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Monday, August 24, 2009

Darwin, Northern Territory

Why is the Northern Territory a territory and not a state? Any land within Australia that is not claimed by one of the states is called a territory. It was originally part of South Australia. Ten years after Federation in 1911, South Australia gave this part of their state to the Commonwealth Government and it became the Northern Territory.

Two weeks ago hundreds of people lined the streets of Darwin to welcome home 1000 Defence Force personnel who have been serving in Iraq, Afghanistan and Timor-Leste.

In 1978 the Northern Territory was granted self-government by an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament, but because it's not a State, the degree of self-government is limited. The Federal Government has kept control of several areas usually run by a State Government. These include Aboriginal land, uranium mining and industrial relations but the Northern Territory is regarded as a State for financial dealings between the State and Federal Governments. It's as clear as mud really.

Kites on the Adelaide River

Named after the famous English Naturalist, Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory. In its short history, this hot, isolated town in the top end has been flattened twice but has managed to come back bigger and better than ever.

Ferry to Mandorah

The first time was on the 19 February 1942 when the Japanese bombed Darwin and 243 armed forces personnel and civilians were killed, eight ships were sunk and 11 damaged. A section of the wharf was destroyed, killing 22 waterside workers.

Sunset Markets

Nineteen allied warplanes were destroyed on the ground at the RAAF base including six front-line American P40 fighters. Over the next 21 months, Darwin, Adelaide River, Katherine and Milingimbi in Arnhem Land were bombed 64 times.

Jumping crocodiles in the Adelaide River

The second time was Christmas Day 1974 when Cyclone Tracy hit the unprepared town with such force that sixty-six people died.

Road Kill Cafe

The devastation was so complete, the population had to be evacuated. Since then, building codes now require that every new building must be cyclone resistant and are referred to as 'built to code'. For people who don't live in a 'built to code' house, emergency shelters are available.

Supreme Court

So once again, the town slowly rose from the ashes and has continued to grow into a modern, multi-cultural city of 130,000 people with a very laid back and relaxed attitude to life.

Government House

Things in the Territory get done at a much slower pace up here, no worries mate. There are more than 50 nationalities in Darwin, including the area's traditional landowners, the Larrakia Aboriginal people.

Government Offices

Territorians hold the title of being the world's undisputed heaviest drinkers. The only nations that come close are the Irish and Czechs. In Alice Springs there was an 18 per cent drop since the government introduced restrictions on the sale of alcohol in 2006.

Parliament House

For most of us, it's just too hot to live up here, but for born and bred Territorians, they wouldn't live anywhere else.