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.