The Bombing of Darwin Harbour will be brought to life by a new multi-million dollar tourism attraction that opened at Stokes Hill Wharf today.
Tourism NT CEO Tony Mayell said the new facility used cutting-edge technology to provide never-before-seen virtual reality and holographic experiences of the Bombing of Darwin Harbour.
“There is no doubt this fantastic new tourism attraction is world-class; some of the technology is so advanced it’s the first time it’s ever been used,” Mr Mayell said.
“Visitors will be transported back in time to Darwin on 19 February 1942 and experience what it was like on that fateful day during the Bombing of Darwin Harbour – the largest ever single attack mounted on Australia by a foreign power.
“With the launch of this new tourism attraction we are telling visitors around the world – If you want to learn more about Australia’s war history, the Northern Territory is the place to come.
“Military tourism is a growing trend with more and more people visiting war memorials, exhibitions and events in Australia and around the world.
“This new attraction will complement the range of other military experiences on offer in Darwin and establish the Northern Territory as a leader in Australia’s war history.”
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) was the successful proponent of a Northern Territory Government Expression of Interest process to fit out and operate the new attraction and has invested more than $4 million in the venture.
RFDS Central Operations General Manager Northern Territory, Michael Toomey said the new attraction brought together two iconic Territory stories in the one location at Stokes Hills Wharf Darwin – the RFDS, which began operations in the NT in 1939, and the Bombing of Darwin Harbour in 1942 during World War II.
“Both of these historic events helped forge the resolve and resilience of the people who live in Australia’s Northern Territory,” Mr Toomey said.
“It is a privilege for the RFDS to build on our partnership with the Northern Territory Government in the development of this new and exciting tourism and educational facility.”
The new facility features virtual reality headsets depicting the Bombing of Darwin Harbour as well as holograms.
The holographic technology tells the little-known story of the commanding officer of the USS William B Preston, Etheridge ‘Jim’ Grant, who observed the attack from the water after being blown from his tender trying to return to his ship.
In a Hollywood-style production, actors, costumes and make-up were used to recreate the captain so visitors can see the attack through his eyes.
Rear Admiral Grant’s grandson Jim Young, who travelled to Darwin for the opening of the new attraction, said the family was looking forward to seeing their grandfather’s story being told.
“We are thrilled, honored and grateful that our grandfather’s story is being told to a global audience through the new Bombing of Darwin Harbour attraction,” Mr Grant said.
“We are very proud of him and his service during WWII and look forward to a new generation of people learning more about this crucial and significant time in history.”
Other highlights of the new attraction include:
- a suspended full replica Mitsubishi Zero Japanese war plane;
- a replica 250kg general purpose bomb that that has been cut away to show the inner workings;
- a window depicting Darwin Harbour in 1942 that comes to life giving visitors an experience of the wharf during the attack. In sync with this is a raised floor showing an aerial view of the harbour bombing, which moves when the wharf is bombed;
- a life-sized hologram of RFDS founder, John Flynn;
- mini holograms using ghost host technology to deliver interaction with Prime Minister John Curtin, a Japanese pilot and a RFDS nurse;
- a decommissioned RFDS Pilatus PC 12 aircraft, completely aero-medically equipped;
- touchscreen portals that provide an insight into the daily lives of RFDS staff;
- an 80 inch screen showing the live stream of where any of the RFDS aircraft are at any one time; and,
- a 100 inch screen telling the stories of patients who have been carried and cared for by the RFDS.
To support the launch of the new attraction, Tourism NT is investing $225,000 in a new dedicated military tourism campaign that will kick-off in coming months showcasing the range of tours, attractions and historical sites on offer right across the Territory.
Mr Mayell said this would be an ongoing campaign that will help attract more visitors to the NT and exploit the Territory’s strengths in military heritage..