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Today marks a remarkable 90 years in Darwin for former Northern Territory Administrator Austin Asche and his family, who arrived on the SS Marella from Papua New Guinea on 19 February 1928. His father Eric had been appointed to the position of Crown Law Officer in Darwin. They lived here in the famous Mud Hut, otherwise known as Knight’s Folly, where the Waterfront Precinct is today. Controversial for its expense, the house was a marvel of tropical architecture designed by John George Knight. It featured “wide verandas which caught the sea breezes,” recalls Asche. The house burnt down while the family was on leave and they moved to Myilly Point, where a family pastime was to “boil the billy down on the beach”. After attending Darwin Primary School, Asche went to Melbourne for secondary school, eventually studying law. He joined the RAAF at the age of 18 and was subsequently posted to Darwin of all places. While he wasn’t in Darwin on the day of the first bombing, he’s one of the few who remember the town right before and directly after the attack by the Japanese. Asche went on to become Chief Justice and later Administrator of the Northern Territory. Reflecting this week on the family anniversary, he remains as passionate about Darwin as ever. “It’s the most exciting place in the world, the most progressive place in the world, the sort of place that all Australians should look up to.”

Published: 18 February 2018


Forgotten Territory was a weekly photo column of historic images in the Northern Territory News which I curated from 2016 until 2019 supported by the collections of the Northern Territory Library and other cultural institutions around Australia, as well as local history Facebook groups. 

Click on the images to read the story behind the image.

Warning: May contain images of people who have died.

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