Darwin: A Photographic History - by Matthew Stephen

Wednesday, 8 May, 5:30pm - 7:30pm

Event Details

  • Date
    Wednesday, 8 May, 5:30pm - 7:30pm
  • Location
    Northern Territory Library
  • Cost
Spectators at Darwin football game

Darwin is a dynamic and vibrant city with a character all of its own. It is Australia’s northern most capital city and the only capital city situated in the tropics. Despite only being settled by Europeans in 1869 Darwin’s history is short but eventful. Since then the destruction of Darwin from the Second World War bombing raids and Cyclone Tracy in 1974 dominate its history, but there are so many other stories to tell. 

The evolution of Darwin’s physical and social landscape can be traced through photographs. From colonial outpost to Australia’s Second World War frontline to today’s gateway to South East Asia the photographs of each period illustrate a rich, diverse and distinctive history and highlight just how much Darwin has changed and reinvented itself. 

Forged in adversity Darwin’s character and strength lies in the resilience of its people who know that when faced with extraordinary challenges they can survive, rebuild and flourish.

About the author: 
Matthew Stephen has lived in the Northern Territory since 1987. Until 2001 he worked largely in the field of Aboriginal tertiary education. Since 2007 he has been the Manager of the Northern Territory Archives Service Oral History Unit. He completed his PhD at Charles Darwin University in 2009. His thesis is entitled Contact Zones: Sport and Race in The Northern Territory, 1869–1953. In 2011 he undertook museum studies in the conservation of photographs and photographs in the museum environment. 

Since January 2015 Matthew has split his time between the Northern Territory Archives Service and working as a freelance historian. He has a particular interest in oral history and photography and why some stories are ‘often told’ while others are ‘forgotten’.  These themes are explored in book Colour Bar: Remembering and Forgetting Northern Territory Football 1916 to 1955 published in 2015. In 2018 he published Wanderers Centenary History, 1917-2017 and Darwin: A Photographic History.  For more information see: NT History and Memory.

Copies of Darwin: A Photographic History will be on sale for $50 and Matthew will be available for signing.


This event is part of the Darwin Heritage Festival Program (5 – 19 May) by the National Trust of Australia.

Photo credit: Spectators at Darwin football game, c.1943. (Argus (Melbourne, Victoria.), SLV, Argus Newspaper Collection of Photographs, H99.201/5124.)