What is the History of Darwin?

What is the History of Darwin?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 10/30/2018

Reading time: 3 mins

Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, is a bustling city embed in a rich landscape. It is a hub of lively events and activities now, one of its greatest appeals is its fascinating history, which stretches back thousands of years.

  • Aboriginal History

    The Larrakia people are the traditional owners of the Darwin region. They have a deep, spiritual connection to the land, and are taking responsibility to ensure the land is respected by all those that use it. The Australian Aboriginals are an ancient civilisation, as they have inhabited the country for over 65, 000 thousand years. Occupying the country well before European invasion in the 1800s.

    The Larrakia community had a strong connection to the sea, hunting the waters for their food. They had a close relationship with the neighbouring tribes, trading their food, shared ceremonies, and allow marriage within the neighbouring groups. When the first European settlers came to Darwin, The Larrakia people provided them with food. The Larrakia people were introduced to the settlement life, living in and around the city, before being moved out to outer camp areas. The Aboriginal people of Australia were grossly mistreated by Europeans. Invasion caused a catastrophic destruction of the community which is still felt today. Despite this, the Larrakia people are still a strong and vibrant community. They are renowned for their skills in art, music, and governmental positions.

  • Colonial Beginnings

    Due to the remote location of Darwin, Europeans did not settle in this area until the country’s infrastructure made it possible. The crew members of an English Ship, named the HMS Beagle, were the first European settlers to spot Darwin. John Clements Wickham, the captain on the ship, named the area “Port Darwin” after the former shipmate Charles Darwin, who had sailed on the ship’s previous voyage. The final name change was in 1911, changing the official area “Darwin.”

  • Bombing of Darwin

    During World War II Darwin was the target of a horrifying bombing. Japanese warplanes bombed the area in two waves. The Fleet was led by the same commander who was responsible for the Pearl Harbour bombings. The two waves killed 235 people with a further 300 to 400 injured. Making this one of the most disastrous attacks on Australia during the war. Following the air raids, a large majority of civilians began to escape southwards, resulting in half of Darwin’s people to leave the city.

  • Cyclone Tragedy

    In 1974, Mother Nature struck Darwin as Cyclone Tracy ripped through the area. The cyclone destroyed around 70 percent of the buildings in Darwin and killed seventy-one citizens. After the dust settled, the city-built Darwin complete with cyclone-proof buildings. Today these buildings provide a safer environment in the tropical city for future storms.

  • Modern Day

    Due to the past destruction of Darwin, the city has very few historic buildings. Now, it is a vibrant city, acting as a gateway too many natural wonders, including the Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. Whether you choose to visit Darwin for its natural wonders, its buildings, sightseeing or simply for a relaxing break amongst the stunning scenery, you will certainly not be disappointed.

Related article: Why the Aboriginal Culture in Darwin, Northern Territory is so significant

Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.

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