Mac and Rose Chalmers Conservation Park
In the first voluntary conservation agreement on pastoral land in the Northern Territory, Charlie Chalmers handed over Tower Rock on MacDonald Downs to National Parks and Wildlife Services, NT. This area – a unique granite boulder outcrop – encompasses 470 hectares (4.7square kilometre) of land and is host to a wide range of native plant species and wildlife.
The Reserve also protects the grave sites of Charlie’s parents, Mac and Rose Chalmers. The Reserve will be named the Mac and Rose Chalmers Conservation Park in honour of this couple who developed a passionate love of this land and had a close rapport with Alyawarr people of the area. During their lifetime they cared tirelessly for the well being of all the Aboriginal families as did Mac’s parents – Charles and Cora Chalmers before them. Mac Chalmers parents, pioneers Charles and Cora Chalmers arrived in 1923 to take up the MacDonald Downs pastoral lease – named after their two sons Mac and Don – after travelling overland from Mungindi NSW with their family of four. The trip took over two years and Mac was 10 years old when they arrived.
Mutual respect between the Chalmers and the Alyawarr was never more evident than when a letter, dictated by Lenny Kngwarreye Jones was read out at Mac’s funeral at Tower Rock in front of a crowd of over 200 of his people. The moving, heartfelt letter began, “The Chalmers family have looked after the Jones family……..” and ended, “……Thank you very much to the Chalmers family and goodbye to a great man. From Lenny and his people.”
Mac and Rose Chalmers Conservation Park presents an important and lasting legacy for present and future generations. According to the recent Conservation Management Plan and Wildlife Survey (Low Ecological Services):
‘The Mac and Rose Conservation Reserve has high conservation significance as well as high scientific, natural and aesthetic value. It is of historical importance and is valued by the Indigenous Alyawarr people and the pastoralist families who have settled in the area since the early 20th Century.’
The Reserve is now open to the public and they can access the reserve from the Binns Track. Enquiries: Red Gum Store on 08 89569097 or Sonja Chalmers 08 89569745.
A history of the community of Irrultja on Utopia written by a young student:
An extract from Irrultja Community History
By Simon Ross
Old Chalmers came to the country Ntwarl. Mac Chalmers father. They stayed there. Those old Chalmers man stayed there. My old man, Luck family, Lewis family and the Petyarr’s (Pitjarra) family grandfathers saw them. They came from a long way. My fathers learnt about the white fellas food. They learnt to eat the meat, sugar and tea, tobacco.
The old men worked for the station people.
Then Old Chalmers shifted to Ayleylatherr, to Old MacDonald Downs. My family looked after the sheep. They worked for a long time, working for that old man. We ate that food and a lot of people gathered there from many places. We went for the abundant food, sugar and tobacco.
The old men worked for a long time. They had no children and then they had many children. There are a lot now. Many people were there. People who live at many places, Theley as well. Many people stayed there and ate rations.
People came from a along way. The old man became weak and his son started working, old Mac Chalmers. He looked after the people as well, he gave them tucker and clothing. He looked after them.