Territory Stories

Ecologically sustainable development in the Darwin Harbour Region : review of governance frameworks



Ecologically sustainable development in the Darwin Harbour Region : review of governance frameworks

Other title

Environment Protection Agency.


Environment Protection Agency (Northern Territory); Northern Territory. Department Of Lands, Planning And Environment


E-Publications; E-Books; PublicationNT





Table of contents

Executive summary -- Introduction -- 1. Background -- 1.1 Terms of reference -- 1.2 Scope and structure of the review -- 1.3 Ecologically sustainable development and governance -- 1.4 Ecologically sustainable development, principles and criteria -- 1.5 The Darwin Harbour Region -- 2. Ecologically sustainable development in legislation, policies and plans -- 2.1 Strategic development and management -- 2.2 Land use -- 2.3 Minerals, extractive materials and petroleum -- 2.4 Ports -- 2.5 Pollution, waste and public health -- 2.6 Water -- 2.7 Fisheries and marine areas -- 2.8 Biodiversity, heritage and natural resource management -- 2.9 Environmental assessment -- 3. Discussion and findings -- 4. Advice.




Darwin Harbour -- Environmental aspects; Environmental management -- Northern Territory -- Darwin Harbour

Publisher name

Environment Protection Agency

Place of publication



vii, 59 p. : col. ills. ; 30 cm.

File type




Copyright owner

Environment Protection Agency



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Page content

6 1.5 The Darwin Harbour Region Darwin Harbour lies in the Northern Territory of Australia on the southern shores of the Timor Sea. Darwin Harbour extends from Charles Point in the west to Gunn Point in the east and encompasses Woods Inlet, West Arm, Middle Arm, East Arm and Shoal Bay - an area of water totalling just over 800 km2 (Map 1). This water body represents the northernmost natural deep water port in Australia. The Howard River drains into the shallow waters of Shoal Bay while the Elizabeth, Blackmore and Darwin Rivers are the main watercourses draining into the harbour. Darwin is one of the fastest growing capital cities in Australia, with an annual growth rate of 3.1 % since 2008.5 An influx of tourists to the top-end each year between April and October swells the regions population by around 581,000 people.6 The land area of 2400 km2 that surrounds the Harbour is administered by six local government councils covering the Darwin, Palmerston and Litchfield municipalities and the Wagait, Belyuen and Coomalie Shires. History The Larrakia people have inhabited the Darwin Harbour region for many thousands of years before the area was chosen in 1869 as a site for European settlement. Initially known as Palmerston, Darwin was the name that was eventually adopted in 1911 when South Australia ceded control of the settlement to the Commonwealth.7 The establishment of Darwin as the landfall for the undersea telegraph cable from Britain was the turning point for its emergence as a permanent European settlement. The early growth of Darwin was consolidated by the discovery of gold at Pine Creek in the early 1870s and the construction of a rail link to mining and pastoral areas in the late 1880s. Both reinforced the growth of Port Darwin as an export facility. World War II and the associated build-up of a military presence provided the impetus for a growth in infrastructure, but also saw the loss of life and destruction of many vessels and buildings with multiple bombings between 1942 and 1943. Following the war, the city underwent significant rebuilding and, in subsequent decades, the Commonwealth Government increased scientific research into the Territorys mineral and agricultural resources. In December 1974, Darwin was again destroyed by Cyclone Tracy and was subsequently rebuilt. The Northern Territory achieved self-government in 1978 and, in 1981, the town of Palmerston was established. Infrastructure and industry across the region have continued to grow over the last 30 years with developments such as the Channel Island power station, completion of the Adelaide-Darwin rail link, the new port facility at East Arm and the Wickham Point Liquefied Natural Gas plant at Middle Arm. The Larrakia people lodged the Kenbi Land Claim over the Cox Peninsula in 1978. In 2009, the Territory Government recognised the rights of the Larrakia Traditional Owners in return for an agreement that part of this land would be granted as Territory 5 ABS 2010, Regional Population Growth, Australia 2008-2009, available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/3218.0~200809~Main+Features~Northern+Territory?OpenDocument 6 Tourism NT. 7 DHAC 2003:2-2 http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/3218.0%7E2008-09%7EMain+Features%7ENorthern+Territory?OpenDocument http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Products/3218.0%7E2008-09%7EMain+Features%7ENorthern+Territory?OpenDocument