During WW2, the Top End played a key strategic role in the defence of Northern Australia and today in Darwin a significant portion of that military heritage is preserved and lives on. The Bombing of Darwin day is marked on February 19 every year. Bunkers, airstrips, and tunnels are dotted around the city, and many of them are free to visit. With a Darwin Airport car rental from Hertz Darwin you will be well primed to explore Darwin’s war history thanks to the guide below.
Start here at East Point Reserve on East Point Rd, originally Darwin’s main defence point. Gun emplacements, lookout towers, communication rooms and ammunition remain here today. Part of the East Point Reserve, is the Darwin Military Museum. The museum boasts a collection of WWII memorabilia, including restored guns. Here, the Defence of Darwin Experience offers tourists an immersive multimedia experience, replaying Darwin’s role in the war.
Another military site, this time on Tiger Brennan Drive, Charles Darwin National Park was set up during the development of Darwin as Australia’s northern defence line. Today it includes an interactive display outlining the city’s role in the Pacific War.
These tunnels were built in 1943 along the waterfront in order to help protect Darwin’s oil supplies. Today, photographs pay homage to those who served the area during the war.
As the name suggests, this is a museum dedicated to aircraft. Its crowning glory is a B-52 bomber on permanent loan from the United States Air Force – one of just two on public display in the world outside the USA.
About 45 kilometres south of Darwin along the Stuart Highway, the Strauss Airstrip comprises an information shelter and life-sized cut-out planes. It was used by American, British and Australian pilots during the war.
At Bicentennial Park on The Esplanade, you will find the USS Peary Memorial and the Cenotaph. The former celebrates the crew of the USS Peary, which was attacked and subsequently sank during the first Japanese air raid on Darwin. The latter is a memorial to all the soldiers and civilians who sacrificed their lives in service of the country. Around the Cenotaph are numerous plaques with dedications to those who died in the air raids of WW2.