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Posted on 25 January, 2022

Was it 64 or was it 46?

Was it 64 or was it 46?

Darwin is a city defined by war, and as we move closer to the 80th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin, we reflect on the sunken ships in Darwin Harbour, and the lives lost on 19 February 1942.  The photo above of the Neptuna and Barossa on fire, is taken from the wonderful resource that Library and Archives NT has put together, the Bombing of Darwin Resource package.

Our Bombing of Darwin Cruise is a staple in Sea Darwin's portfolio.  It is a one hour experience where we relive that day, with stories of the planes, the locations, the characters and the ships.  At times we talk numbers, and when we do we usually wait for a challenge. You see, like many "facts" about the Bombing of Darwin, it really does depend what you read and who you speak to.  In terms of the numbers of ships that sunk on that day, some will say it was 46, when others swear that it was 64.  And what defines a ship?  Do the Pearl Luggers that sank count as ships?  There are probably more questions about the Bombing of Darwin than there are answers.

The 80th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin has been embraced by the City of Darwin as a very special Commemoration.  There will be usual events, like the USS Peary Memorial Service and the Commemoration Service.  The Arafura Wind Ensemble will perform in Christ Church Cathedral.  And the City of Darwin are subsidizing a Bombing of Darwin Commemoration Tour , an immersive 80th Anniversary Limited Edition Tour where four iconic Darwin WW2 experiences are packaged together to celebrate this milestone Anniversary of that fateful day of 19 February 1942.  The tour includes the Bombing of Darwin Cruise, entry to the Royal Flying Doctor Darwin Tourist Facility, the Darwin Military Museum and the Darwin Aviation Museum. Transport between venues is not included.  The tour is self paced, so you undertake the activities at your pace, during Bombing of Darwin week.  

Sea Darwin has also put together our own special 80th Commemoration event.  Entitled Ship Wrecks, Flying Boats and the Fallen  on Monday 21 February 2022, we are offering a very special sunset cruise to pay tribute to the lives lost on Darwin Harbour during the Bombing of Darwin and through the WW2 years.  Departing iconic Stokes Hill Wharf at 5pm we we will take a fast boat journey to the back of Darwin Harbour to visit the Catalina Flying Boat Base and the wreck site of Catalina A24-1. As stories are told we'll cruise through the Harbour proper to the resting place of SS Zealandia and the USAT MEIGS. And then, as day ends we’ll hover over the watery remains of the USS Peary taking time to pay our respects to all the Mariners who lost their lives, done in the most civilized way possible with a G&T sundowner in one hand, and a canape in the other.  This special sunset commemoration cruise includes:

  • 2.5 hour sunset cruise
  • Site Commentary by Dr Silvano Jung - Archaeological Consultant
  • Canapes and a G & T Sundowner at sunset
  • Additional drinks can be purchased on board. 

Was it 64 or was it 46?

And not forgetting that year round, we offer a Bombing of Darwin half day tour. Using local amateur historians as your guides and real time commentary, you will spend the morning hearing the stories of the Darwin’s front line activity, starting with the WWII history and the Bombing of Darwin and tracing developments up to the modern day. Visit the sites that were hit by the Japanese air raids. Head out to Charles Darwin National Park to see bunkers and other WWII relics before visiting the acclaimed Defence of Darwin museum as well as the East Point Military precinct.  This half day tour includes transfers from hotels and finishes up with the Bombing of Darwin Cruise.

Was it 64 or was it 46?

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