Viewing entries tagged
Colonial Sport

Swimming and Sailing in the Northern Territory

The Top End climate as always drawn people to the water. Despite the dangers of swimming in Top End waters, like crocodiles and stingers, swimming has was a favourite pastime in Darwin from the 1880s. Darwin had sea baths at Fort Hill 1880-1919 and later Lameroo Beach 1922-1950s. As a British colony sailing was also a popular pastime. During World War II the Fannie Bay Sailing Club was the first to be established in the Northern Territory. The early water sports pioneers could only imagine the luxury of inground swimming pools and the facilities of today’s sailing clubs on the shores of Darwin Harbour.       

Shooting Sports in the Northern Territory

Rifle shooting and other gun target sports are some of the longest running sports clubs of the Northern Territory. Competency with a gun was an essential skill for much of our history. Almost every colonial era ‘sports’ competition included a rifle shooting competition. Palmerston’s or Darwin’s first rifle shooting competition was held on 1 March 1869. The Palmerston Rifle Club was formed in 1881 and there has been clubs in Darwin almost ever since. Rifle ‘matches’were often held in association with 19th century horse race meetings in some of the Northern Territory’s remote communities. A Central Australian Rifle Club was established in Alice Springs in 1936 although it is likely that there had been competitions prior to this time. Northern Territory marksmen often competed interstate in the premier King or Queen’s shooting competitions and continue to compete in national competitions today.    

NT Horseracing and the Darwin Cup

Horseracing was a marker in all British colonial societies and was often one of the first sporting events established in early settlements. While the races in Palmerston and Darwin after 1911 were considered the preeminent Northern Territory event in the Top End races had been held in Central Australia at Christmas time by the McDonnell Ranges Turf Club from the late 1870s. Race meetings were also held in mining communities and various locations in the bush. The annual race meeting was not only a sporting event but a major social occasion with people coming from far and wide to attend. It was often the only sporting social occasion that some settlers attended.

The first horseraces in Palmerston were on the beach at Fannie Bay. The first Northern Territory race meeting was held in in the vicinity of the current Fannie Bay course in 1873. Racing became organised under the auspices of the Northern Territory Racing Club in 1882. The NTRC organised racing in the Northern Territory up until just after World War II. Today’s Darwin Turf Club was formed in 1955.