|165. LINDSDAY David.|
David Lindsay was an explorer and surveyor of note, born at Goolwa, South Australia on 20/06/1856 and joined the South Australian Survey Department in 1872. Promoted to Senior Surveyor in 1875, then Surveyor General of the Northern Territory in 1878, he resigned this position in 1882 to pursue private interests. His timing was unfortunate as it coincided with an economic depression in South Australia and the collapse of the Commercial Bank where Lindsay had deposited his funds.
Survey work was hard to come by at this time and Lindsay accepted commissions to survey pastoral leases in New South Wales, and in late 1885 set out from Dalhousie Springs to survey and explore the eastern MacDonnell Ranges and the Herbert River regions for their pastoral potential. On his way north while passing through the ranges in March 1886 he wrote that, "the granite of which this range is composed is studded with rubies and garnets", Lindsay made a point of prospecting the area on his return from the north.
On his arrival in Adelaide Lindsay applied for mineral leases over the area but was amazed to find that he had been pre-empted by a member of his recent expedition, who was granted four mineral leases over the most prospective ground on 6/4/87. Lindsay had to settle for a lease of 200 hectares on the Elder River. He returned to the eastern MacDonnell ruby fields in August 1887 at the head of a very modest rush. In due course the rubies were confirmed as worthless garnets, and Lindsay moved on to survey the site for a new town on the Todd River north of Heavitree Gap. The new town of Stuart was proclaimed on 29/11/88.
I don't know if anyone has been accorded the honour of being named the founder of Alice Springs, but David Lindsay might qualify. He started a ruby rush that lead to a gold rush that in turn finally stirred the Government in Adelaide to assert its control over Central Australia. Lindsay was instructed to survey a town north of Heavitree Gap, he chose a site on the western bank of the Todd River and placed the towns streets and building blocks on the ground.
In early 1891 Lindsay was in charge of a large Royal Geographical Society expedition to fill in the blanks on the map from Central Australia to the West Australian coast. Less than a year later the expedition was abandoned due to drought conditions, although the partial results of the work were impressive enough with 6400 kilometres and over 200,000 square kilometres accurately surveyed and mapped, ready for Lasseter's traverse in 1897.