lay in ruins from 1948 until 1972 when the Apex Club of Central Australia
took on the task of restoring them and converting the site to a youth camp. The
Hamilton Downs Youth Camp was officially opened on 11th March 1978.
On October 1980 the
Hamilton Downs Youth Camp was entered in the Register of the National Estate,
this is defined in the Australian Heritage Commission Act 1975 as: those places
that have aesthetic, historic, scientific or social significance or other
special value for the next generation and present.