COFFEE @ Laneway Specialty Coffee, Vickers Street, Parap, NT 0820
When you’re not from Darwin, the heat and humidity can be quite oppressive. Naturally, it’s par for the course in those parts but for those of us who are not used to it, finding a lovely place that offers respite from the climate and does really good food, coffee and cakes is quite the blessing.
For a breakfast wagyu burger, ridiculously good iced coffees with double ice cream and double espresso (Campo coffee), spectacular baked goodies (Tim Tam bronuts, anyone?) and plenty of other incredible treats to choose from, Laneway deserves its busy popularity in spades!
NOW & THEN around Darwin, NT
Europeans first discovered Darwin in 1839 but only established a permanent settlement in 1869. The town’s growth accelerated when gold was discovered in 1871. The town was originally called Palmerston, however, the port was always known as Port Darwin and in 1911 the city was renamed Darwin. One of Darwin CBD’s major streets is Smith Street, named after surveyor A.H. Smith who was part of the Number 3 survey party in 1869. Today, the street is a retail precinct and features a pedestrian-only mall, 200 specialty shops and the big two supermarkets.
On 19th February, 1942, Darwin Harbour was bombed, resulting in the sinking of numerous ships. In the image below, you’ll see on the right hand side, the Bank of New South Wales building which was bombed the same day. The interior was gutted but much of the outer shell remained. Today, it houses the Westpac Bank and also features a display showing WWII historical pieces such as the building’s original plaque, dotted with bullet holes shot by Japanese fighters. The original doors are also on display inside.
Pretty much any time you mention Darwin, it is indelibly marked with the phenomenon that was Cyclone Tracy back in 1974. Following the utter devastation that visited the city on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day of that year, Darwin was resolute in putting in place many new building regulations that remain today and which have proven to hold up against challenging weather systems. After Tracy blew through, Darwin became a no-man’s land for project home builders and the government devised a bit of a knee-jerk new housing solution in the form of airtight houses. Unfortunately, they proved to be completely intolerable in the heat and humidity. What had been successful for the climate were the elevated 1950s homes that housed public servants in the 70s; homes that could cope with the impossibly humid wet season and the oppressive dry season.
Two young architecture students from the University of Adelaide found themselves in Darwin in 1978 after setting out on a fact-finding mission. Today, their award-winning firm, Troppo Architects continues to specialise in tropical architecture. Noticing the Darwin Reconstruction Commission’s unsuitable bunker-style homes, they stepped forward with a revolutionary design known as the ‘Green Can’, a low-cost, open plan, elevated, curved house with a corrugated iron roof.
A photographic record of my visit to Darwin
Now, in the 21st century, as the Northern Territory’s capital city, Darwin is home to around 120,000 and there are still reminders of Cyclone Tracy and WWII. The building stock is relatively new and whilst there are only a few examples of ‘Contemperiod’ architecture in Darwin, they are most definitely eye catching.
The former Darwin Wesleyan Church was the first cyclone proof prefabricated building in Darwin. The church building arrived in Darwin in pieces and in 1897 the numbered parts were put together on a plot of land in Knuckey Street. It was specifically designed to withstand cyclones, termites and the tropical climate. The building survived the 1942 Bombing of Darwin and Cyclone Tracy in 1974. The building stood unused and dilapidated for many years; surrounded by a growing number of high-rise buildings and busy city streets.
The building was listed on the Northern Territory Heritage Register in 1995 as a prefabricated building of considerable technical and historical significance.
In 2000, to protect the long term viability of the structure, the Northern Territory Government decided to relocate the building to the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens.
The images below illustrate the former Darwin Wesleyan Church in its new location. The building is now used as a café, and by the way, the vegan cake is pretty damn good!!
Darwin and the Northern Territory are known for ancient rock-art sites, Dreamtime stories, outback charm and contemporary galleries, not architecture. I was lucky enough to visit Darwin on a golf trip with my son and thoroughly enjoyed exploring the city. I was totally surprised to find any examples of Contemperiod architecture.
If you want to find out more about Darwin’s history and heritage check out the Northern Territory Government Information and Services website.
Location Map – Laneway Specialty Coffee