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Place Names Register Extract

Nellie Court

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Name Nellie
Type Designation Court
Place Id 25069
Place Type Road
Status Registered
Date Registered 1 September 2022
Locality / Suburb  
  Humpty Doo
Local Government Area  
  Litchfield Council
History/Origin Nellie (Helen) Monica Skewes (1923-2002)

Nellie (Helen) Monica Skewes was born on 4 February 1923 in Victoria to Johanna (Hanna) Philomena O'Loughlin née Gawne and William Michael O'Loughlin. She arrived in Darwin in 1946 and on 22 February 1947 married Neville Skewes, a stockman at Stapleton Station, who had recently been released on a 12 month good behaviour bond after having, with his brothers Thomas and Robert, through 'unlawful possession' constructed a house from materials and household items apparently no longer required by the Army and Air Force following the end of World War II. The newly married Neville went on to establish his business interests in civil construction and maintenance and the family raised six children.

In the 1960s, the family bought land in the Humpty Doo rural area and in 1967 Neville and Helen established a small general store - aka 'Skewes Store' - on what would become the Arnhem Highway. In 1971 they built, owned and operated the Humpty Doo Hotel. The pub is reported to be one of the longest continually licensed premises in the NT and is today a local icon referenced in popular bush ballads by Slim Dusty ('Humpty Doo Waltz'), Ted Egan ('The Man from Humpty Doo') and Corey Colum ('Humpty Doo Hotel'). Establishment of both the general store and pub in the area feature prominently in histories documenting the development of the growing rural community at Humpty Doo.

The Skewes further encouraged settlement in the emerging community, themselves subdividing two hectare (five acre) rural blocks for cash payments that were reportedly made on a handshake and in the good faith that the titles would eventually be issued, sometimes 'years later'. Helen and Neville sold up the pub and store in 1980, yet they remained committed to the local rural community, which continued to grow and in 1985 obtained its own local government representation. From 1992 to 1996, Helen Skewes sat on the then Litchfield Shire Council and was a Council member of the then NT Planning Authority.

Helen Skewes' husband Neville passed away in 1995, and she herself on 8 June 2002. She was fondly known to many in Darwin's rural area simply as 'Ma' Skewes. Helen and Neville Skewes are buried together at the present Skewes' family property in Acacia, which is appropriately named in honour of Helen Skewes' favourite star, 'Aldebaran', the bright eye in the constellation of Taurus.

Register & Gazettal information

Date Gazettal Comment
01/09/2022 Date Added to the Register (Certified Plan - S2022/053)
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