Nicker Crescent

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

My house is on the corner of Nicker Crescent and Pedler Avenue. When I first moved in there was confusion as to whether the address was Nicker Crescent or Pedler Avenue. I've always thought that Pedler Avenue sounds better, until I came across biographical details about Lizzie Nicker. She was one tough cookie, ahead of her time.

Born in 1871 Lizzie was originally from outback QLD where she had left her husband due to bigamy. She took her two daughters to her sister’s sheep property. There Lizzie worked as a shearer. Lizzie was 157cm tall and always wore a hat, white gloves, petticoats, stockings and carried a parasol.

When work in that area died down, Lizzie left her younger daughter with her sister and brother-in-law and moved to a different district. There she gained experience as a bush nurse and midwife and she met Sam Nicker.

After collecting Lizzie’s younger daughter, they headed to Port Pirie in South Australia for work and onto Quorn. While they were in Quorn they heard of gold discovery at Arltunga and so Sam headed to Arltunga. At that time Lizzie was pregnant with their first child and it was thought best that she stay in Quorn to have the baby and travel to Arltunga after the birth.

Lizzie gave birth to a baby boy and she and the children joined Sam at Arltunga in 1903. The family first lived in a tent and then the miners helped by building a chimney and walls around the tent. Lizzie had bought with her seeds, chickens and a milking cow. She established a successful veggie garden at Arltunga. Whilst at Arltunga Lizzie’s second son was born.

The family began looking for a spot to built a homestead and found a spot on the Hale River between the Arltunga and Winneke mines. This property was named ‘The Garden’ after the garden that Lizzie established here. Lizzie gave birth to another son in 1908 at The Gardens.

Lizzie was known for her nursing and midwife skills. She tended patients at the mines and was often called to Stuart (now known as Alice Springs) 100km to the south-west to nurse patients and attend births. Stuart was the closest town to buy supplies and was where they collected their mail. At the homestead Lizzie was helped by an Aboriginal couple, Billy and Clara. Billy and Clara were often tended the homestead when Lizzie went to town for supplies. One such time, in 1910, Lizzie and the children travelled by horse and buggy to Stuart and they had barely reached the government well in the centre of town when they had to pitch a tent for Lizzie to give birth in! She gave birth to a girl, Margaret.

As visits to town became more frequent they leased a house and eventually moved to town. Sam found it hard to find work and bought a lease north of town at Ryan’s Well. He stocked it with sheep and the family moved there in 1914. There they built a homestead, Glen Maggie, after their daughter Margaret. They stayed at Glen Maggie until 1928 when Sam suffered from a stroke. Lizzie died of a heart attack in 1951.

It must have been so tough living in the Territory in those days. The heat, the files, lack of water, giving birth more than 2000km from the nearest hospital (no hospital in Alice Springs in those days). I am proud that my street has been named after a tough pioneering woman (though am pretty sure it was in honour of her husband, but I'm going to claim it for Lizzie).


Brown, S 2002 Legends of the Red Heart. Central QLD Uni Press, Rockhampton


  1. love your work! checking for info on family history for Nicker - your blog is a lovely insight into Sam and Lizzie, happy to know that Glen Maggie is named after Margaret! Just a brilliant bit of blogging. From the Alice to Canada??? The red center to the frozen wastes? Burning heat to freezing cold?? OMG GinPjs, you just rock!
    Valerie Pallaoro

  2. Thanks!! I'm missing the red desert and the heat, oh how I miss the heat.

    You can find the book I used to write the post at the Alice Springs Library.

  3. Wow this is such a great story. I'm trying to do family history, are you aware of a son she had called William Macnamara to a man called george macnamara


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