https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/collection/hero_image11-2016/darwin.jpg

Darwin Time Capsule

Darwin Time Capsule

This sample of collection items highlights the people of Darwin and some of the major events in the history of Australia's most northerly capital city.

Bombed by the Japanese, almost wiped off the map by Cyclone Tracy and home to some of Australia’s most dangerous wildlife, Darwin was for many years the doorway to Australia.

The city has played an important role in Australia’s aviation and military history. With its tropical climate, it is prone to cyclone activity during the wet season and home to crocodiles and the deadly box jellyfish.

Cyclone Tracy, Darwin. Christmas, 1974
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
32745
Year:
Year

In the early hours of 25 December 1974, Darwin was virtually destroyed by Cyclone Tracy. The city became the site of possibly the greatest natural disaster in Australia’s history, causing the death’s of 71 people, destroying more than 70 per cent of Darwin’s buildings, including 80 per cent of houses. Three-quarters of the city’s 43,000-strong population were evacuated. This footage is of genuine human drama in the face of great adversity.

Darwin, The Friendly City, 1963
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
307411
Year:
Year

A snapshot from 1963 of all that Darwin has to offer including pubs, schools, sport, churches and wildlife. The emphasis is on a relaxed, tropical lifestyle in the Top End.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
Box Jellyfish warning in Darwin, 1989
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
44642
Year:
Year

This SAS 7 news item from 1989 devotes almost four minutes to the danger of Chironex fleckeri, commonly known as the box jellyfish or stinger. It starts sensationally by contrasting inviting images of the beach and swimmers with a voice-over that warns of the world’s 'most venomous marine animal’ that can 'kill humans within minutes’. The use of haunting music and referring to the jellyfish as living in a ‘mysterious world’ implies the animal almost has supernatural powers. Fortunately this news item also proves to be highly informative about the risks surrounding the box jellyfish and the steps the Northern Territory Health Department are taking to raise public awareness. On another level, this item is a tribute to Australian’s continuing fascination, and almost cultural pride, in hosting some of the world’s most deadly fauna.

Crocodiles in Darwin Harbour, 1995
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
284693
Courtesy:
Network Ten
Year:
Year

Saltwater crocodiles, or 'salties’, are the largest and most aggressive of all crocodile species. Fully grown they can live for up to 70 years, average four to five metres in length and weigh up to 500 kilograms. As with the box jellyfish, crocodiles are a dangerous reality in the Darwin region, particularly if they take up residence in popular swimming spots, as this ATV 10 news item explains.

Qantas Pilot RB Tapp in Darwin, c1925
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
33775
Year:
Year

Darwin has a rich aviation history and the establishment of the airline Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd, which was to become Qantas Australia, is closely tied to the region. This footage features Qantas pilot RB Tapp on a stopover in Darwin and the Darwin Cenotaph, erected outside Government House to commemorate those who had served in the First World War.

Note: this film is silent.

Darwin, c1926
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
66336
Year:
Year

Darwin in the mid-1920s showing the laid-back lifestyle often associated with living in the tropics.

Note: this film is silent.

Kingsford Smith at Darwin, 1930
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
16747
Year:
Year

This 1930 silent film features legendary aviator, Charles Kingsford Smith (1897-1935), arriving at the Darwin Aerodrome in his British-made Avro Avian biplane, the Southern Cross Junior. Kingsford Smith succeeded in breaking the record for a solo flight from England to Darwin in October that year. He accomplished this within ten days, beating four competitors who had left England ahead of him.

Additional footage shows aerial views of Darwin and includes buffalo hunting and bush scenes, followed by shots of the city’s streets, pedestrians, pubs, shops and homes.

Note: this film is silent.

Freer,C. home movies, 1930s
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
268928
Year:
Year

This footage is from a collection of home movies made by colourful Englishman, Cecil Freer. Station owner, horse breeder, cattle raiser and buffalo hunter; Freer filmed the lifestyle in the Top End. This clip opens with the arrival of a KLM Royal Dutch Airlines fixed-wing plane at Darwin Aerodrome. We then see dramatic scenes of Indigenous Australians spearfishing for crocodiles, women playing netball and the submarine, HMAS Otway, entering Darwin Harbour.

Note: this film is silent.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
WARNING: This clip contains animal suffering or death
Darwin, This Australia No 4, 1930
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
409669
Year:
Year

When this was filmed, Darwin’s population had grown to almost 3,000 people. This included a significant Chinese community who originally arrived as indentured labourers in the 1870s. Some of this footage seems to have been sourced from earlier moving image and has had intertitles added, possibly to promote Darwin as a lifestyle or holiday destination.

Note: this film is silent.

Pro independence rally, Darwin, 1995
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1239802
Courtesy:
Andrew McNaughtan
Year:
Year

Australians for a Free East Timor (AFFET) was established in Darwin in late November 1991. This raw footage, taken by Andrew McNaughtan (1954-2003), shows demonstrators outside the Indonesian Consulate in Darwin calling for independence for East Timor.

The Story of Port Darwin filmed by Victor Tarhanoff, 1941-1947
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
1392993
Year:
Year

Victor Tarhanoff’s 16mm amateur footage is the earliest surviving colour images of Darwin. His beautiful films offer a unique insight into Darwin life before and after the Second World War. Music and sound effects have been added from the NFSA collection.

Note: this film is silent.

Through the Centre (excerpt), 1940
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
10702
Year:
Year

While the Second World War had commenced in late 1939, in 1940 Darwin was yet to feel the full impact. This excerpt from Through the Centre is part of a larger documentary sponsored by the Shell Company about an expedition sent to map a tourist route from Perth through northern Western Australia via Broome and the Kimberleys to Darwin and then south through Central Australia to Adelaide.

Heavy Raid on Darwin, 1942
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
120418
Year:
Year

By the 1940s Darwin was still a small town but its location was important militarily. On 19 February 1942, 242 Japanese aircraft attacked Darwin’s airfields and harbour in an attempt to prevent the Allies from using them as bases to repel the invasion of Timor and Java. The air raids were the first and largest of over 60 attacks on Darwin during 1942–43.

Australia, movie trailer, 2008
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
779655
Year:
Year

The feature film Australia (2008), directed by Baz Luhrmann and starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman, is an epic historical romantic drama set between 1939 and 1942 against a dramatised backdrop of events across northern Australia. The bombing of Darwin by the Japanese on 19 February 1942 is one of the climactic moments of the film. Australia was filmed in a number of locations including Darwin and the Queensland town of Bowen, which was made to look like Darwin.

Not Just Another Tropical Island. Darwin,1988
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
104325
Year:
Year

In 1988 Australia celebrated 200 years since the arrival of the First Fleet of British convict ships at Sydney in 1788. The Australian Bicentennial Authority was created to plan, fund and coordinate projects that emphasised the nation’s cultural heritage. Darwin High School received funding to research the history of Channel Island in Darwin Harbour.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
WARNING: This clip contains human suffering or death
Darwin: Doorway to Australia, 1949
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
13968
Year:
Year

This footage presents Darwin in 1949, still recovering from Japanese attack during the Second World War, but showing signs of building activity. The film highlights the general life of the town and also explains plans to make Darwin a model city.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/star_theatre_darwin_resized_348271_cropped.jpg
Star Theatre, Darwin. 1955
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
348271
Year:
Year

The Star Picture Theatre seated around 860 patrons and was central to Darwin’s social life. The theatre was divided into three sections with different pricing levels: the upstairs balcony was mostly reserved for whites – public servants and local business figures. Beneath the balcony, working-class white people and Indigenous Australians who could afford the more expensive tickets sat on canvas-backed chairs. Most Indigenous Australians sat on the cement floor near the front of the screen, with no roof cover.

https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/star_theatre_darwin_resized_348310_cropped.jpg
Jedda premiere, Star Theatre, Darwin, 1955
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
348310
Year:
Year

On 3 January 1955 the Star Picture Theatre became part of Australian film history when it screened the world premiere of Jedda. The Star Picture Theatre seated around 860 patrons and was central to Darwin’s social life. The theatre was divided into three sections with different pricing levels: the upstairs balcony was mostly reserved for whites – public servants and local business figures. Beneath the balcony, working-class white people and Indigenous Australians who could afford the more expensive tickets sat on canvas-backed chairs. Most Indigenous Australians sat on the cement floor near the front of the screen, with no roof cover.

WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that the following program may contain images and/or audio of deceased persons
https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/jedda_352072.jpg
Poster for the fim, Jedda. 1955
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
352072
Year:
Year

Directed by Charles Chauvel (1897-1959), Jedda was filmed on location in the Northern Territory and starred Ngarla (Rosie) Kunoth, a Central Australian Indigenous woman, as Jedda, and Robert Tudawali, a Tiwi man from Melville Island, as Marbuck.

Jedda was a film of remarkable firsts: the first locally-produced Australian feature film shot in colour and the first to star Indigenous Australians. It was arguably Chauvel’s best film, but also his last.

https://www.nfsa.gov.au/sites/default/files/09-2016/paul_hogan_as_mick_dundee_in_crocodile_dundee_nfsa_title_482165_v2.jpg
Paul Hogan as Crocodile Dundee. 1986
Year:
Year

In 1977 Rod Ansell (1954–1999) found himself stranded in remote country west of Darwin. The story of his survival for 56 days with limited supplies became news headlines around the world and inspired  Australian comedian and actor Paul Hogan to co-write and star as Mick Dundee in the feature film, Crocodile Dundee (Peter Faiman, 1986), Australia’s most successful feature film.

Cyclone Tracy Aftermath: Repairing the damage
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
625012
Year:
Year

Workers are shown in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy fixing roofs and securing tarpaulin for protection. Fallen trees, collapsed buildings, debris and shells of houses can be seen. Summary by Poppy De Souza.

Cyclone Tracy Aftermath: Food and shelter
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
625012
Year:
Year

A public centre is set up as a temporary refuge for people displaced by the cyclone. Meals are provided along with medical services such as typhoid and tetanus vaccinations. Summary by Poppy De Souza.

Cyclone Tracy Aftermath: Helicopter fly-by
NFSA-ID:
NFSA ID
625012
Year:
Year

A convoy of six navy helicopters from the HMAS Melbourne aircraft carrier pass across the Darwin skyline. Workers continue to temporarily fix roofing as they watch the convoy fly by. A number of concrete buildings reduced to rubble, and wooden skeletons of buildings can be seen as the filmmaker drives down a deserted street. Summary by Poppy De Souza.