The two main things they talk about in Darwin, capital of Australia’s Northern Territory are World War II and crocodiles. The reason for World War II being such a key issue in the Territory is because Darwin is the only Australian Capital City to have been suffered sustained aerial attacks by the Japanese during World War II.
At the time of the bombings, the Australian Government didn’t keep the Australian public suitably informed as to the true amount of deaths and damages caused by these raids. At that time Darwin was almost impossibly remote. It is still far from many parts of Australia, but modern aviation has made the city accessible, and it is attracting more and more visitors, which is why it seems appropriate to have the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre based at Darwin Airport; albeit on the opposite side of the airport to the main terminal.
The Heritage Centre is housed in a purpose-built hangar, and it needed to be specially built because the Centre’s main attraction is a B-52 Stratofortress Bomber which, with a wingspan of 56 metres (185′) and Fuselage with a height of 6.2 metres (20′ 8″) is a seriously big aircraft.
The aircraft which the US servicemen who prepared it for its final flight called the `Glossie Aussie’ was donated to the Heritage Centre by the US Government because these aircraft are a familiar sight at Darwin as it is one of the few airports where a B-52 can take off with full fuel tanks and a full load, and from where it can circumnavigate the world without flying over large areas of land.
Whilst the B-52 is the most obvious aircraft, there are many more on display too, as well as the remnants of aircraft that had been bombing during WWII or shot down over Darwin.
The Heritage centre is staffed by volunteers who do a marvellous job in maintaining the place, and who are more than happy to chat with visitors and ask questions about the aircraft of display.
The Northern Territory has always relied on aviation as a way of keeping itself accessible as for many decades roads were unreliable and the was no rail network linking Darwin with the rest of Australia.
Today cattlemen still check and herd their stock using light fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, and the iconic Royal Flying Doctor Service, the first of its kind anywhere in the world, was founded in the Northern Territory.
There are many great reasons for visiting Darwin and the Northern Territory, and a visit to the Australian Heritage Aviation Centre is right up there with all of those other magnificent outback experiences.