Blown Away - Darwin in WW2
By the 1930s, Darwin had grown to a population of several thousand. Gold and other minerals had been discovered inland when the northern railway was built, there was a meatworks and a pearling fleet, and the first aviators had established it as an important aerodrome. With the global political situation becoming more shaky, the Government began to develop a military base there.
Australia will never forget the 19th of February, 1942, because that was when two Japanese air raids virtually levelled the township - the first ever foreign attack on Australia. In the first, 188 aircraft (more than at Pearl Harbour, and from the same carrier group) arrived in the morning. 21 ships were sunk or badly damaged in the harbour, most of the wharves were destroyed and much of the town was levelled. Most casualties were sailors on shipping, but a direct hit killed all 9 staff of the Post Office and the explosion of a munitions ship killed 22 wharf labourers. The little aerial defence consisted of eleven American P40 Kittyhawks, by chance at the airport while in transit elsewhere. Five were able to become airborne for the first attack, but none remained for the second attack of 54 bombers several hours later. Fortunately, with the Japanese advance southwards, the Government had earlier initiated a civilian withdrawal (the last left by air the day before the air raids), leaving only about 2000 civilians in town.
There were the first of a total of 65 air raids on Darwin, the last occurring late in 1943. By then, Darwin was no longer the ‘front line’, but it remained a major military base and staging post – and the war remains one of the defining events of the town’s history. Information plaques such as in the photos are located at several places in the city.
Darwin has 5 public libraries, 4 run by the Darwin City Council and 1 in the Parliament House Building. Casuarina is the largest of the Council ones althoug the Darwin branch is also not bad. The Parliament house Library is purely for research but with most Lonely Planet guides its useful for researching a trip etc http://www.darwin.nt.gov.au/Public_Libraries/Public_Libraries.htm
Remember the creams!!
It's always hot in Darwin so pack your summer stuff - sandals, shorts, vests, sarongs etc... In the rainy season you wear the same stuff with a rain mac - now isn't that easy?
Don't forget your hat (see pic) and sunglasses! Remember the insect repellent - the little blighters will get you at any time of year... And the sun screen - all year round... Do bring a camera - it is just BEAUTIFUL here!
Crocodylus Park and Zoo
So you want to see crocodiles? This would have to be the best place, particularly if you are short of time during your visit.
We visited as part of the VT Darwin meeting, even being given a ‘special’ tour of the croc pens (and gathering many other “instant VTers” who seemed unwilling to accept that we were a private group). That aside, we were given a very interesting and explanatory tour of the croc pens, from the big old ‘rogue’ crocs to hordes of active younger ones destined for the handbag market. The loud “chomp” as the jaws of a large croc slam shut around a chicken scrap provides convincing proof that crocs are not to be trifled with! That message is reinforced by their speed of movement and by their jumping performance, particularly the younger ones.
Time prevented us from visiting the associated zoo, but the crocodiles alone justify the visit. There also is an associated museum, kiosk and gift shop. Normal public tours are at 1000, 1200 and 1400, with the small croc feeding at 1530. Crocodylus Park is at 815 McMillans Road, Knuckey Lagoon. Head out of Darwin past the airport on McMillans Rd. It’s about a 15 minute drive.
Main photo: A big old “rogue” croc.
Second photo:Jumping younger croc
Third photo:“Freshies” – generally inoffensive unless annoyed
Fourth photo:Care for a swim?
Fifth photo:Pacific islands croc-related artifacts in the museum.
Berry Springs Nature Park
What do you do in Darwin after cruising the river looking at huge crocodiles jumping around? Well, if it’s a warm day (and there’s no other kind here) why not go for a picnic and a swim? Berry Springs is as good a place as you’ll find. The Darwin VT Meeting group had a very pleasant lunch and afternoon there, joining a great many Darwinians busily enjoying their weekend. Nearby a large group were playing a game of cricket.
The Springs are situated in National Park and, you’ll be glad to know, are patrolled for crocodiles, so you should be able to expect (during the “Dry” at least) that swimming is safe unless warning signs are displayed…. When we arrived, many locals already were there enjoying the pools in the river – with well-made stairs, ladders and waterside platforms making it very much like swimming in a pool. I was more focussed on swimming than photography, so (curses) forgot to take my camera to the upper rock pool where warm spring water bubbles over rocks into the swimming hole – and it feels a little like being in a spa pool. Quite a delightful spot to relax.
Open daily 0800 – 1830.
Main – third photos: At the pools
Fourth photo:Not quite a guarantee there will be no crocs!
Fifth photo:If the water doesn’t appeal, join the locals for a picnic.