As the threat of war with Japan increased during the 1930s, it became apparent that vulnerable coastal shipping formed the only link between Darwin and the rest of Australia. The army saw the urgency need for an overland supply route to Darwin, and by mid-1939 an army transport unit was established to operate the supply line along the North-South Road.
The Darwin Overland Maintenance Force (DOMF) comprising 21 officers and over 700 other ranks arrived in Alice Springs in September. They set up camp at the foot of Anzac Hill (Untyeyetwelye) in a tent city. More permanent buildings soon appeared, include Sidney Williams huts, two of which were used as a Regimental Aid Post and Dental Clinic.
On 10 September the first of thousands of convoys left Alice Springs bound for Darwin. Convoy traffic increased markedly over the following months and during the period from later 1940 to December 1944 has been estimated that the convoys carried some 498 000 tonnes of freight over 133 million kilometres. Some 194,852 personnel are estimated to have passed through Alice Springs in the same period.
The former Sidney Williams huts used by the DOMF and the Australian General Transport companies were taken over by a local theatre group in 1964 under the name of the totem Theatre. The sire of the former military camp beneath Anzac Hill memorial is now Anzac Oval. The Anzac Hill Memorial was unveiled on Anzac Day 1934 and dedicated to the members of the armed serviced who died during Work War I. It has since become a memorial to all those who served in the defence of their country during all wars in which Australia has participated. The Anzac Hill Memorial is entered in the Northern Territory Heritage Register.
Reproduced from “A Wartime Journey - Stuart Highway Heritage Guide” 2006 with permission of the Department of Arts and Museums.