The history of Darwin High School is closely interwoven with the history of the Northern Territory in general and Northern Territory education in particular. 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.
In 1956, a set of makeshift buildings adjacent to the Primary School formed the nucleus of Darwin High School with 100 students in attendance. In 1957 Darwin High School adopted the motto ESSE QUAM VIDERI, which means To Be Rather Than To Seem To Be. This motto is incorporated into the current logo and is shared by seven other Australian schools. In 1963, Darwin High School moved to its present very attractive site at Bullocky Point. The School was opened on Monday 4 July, 1966 by the Governor General, Lord Casey.
From the end of the 1960s, continued growth in secondary enrolments was met by the opening of further high schools. As each new high school opened in and around Darwin, the geographical area, from which Darwin High School draws its students, has narrowed. Nevertheless, it still has in excess of 1,100 students on campus.
In 1974, Cyclone Tracy provided the opportunity for the buildings to become much more than a school to many thousands of people in Darwin. On that Christmas Day, and for several weeks afterwards, 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.
Prior to 1973, the responsibility for the provision of education in the Northern Territory was with the South Australian Government. From 1973 to 1978, the Commonwealth Government assumed this responsibility. In 1979, the control of education in the Northern Territory passed from the Commonwealth Government to the newly established Northern Territory Government.
The Northern Territory Teaching Service (NTTS) was established to provide teachers to schools. The NT Government has maintained a link with South Australia at the senior level with students studying courses and receiving assessments under the authority of the SACE Board of South Australia
The 1980s brought marked changes to the education system in the Northern Territory. The
introduction of self-government resulted in:
• the establishment of Incorporated School Councils
• the establishment of a Northern Territory Board of Studies
• the maintenance of links with SACE Board of South Australia to cater to the total Year 12 population
In 1987, The Tank was converted into a multipurpose complex with one half serving as a gymnasium and a Dance/Drama Auditorium, and the other half as an Ampitheatre. Many years ago, a burgeoning export meat industry was based here on Bullocky Point. 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. During World War II Bullocky Point served as an Army barracks.
In March 1989, the remnants of the Darwin Mobile Force returned to Bullocky Point to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of their posting here in March 1939. Senior Students taking the NT Studies Course used the veterans' services to research landmarks and relics of that period.
The School is justifiably proud of the role it has played in the development of Darwin and the Northern Territory, and in the fact that it continues to provide an excellent opportunity for students to gain a sound basis for their future.
The Heritage Branch of the Department of Natural Resources, Environment, the Arts and Sport have prepared an article about the Tank. Note the file is 1.84 MB.
Former student Panayiota Tsoukalis also wrote an article about the Tank and Vestey's Meatworks entitled Abbatoir .