Northern Territory Government Newsroom

AZRI celebrates 50 years

The Alice Springs home of the Department of Primary Industry and Resources’ (DPIR) today celebrates its 50th anniversary and the return of staff to the facility following its recent refurbishment.

The Arid Zone Research Institute (AZRI) was officially opened in 1967 after nearly two decades of gradual development of the current site, seven kilometres south of the Alice Springs Township.

The need for a dedicated agricultural research facility in Alice Springs was first recognised by Colonel Alfred Lionel Rose, who was appointed Northern Territory Chief Veterinary Officer in 1946 after retiring from the army having fought in both world wars.

The Commonwealth was reluctant to commit financially to Colonel Rose’s grand plans for a large-scale facility, forcing him to progressively develop his vision over time. Rose started with a laboratory in 1948, before gradually developing the farm site to include bores, roads, paddocks and stock yards.

After almost two decades of gradual growth and development on the farm site, Roses vision culminated with the construction of a purpose-built arid zone research laboratory in the mid-60s, with AZRI officially opened on 6 November 1967.

DPIR Regional Director Southern Stuart Smith said that fifty years later, AZRI is still the pastoral heart and soul of Central Australia.

“AZRI’s focus is on research, development, extension, biosecurity and animal welfare for the pastoral and horticultural industries, and regulation and surveying for mining in the south of the Northern Territory,” Mr Smith said.

“The facilities at AZRI today include office complexes, cattle and horticultural farming infrastructure, an accredited water microbiology laboratory, a library, staff interim housing, and vocational education classrooms.

“AZRI also accommodates staff from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Tourism and Culture, the Department of Education’s Vocational Education Training Rural Operations program, and Police Fire and Emergency Services’ Mounted Police Unit.”

AZRI is home to Power and Water Corporation’s award-winning scheme to store recycled water from the town in an underground aquifer for agricultural reuse.

It is also the home of sentinel testing for arboviruses and avian viruses using cattle and chickens, providing early warning of exotic pests and diseases.

AZRI was re-opened on October following more than six months of refurbishments to remove asbestos from many of the aged buildings in line with the Northern Territory Government policy to remove all asbestos from government buildings.

As part of the refurbishment, carpets were also replaced and new energy-efficient air-conditioning was installed.

The 50th anniversary and return to AZRI celebration commences at 519 South Stuart Highway Alice Springs at 3pm today.

An eight-page booklet documenting the history of AZRI will be launched at this afternoon’s event.

Media contact: Conor Doherty 0438 455 536