Eric Johnston Lecture

The Eric Johnston Lecture was a flagship event hosted by Library & Archives NT. The lecture provided a platform for a significant Territorian to reflect on the Territory’s past, present and future.

First delivered in 1986, the Eric Johnston Lecture was held annually and invited a prominent Territorian to share their reflections and insights. Based around a theme, each lecture provided an intimate commentary on the Northern Territory’s people, social history and development. 

The lecture was named in honour of the inaugural speaker, Commodore Eric Johnston AO, OBE. An Australian naval officer, Johnston rose to prominence because of his energetic and effective performance as chief naval officer during and after Cyclone Tracy. Johnston eventually became the longest-serving Administrator of the Northern Territory, serving from 1981 to 1989. He travelled extensively in the role - no station or Aboriginal community was too remote to escape a visit. He died in 1997.

Presented, recorded or transcribed each year that it was held, this collection of past lectures provides a unique opportunity to view the Northern Territory through the eyes of those who have committed their lives and careers to its betterment.


Thomas Mayor, wharfie and union official for the Maritime Union of Australia. Signatory of the Uluru Statement from the Heart

When the Dreaming becomes us. 


Linda Payi Ford, Principal Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University’s Northern Institute. 

Aminila bit tjan kin-ning wurrkama gu? Are we all working together with a united voice for treaty & truth?


Kevin Kadirgamar, immigration lawyer, advocate and 2018 NT Young Australian of the Year

Multiculturalism and forty years of Self-Government: Why cities need cultural diversity to thrive


Sister Anne Gardiner, educator and 2017 Senior Australian of Year

Under the Banyan Tree


Andy Bruyn AM, television executive

Growing pains - The Territory's Teenage Years


Professor Andrew Campbell, natural resource management academic

Myths, Dreams and Stories: Alternative Tracks for Northern Australian Development


Bob Beadman, Indigenous policy expert

Poor Fellow My Country: Indigenous Policy - 50 Years of Progress?


Dr Mickey Dewar, historian and author

Finding a Past We Can Live With - Some of the Challenges of Writing Public History in the Remembering Territory Families Exhibition


Tom Pauling AO QC, former Administrator of the Northern Territory

Now I'm Free to Speak


Banduk Marika, artist

Land Management and Cultural Responsibility 


Clare Martin, former Northern Territory Chief Minister

Reflections on being in Government  


Tom Calma, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice and Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission

A Human Rights Agenda for the Northern Territory

The Honourable Austin Asche AC QC, former Administrator of the Northern Territory

When We Were South Australian

Judy Nunn, author and actress



Marilynne Paspaley, actress and businesswoman

Finding the Spirit of Darwin


Bill Bunbury, author

Cyclone Tracy - an ILL Wind?

Associate Professor Martin W B Jarvis, former Artistic Director/Conductor of the Darwin Symphony Orchestra

Under the Stars in Tropical Vienna

Terry Underwood, author, photographer and cattle producer

Nowhere to Somewhere

John Anictomatis OAM, former Administrator of the Northern Territory

A Home Away from Home - the Aegean to Australia


Bob Collins, former member of the Australian Senate, Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, and Leader of the Territory Opposition

Learning Lessons - Indigenous Education in the Northern Territory

Ted Egan, former Administrator of the Northern Territory, singer/songwriter and author

Makarrta - Caledon Bay and Woodah Island Killings of 1932 to 1933

Goff Letts, politician and former member of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly

The Great Banteng Muster: The Cobourg Expeditions 1960 to 1963

Mandawuy Yunupingu, musician, educator and leader

New Love Song for an Old Land

Roslyn Poignant, anthropologist, author and photographer

Lost Conversations, Recovered Archives

Miriam-Rose Baumann, school principal

Aboriginal Education

Professor D J Mulvaney, archaeologist and academic

The Search for Collet Barker of Raffles Bay

Dr John Hargrave, doctor and leprosy specialist

The Best of Both Worlds: Aboriginal Health, Then and Now

Sir Paul Hasluck, former Governor-General of Australia, historian, poet

Pioneers of Post War Recovery

R G (Dick) Kimber Bill Bunbury, historian and author

The End of the Bad Old Days: European Settlement in Central Australia, 1871 to 1894

Sir Edward Woodward, jurist

Three Wigs and Five Hats

Dr Ella Stack, former Darwin City Council Lord Mayor

Aboriginal Pharmacopoeia


Professor Charles Manning Clark, historian and author

Writing a History of Australia

Commodore Eric Johnston, former Administrator of the Northern Territory

Operation Navy Help: Disaster Operations by the Royal Australian Navy, Post-Cyclone Tracy