Another interesting and fun day of sight seeing around Darwin. Today we learned some about the history of the city, specifically about the defense of Darwin during WW II and some about the Cyclone Tracy of 1974. The day included a van ride, boat ride around the Darwin Harbor, and another trip to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.
On February 19,1942, a little over two months after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attached Darwin Harbor and the City of Darwin. Some of the same aircraft carriers used against Pearl Harbor were used against Darwin. The difference is the February 19 attack on Darwin was the first of about more than 100 bombing attacks against Australia from 1942 till 1943. Cities all along the northern coast were attached from Exmouth in Western Australia to Townsville in Queensland.
Because of the seizing of the Philippines, the US Navy had started using Darwin as a staging base, so some US ships and seaplanes were located in the harbor and support staff were located in the city. The raid consisted of 187 Japanese carrier based aircraft and a second raid of 54 land based bombers. Three warships and six merchant ships were sunk, and another ten ships were damaged. Additional targets were the RAAF base and civil airfield, as well as army barracks and oil storage facilities.
During our tour we visited some of the locations around the city and harbor.
This is a boat similar in design to the pearl ships used by Japanese merchants before the war to search for pearls. Some of them also did reconnaissance for the Japanese military.
This is the current Stokes Hill Wharf. It was here that the ship MV Neptuna was hit by multiple bombs. Because it was unloading depth charges at the time, the ship exploded and subsequently sank, taking 36 of its crew and 9 dock laborers with it.
Also sunk during the raid was the USS Peary. I mentioned the USS Peary in yesterday’s blog.
This is the current Parliament house for the Northwest Territory. In 1942 a different building was in this location and it included government offices and the post office. The building was badly damaged during the raid and subsequently torn down.
This cliff is on the east side of Darwin along what was Larrakeya Army Base. If you look closely at the cliff just below the light house tower, you can see where a machine gun was located. Some of the defense locations around Darwin were put in place after England went to war in 1939 but proved to be inadequate for the times.
This is one of the anti-aircraft sites located throughout the city. One of the gun foundations is in the foreground and the buildings in the background are for command and control of the guns.
In the fence post you will note a hole. This is the result of strafing runs made by the Japanese fighters during the raid. There are still quit a few locations around the city that show such damage.
The map below shows the major targets hit during the raid. As you can see they were widely dispersed around the city. The damage to the city was pretty extensive.
While we were out touring the harbor we went by some military ships that were in the harbor.
This one is a Japanese Navy Ship, Kind of strange going by this ship as we were exploring events that happened many years ago.
This is a Canadian Navy Ship that was approaching the harbor.
We also cruised by an Australian Navy Submarine.
On December 25, 1974, Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin. Although it was known to be coming, its force was much worse than expected. Winds during the Cyclone were known to be over 200 MPH but the exact speed is not known because all of the wind instruments were destroyed. The winds were estimated to be over 270 MPH based on the damage to city. The City was extensively damaged as a result. The result is that most of the buildings in Darwin were constructed after 1974. Much of the city was built in the style of the Burnett house (the name of the architect). But because of WW II and Cyclone Tracy only 5 of them exist. The houses are built on stilts and have louvers in all walls for cross ventilation. In the era before air conditioning, it helped keep the houses cool. What looks like lapped siding in the picture below is actually louvers that can be opened as needed.
That was our day. Tomorrow we leave Darwin and fly back to Brisbane. We leave you with some pictures from today’s sunset. Darwin is known for their beautiful sunsets.
The city in the twilight