EJ Con­nel­lan was an avi­a­tor who came to the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry in 1938, tasked with com­plet­ing an aer­i­al sur­vey of the land. From what he saw, he pegged out a lease of the best coun­try and start­ed Nar­wi­etooma Sta­tion in 1946, where the fam­i­ly ran a beef cat­tle pro­duc­tion over three gen­er­a­tions. His pas­sion for avi­a­tion led him to cre­ate the first aer­i­al mail run out of Alice Springs in 1939 which involved con­struct­ing new bush airstrips all over the North­ern Ter­ri­to­ry. The mail run evolved into Con­nel­lan Air­ways (lat­er Con­nair), a pas­sen­ger air­line that ser­viced the most remote places. The air­line was sold in 1980, and EJ’s son Chris Con­nel­lan and his fam­i­ly con­tin­ued to run Nar­wi­etooma Sta­tion up until its sale in 2015.

The sale of the sta­tion cre­at­ed an oppor­tu­ni­ty to diver­si­fy the family’s inter­ests and set up an area to ben­e­fit vis­i­tors and also pro­vide employ­ment prospects for the local M’Bunghara community.

A small area of about 5,000 hectares was excised from the Station’s 250,000 hectares and this became the Mt Zeil Wilder­ness Park. It is made up of a rugged mys­ti­cal land­scape of foothills and flood plains adjoin­ing to Mt Zeil, the high­est peak in the West Mac­Don­nell Nation­al Park.

In 2016 a tent was erect­ed under a blood­wood tree and became the base for Chris Con­nel­lan, along with fam­i­ly and numer­ous friends, to com­mence the devel­op­ment of the Wilder­ness Park.