Darwin bombing to draw tourists
TOUR operators in the Northern Territory are hoping the 70th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin will bring new visitors to the far north - and big business in what is typically the low tourist season.
February 19, 1942 marks 70 years since the first attack on Australian soil at Darwin by enemy forces and what became a 21 month-long raid on Australia's north.
Travel and history buffs in Darwin anticipate the anniversary will attract Australian and international tourists, being one of the numbered occasions that aging veterans and survivors will attend.
"It will be one of the last opportunities to hear first-hand accounts from surviving veterans and civilians who fought for the defence of our country," Bombing of Darwin WWII Heritage Tour Guide Garry Gallagher said.
"Visitors to Darwin will hear the stories of our servicemen brought to life, even for just a few moments, and see important war sites, and understand just how close we were to losing the Top End."
In the tropical north, famous for crocodiles and Kakadu National Park, December to February is typically the low visitor season.
It is hoped the Bombing of Darwin Commemoration will help buck the trend and boost the Territory tourism industry which was down 9.5 per cent on visitation in June compared last year.
Gary Gallagher is one of many tour operators who will open his doors for business over the summer.
"Usually it's quiet at that time of year but I'll definitely be open in February," he said. "I expect the Bombing of Darwin will lead to some of the busiest weeks next year."
A new WWII heritage park, 30km south of Darwin, is currently under construction and will be unveiled prior to the anniversary, along with the Defence of Darwin Experience at the Darwin Military Museum.
The 17 Mile World War Two Heritage Park is located on land first occupied in February 1942 by the US Army 147th Artillery and includes an educational facility.
The Defence of Darwin Experience is an audio visual installation that introduces the war in the north and attack on Darwin. It will become the new entry point to the Military Museum.
Darwin Military Museum Director Dr Tom Lewis OAM said the heritage park would provide a valuable link to existing war sites around Darwin and the Military Museum.
The 70th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin will be celebrated with a two-week commemorative program of events coordinated by Darwin City Council.
The program includes national activities and events in Darwin and its surrounding area, as well as a re-enactment to be held at the Darwin Cenotaph on 19 February 2012.
For more information visit www.frontlineaustralia.com.au