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Darwin

See this article on the flight to Darwin and this article on the celebrations at Darwin

The Vimy landed at Darwin at 3pm on 10 December 1919. According to a Sydney Morning Herald article of 29 December, the population of Darwin, ‘excluding Aborigines’, but ‘even including the Asiatics among the whites’ was about 2000; there were only about another 2000 such inhabitants in the entire Northern Territory – less than one non-Aboriginal per hundred square miles.

So a comparatively huge crowd of hundreds of people was present at the ground to welcome the aviators and the next few days were a round of activities. Ross expressed surprise and delight at the Darwin people’s hospitality.

After being enthusiastically received, the airmen were the guests of Mr Staniford Smith at Government House, where they were confronted with hundreds of congratulatory telegrams and cables. They had not realised that their flight had attracted huge attention.

Landing at Darwin. NT Library collection PH0767/0016

Inspecting the Vimy at Darwin. NLA photograph.

On 12 December Captain Wrigley and Lieutenant Murphy arrived in Darwin, having completed the first transcontinental flight in their obsolete BE2e aircraft (see published booklet and this newspaper article)

The Vimy’s engines had done 135 hours and were 35 hours overdue for a ‘top overhaul’. The port propeller, which had hit a ‘kite eagle’ at Calcutta, was showing signs of splitting, but the Smiths decided to fly on. The ‘wet season’ was approaching and they feared that the Vimy, left in the open, might be damaged in storms. On Saturday, 13 December, they headed south, hoping to be in Sydney in five days.