Edward John Connellan and Connellan Airways – Fact sheet 155

Edward John Connellan - 1950
Edward John Connellan - 1950 (A8139, Volume 7)

Edward John Connellan (1912–83)

Edward John Connellan was born in Melbourne in 1912. He began his working life as a teacher, but his real interests were aviation and the pastoral industry in the Northern Territory.

Having obtained his pilot's licence in 1936 and with the financial backing of friends, Connellan was able to undertake two aerial surveys of the Territory in 1938 in order to assess the potential role of aviation in the Territory's development. The results urged him to establish the service that in time became known as Connellan Airways. He was a keen believer in the benefits aviation could bring to the Territory.

From the 1940s Connellan and his family lived in Alice Springs. They established a small home called Araluen west of the town and also developed a cattle station on the property Narwietooma, north-east of the town.

Connellan died in 1983 and is buried in the memorial cemetery at Alice Springs. Adjacent to the cemetery is a museum devoted to Connellan and his airline.

Connellan Airways

In 1939 Connellan persuaded the Commonwealth Government to grant him a subsidy to operate a mail service between Alice Springs and Wyndham, Western Australia and subsequently founded an air transport company based in Alice Springs. The company, initially known as Survey and Inland Transport, became Connellan Airways in 1943 and Connair from 1970. It flew routes throughout the Territory and the north of Western Australia and provided support for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Connair fell into financial difficulty and was bought out by East-West airlines in 1980, but went into liquidation shortly after.

Record holdings

Records relating to E J Connellan and the operations of Connellan Airways are held by the National Archives' offices in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Darwin. A selection of items held is included in the table below.

Records relating to E J Connellan and Connellan Airways

Aerial surveys by E J Connellan

Canberra

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemEJ Connellan. Application to assist NT aerial survey1937–49A431, 1949/1113

Melbourne

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemMr EJ Connellan, aerial survey work NT. Notes on method of aerial survey1940–42MP508/1, 307/701/30

Connellan Airways and aerial mail services

Canberra

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemConnellan's air service, Alice Springs-Wyndham1938–44A659, 1944/1/549
ItemSpares for aircraft. EJ Connellan1943–50A705, 69/18/285

Melbourne

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemAgreement between the Commonwealth and EJ Connellan. Alice Springs and Wyndham air services1939MP183/1, 112
ItemAlice Springs-Wyndham service, EJ Connellan1940–41MP347/1, 192/115/36
ItemEJ Connellan operation of aircraft1940–47MP115/1, 8/101/1300
ItemEJ Connellan. 12 months agreement from 3/2/19411941–42MP347/1, 192/115/78

Darwin

Adelaide

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemNT airmail, Barkly Tableland – Alice Springs – Camooweal – Borroloola, Connellan Airways1944–53D961, C1952/447

Properties held by E J Connellan

Canberra

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemConnellan EJ, application for agricultural lease, NT1942–45A659, 1944/1/551

Darwin

 Title or description of recordDate rangeSeries number
ItemNarwietooma Station – EJ Connellan1947–66E740, P86
ItemProposed purchase of privately owned residence Araluen, EJ Connellan1955F1, 1955/374
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017