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Darwin History | Northern Territory | Australia
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Darwin History


The history of the Northern Territory city, Darwin spans over a long time line and includes dramatic events, such as traumatic cyclones, wars, bombings and the famous Overland Telegraph. First discovered back in 1839 by Captain John Lort Stokes first named Darwin after former shipmate Charles Darwin when he came across the port. Over the years there were a number of attempts to establish small settlements at different locations but every attempt was fruitless.

It wasn’t until 1869 that saw a new settlement begin at the present site of the city of Darwin, then known as Palmerston. From here the city really began to take shape with the construction of the Overland Telegraph and then with the successful attempt of laying 1100 miles of cable from Darwin to Banjoewangie in Java. Around the time of the construction of the Overland Telegraph gold was discovered around Darwin which in turn saw prospectors come in droves for their slice of the riches. With the population growing this raised the idea of establishing a railway to Pine Creek just outside of Darwin which is where the gold was initially discovered to cart the miners to and from the mine each day and was then extended to Larrimah but closed in 1976 and then finally in 2004 the lines linking the Top End and the Southern States was finally completed.

Fanny Bay Goal 1939Fanny Bay Goal 2005

The first plane landed in Darwin in 1919 travelling from England and was carrying Ross and Keith Smith and from this point on the city of Darwin slowly saw an influx of flights using its makeshift airport as a stopover as the trip to Europe was a long one. From the gold rush to Aviation through to Cyclone Tracey in 1974 which devastated the town and then in 1986 a film crew came through and made a movie on the actual event.

Throughout the years, Darwin has steadily grown with the population now sitting at around 124,000 and is a city that has been shaped and mouldered by Aboriginal tales and stories and European Settlers. With Japanese bombers striking the city during WWII and being the frontline against the force that struck Pearl Harbour the city of Darwin took a huge hit as at this point in time was only home to a small airport and only around 2000 people. The devastation that was left upon Darwin can still be seen today.

Darwin 1939RAAF, Darwin 1941

The history of Darwin is an interesting tale of many ups and downs, but through it all has immerge a beautiful city with so much to offer. With museums and heritage buildings all holding different stories of Darwin’s past you will find it easy to learn about it all. With monumental things such as the discovery of iron ore and uranium in the area saw a sudden increase in new apartments and motels and in influx in tourism and more and more people discover the rich beauty in the neighbouring Kakadu National Park.

There are many different sites throughout the city where you can either take a guided tour or learn about the fascinating history of Darwin for yourself. There are many events that have shaped Darwin to the city it is today, and this capital city of the Top End is one that will provide a world of wonders just waiting for you to discover!

Darwin Cyclone Tracy 1974Darwin Cyclone Tracy 1974