Darwin, capital of Australia’s Northern Territory is a small city, but during World War II its location on the Top End, the northern shore of Australia, was considered to be important militarily, that it became Australia’s most-bombed city as the Japanese war lords sent wave after wave of bombers to destroy the many boats in Darwin Harbour, and the many military and supply facilities that were scattered around the town.
There are hundreds of World War II historic sites in and around Darwin, but the “must visit” attraction is the Darwin Military Museum, a modern facility, which really recreates in a magnificent way the first bombing of Darwin when much of the destruction was caused.
Called the “Defence of Darwin Experience” it is an amazing interactive multimedia experience that is both shocking and mesmerising.
During World War II Darwin was bombed 64 times over almost two years, with the first two raids alone on 19 February 1942 resulting in the deaths of an estimated 243 people.
The “Defence of Darwin Experience” focuses on these few hours. Although you do get an overall perspective of the bombings, you are encouraged to take a more personal view by following the experiences of 26 individuals who experienced the bombings.
Some of those people survived, but many were killed in the action. For those who survived you learn about their experiences as they tell their stories in audio interviews. For those were who, unfortunately, killed, actors re-create their tales.
As you listen to their stories, you follow the action on a giant interactive illuminated map, which pinpoints the exact place each storyteller was at the time of the first bombings, and you witness first-hand the attacks they endured.
The individuals are from all walks of life, some serve in the military, whilst others are civilians. The Japanese bombers did not discriminate between the two as they set about on their task of wanton destruction.
To get a general overview of such a major disaster is one thing, but to learn about the traumatic plight of a number of individuals is a very emotional experience, particularly as you are hearing the stories in the victims’ own words.
There are, of course, many other exhibits at the excellent Darwin Military Museum, but the `Defence of Darwin Experience’ is the one that you will remember for a long time after you leave.