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Bombing of Darwin – 80th Anniversary event guide.

Bombing of Darwin – 80th Anniversary event guide.

We are coming up on the 80th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin Day and Darwin is pulling out all the stops to provide a wide variety of in-person and online events to mark this historic occassion.

Check out all the events available across all areas of the Territory.



  • The City of Darwin will host the Bombing of Darwin Day Commemorative Service from 9:30am until 11am at The Cenotaph. The event is free and open to the public.
  • On Friday 18 February and Saturday 19 February, Arafura Wind Ensemble presents 80th anniversary From Engagement to Peace a homage will take place from 5:30pm until 7pm at Christ Church Cathedral Civic Park on Smith Street. The special event is free and hosted by the City of Darwin.
  • The City of Darwin is also offering special Bombing of Darwin 80th Anniversary Tour packages to commemorate the milestone anniversary. The self-guided tours include Darwin’s most iconic WWII experiences: The Royal Flying Doctor Tourist Facility, The Darwin Military Museum and The Darwin Aviation Museum. Also included is the Bombing of Darwin Cruise, a one-hour experience on Darwin Harbour where you will go back in time to 19 February 1942. The tours can be taken on any day between 17 – 21 February 2022 with ticket prices from $60.
  • The Australian American Association NT is hosting two USS Pearly Memorial Services on Saturday 19 February at The Esplanade. The first is from 8:15am until 9am and the second will be held from 9:30am until 11am. Both are free and open to the public.
  • Battlefield Tours is holding a special four-night tour for the 80th anniversary departing only on 16 February 2022. Guests will hear from an expert WWII historian, attend a commemorative service for the bombing’s anniversary, visit all of Darwin’s military and WWII sites, as well as enjoy a special night time experience at the Darwin Military Museum. Package prices start from $1,899pp with four-star accommodation included.

Additional experiences

  • Darwin Military Museum, overlooking Beagle Gulf, is one of the best stops to understanding Darwin’s role in WWII, housing WWII fortifications, military vehicles and larger artillery pieces.
  • Nearby is Defence of Darwin Experience, which offers visitors a powerful WWII audio-visual journey, with anecdotes from real survivors and films containing actual footage from the attack.
  • At Stokes Hill Wharf, the Royal Flying Doctor Service Darwin Tourist Facility uses virtual reality and holographic technology to transport you to the bombing scene of 1942, complete with films, story-telling ‘ghosts’ and simulated, cockpit experiences. 
  • Head to Darwin Aviation Museum and witness an impressive collection of the Territory’s aviation history, including a massive B52 Bomber – one of the few surviving in the world – and wreckage of a Japanese Zero brought down during the 1942 air raids.
  • The concrete and steel-lined  WWII Oil Storage Tunnels, located at Darwin Wharf Precinct, were part of an overall defence strategy and remained a secret to the public until 1992. Now, the tunnels are lined with photographs and relics, and make for a meaningful walk through history.
  • If you’re looking to hear more military insights and stories from local historians, enlist in a four-hour Bombing of Darwin WWII Heritage tour orAustralia’s Frontline: WWII Bombing of Darwin tour.

Stuart Highway (known as North-South Road in 1943)

  • Enroute to Litchfield National Park, stop by Adelaide River War Cemetery and Civil Cemetery to pay your respect to the 434 military members and 63 civilians that were killed during the Bombing of Darwin. On Sunday 20 February, an Ecumenical Service in memory of the lives lost will be held at the Adelaide River Cemetery by the Coomalie Council. The service will be held from 10am until 11am and is free and open to the public. 
  • A small detour at East Arm, 36km from Darwin, lies Quarantine Anti-Aircraft Battery Site, a former command post during World War II and is now the most complete anti-aircraft-gun-site in the area.
  • Drive for an hour to the town of Batchelor, which was once an important RAAF base for the Pacific region. Learn more about military history at theBatchelor Museum, the departure point for the first bombing missions against the Japanese on Australian soil.
  • Book a tour and see real-life artefacts at the former 4 Repair and Service Unit at Pell Airstrip.

Charles Darwin National Park

  • Part of a network of military sites that formed Australia’s front line of defence, today you can see historic ammunition storage bunkers and testing areas that were built in 1944 and used until the mid-1980s.


  • Drive two hours south to Katherine, the southern-most point of Japanese bombing raids in the Territory and home to two Australian Army hospitals during WWII.
  • For a solid history session, head to Katherine Museum, housed in a former air terminal and contains detailed wartime displays as well as pioneer memorabilia.
  • View crater remains at  Knott’s Crossing Katherine, which was directly bombed in 1942.
  • Whilst Mataranka is best known for its hot springs, it was also a WWII base for more than 100 military units including the Aboriginal Army Camp, established in late 1943.
  • On the return trip to Darwin, you’ll spot aircraft along the north-bound side of Stuart Highway. The Straus Airstrip, a former base for fighter squadrons in WWII, is one last surviving and most intact pursuit fighter installations in northern Australia.


  • Take a look inside a Japanese submarine wreck with a virtual reality experience created in collaboration between the Northern Territory Government’s Heritage Branch and the Australian Institute of Marine Science. The I-124, part of an Imperial Japanese Navy squadron, was sunk 80 years ago in a battle with the Royal Australian Navy. The experience can be viewed on YouTube with or without virtual reality goggles.