blame tracy

Walking around Darwin's city centre (which is more like a town centre by most Australian city standards), what struck me most about the buildings is that they are all so dated. Not old, exactly, but extremely un-modern. Just as I realised that all of these outdated buildings were reminiscent of roughly the same era, it hit me - the architecture is uniformly dated because it was all built at the same time. Or rather, rebuilt.

I think everyone in Australia knows at least a little about Cyclone Tracy. For those who are a bit hazy, here are the essential facts: It hit the city of Darwin at around midnight on Christmas Eve, 1974. By Christmas morning, approximately 70% of the city was destroyed, 48,000 people were homeless and 65 were dead. Following the immediate aftermath of the disastrous storm, then prime minister Gough Whitlam set up a commission with the task of rebuilding the city within five years (despite some calls for the entire city to be relocated).

While I haven't been able to verify my suspicion, it seems indisputably obvious that these buildings were a part of that immediate late-70s rebuilding process. All of the images here were taken in the city centre, and there were countless others in the same style.

The abundance of architecture from this period - concentrated within the very small CBD - gives Darwin proper a fascinating, almost forgotten feeling. It's as though they (and who's they exactly? The government? The Australian people? I don't know) frantically streamed money into the city in order to rebuild it as quickly as possible, and haven't been back since.

And that's probably not far off the truth.


  1. This is a terrific post! I definitely get that eerie feeling when I go to Darwin, but never put two and two together.

    I'm going to send this to some of my Darwin friends and ask them what they think.

  2. Awesome Patsy, thanks! Yeah it's such a strange and wonderful city, with this intense history of disaster just below the surface. I'll be very interested to hear what Darwin locals think!