Darwin/Parap Aerodrome - late 1930s

The site of Darwin's first aerodrome at Parap was selected by Hudson Fysh in 1919 as the first Australian arrival place for the 1919 England-Australia Air Race, eventually won by the Smith brothers. Fysh went on to found Q.A.N.T.A.S. in 1920.

Darwin/Parap grew in importance after 1934 following the inauguration of Australia's first international air service. Qantas Empire Airways used the aerodrome as their Australian departure point and landfall for the long Timor Sea crossing. Additionally, connecting services to Perth by MacRoberton-Miller Airways and later to Adelaide by Guinea Airways also used the aerodrome.

The composite photograph above shows the main domestic area at Parap in the late 1930s. It was taken by DCA Radio Inspector Ivan Hodder from one of the HF radio receiver masts and looks west. Roll your cursor over the image to get an annotated version giving the identity of each of the buildings. The hangar was built by Qantas for their D.H.86 service but was later used by Guinea Airways after Qantas changed over to flying boat operations for the international service in late 1938. The hangar was badly damaged in the first Japanese air raid on Darwin, on 19 February 1942.


Left: This aerodrome diagram, dated 1 October 1937, shows the general layout of the Parap aerodrome. It is taken from NOTAM No. 98/1937, updating an earlier issue from 1934. NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) was the normal method of publishing aerodrome information at that time. The aerodrome domestic area, seen in the photo above, is indicated by the red arrow.

In 1939 two hangars and a large number of huts were erected by the RAAF in the area immediately south of the existing domestic buildings, pending the opening of a new military aerodrome at Marrara, commonly known as '4-mile'. At this time, Parap became known as '2 1/2 mile' to distinguish it from the RAAF aerodrome. Following the opening of the new aerodrome in 1940, these huts and hangars were removed and relocated to the RAAF aerodrome.

(Photo: CAHS/Ivan Hodder collection. Diagram: NOTAM 98/1937 - National Archives of Australia)

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