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Walking Tour of Darwin
This list takes you on a walk around the Darwin city area visiting places of interest, some Heritage sites and those connected with World War 2. It can be done over a day or broken down into smaller walks. The second stage would involve transport by car.
Site 1. Start in the Smith Street Darwin Mall at the Knuckey Street end. On the opposite side is the Woolworths store, now empty and across from it is the Central Hotel. This was the site of the third Darwin Post Office from 1951 to 1991 when it moved to Cavenagh Street. On the right is the Raintree Park so named because of the large Raintree there which becomes a Christmas tree in December and is festooned with lights.
Site 2, Walking down the mall past the different shops and where the Galleria is now used to be a small laneway which before the cyclone had amongst its tenants was a betting shop, Eva’s Bar and Grill, 16MM Sales and Services and Christo’s Restaurant. The Mall has several plaques set into the footpath which tell the history of the Darwin area from the first inhabitants
On the other side was WG Chin’s store which was packed from the floor to the ceiling with goods, if he didn’t sell it or couldn’t get it then it didn’t exist. Unfortunately, after the cyclone it did not re open. Further down on the right is the Victoria Hotel. Site 3 It was the first stone building in Darwin and it has survived several cyclones and the bombing. It is built from the local multi-coloured porcellanite stone. In 1915 it was one of the several hotels to be nationalised by the Northern Territory Administration as it was the vocal point for political turmoil and union unrest of that period which culminated in the Darwin Rebellion. The pilots from the 1919 England to Australia air race, and later ones stayed here and many of them have signed their names on a masonry section that has been preserved. Back then it was a first class hotel where formality prevailed. Before Cyclone Tracy the hotel area stretched from the street to the laneway behind with one long bar serving the thirsty customers. The police station around the corner backed on to the rear “beer garden” and those in the lockup could hear the happy drinkers. Cyclone Tracy damaged the hotel and it did not open until 4 years later. The hotel area was then reduced with the walkthrough and shops added. The stonework on the shops and around the pedestrian walkway is not original but most of the upstairs area and the two wings still are.
Site 4. The Star Picture Theatre was another institution that didn’t open after the cyclone. It was famed for the Wednesday night cowboy movies that were popular with the aborigines; they were known to paddle across in canoes from Mandorah and the Tiwi Islands. Only the rear part was under cover with the preferred area to watch the movies, it was during the early ‘70s $0.60 per show – 2 movies generally but not the latest releases. It was opened in 1929 and showed the first talkie in May 1933.
Site 5. The newsagent on the left hand side near the end of the Mall is another pre war building which was damaged by the bombing. It was the Cashman’s General Store. At the end of the Mall are the banks, this area was known as bankers corner. The Westpac Bank, constructed as a Bank of New South Wales designed in an Interwar Georgian Revival style typical of Bank of New South Wales buildings during the 1920s and 30s. Across the road (Bennett Street) is the now empty Commonwealth Bank building which currently may be redeveloped as part of the proposed office/hotel block planned for next door. When it was built in 1940 it was considered “ahead of much of Australian architecture of the time”. Across the Mall is the façade of the Commercial Bank and one of the ground floor shops is Paspaley Pearls. It was built in 1884 and was dubbed the “Stone Bank” to distinguish it from the ES&A “Tin Bank” which was further down Smith Street where the Civic Park now is.
Across Bennett Street
was where the old A.E. Jolley store was, then
the old Reserve Bank Building.
The Tourist Information Centre is now located there, it is described
in the Heritage Register.
The vacant block used as a car park at the corner of West Lane and Bennett Street was the site of the Darwin Police Station until it was destroyed by Cyclone Tracy. Also here is the No.1 Water Tower Site 7. which is also listed in Register of the National Estate.
Continuing down Smith Street, the stone faced building next to the Commonwealth Bank was the old Police and Citizens Club which was turned into offices and the local stone façade was added recently. Site 8. Across from the bus depot is Browns Mart. The stone kerbing and the Milkwood Trees in front of it are on the NT Heritage Register as they date back to the early days of the settlement in the 1880s. It is a remnant of one of the earliest civic works projects carried out in Darwin. They consist of rough-hewn, well-weathered blocks of porcellanite stone, creating an edge between the road and the footpath. The kerbing illustrates the use of locally available porcellanite stone, a once commonly used building material.
The Milkwood trees in front of Brown’s Mart in Smith Street were planted in the 1890s by V V Brown, after whom Brown’s Mart was named as the Brown family occasionally used the building as a market. The trees have stood witness to over one hundred years of Darwin’s history, and have survived at least two cyclones and the bombing of Darwin in World War Two. Brown's Mart is now a theatre and arts administration centre. Over the years, this building has had many functions and it was extensively damaged during Cyclone Tracy though it survived the bombing undamaged, but it was looted by the troops. It was occupied by the Navy until 1952. It is a simple rectangular stone building with corrugated galvanised iron hipped gabled roof. The building was damaged in the cyclones of 1897 and 1974 and reconstructed/modified to accommodate the new theatre after Tracey.
Site 9. Across the road are the Town Hall ruins - all that remain today of the original town hall which was designed in 1882 by JG Knight and constructed in local stone during 1882-3. Following the opening of the hall on 5 March 1883, the building was also used as a Court House until the stone Court House on the Esplanade was completed in 1884. It also functioned as the local Institute and Library. After the abolition of the Town Council in 1937 the building deteriorated until the opening of a temporary branch of the Commonwealth Bank in the building until its premises were constructed opposite. In January 1941 the bank moved into its own premises and the Taxation Department then occupied the building. During the Second World War, the Town Hall functioned as a Navy workshop and torpedo storage area until the end of the war then the Navy headquarters until 1952 when a Museum was established. In 1974 Cyclone Tracy almost destroyed the building and stabilisation of the ruins has since been carried out.
Site 10. The park (Civic Park) on your left is where the old Chinatown was situated until it was destroyed at the end of WW2. Outside the City Council offices is the Tree of Knowledge which is sited where the Terminus Hotel was located and it provided a meeting place and mailing address being in close proximity to the Wharf and the Railway Station. The Tree was a focal point within the Chinese commercial and residential area on Cavenagh St until the bombing of Darwin and subsequent evacuation in 1942.
If you walk around the civic centre to the car park there is a plaque commemorating those who lost their life in Cyclone Tracy.
Site 11. Christchurch Anglican Cathedral, Smith Street. In the early years of European settlement in Darwin, the European population was small and there was no resident Anglican Priest or Church building. In August 1900 the Diocese of Carpentaria came into existence. It included the whole of the Northern Territory and also Cape York and the Torres Strait Islands, and was the largest Anglican Diocese in the world. The foundation stone was laid on 12th July 1902 amidst great ceremony. The first service was held on 26th October, and the Church was consecrated by the Bishop of Carpentaria on 2nd November 1902.
The Precinct consists of the Christ Church Cathedral (completed in 1977), the adjacent ruins of the original Christ Church, and the associated memorial gate facing Smith Street. The ruins include the remains of the first Anglican Church built in Darwin in 1902, one of very few stone buildings built at the time. The portico added in 1944 was built as a memorial to those who died whilst on active service in the Northern Territory during World War Two.
Opposite the Cathedral is where the Government Offices Blocks 4 to 7, were located. They were demolished to make way for the Supreme Court and car parking spaces.
Site 12. Administrator's Offices, corner Smith Street and the Esplanade. It was built by Chinese labourers in 1884. It was originally a Police Station and Court House, and these buildings were badly damaged by Cyclone Tracy but had only received superficial damage during the War. The Administrator's Offices served as the Court House from 1884 and were associated with the consolidation of settlement in Darwin during the South Australian period. The building was used by the Navy as the headquarters of HMAS Melville from 1942 until December 1974. If you want to walk up the path between these buildings and the Supreme Court it will lead you around to Site 36 State Square.
Site 13. The Overland Telegraph Line pole, corner of the Esplanade and Smith Street. In 1871 the undersea cable reached the Darwin from Java and was then continued to Adelaide by land line. This is where the first pole was located.. From here you can go ahead down to the wharf or to Site 30 Survivors Lookout.
Straight ahead is the new walkway down to the wharf area. By taking the top pathway it leads you to a lookout over the Waterfront Redevelopment then one can catch the lift down to the next level. This walkway crosses the road below and a lift brings you to the Waterfront Development. Walking back to the cliff is Site 14 Naval Oil Tunnels No. 5 and 6, This system consists of two oil storage tunnels beneath the south-eastern edge of Darwin city. The tunnels have a total length of 673 metres and each is 4.5 metres wide and 5.4 metres high. The tunnels are horseshoe shaped in cross section and have welded steel lined walls and a concrete floor. The entrance tunnels and chambers are separated by bulkheads for pumping equipment and working spaces. The tunnels are connected to the Darwin Wharf area by steel pipelines. During World War II vulnerability of standard fuel storage tanks to aerial bombing stimulated the innovative approach to fuel storage of underground storage in concrete and steel lined tunnels.
Site 15: Foreshore Park at the corner of Jervois Street and Kitchener Drive, facing Darwin Harbour and near the Deckchair Cinema. From here you can see the naval base at Larrakeyah, HMAS Coonawarra, and the Iron Ore Wharf and Fort Hill Wharf. Due to the re-construction of the wharf area there may be a lot of construction equipment around this area. This area was where the early settlement (Goyder’s Camp) was located until the town was surveyed on the plateau above.
Site 16 Deckchair Cinema. A popular spot to watch the movies during the Dry season. Further around is Lameroo Beach that was the location where the hippies would live until they could get to Bali during the 1960s. They didn’t return after the cyclone. There was a salt water bathing area here, (which was protected from the crocodiles, but not the jellyfish), until the 1950s when they fell into disrepair. There is a path which will take you to Site 17 Damoe-Ra Park and its pathway up to the top coming out near Site 44 Darwin Hotel. The original well for the settlement was located here but it has now been filled in. This area also has a connection with the Larrakia women. On the other side of the road towards the Iron Ore Wharf was where the Boon Shed was. In 1942 an anti submarine was built across the entrance to Darwin Harbour between East Point and West Point (near Mandorah). It was 4.6 kms long and later extended to 5.59 kms. Five vessels were used for repair of the boom and they had a small dock here.
Walk back now to the bridge then turn right to the Site 18. Wave Pool. A popular spot and safer than the ocean. There are some shops here if you need a cold drink. On the right is the Convention Centre Site 19.
Site 20. Indo Pacific Marine. This exhibits the local marine eco systems each being self supporting on land so there is no impact on the fragile environment.
Site 21. Australian Pearling exhibition has displays showing the pearling history in this area. The Jetty Restaurant situated nearby was originally the Cooling Water Pump House for the Stokes hill Power Station which was located 100 metres away alongside Stokes Hill. It is now closed.
Site 22. Steam Pump House. Historically the Steam Pump is significant as it was a vital component of the Royal Australian Navy's major refuelling base for its northern operations. Technically the Steam Pump House is significant as internally it is complete including the original steam driven oil pumps, which are early examples of steam technology.
Site 23. Darwin Wharf. The previous wharf was severely damaged during the raids on Darwin in WW2. This one was opened in 1953 and was the main wharf until East Arm was opened though naval vessels and cruise liners still dock here due to it proximately to the city. It is a popular dining spot for lunches and dinner when you can then admire the sunsets. During Cyclone Tracy one of the navy patrol boats HMAS Arrow was driven under the wharf after breaking from its moorings and sank.Site 24. The ‘Sandfly’ NA1 Steam Locomotive.
The Sandfly is the longest serving locomotive on the North Australia Railway. September 2009 the Sandfly has disappeared! May have been removed for maintenance.
Walking back towards Darwin at the roundabout where Kitchener Drive joins McMinn street there is a staircase up the hill. This was originally known as Chinamen’s Steps Site 25 and for passengers it was initially the only way to reach the town area. They fell into disuse once the roads were improved but were recently reconstructed and are now known as Travellers Walk. On the way up you pass the Stella Maris Hostel Site 26. The basic plan is that of an elevated house, with the upper floor plan featuring a central core with verandas all around. The existing building at Stella Maris, in its original form, appears to have been very similar to the houses built by the Commonwealth in Darwin in the 1910s, in terms of its floor plan, roof form, use of materials, and small details such as the roof ventilator and the ‘corrugated iron’ stove recess.
Site 27 Old Railway Yards. They were located in the vacant area to the right of McMinn Street and the Railway Station / Goods Shed was near Leydin Court. When the top is reached walk back to The Administrators Office Site 12 for the next stage or turn right and follow The Esplanade around to Cavenagh Street (and the ABC building is where the original Don Hotel was and, until the Star Theatre opened, the first open air cinema in Darwin). Across the road where there are two shops surrounded by car parks was where Tall Tale Tex Tyrell The Territory’s Tattooed Talking Terror had a second hand shop. He held the NT Yarn Spinning Championship for several years before losing it to Frank Hardy. At the traffic lights by the Magistrates Court walk down Bennet Street to Woods Street to Site 28 Chinese Museum And Temple. During the 19th century, Chinese labourers came to Darwin to cater for the growing needs of the booming gold mining industry. The Chinese community and influence grew from here, surviving the damage inflicted by the Second World War.
If one continue up Woods Street to Foelsche Street is Site 29 Milkwood Tree. This Milkwood tree (Alistonia actinophylla) is included on Greening Australia’s Register of Significant Trees and now the Heritage Register. This Milkwood tree is a rare remnant of the original vegetation of the Darwin Peninsular prior to European arrival in 1869. It is most likely the oldest and largest specimen of its type in the Darwin region.
Go back now to Site 30 Survivors Lookout just beyond Site 12. This lookout gives you a view over the harbour area and details of the sunken ships from the bombing.
Site 31: Government House, the Esplanade. Known as the House of the Seven Gables, this is the official residence of the Northern Territory Administrator. Constructed in 1871 Government House, also known as The Residency, is the earliest and most significant government building in the Northern Territory.
Just across the road is Site 33 the memorial to the centenary of the landing of the Overseas Cable on 20 November 1871 and the completion of the Overland Telegraph Line to Adelaide on 22 August 1872. Connected with this and just across from Site 37 Banyan Tree is Site 34, an astronomical pillar which marks the original site which was used as the principal point to determine the longitude and latitude of the Australian observatories by astronomical observations and telegraphic exchange of the time signal from Greenwich. Site 35 Liberty Square. This is the small park across from Government House and so called because of the Rebellion in December 1918 when the population demanded and got the Administrator removed.
Site 36 State Square. Originally Mitchell Street continued through to the Esplanade and on the left hand side was where the government offices, Blocks 1 to 3 and the Legislative Assembly were situated. These buildings were demolished in the late 1980s to make way for the new Parliament House Site 39.
Across the square is where the government office blocks 4 and 6 were and now only Block 8 or the Chan Building still remains. It houses the government switchboard and computer centre.
Site 37 State Square Banyan Tree. The Banyan Tree in State Square is a remnant of the original Darwin foreshore vegetation. It is over 200 years old and was the congregation point for the Larrakia youths prior to ceremonies that took place under the nearby Tamarind tree.
Site 38 Supreme Court. This building was opened in 1990 and the ground floor can be visited during business hours. The open area is used by the Darwin Chorale occasionally for musical items and there is a display of aboriginal art. The restaurant there currently serves breakfast and lunches plus snacks.
Site 39 Parliament House and State Library. Tours are available throughout the day depending on when Parliament is sitting. This building also houses the State Library and it is situated where the original Post Office which was bombed, was. Part of the original wall has been preserved.
Site 40 Memorial Cairn to where the original cable from Java came ashore and into the BAT Cable room. It has been removed from its original location due to Parliament House being built on the site.
The walkway down to Site 17 Damoe-Ra Park is now passed on the left.
Continuing on is Site 41 a lookout which gives views of Wickham Point and a short history of the area. Next to it is the memorial to the Emergency Services and the plaque to the Site 42 No1 gun of the Australian 14 Heavy AA battery. It is located on what was the Darwin Oval, which consisted of only sand and gravel and was the sports ground until WW2.
Site 43 Darwin Cenotaph. Dedicated on 24 April 1921 it was unveiled by the Administrator F.C. Urquhardt at Liberty Square, the area in front of the Administrator’s residence. It was erected to commemorate those who lost their lives in the First World War. It has had several moves. The monument overlooks Darwin Harbour from which all men left during the First World War and where so many died during the Japanese air attack on 19 February 1942. It is located on the site where the guns of the 14th Anti-Aircraft Battery were positioned and which fired the first shots in defence of Australia on Australian soil during the Second World War.
Site 44 Hotel Darwin. This hotel was located on the corner of the Esplanade and Herbert Street and it was for years the premier hotel in Darwin with its tropical gardens and sea views it was the most iconic venue in Darwin. Its Green Room a popular place to meet for drinks on a Friday night. Prior to the arrival of TV their Saturday night dances was the place to be seen at. Now there is a temporary resort occupying the site. The buildings and associated shops continued through to Mitchell Street where it became the (Old) Darwin Hotel and one of the bars was called unofficially the Zoo Bar. Further down the Esplanade is Site 45 Old Admiralty House. The residence for the district Naval Officer was completed by 24 November 1937. In 1951 the house was moved to its present location which had been owned by Florenz August Carl Bleeser, a postal official and botanist of increasing renown. The house continued as the home of the most senior naval officer in the north until 1983. The house suffered minor damage during Cyclone Tracy and was used as an art gallery and coffee shop until early 1993. Recently the Char Restaurant was opened and the house partly modified in order to establish a restaurant here. The house is a good example of an amended Burnett "B" type tropical house. It is one of only two "B" type houses remaining in the Central Business District of Darwin. The original detail of the house remains intact with only minor alterations. This type was the grandest of a series of tropical designs by B.C.G. Burnett.
Site 46 Lyon's Cottage, or British Australian Telegraph Company. Lyons Cottage was built for the Eastern Extension Australasian and China Telegraph Company Ltd (the successor of the BAT from 1873) in 1925.
Walk along Knuckey Street over to Cavenagh Street. Where the entrance to the Coles underground car park is, was where the Methodist Manse Site 58 was located. It is now situated in the Botanical Gardens. At Cavenagh Street turn left to Site 47 Sue Wah Chin Building and Footpath. Just before the store is the Air Raid Arcade which has on display photos from the Japanese raids on Darwin.
in the car park is Site 48 Boab Tree, Cavenagh Street. The tree is an Adansonia gregorii (boab or bottle) tree.
Further down towards McMinn Street is Site 49 Frog Hollow. It is open parkland facing Lindsay Street that was originally utilised as worker camps in the initial years of Commonwealth jurisdiction over the Northern Territory and later, as part of the Darwin Primary School until it was closed. If you want to walk back from Frogs Hollow down McMinn Street towards the wharf, on the corner of McMinn and Gardiner Streets is Site 50 probably the oldest private dwelling in Darwin. Currently it is in a derelict state but it was owned for years by one of the Chin families and it is typical of the houses built before World War 1. It has since been remodernised?
Back to the Boab Tree and turn right and continue to Site 51 17 Shepherd Street. This is a Type G Government design, 2 bedroom elevated timber frame/asbestos cement residence on round concrete piers. This style was especially designed for tropical conditions and is representative of the design philosophy in World War II and post-war period.
Continue on to Smith Street and turn right. Site 52 St Mary’s Star of the Sea Cathedral. The present cathedral was opened in 1962 and is a war memorial to the servicemen and civilians who lost their lives here during WW2. The Cathedral’s foundations also contain some fascinating relics from the Territory’s history: a brick from Port Essington (British settlement attempt on the Cobourg Peninsula in Arnhem Land), a musket ball from Fort Dundas (Tiwi Islands), a relic of The Gap police station from Alice Springs and Aboriginal relics such as a stone axe and knife. Another striking feature of the Cathedral is a large oil painting depicting the Virgin Mary and Child as Australian Aborigines, the work of a visiting European artist. It started out as a small building, constructed by Chinese labour in the 1880’s when the Jesuits arrived in Darwin. However, in 1897 the small structure was blown down during a cyclone, and so it needed to be rebuilt. It was damaged during the war and the statue of the angel near the front door still bears a bullet hole.
Continue down Smith Street towards Daly Street then turn left then follow the signs to Doctor’s Gully and the fish feeding at Aquascene. Site 53 Peel's Well is associated with the site of the early settlement of Port Darwin. It is a reminder of the population's dependence upon coastal springs for a reliable water supply and recalls the role of the Chinese in supply of fresh produce to town residents. It was named for Doctor Robert Peel the medical officer attached to Goyder's survey party in 1869. A well was gazetted on 19 April 1877 and provided water for the first gardens in the settlement and also visiting ships. Most of the gardens were the work of Chinese and the first formal lease was issued on 30 March 1875 to three Chinese settlers. These gardens were retained up to the late 1930's. However, with the onset of the war, the surrounding area became a flying boat base for the RAAF and several squadrons of Catalina's were based there. Slipways and jetties were built and the oil tanks were installed. After the war the area was abandoned by the military and the jetty collapsed in 1949.
Continue down Mitchell Street and where it finishes at Lambell Terrace turn right. Across the road is the site of the old Darwin Hospital which was a better design for the tropics that the new hospital at Casuarina which is based on the Woden Hospital in Canberra which is based on a Canadian design so the Darwin hospital has snow shields still for the windows. Turn left at the roundabout and on the right hand side of Kahlin Avenue is Site 54 Myilly Point Precinct. These houses were built for high-ranking government officers, originally formulated under the first major town-planning scheme of the early 1930s. The architect B.C.G. Burnett designed a series of homes adapted to the climatic conditions of the Top End which included the use of lightweight materials such as asbestos cement sheeting, corrugated roof cladding and a unique form of louvres with patterning by casement windows. which provided full screened walls that could be adjusted to suit prevailing weather conditions. All roofs were steeply pitched with an asbestos ridge vent at the top. Air circulated from open eaves through the ceiling space and out the ridge. The houses have had continuous use as housing from their date of construction. Overall there has been little alteration to the original fabric or design.
Go back to the roundabout and follow Gilruth Avenue to Site 55 Mindil Beach. This site is noted for it Thursday and Sunday markets during the Dry season but originally there was a large swamp here which extended back to where the golf course now is. There were many Chinese market gardens in this area and also a settlement of White Russians. You can continue on to Site 62 Museum by following the path by Bullocky Point.
Site 56 Gardens Road Cemetery The Gardens Cemetery was opened in 1919 after the closure of Palmerston Cemetery on Goyder Road and was Darwin's main cemetery up until 1970. There are many different types of graves, headstones and epitaphs, and Darwin City Council's records list over 1,200 graves. Many notable people from a period of rapid development in Darwin (1920s-1970s) are buried in the cemetery. Many of the memorials indicate ethnic origins, family associations, and circumstances of death and thus comprise an important record of Darwin's community spanning more than six decades. Cultural groups represented in the cemetery include Greeks, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Thursday Islanders as well as Australians of British descent.
Site 57 Darwin Botanic Gardens They have historic significance as the site of major botanical and agricultural activity since 1886, for their association with the Holtze family and George Brown. The Gardens also have considerable social significance for the Darwin community and visitors alike.
Site 58 Former Methodist Manse. Designed by B.C.G. Burnett, built circa 1938.
Walk out the top end of the Gardens towards the highway, where you cross the old railway line is Site 59 Naval Victualling Yards. The Navy Victualling Yards were constructed as part of the build up for defence purposes in the late 1930's. They were a vital component in the logistics and supply requirements of the Royal Australian Navy. The main stores backed onto the railway line to facilitate access. The H.M.A. Victualling Yard, Darwin was designed to feed all Navy, Army and Air Force personnel based at Darwin. In the event of emergency, the Yard was designed to carry emergency rations (42 days full ration, plus 42 days half ration) for all Defence and Civilian population, up to a total of 8000 persons.
Site 60 Vestey’s Tank. The Tank is located at Bullocky Point, Atkins Drive within the Darwin High School and formerly the site of the Vestey’s meatworks.
This place is the only substantial structure that remains from the large Vestey's Meatworks complex which reflected a misplaced optimism in the growth of the cattle industry following the Commonwealth take over of the Northern Territory. It marks an early use of reinforced concrete in a massive structure that is unique for its age. If one follows the road to the traffic lights then go up a small rise to Site 61 Palmerston Cemetery Goyder Road, next to the Motor Vehicle. This was the original cemetery and a look at the grave stones show the difficulties of living in the tropics. Go back to the roundabout after the traffic lights then continue down the hill and turn left at the bottom (Conacher Street) to Site 62 Museum and Art Gallery. Admission is free and a half day could easily be spent here. It has changing exhibits about the natural history, Aborigines, SE Asia and Cyclone Tracy (but some people find the recording in the darkened room rather scary!), Sweetheart and a maritime museum. There is also a popular café here for snacks and meals. Outside the building is a Bush Tucker Trail and some Aboriginal Burial poles from the Tiwi Islands. Go back down Conacher Street to East Point Road, to catch the bus back into town is just across the road.
Continue down East Point Road to Site 63 Fannie Bay Gaol. The structure of Fannie Bay Gaol demonstrates considerable adaptation of penal design to accommodate Territory conditions and resources. The buildings were constructed between 1883 and 1978, starting with the masonry cell block and the infirmary, designed by architect JG Knight, and finishing with recent, iron-clad structures. The gaol contains a rare gallows mechanism, modelled on the Newgate Gallows in England, constructed specially for the last two hangings in the Northern Territory which took place in 1952. Apart from its continuing function as a gaol until 1979, it was used, after the release of the prisoners, by first the Army and then the RAAF from 1942 to 1946. The integrity of the precinct and the severity of the building combine to convey the oppressive atmosphere within such an institution. The gaol is an important archaeological and social resource; a rare, complete example of a medium sized gaol of the period.
Site 64 Keith and Ross Smith Memorial is just across the road and it marks where the old airstrip was. From here the next section requires your own transport, the bus back to the city is just across the road from the Cool Spot in the Fannie Bay shops.
This tour requires the use of a car and a street map due to the distances involved. Leave Darwin and drive down Daly Street/ Stuart Highway past the turnoff to Site 59 Naval Victualling Yards. Where the highway has an S curve, is where it used to cross the old railway line and a section of rail is still visible just before the first bend. This area was called Salonkia Crossing after the nearby White Russian settlement. The railway yards Site 65 were on the right where the Power and Water workshops now are. Several of the buildings still have the railway tracks in the floor. The pipeline on the right supplies Darwin with water from Manton and Darwin River Dams. The section near Salonkia Crossing was painted by Rolf Harris and a host of school children over 20 years ago, it has since been repainted. Turn left at the traffic lights Parap Road and continue down the road to the Parap Shopping Village. At the first roundabout a left turn (Gregory Street) at the rear of the shops passes the original officers mess. Go back to the roundabout and drive down the other side of Gregory Street to MacDonald Street and turn right to Site 66 (Qantas/Guinea Airways Hangar). It is associated with the first Australia-Europe air service (operated by Qantas) and the first Adelaide-Darwin service (operated by Guinea Airways). The hangar is the only substantial relic of the former Darwin Civil Aerodrome that was closely associated with these pioneering air services as well as with the defence build-up of World War II. It retains visible scars of the Japanese air raids of 19 February 1942. This Sydney Williams building is the second oldest hangar in the Northern Territory.
Drive down Holtze Street to Giles Street where there is a small park Site 67 which is where Ross and Keith Smith finally landed their plane at the old Darwin Airstrip. The main runway is now Ross Smith Avenue and it was in use during WW2 along with the RAAF station further down the highway. At Ross Smith Avenue turn left then turn right into East Point Road. Just before the gates to the Reserve is Colvas Road and Site 68 East Point Fortifications Ack Ack Battery. The Fortifications were the first fixed defences of Darwin, built in 1932-34 to protect the naval oil depot. The military facilities at East Point were further developed in the late 1930s as a response to the Japanese threat. The site has a variety of remains demonstrating the complexity of a defence installation of the WWII period. They are now marked by an interpretative panel. Back to the main road (now Alec Fong Lim Drive) and this area is a popular spot for swimming in Lake Alexander or to use the free Barbeques located on both sides of the road. At the end of the turnoff into the parking area at Lake Alexander there is a path through to Site 69 Mangrove Boardwalk. This walk is best done at low tide and is about 3 klms for the round trip.
Continuing down Alec Fong Lim Drive is the start of Site 70 Monsoon Vine forest walk. This walk is about 1 km long and comes out further around in the East Point Reserve. About opposite where the Drive does a right hand turn is the location of Site 71 East Point Search Light Complex.
Previously you could park at Dudley Point, which is a good place to view the sunsets, and walk to Site 72 Boon Net Tower and end anchors which was one end of the anti submarine boom nets and it was the longest in the world. Now due to erosion of the cliffs, this area is closed for safety reasons. Next to this site is Site 73 Lookout Tower.
Continuing down the Drive is Site 74 East Point Military Museum and 9.2 inch gun emplacement. Construction of the gun emplacement started in 1941 and the first test firing occurred in 1945 but it never fired in anger and the guns were sold for scrap to the Japanese in 1960. These guns are similar to the guns installed at Port Moresby. The second emplacement is often used as a sound by the local folk club. The museum has any interesting display about the War in this area. Taking the right hand road brings you to Site 75 Defence and Command Post Complex including 6-inch gun complex.
Retrace your route back to the Fannie Bay shops and keep to the left at the traffic lights travelling down Richard Ward Drive. (Not its proper name but the filter does not allow the use the standard nickname for Richard!!). On the left hand side where the Woolworths Complex is, was the location of the Drive Inn. A short distance on turn left at the roundabout and follow the coast around to the Nightcliff Pier. This is another popular site for taking the sunset photos as some Pandanus Palms are just in the right place. Continue on and just past the Nightcliff Swimming Pool is Site 76 Nightcliff dump from WW2. Not much is now left to see and while Nightcliff had extensive army camps and vegetable gardens, they have been swallowed up by the new suburb. Be careful at the beached near the dump as live and corroded ammunition was recently found here.
Follow the road around to the traffic lights at Trower Road, turn left and follow Trower Road past Casuarina Shopping Centre to the end at Brinkin. (There is a shorter route but it involves a few more turns). Turn right at the roundabout then go left to the cliffs, Site 77 Dripstone Cliffs, and the site of No 31 Radar Station. It opened in March 1942. It was later moved to Charles Point then to Fenton Airstrip. To the right the road goes to the Lions Park and beach, a popular BBQ spot. Further down the road is the nude bathing beach. There is a walking track which goes through to the Lee Point. The rock seen out to sea is Site 78 Dariba Nunggalinya (Old Man Rock) sacred to the Larrakia people. Follow Trower Road back and after Dripstone High School on your left, turn left at Henbury Avenue, then turn right at the roundabout Tambling Terrace then turn left at Lee Point Road. At the end of the road at Lee Point, about 750 yards back from the car park is Site 79 Observation Post, Sandy Creek, Casuarina Coastal Reserve. One of six Observation Posts constructed for the military between 1939-1941.
Retrace your route back down Lee Point Road and on the left hand side just before the houses turn down Fitzmaurice Drive. This brings you to Site 80 Sewerage Farm which is also a popular bird watching site. Go back to Lee Point road and at the first roundabout, turn left into Vanderlin Drive and after a few kilometres you will pass Site 81 the Leanyer Recreational Park on your left, which has a swimming pool, skateboard park and water slide. Prior to the reconstruction of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy this area consisted of a mass of tracks where the army camps had been situated. No remains are now to be seen. After this, again on your left is the turnoff to Site 82 Holmes Jungle and the City Council Recycling Depot. The Holmes Jungle turnoff is a short distance down the road and goes to one of the few patches of jungle in this area. Due to the long dry season, jungle was only found where there was a year round supply of water. The tracks may be closed during the wet season.
Continue down Vanderlin Drive and at the next roundabout turn left to Site 83 Crocodylus Park. This is situated opposite the Police Headquarters and has on displays of crocodiles and other animals. It acts as a wildlife research centre and here you can pat a live crocodile (small).
Go back to the roundabout and turn left, continue on and cross the Stuart Highway and continue on until you see the Heritage sign for Site 84 Quarantine Anti-Aircraft Battery Site. Established in 1941 the Quarantine Anti-Aircraft Battery Site is the only complete gun-site of its type within the Darwin area. The present structures were built in September 1942 by the Civil Construction Corps and personnel of the 2nd and 14th HAA Batteries. The site was used to defend the South West section of Darwin Harbour and was a backup for the Berrimah Station.
Continue down the road and on the right is the East Arm Wharf which is closed to the public. The track on the left goes to a boat ramp and Site 85 East Arm Flying Boat Base. This site was first used by the USN Catalinas then Australian squadrons were base here until after the end of the war. It was from here that the Lugger Maintenance Section was based. It was a cover for the ‘Z’ Special Unit which sent operatives into the Japanese held islands in the ‘snake’ boats. The Krait being one of the more famous due to its attack on shipping in Singapore Harbour.
Go back to the highway and on the right hand side behind the Factories is the Berrimah Farm. It is not open to the public but it is Site 86 World War Two RAAF Operations Room. Only the concrete floors remain as most of the buildings were made from bush timber. The former RAAF Operations Room was developed to provide a coordinating role for the control of aerial defences, including Radio Direction Finding and anti-aircraft defences in the North Western Area of Operations. On the left hand side of the road is Kormilda College. This was where the passengers of the QANTAS flights overseas would spend their first night before flying on to Singapore the next day. It is now a boarding school.
Turn left at the Stuart Highway and go back towards the city.. On the left is the Defence Establishment Berrimah which was formerly HMAS Coonawarra. The compound surrounded by barb wire was built to hold illegal immigrants. On the right is Site 87 Aviation Museum which was formerly the RAAF No. 9 Stores Depot. The highlight of the museum is a B52 bomber on ‘loan’ from the USAF. There are also other airplanes which have a connection to Darwin.
Further down is the Site 88 RAAF station and until the new civil airport buildings were constructed in the other side of the airport in 1991, it was also the civil airport. No 12 Squadron hanger was used as the airport terminal building until 1991 and it bore bullet holes from the war. Some of the RAAF buildings are heritage listed. The entrance to the RAAF base is by the traffic lights and it was here that the old railway line crossed the highway. A short distance further down there is still a section of line. The aerodrome hosted some 75 units during the war years.
At the Bagot Road flyover and lights, turn left into Snell Street and at the end turn left then straight ahead to Bennison Road, turn left and at the large wrecking yard into Bowen Street. At Tiger Brennan Drive turn right then on the left is Site 89 Former RAAF Explosives Storage Area. Charles Darwin National Park. The Former RAAF Explosives Storage Area includes a number of historic structures associated with wartime activities such as the traverse, bomb service and proof annexe, and 12 Armco Shelters. All but two of these shelters are set into the contours of the hills. They are all Armco barrel vault constructions, some internally strengthened with tramway rails, possibly from tracks used at mines throughout the Territory at the turn of the century. Shelter No. 5 carries 12.7mm diameter projectile entry and exit points which have been attributed to Japanese strafing by Mitsubishi A6MZ "Zero" or Nakajima Ki-45 "Nick" which used 12.7mm weapons in air attacks on Darwin. Charles Darwin National Park has a rich array of natural and cultural resources including protected bird species, middens and mounds, and historic structures associated with military activities. There is a BBQ area at the end and from here there are good views across the harbour to the wharf area. Sand flies may be a problem in this area.
Go back to Tiger Brennan Drive and turn left towards the city. At the next set of traffic lights turn left into Bayview Haven. Here is also Site 90 Francis Bay Explosives Complex. It is off Dew Place which is off Bermingham Crescent and come walking is required. The Francis Bay Explosives Complex is of national historical significance as the development of the explosives area was a central and essential part of the defence initiatives in Darwin which begun in the 1920s. The location of such a storage facility in a decentralised area was recognised when Frances Bay was chosen. Between September 1940 and 1944 some twenty structures had been completed, including above ground and underground magazines and huts. A wide range of naval stores were serviced at this facility including acoustic mines, depth charges and torpedoes for both the Australian and United States Navy.
The facility remained in service following the end of the World War II being replaced as the major site by the Snake Creek Explosives Reserve near Adelaide River. The sites within the heritage place show the range of structures which occurred at the facility including both the above and underground magazines.
Go back to Tiger Brennan Drive and continue towards the city. At the intersection with Ji Niem Road is Site 91 Old Chinese Cemetery. It was gazetted in the 1880s and is located according to Chinese tradition. There are several grave stones though many were buried with only wooden markers. Chinese are also buried in the other Darwin Cemeteries along with Japanese and Malay divers.