To mark 100 years since the Great Air Race from London to Darwin in 1919, City of Darwin has today unveiled new interpretive panels across two locations; in Aviators Park and Smith Park, both in Fannie Bay.
The Great Air Race garnered much national and international interest when it was announced in 1919, with the offer of £10,000 prize money to the first aviator to successfully fly from Great Britain to Australia, a distance of 18,000 kilometres, in under 30 days.
Brothers Ross and Keith Smith claimed the prize, reaching Darwin in just 28 days.
Local historians Peter and Sheila Forrest, who wrote a book on the Great Air Race, provided expert knowledge and input to the project, with the impetus for the project coming from the Fannie Bay History and Heritage Society.
Lord Mayor Kon Vatskalis said it was important to reflect on our history and the valuable role Darwin played in the development of aviation.
“Today we take flying very much for granted and this new signage helps us recognise the significant contribution these aviators had to the industry.”
“In 1919 flying was incredibly dangerous – four competitors lost their lives during the Great Air Race – and the heroism of these aviators cannot be underestimated.”
“The Smith brothers and The Great Air Race paved the way for people to fly for leisure and business and for freight to be delivered around the world.”
Peter Forrest said “‘We are especially glad to have the opportunity to show, through these panels, how aviation and Darwin grew up together.”
“Darwin, and Australia, was never the same again”
The new signage located in Smith Park adjoins the marks the very location the wheels of the Smith brothers’ aircraft touched Australian soil on 10th December 1919.
The new signage at Aviators Park incorporates four panels that celebrate what the Great Air Race meant to Darwin in 1919 and covers subsequent local aviation events to the present day.