War Memorials

War Memorials around Darwin

Darwin, Top End, Northern Territory War Memorials

Charles Darwin Park War Memorial

Charles Darwin War Memorial CHARLES DARWIN PARK  

Bombing of Darwin Exhibition is located in one of the old armament storage facilities within the park. It includes memorabilia and displays telling the story of the bombing of Darwin in February 1942. This area was part of a network of military sites established as part of Australia’s WWII northern defence line. The bunkers and shelters in the Park were used for storage. LOCATION: Travel east from Darwin city, along Tiger Brennan Drive. At Winnellie, opposite Bowen Rd about 5.5 km from the city, highway signs identify the park. Turn South through the gates. TIMES: Ggates open between 7 am and 7 pm. The free displays open 8 am – 5 pm daily

The Esplanade War Memorial

The Esplanade War Memorial THE ESPLANADE

This area has a beautiful war memorial in memory of those who enlisted in the Great War from the Northern Territory. LOCATION: In the city of Darwin itself, head south-east from the city center. It strethches along the harbour – More info on the Darwin Cenotaph

War Exhibits at the Aviation Heritage Center

Aviation Heritage Center War Memorial AVIATION HERITAGE CENTRE

Aviation Museum – Holds an impressive permanent display of aircraft ranging from pioneer models, to a B52 bomber and planes from the jet age. The display includes photo gallery and historic wartime armaments. Displays the city’s aviation history with exhibits that include a B25 Mitchell bomber, a Spitfire replica, a Sabre jet and other aircraft. Videos of the war years in Darwin can be viewed. LOCATION: 557 Stuart Highway Winnellie. TIMES: Daily 9:00am – 5:00pm. Closed Good Friday and Christmas Day

Berry Springs Nature Park War Memorial

Berry Springs Nature Park War Memorial BERRY SPRINGS NATURE PARK

During WWII , Berry Springs was part of a Rest and Recreation Camp set up by the armed forces for the 100 000 personnel based in the area. A number of huts and weir were built at Berry Springs during this time. The remains can still be seen around the main pool. Berry Springs has always been popular with locals and tourists as a place for rest and recreation and to cool off. LOCATION: Turn west off the Stuart Highway 47km south of Darwin The Park is 10 km along the Cox Peninsula Road. The Park is open from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm daily.

WW2 bunker, the East Point Military Museum and Reserve


The bunker where the army planned Top End defence strategy during World War II. This military museum displays war memorabilia, gun aiming equipment, photographs and a video showing dramatic live footage of the Japanese bombing of Darwin. This was Darwin’s first museum and is housed in the original concrete bunker used by the army to plan the strategy for the war time defence of Australia’s northern shores. A walk along the walk and cycle path from East Point to Fannie Bay also has ww2 signage and historical information. Open daily 9.30 am to 5 pm. LOCATION East Point Road, East Point at the picturesque East Point Reserve, just 5 minutes from the City Center. CONTACT Ph 08 8981 9702

WW2 Oil Storage Tunnels War Memorial WW2 OIL STORAGE TUNNELS

WW2 Oil Storage Tunnels – Explore these fascinating old tunnels that run under Darwin City. They also contain an excellent historic photo display. Ph 08 8985 6333 – Fax 08 8985 6366 – web


Myilly Point Heritage Precinct – Contains the last remaining four pre ww2 houses built in the 1930s to house senior public servants and are prime examples of pre World War 2 Darwin architecture. Bullet holes can still be seen in the fence and walls.This precinct represents the conclusion of a Commonwealth Government policy for an ‘approved housing scheme’ for high-ranking government officers, originally formulated under the first major town planning scheme of the early 1930s. The creative talents of the architect B.C.G. Burnett were to change the face of Darwin. Burnett designed a series of homes adapted to the climatic conditions of the Top End, which included the use of lightweight materials and natural ventilation. The houses have had continuous use as housing from their date of construction, are the best surviving examples of B.C.G. Burnett’s work. LOCATION 4 Burnett Place Myilly Point Larrakeyah Darwin. CONTACT Ph 08 8981 0165

Casuarina Coastal Reserve War Memorial CASUARINA COASTAL RESERVE

The reserve also protects areas of cultural significance. The Larrikia people speak for this land. Off shore is Old Man Rock, Dariba Nunggalinya, which is a registered Aboriginal sacred site. Although fishing is permitted, disturbing the rock in any way or the removal of shellfish at this site is prohibited. World War II artillery observation posts provide a reminder of the areas wartime involvement. Barbecues, tables and plenty of shade make the area a popular picnic spot. Enjoy a stroll on the beach or along the track to Sandfly Creek. There are also cycle paths along the main roads. Wildlife such as ospreys, sea eagles, cormorants and gulls can be seen along the dunes or soaring overhead. You can see a variety of marine life in the rock pools at low tide. LOCATION Coastal strip between Rapid Creek mouth and Lee Point Road Casuarina
Darwin. CONTACT Ph 08 8947 2300

WW2 historic walking trails around Stokes Hill Wharf

The Darwin Wharf Precinct is a bustling, multi-use waterside area where commercial and public activities intermingle. The wharf plays host to visiting cruise ships and naval vessels and is also home to shops, a restaurant, alfresco eateries open from 11am to 3 pm and them from 5 pm to 9 pm daily (with live entertainment on Saturday and Sunday evenings), a function centre, pearling and marine exhibitions and historic WWII sites. There are historic walking trails around Stokes Hill Wharf to stroll along. A ‘Survivors lookout’, the WWII tunnels (an organised tour), steam pump house and helicipter flights. CONTACT Ph 08 89814268 LOCATION Stokes Hill Wharf five minuted from the CBD.

World War 2 Heritage down the Track (Stuart Highway)

Take a tour or self drive trip from Darwin down the Stuart Highway and see the Top End’s wartime history.Highlights include:

WW2 Airstrips – Airstrips were constructed next to the Stuart highway to accommodate the influx of allies bombers and fighter planes. While travelling down the Stuart Highway you can’t miss the signs that indicate the WW2 Airstrips.

Adelaide River – A small rural community around an hours drive south of Darwin. The Adelaide river war cemetery is the final resting-place for 434 service personnel from Australia, UK, USA and Canada who died in the Top End during WW2. There is also a museum housed in the old railway station.

Katherine Region – Located 310 kilometers south of Darwin. Katherine is full of history from the early pastoral days, wartime activities and overland communications.

Larrimah and Daly Waters – Two of the region’s most popular and colorful historic townships and boast two of the Territory’s most famous historic pubs. There is a WW2 airstrip and hangar at Daly Waters.

For more information contact the Katherine Visitor Information Center: 1800 653 142

Soldiers inspecting damage to defence buildings following a bombing raid

Soldiers inspecting damage to defence buildings following a bombing raid. 

The build up of a defence presence in the Northern Territory began slowly with the construction of the Stokes Hill oil tanks in 1926 and the gradual establishment of bases for the navy, army and air force in the 1930s.

The first two air raids in Darwin by the Japanese were on 19 February 1942 when at least 240 people were killed and between 300 and 400 wounded. This was the first attack by a foreign power on the mainland of Australia. There were 47 vessels in the harbour when the first raid began and there was considerable damage sustained. By November 1943 there had been a total of 64 air raids on Darwin.

The bombing of Darwin

Japanese air raids on Darwin and northern Australia, 1942–43

On 19 February 1942 mainland Australia came under attack for the first time when Japanese forces mounted two air raids on Darwin. The two attacks, which were planned and led by the commander responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbour ten weeks earlier, involved 54 land-based bombers and approximately 188 attack aircraft which were launched from four Japanese aircraft-carriers in the Timor Sea. In the first attack, which began just before 10.00am, heavy bombers pattern-bombed the harbour and town; dive bombers escorted by Zero fighters then attacked shipping in the harbour, the military and civil aerodromes, and the hospital at Berrimah. The attack ceased after about 40 minutes. The second attack, which began an hour later, involved high altitude bombing of the Royal Australian Air Force base at Parap which lasted for 20–25 minutes. The two raids killed at least 243 people and between 300 and 400 were wounded. Twenty military aircraft were destroyed, eight ships at anchor in the harbour were sunk, and most civil and military facilities in Darwin were destroyed.

Contrary to widespread belief at the time, the attacks were not a precursor to an invasion. The Japanese were preparing to invade Timor, and anticipated that a disruptive air attack would hinder Darwin’s potential as a base from which the Allies could launch a counter-offensive, and at the same time would damage Australian morale. With Singapore having fallen to the Japanese only days earlier, and concerned at the effect of the bombing on national morale, the government announced that only 17 people had been killed.

The air attacks on Darwin continued until November 1943, by which time the Japanese had bombed Darwin 64 times. During the war other towns in northern Australia were also the target of Japanese air attack, with bombs being dropped on Townsville, Katherine, Wyndham, Derby, Broome and Port Hedland.

The response

In the hours following the air raids on 19 February, believing that an invasion was imminent, Darwin’s population began to stream southwards, heading for Adelaide River and the train south. Approximately half Darwin’s civilian population ultimately fled. The panic in the town was repeated at the RAAF base, where servicemen deserted their stations in great numbers. Three days after the attack 278 servicemen were still missing. The exodus south (which later became known as ‘The Adelaide River stakes’), and the looting and disorder which subsequently occurred, led the government to hurriedly appoint a Commission of Inquiry led by Mr Justice Lowe which issued two reports, one on 27 March and the other on 9 April 1942.

Darwin Air Raids

On 19 February 1942, 188 planes were launched against Darwin whose harbour was full of ships. Eight ships were sunk, two were beached and later refloated and many of the other 35 ships in the harbour were damaged by bomb or machine gun fire. Darwin town and the RAAF aerodrome were also heavily damaged by the raid. A second raid of 54 bombers was launched two hours later on the same day. The raids on 19 February were the first two of sixty-four raids against the Darwin area and its nearby airfields, which bore the brunt of Japanese attacks on mainland Australia.

In January 1943, No.1 Fighter Wing, RAF moved to the Darwin area with three Spitfire squadrons, No. 54 RAF at Darwin, No.452 RAAF at Strauss and No.457 RAAF at Livingstone. The Spitfires had major clashes with the Japanese on 2 and 15 March 1943. On 20 June 1943, the Spitfires intercepted the formation of 21 bombers and 21 fighters, shooting down nine bombers and five fighters. This was the most successful encounter by the RAAF over Darwin, during which the Group Captain Caldwell, an ace from the European theatre, shot down his fifth Japanese aircraft. The final air raid on Darwin took place on 12 November 1943.