Alice Springs #1 (The Gap)

Current Operation 

  • Demolished 1968. New abattoir built Alice Springs #2 (Ghan Rd)


  •  North of The Gap, South of  Gap view Motel. Area is now a grassed reserve.

Map. Alice Springs




Source – National Archives – Dated 1958


  •  1st abattoir- The Gap
  • Built by army2.


  • South Australian Government undertake building a telegraph line from Adelaide to Darwin to link with the international system coming from the Far East4.


  • March 11. A gap is found through the MacDonnell Ranges, Area now called Alice Springs4.


  • First Pastoral lease of the Alice Springs area is granted4.
    • Undoolya station, Aboriginal meaning ‘Shadow’

War years

  • Abattoir was built by the army and handed to government administration after the war5


  • Central Australian Pastoral lessees Association approach Commonwealth government to establish a meat works in Alice Springs3


  • Alice Springs butchers apply for increase in price of all meat to cover increased government fees of slaughter and inspection charges conducted at the abattoir5
    • Cattle
      • Old fees. Inspection 1/6, slaughtering 3/65
      • New fees. Inspection 5/-, slaughtering 33/65
    • Sheep and Goats
      • Old fees. Inspection 6d, slaughtering 33/65
      • New fees Inspection 1/6, slaughtering 6/65
    • Pigs
      • Old fees. Inspection 9d, slaughtering 1/95
      • New fees. Inspection 2/-, slaughtering 15/65
    • Increases amount to an extra £3,000 per year, 800% increase on previous rates5.
  • Up to the 30/06/1954 following numbers of stock were slaughtered for  local consumption5
    • Cattle 788 head5
    • Sheep 2,770 head5
    • Pigs 381 head5
  • Government had maintained the abattoir at a loss5
    • employed one man full time to clean and maintain the facility5
    • Stock inspector visited 3 times per week5


  • Major drought in the region4
    • Became the worst in history at the time, not breaking until 1966



Source. Alice Springs Library. Town Planning 1963

Town Planning map of 1963 showing the location of the Slaughter reserve in ‘The Gap’ area of Alice springs. Now the area is a grass reserve


  • Major drought that began in 1960 is broken by one fall of 6″4
    • further rains followed several weeks later


  • Buildings sub standard and no longer met hygiene standards2
  • Demolished and new abattoir site Ghan Road. Alice Springs #2.


  1. Removed
  2. ‘$370,000 abattoir’ Centralian Advocate 23.03.68
  3. ‘Pastoralis want meat works here’ Centralian Advocate 29.07.1949
  4. ‘Pastoral Properties of Australia’ Peter Taylor 1984
  5. ‘Butchers hit by abattoir fee increase – apply for a price rise’ Centralian advocate 13.08.1954

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2 thoughts on “Alice Springs #1 (The Gap)

  1. Paul Preston 04/06/2015 at 2:35 am Reply

    I worked at the facility referred to as the “Ghan Road” Alice Springs #2 in 1974. I am American and my father was stationed at Pine Gap. I was fascinated by the place, and had a love for livestock – rode a retired racehorse every day that was stabled at the old Alice Springs racetrack on the north side of town. I was 15 years old and was aware that an Aussie school mate had gotten a job at #2, so one day I went out there to see him. I sort of just walked up onto the killing floor! Spotted my mate who was looking VERY sick! I asked him if he was OK and he told me….”I can’t stand the sight of all this blood”. Well, I nearly lost it right there, went out onto the walkway alongside the ramp that cattle were driven up to the second floor and just started laughing! Why the hell did you take a job at a slaughterhouse then!!!??? About ten minutes later one of the sluaghtermen came out and said “You looking for a job?” I told him I was very interested, but my mate said that you guys were all full up. “Yeah, well your mate just went home sick to his stomach. When can you start?” !!

    Back then the average was about 20 to 30 head a day. I worked there for about 6 months or so. We did one herd of pigs and one herd of sheep. The rest were all cattle. Not to get into too many gory details, but suffice to say, it was labor intensive, but there were only 4 or 5 of us on the floor on an average day.

    The busiest day we had during my employ was 52 head, and for that day we had the help of the staff of the butcher shops in town as well as a couple young Aborigines from their local trade school. 52 head had the rails completely packed! it was a very busy day.


  2. Paul Preston 04/06/2015 at 2:37 am Reply

    By the way, my starting pay? One dollar an hour! I saved almost every cent and when I got it back to the states and converted it, I had a tidy sum for a teenager!

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