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Much has been written about the history of Hamilton Downs Station and of the development of the Youth Camp.

Following are extracts of relevant material with acknowledgements for inclusion of that material where the author is known. To others we offer our thanks for their interest in recording this history and we would appreciate any additional information to provide a balance and in-depth record. The management committee is currently compiling an extensive library of historic material that can be viewed at the camp.

Work is currently being undertaken on the restoration of the original meat house.











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 Station.


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.

































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