In spite of the destruction wrought by bombing and cyclones the central area of Darwin - the City - has preserved the regular rectangular layout devised by Surveyor-General George Goyder in 1869, similar to that of the other state capitals (except Sydney).
Christ Church Cathedral
The original Christchurch Cathedral (Anglican) was damaged by Japanese bombing during the Second World War and destroyed by Cyclone Tracy. The new building was consecrated in 1977 in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.The narrow porch and the adjoining wall, which survived the cyclone, were incorporated in the new octagonal church. The waves and fishermen's nets in the stained glass windows commemorate those who died at sea in the cyclone. The heavy altar consists of a single massive piece of jarrah wood.
Police Station and Old Courthouse
Along the Esplanade from the Cathedral is the building (by J.K. Knight, 1884) occupied by the police station and the old courthouse, also known as the Old Naval Headquarters because it was occupied by the Australian Navy during the Second World War. Rebuilt after suffering severe damage in the cyclone, it now houses government offices.
Overland Telegraph Memorial
The Overland Telegraph Memorial is a rather inconspicuous tablet, commemorating the men who installed the telegraph line from Adelaide to Darwin, a distance of more than 3000km, in 23 months (1872).
The Government House is an imposing white building in colonial style which stands 70m above the sea, with a fine view of the harbor. It is also known as Seven Gables because of the gables on all sides. Government House was built between 1870 and 1878 by J.K. Knight, who designed most of the official buildings in Darwin's early years. In front of the building are low projecting blocks with movable louvres for ventilation.Government House is so solidly built that it has survived all cyclones: even Cyclone Tracy only damaged its roof. The building in its tropical gardens is still occupied by the government and is not open to the public.
Old Admiralty House
The Esplanade, which was already designated in the 1869 plan as a public park, runs north from Government House to Old Admiralty House, one of the few surviving buildings dating from around 1920. It is now occupied by an art gallery and a tearoom.
Lyons Cottage is a massive bungalow-style house built by the British-Australian Telegraph Company for their head man in Darwin, the first building in the town to have electric light. It is named after a John Lyons, a lawyer who bought the house in 1952 and occupied it during his term of office as mayor of Darwin. After his death it was due to be demolished and replaced by a high-rise hotel, but Cyclone Tracy put an end to the plan. The original stone house was then rebuilt and is now the British-Australian Telegraph Residence Museum.
Smith Street Mall
From the Stuart Memorial and the post office Smith Street Mall, a pedestrian zone, runs south. On the east side of the Mall, facing the Victoria Hotel (1894), is Star Village, Darwin's first cinema. The Victoria Hotel, familiarly known as the 'Vic', was badly damaged by cyclones in 1897, 1937 and 1974 but on each occasion was restored to its colonial splendor. South of the hotel is the Commercial Bank, rebuilt after its destruction by Cyclone Tracy, with a handsome colonnade.
The Stuart Memorial was erected to commemorate John McDouall Stuart, who at his third attempt successfully crossed the continent from south to north and prepared the way for the opening up of the country. The Overland Telegraph followed a year later.
The Darwin post office incorporates stones from an old mailcoach station of 1872. The previous post office on Mitchell Street was destroyed by Japanese bombs in 1942.
Old Town Hall
The Old Town Hall was built in 1883, when the gold rush at Pine Creek was at its peak. Cyclone Tracy left only ruins, which have been converted into an open-air theater.
Darwin Community Arts
Darwin Community Arts, opposite the ruins of the Old Town Hall, is another relic of Darwin's early days. This plain stone building was erected in 1885, damaged several times by cyclones and successively used as a shop, government offices and police headquarters. After the repair of damage by Cyclone Tracy it now houses a small theater.
The Chinese Temple was originally built in 1887 for Darwin's sizeable Chinese community. The present building has preserved many interior furnishings from its predecessor.
Map of Darwin Attractions