Charles Darwin University
enews home

NT war hero’s legacy all a song

By Katie Weiss

Former NT Administrator Ted Egan AO has paid tribute to one of the NT’s greatest heroes Former NT Administrator Ted Egan AO has paid tribute to one of the NT’s greatest heroes

The legacy of one of the Northern Territory’s bravest soldiers has been immortalised in the lyrics of a traditional bush ballad.

History enthusiast and former NT Administrator Ted Egan AO paid tribute to Albert Borella by penning a song about the man who is the NT’s only Victoria Cross recipient.

Mr Egan is currently completing his PhD at Charles Darwin University on the history of the first NT Administrator, Dr John Gilruth.

He said the two historic figures, Borella and Dr Gilruth, crossed paths at Government House in Darwin in 1915.

“The history of Borella ties into my PhD thesis as I have a photo that shows he and Dr Gilruth once met,” Mr Egan said.

He presented the song, titled “Borella”, at this year’s Borella Ride, which commemorates the NT hero’s life by retracing his travels from Tenant Creek to Darwin by horseback.

Mr Egan was invited to join the ride with Borella’s descendants and other prominent Territorians, during which he learned that Dr Gilruth and Borella had once met.

“I showed the photo (of Dr Gilruth standing with 25 men) to Borella’s son, who identified one of the men in the photo as Borella and said: ‘That’s my dad’,” Mr Egan said.

“The photo caption said ‘Dr Gilruth with soldiers going to war’.”

Mr Egan said Dr Gilruth had been criticised unfairly during his time as NT Administrator, which saw about 1000 people protesting outside Government House in the 1918 Darwin Rebellion.

“It’s fashionable to not celebrate Dr Gilruth but it is hard not to recognise that Borella was undoubtedly a hero and a brave man,” he said.

“Dr Gilruth was the first Administrator of the NT and I was the 18th. I found out about him while living in Government House.

“Both these men are part of the history of the place where I live.”