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Maritime Heritage

The Northern Territory’s rich and diverse maritime history includes evidence of the occupation of our coastline by Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years, such as shell middens and fish traps.

The Northern Territory coastline also contains evidence of visitation by Macassan people who sailed from present-day Indonesia from the early 1700s until the early 1900s to gather ‘trepang’.

The Northern Territory’s maritime heritage also includes many shipwrecks and submerged aircraft wrecks, as well as structures such as lighthouses, jetties and wharfs associated with European settlement.

The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory includes an outstanding Maritime Gallery, which tells the story of the maritime heritage of our region.

A unique feature of the Northern Territory’s maritime heritage are the World War II shipwrecks and submerged plane wrecks. There are also two Cyclone Tracy wrecks in Darwin Harbour.

The National Shipwreck Database contains details of all shipwrecks in the Northern Territory, including those in Commonwealth Waters.

For further details on the management of the Northern Territory’s maritime heritage, including relevant legislation. See the Historic Shipwrecks Act.