Not everyone is aware of the important role Darwin played in World War II. As a strategic Allied military base, Darwin was the target of Japanese air raids in 1942, with more bombs dropped on the city than on Pearl Harbour. The city is the only location in Australia to have been a major battlefield.
As a result of the conflict there are many sites of military heritage in and around the city, including ammunition bunkers, airfields, explosives stores and watch towers. Local operators offer a range of insightful and informative guided tours of these heritage sites.
Beneath the surface
The underground oil tunnels, built in the 1940s to conceal fuel stores from air attack, are a popular military heritage site. These tunnels were ultimately never used and two of them are now open to the public and feature a collection of photographs depicting life during the war in Darwin.
WWII Oil Storage Tunnels
Museums and multimedia
The newly established Defence of Darwin Experience is a state-of-the-art facility that presents visitors with interactive multimedia exhibits and iconic wartime objects detailing the history of World War II in the Northern Territory. Not to be missed is the multi-sensory experience of the Bombing of Darwin Gallery, and the interactive StoryShare, a space that gives visitors the opportunity to tell their stories in a digital format.
Located alongside the Defence of Darwin Experience is the Darwin Military Museum. Originally established by the Royal Australian Artillery Association, it was the first of its kind to appear in the city. Included in the museum's collection are armoured vehicles, artillery pieces and many photographs depicting the bombing campaign during the war. The museum also features an enthralling 15-minute archival film of the first raids on Darwin in February 1942.
Darwin Military Museum