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Darwin History, Australia

Darwin, the capital city of Northern Territory in Australia is the smallest of all Australian capital cities. However it has great importance as a gateway to Asian countries of East Timor and Indonesia, being the northern most capital city. What started as a pioneer outpost grew to be a thriving colonial city and now has grown into a modern and multicultural city.

Darwin History: The Early Years

The greater Darwin area was initially occupied by Larrakia speaking Aboriginal people who had established trading routes with South-East Asian regions and used to import goods from West and Southern Australia. ‘Songlines’ were common along these trade routes and the history and stories of the region were often told and retold through these.

The first European maps of the area were created by the Dutch in 1600s when they visited the northern coastline. Some of the Dutch names of the area continue till date. The year 1839 is significant in Darwin history, as it was in this year that the commander of the ship HMS Beagle named the port as Darwin, after Charles Darwin who had earlier sailed with him on the second expedition of his ship, Beagle. South Australian Government controlled the territory and established the first permanent settlement of Europe in the year 1869. The small settlement of 135 people was named Palmerston and was supplied through the port of Darwin.

In the year 1882-83 the Fannie Bay Gaol was constructed and the next year the pearling industry attracted people from Timor, Japan, and Philippines. Some of them are amongst the prominent families of Darwin today.

The young colony got a development boost when gold was found about 200 km south of it in the region of Pine Creek. It attracted people from China and Europe and helped mould Darwin into the cultural mix that it is now.

Darwin History: From 1900 Onwards

In the 1900s the city faced a number of challenges. The most prominent of these is the bombing of the city during the Second World War. It has often been described as the “Pearl Harbor of Australia” in the Darwin history. The bombing caught the city by surprise and caused vast damage to the city and killed many people.

Another major disaster to hit the city was in the year 1974 in the form of Cyclone Tracy. It killed about 71 people and left the city in ruins after destroying 70 percent of its buildings. Many of the old stone buildings were destroyed and the city had to be built up using newer materials and techniques.

After the ups and downs, the city of Darwin now thrives as a modern and multicultural city with the lucrative location of being close to South East Asia for trade opportunities. There are daily flights to international cities and cities within Australia like Sydney, a rail network connects it to Adelaide and it has road connectivity to all major cities like Canberra, Melbourne and more. It has become a tourist destination too and has a thriving nightlife.

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