Our History


The history of Darwin High School is closely interwoven with the history of the Northern Territory in general and Northern Territory education in particular.

Over half a century of education

Secondary education was first offered in the immediate post World War II years at Darwin Higher Primary School in Woods Street administered from South Australia. Darwin High School was formally established in 1956 in set of makeshift buildings adjacent to the Primary School. The relocation to our currently Bullocky Point site began in 1963, with the official opening in 1966.

The timeline below contains information on some of the key milestones in our school history and the history of the Bullocky Point site. We welcome contributions from past students, staff and community members, including photographs and memorabilia.

History timeline

1921

Victor Lampe establishes a High School class at Darwin Public School with 21 students.

1922

A High School is formally established with Victor Lampe as Principal.

1925

Vestey's Meatworks close along with the High School.

1941

Darwin Public School closed because of World War II. The evacuation of women and children begins. During the War Bullocky Point serves as an Army barracks.

1946

Darwin Public School is re-opened with M.S Kennedy as Principal.Initially the school catered to 69 students, this quickly grows to 150.

1948

Darwin Higher Primary School established with Mrs Mary Tanner in charge. The school school caters to 525 students in total.

1949

Murray Haines becomes Principal.

1950

A poem by student Rosalie Frith

1952

Alistair McK Cant becomes Principal.

1955

Bill Laidlaw becomes Principal.

1956

Darwin High School is re-established. A set of makeshift buildings adjacent to the Primary School form the nucleus of the school with 150 students in attendance. The Principal is Frank Semmens. The school adopts the motto ESSE QUAM VIDERI, which means To Be Rather Than To Seem To Be. An open competition is held to find a suitable logo. To everyone's surprise, the logo judged to best epitomise the new school is designed by Gordon (Gus) Withnall, a 14 year old student. Hymn 45 from Presbyterian Hymn book is chosen as the school hymn by Senior Mistress Myra Lillywhite.

1958

Students at Government House

1959

Tom A Kissell becomes principal. The school has 176 students enrolled.

1963

Darwin High School begins relocation to its present site at Bullocky Point. 'A' Block is occupied on 16 September. The school has 505 students enrolled.

1964

Magazine editorial by Student Ken Butler

1965

Cricket nets, tennis and basketball courts are established. The school has 686 students enrolled.

1966

Darwin High School is official opened at Bullocky Point by the Governor General, Lord Casey.'B' Block is now occupied and the oval is established. Over 800 students are now enrolled.

1967

Ruben Goldswothy becomes principal. On 10 March the Duke of Edinburgh visits. Over 940 students are enrolled at the school.

1968

Visit from the Prime Minister of Australia, the Rt Hon J.G. Gorton.

1969

The Duke and Duchess of Kent visit the school.

1970

A (Tony) Shinkfield becomes Principal.

1972

Merv Brooks becomes Principal. Temporary demountables are located on the site to form 'D' Block.

1973

A Media Centre is built.

1974

Len Sheargold becomes Principal. On 24 December Cyclone Tracy devastates the city of Darwin.

1975

Following Cyclone Tracy, the school buildings become much more than a school to many thousands of people in Darwin. For several weeks a communal kitchen and a huge supermarket operated at the School. In spite of all the difficulties of that period, the 1975 school year started at Darwin High School only one week later than the scheduled starting date. Enrolments on the first day were 575, almost double the number expected.

1976

Ralph N Green becomes Principal.

1977

School magazine 1977

1980

Kerry Moir acts as Principal, until Ralph N Green returns in 1981.The Arts facilities of ‘C’ Block are increased substantially.

1983

Bill Doherty becomes Principal.

1987

The first dedicated computer lab in any NT school is established in B23. The Tank is converted into a multipurpose complex with one half serving as a gymnasium and a Dance/Drama Auditorium, and the other half as an outdoor stage/ampitheatre. Many years ago, a burgeoning export meat industry was based on the Bullocky Point site. The Abattoir lasted but a few years from 1917 to 1922. The Tank continued for some years to supplement the city's water supply and is all that remains today of that thriving industry.

1989

During World War II Bullocky Point served as an Army barracks. The remnants of the Darwin Mobile Force returned to Bullocky Point to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of their posting to the site in March 1939. Senior Students taking the NT Studies Course use the veterans' services to research landmarks and relics of that period.

1990

Darwin High School Magazine

1991

Don Zoellner is appointed as an interim Principal before John Dove commences as Principal in 1992.

1998

Sue Murphy acts as Principal.

1999

John Glasby becomes Principal. The school has over 1000 enrolments.

2000

The Darwin High School Year Book

2002

Vicki Stokes is appointed as interim Principal before Paul Erikson commences as Principal in 2003. The Fish Pond Project, a student initiative, is formally opened.

2004

Marion Guppy becomes Principal. The school has over 1300 student enrolments.

2006

The new 'E' Block is occupied and the top floor of 'A' Block is refurbished.The school has 1400 student enrolments.

2007

The $8 million new Science Block is official opened. This is the final intake of Year 8 students as Middle School are introduced in the NT and the new Darwin Middle School is built on the Bullocky Point site.

2009

Darwin High School's first year operating as a senior secondary school catering to students in year 10, 11 and 12 only. Significant timetable changes take place to accommodate a senior secondary focus. There are 1150 students enrolled.

2011

In October Trevor Read commences as Principal. Over 1200 students are enrolled at the school.

2013

A series of events are held to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Darwin High School at the Bullocky Point site, culminating with a black tie ball for 200 guests on the lawns of SkyCity Darwin. Andrew Liveris from the Class of 1969 announces a $500,00 donation to the school.On 16 September, 50 Years to the day when students occupied 'A' Block, a time capsule is sealed by former 1963 students Kenny Wong and Judy (Swan) Beard. The capsule contains message to the students of Darwin High School in 2063.

2015

Darwin High School becomes one of the first NT Government Independent Public Schools.

The SkoolBag App

Students and their families are encouraged to download the Darwin High School SkoolBag app to their smart phone/tablet device. The SkoolBag app allows you to stay up to date with announcements and events, complete a range of e-forms for student absences and excursions and easily contact us via phone or email direct from the app.

Our History
Map of Darwin High School

© 2016 Darwin High School. CRICOS Provider: Northern Territory Department of Education, CRICOS Provider Number: 00780M, Course Code Intensive English: 048904G, Course Code Senior Secondary: 058744C

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