Bicentennial Park

Bicentennial Park, Darwin

 Esplanade, Darwin City NT 0800, Australia +61 8 8930 0300 Website 12am – 11:59pm Darwin Campervan Hire

shadowyknee (contributor)

I’d rate strolling through Bicentennial Park as not just enjoyable and relaxing, but also as surprisingly educational if you take the time to look at the various monuments. So stay with me while I cover some of the more significant parts in the next few tips – should you be using this as a guide for a visit of your own, the trip starts from the northern end and works toward the main city area. Once there you can reward yourself with a cool drink!

John McDouall Stuart was the first to find a useable route through the inland deserts from Adelaide to the “Top End”, crossing the continent and returning by the same route in 1861-62. His route became the path for the Overland Telegraph, opened in 1872 and for the original railway seeking to link the north and south of Australia. While the main road and “New Ghan” railway essentially follow Stuart’s route south to Alice Springs, further south they diverge to the westward of his path and away from the Lake Eyre basin in South Australia.

Stuart’s trailblazing path proved tremendously important to South Australia and, in fact, to Australia generally. This monument to Stuart was presented to Darwin in 2005, to commemorate the 190th anniversary of Stuart’s birth, as a commissioned artwork.

difftia (contributor)

Stroll further through the pleasantly landscaped park beyond a cantilevered lookout among the shrubbery and, a little further along, you will see an old ship’s gun and several information plaques. This is a significant area, for the naval gun was raised from the wreck of the USS Peary and now points toward her resting place, where she was sunk by Japanese bombers in the first air raid of 19 February 1942 – going down with her anti-aircraft guns still firing and taking 91 of her crew with her – the largest US loss in Australian waters during the war. She already had survived several engagements since it began.

Nearby is a plaque to 2nd Lt Robert J Buel of the USAAF, who on 15 February 1942 was the pilot of one of only two P40 fighter aircraft available to help defend a convoy under attack by Japanese bombers. He was credited with downing one Japanese bomber before himself being killed – arguably the first man to die in the direct defence of Australia.

rookcitrusy (contributor)

Bicentennial Park is a shady respite from the hustle and bustle of the CBD with lovely views of Darwin Harbour. It’s only a 5 minute walk from the CBD so take some time out with a cold drink and a snack and relax under a tree on the grass.

There are some fascinating points of interest including a War Memorial and a memorial with a plaque commemorating the German explorer Leichardt who reached Darwin overland from Brisbane in 1845.

Click on the pic of the plaque to read his story.

And if you take a close look around you may even spot some of the local wildlife enjoying the greenery as well.

mintygithub (contributor)

I was very interested to find plaques commemorating the centenary of the exploration trip from Brisbane to Darwin undertaken by the government naturalist of the 1840s, Ludwig Leichhardt. The monumantal 4800km overland trek by his party took 14.5 months, finishing at the Port Victoria settlement at Port Essington near the Cobourg Peninsula on 17 December 1845 – the final part following much the same route we would shortly be taking on our “VT Survivor” trip. It was a story I remembered from distant schooldays. Leichhardt was less successful on a later expedition across Australia from east to west: he and his party were never seen again!

Nearby were a row of park benches, also designed to act as trellises for shrubbery to grow over, providing shade. Vivid bougainvilleas were becoming established around most seats, but I realised after taking the photo that the seat nearest the camera had obviously been undergoing some form of maintenance!

meteorwings (contributor)

Still heading southward through the park, you will find the main Australian War Memorial with, nearby, a series of plaques commemorating the military units operating in Darwin at various times during WWII. There were a great many – but Darwin became the largest staging base in the South West Pacific Area (as it was called) during the War. Operational forces were also based here, such as Catalina flying boats which undertook hazardous flights lasting well over 24 hours and ranging as far as the Philippines.

Not far to go now, and then you can stop in the city area for that drink I promised you! At least the Bicentennial Park has plenty of shady trees. Almost in the city area is a pillar indicating the survey observation station for Darwin – if you are here, you might like to check that your GPS says 12˚ 28’ 05.4894” S, 130˚ 50’ 23.5107”E !

argandhedge (contributor)

The Darwin Cenotaph is located in Bicentennial Park a short walk from the CBD and overlooks the blue green waters of Darwin Harbour.

An inscription on the base reads as follows –



drilkpappies (contributor)

On the 19th of February 1942 a flight of Japanese warplanes were detected by coastwatchers in islands to the north , this information was immediately relayed to Darwin military sevices. but , before too much could be done there was a huge aerial bombardment and attack on the city of Darwin. The local military put up a brave defence but was overwhelmed by the large Japanese contrations of airpower it had little defences in place to combat such an attack..Many local residents and military personnell were killed. The war had finally reached the Australian mainland.
Depending on how much time you have in Darwin..A pleasant way to spend a few hours is the Bicentennial Park that runs right along the edge of the cool for a walk along the tree lined paths on a hot Darwin day..Here you will find all along this the walkways in the park are the war memorials and regimental monuments to the many who valiantly perished while trying to defend Darwin from the numerous attacks by the Japanese forces. Locally stationed Australians along with their Americans allies were no match for this huge attack as this particular “Taskforce” that was attacking Darwin on this day was the same task force that two months earlier had attacked Pearl Harbour..This area of Northern Australia was heavily bombed by the Japanese in further aerial attacks in WWII.

Visit the Monument to the USS Perry that was sunk here in Darwin harbour. There are many Australian Memorials to be seen located along the seafront.

For those who are unaware of this miltary history. This particular Japanese “Task force” that attacked Darwin on this fateful February day in 1942 was the same battle group that attacked Pearl Harbour in the previous December of 1941.

bairparking (contributor)

Darwin’s tropical style weather does not make this easy so try doing it in the morning or in the late afternoon towards the evening. (I planned the walk based on advices given by the Lonely Planet)

I started my walk from Parliament Building, a 5 minutes walk just after exiting Smith Street Mall. Here, I find the stately building nestled in immaculate gardens, in proximity with the Supreme Court.

Cross the road and enter the Esplanade, you will find Survivor’s Lookout, perched at the top of the cliff, offering a great view of the harbour. You may descend steps from the lookout to Kitchener Drive at the base of the cliff and visit some WWII oil storage tunnels located there.

Retrace back your steps and walked past Parliament Building. This part of the Esplanade runs along the full length of the city centre, stretching all the way to Bicentennial Park.

Plenty of wonderful lookouts along this stretch, as well as a number of swings where I found kids having a merry time. In the evening, many folks choose to walk their dogs here. Joggers like this route as well…so it can get pretty crowded.

There are many plaques along the trail highlighting the historic role played by Darwin Harbour during WW2 against an impending invasion by the Japanese. (Darwin was bombed by Japanese bombers) In fact, you may find some cannons and guns littered at strategic points.

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