The goldrushes to the Northern Territory in the 1880s brought an
influx of Chinese miners and the area around Humpty Doo. They grew rice
successfully, as had German botanist Dr. Maurice Holtze in Darwin whose
experiments growing rubber, sugar and rice indicated that tropical
crops could be grown successfully in the NT.
Nothing further became of it until 1954 when, after considerable
experimentation by CSIRO, a scheme to irrigate the sub coastal plain of
the Adelaide River and produce a commercial rice crop was instigated.
303,000 hectares of land on the floodplain were irrigated but wild
buffalo and rats destroyed the paddy fields, birds consumed the seeds
as fast as they were sown and the soil proved to be too saline and the
drainage inadequate. By 1959 the paddy fields had been abandoned.
Origin of name
The name was first recorded in 1910 for a cattle station called
'Umpity Doo' held by Oscar Herbert. A number of explanations for the
origin of the name have been suggested. One source claims it is taken
from the Army slang term "umpty" used by military personnel in the area
during the war years for the dash when reading morse. Author W Hatfield
in his book, 'I Find Australia' (1943), claims that the name is derived
from the colloquialism "everything done wrong or upside down". Elsie
Masson's book, 'Untamed Territory', (1914) refers to the picturesque
Umdidu, which was translated by a journalist in 1953 into 'Umdudu'.
This was supposed to be an English language corruption of an aboriginal
term which meant "a popular resting place".