Tourism and military history – and Peter FitzSimons – in Darwin in April (plus commemorative tourism in February)

Update 12 February 2019: there’s to be an ’emotive’ concert on 24 April.

Update 3 February 2019: Minister spruiks the Territory’s turbocharging of military tourism. ‘Military buffs will be lured to the Territory for the inaugural Territory Tribute event series, with a targeted marketing campaign set to roll out as part of the Territory Labor Government’s record $103 million Turbocharging Tourism stimulus package.’

From our beginnings, Honest History has always been fascinated by the Northern Territory’s fascination with its piece of World War II – the bombing of Darwin and other parts of Northern Australia in February 1942 and afterwards. It has its own tropical piquancy.

This year, 5-7 April, there is an International Military Writers’ Festival in Darwin, backed by the Northern Territory Government. Featured speakers include Sir Peter Cosgrove, Joan Beaumont, Craig Stockings, Margaret Hutchison, Christina Twomey, Tim Bowden, and, of course, Peter FitzSimons, a well-known ‘storian.

Separately, there are tour packages available for this year’s commemoration of the February bombing. The organisers here give us some context: ‘Did you know that Darwin was bombed more times than Pearl Harbour?’

1547028560Illustration for ‘Bombing of Darwin’ tour package departing 16 February, including ‘Bombing of Darwin WWII Heritage Tour’, ‘Bombing of Darwin Commemoration Day Event’, ‘Bombing of Darwin Cruise’.

For our earlier forays north, simply use our Search engine with the term ‘Darwin’. Among the posts there, we also give some context, comparing the bombing of Darwin with some other wartime bombings. Last year, we said this:

Meanwhile, the Northern Territory government has announced it will spend $1.9 million on “cementing the NT as a Military History destination”. This is part of a set of new initiatives under the heading “Turbocharging tourism”. “Military history is a big draw card for tourists and we have an incredible story to tell – this funding will allow us to promote our story”, Ms Moss [the Minister] said. “We want military history visitors to see Darwin and the NT as the ultimate pilgrimage destination in Australia.”

To put the Territory’s new spending in context, here is our post from last year (75 years on), which links to our even earlier posts on Anzackery, Darwin style. Last year we said:

The Darwin bombing was a tiny part of World War II and a small part even of Australia’s war (except in that it touched our shores). Yet we – or those of us in the Northern Territory or those wanting to be popular up that way – have made an awful lot of it. [Then Chief Minister Giles referred in 2015 to ‘the deaths of thousands of people’ in the Japanese raids. Hyperbole in the tropics.]

To the credit of the organisers of the April conference, they are encouraging speakers to range rather more widely than topics that will turbocharge tourism to the Top End.

David Stephens

29 January 2018 updated