Day 2 – A poignant moment for The Borella Ride

Stopping by the monument to the first Territory policeman who died on duty was an especially poignant moment for The Borella Ride team member, Tim George. Like the man on the monument, Tim is an NT Mounted Policeman.

Mounted Constable John Charles Shirley was born in Ireland in September 1856. He joined the South Australia Police Force on 10 March 1877. In 1880 he was transferred to the Northern Territory and is believed to have been the first policeman stationed at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. In 1882 he was promoted to First Class Mounted Constable and was transferred to Barrow Creek.

In October 1883, local man Harry Readford was reported missing from Brunette Downs Station. Constable Shirley led the search party, which included eight men. All of the search party, except two, perished from lack of water. John died in November 1883, aged 27. He was the first police officer to lose his life in the Northern Territory.

Tim said it was a sad moment to learn about John Shirley, but sometimes that was – and still is – the price of service to the community.

The Borella Ride continues up the Stuart Highway.

By Dr Tom Lewis, Lead Historian of The Borella Ride

Photos by Martin Anderson and NT Major Events Company