Gove Tower - 2008The Control Tower at Gove, in the Northern Territory's Arnhem Land, is unique among Towers in Australia: it was built but never actually used!The decision to build a Tower at Gove stems from Departmental policy of the day that a an Aerodrome Control service would be provided wherever jet RPT services operated. In 1952 huge bauxite reserves were discovered at Gove and by 1972 alumina from a newly-constructed mine was being refined. Gove quickly became the third biggest town in the Northern Territory. Given the remote location of Gove, on the north-eastern coast of Arnhem Land, significant air traffic developed to service the mine including, by the 1980s, DC-9 and F.28 services.Ian Jennings, a Flight Service Officer stationed at Gove in the mid-1980s, recalls that one incident that led to the decision to build the Tower at Gove involved an Ansett DC-9 inbound to Gove from Cairns during the we...8s were used to take the passengers out and the DC-9 had to be flown out nearly empty. Construction of Gove Tower commenced in mid-1985 and was completed the following year at a cost of about $1.8 million. Like Adelaide Tower, Gove Tower was built on a mound to avoid having to install a lift.In addition to the Tower, an additional six houses were also constructed: 3 for the ATC staff and 3 for Bureau of Meteorology staff.Ian Jennings recalls that in the event SA/NT Regional Director Ray MacNamara decided that the operational benefit of manning the Tower was not cost-effective, and the Tower was never commissioned. Ian remembers that during his time with Gove Flight Service, they would occasionally visit the Tower where mushrooms flourished on the console!The photos of Gove Tower on this page were taken in May 2008.(Photos: Martin Eadie)Back to the main Air Traffic Services indexIf this page appears without a menu bar at top and left, click here
GOVE AIRPORT CONTROL TOWERArnhemland Historical SocietyGove Tower, Office Building housing ALHS Collection and Lockheed Ventura A59-73 damaged by fire.Gove ARC Tower Martin-Eadie Airways Museum imageThe discovery of bauxite in 1952 led to the refining of alumina in 1972 saw the mining town of Nhulunbuy on the Gove Peninsular grow to become the NT’s third largest town by the 1980s when it was connected by DC-9 and F.28 jet services.Disaster was narrowly averted when an Ansett DC-9 from Cairns failed to land after three attempts during Wet season storms and with Darwin & Katherine’s Tindal strips weather affected, the pilot was forced by critical fuel shortage to divert to the short Groote Eylandt airfield from which it was only just able to take-off after the removal of all passengers & freight. By the mid-1980s, Government policy required Aerodrome Control wherever regular public jet services operated. The Gove Tower was built on a mound to save installing a lift & completed in 1986, along with six houses in town for 3 Air Traffic Control & 3 Bureau of Meteorology staff.Somewhat belatedly it was deemed not to be cost-effective and so never commissioned. Ian Jennings of Gove Flight Service remembers occasionally visiting the Tower where mushrooms flourished on the unattended console. The Gove Tower is thus unique in Australia - having cost $1.8 million it was never used.