The movie Australia

I was watching it and was curious about a question regarding the attack on Darwin as portrayed in the movie. Just how much artistic license did Baz Lurhman take with the attack.

I know that Darwin was under threat of invasion and I’m not quite sure if it was the invasion of Guadalcanal or the battle of Midway, that effectively ended the immediate threat, but concidering the amount of portrayed damage to the town and shipping in the harbor, I thought I would ask.


Darwin was bombed by the Japanese multiple times, beginning on 19th February 1942. We generally have lots of veterans returning to town (less each year though) for the commemorative services. The bombings went on for quite some time and included Broome in Western Australia. Check out this wikipedia link for some info :

Just to add a small note to Darwinian’s concise summary - the Japanese armed forces never set foot on Australian soil.

Broome and a few other towns at that end of Australia were subjected to serious bombing campaigns, too.

Sydney Harbour was raided by Japanese mini subs, and Sydney 'burbs were shelled by Japanese warships, though I think the shelling only happened once.

Many ships were sunk in Australia’s coastal waters, too.

It’s true that Japanese troops never landed anywhere in Australia, and that part of the film is utter nonsense. But the Australian mainland was attacked by air and by sea, and if Australian troops hadn’t stopped the Japanese advance in New Guinea - right next door - things would have looked pretty grim.

There’s some argument about whether the Japanese ever really intended to invade Australia. It seems unlikely, but at the time, Australians certainly believed that it might come to that.

And, according to what I learned spending a semester at Murdoch Uni in Perth, the Brits basically said to the Aussies, “Get to Sydney. We’ll defend Sydney. You’re on your own for the rest.”

Which then led to improved American/Aussie relations.

Of sorts.

There was a policy that should there be a land invasion that couldn’t be easily repelled, there would be a retreat from the Northern part of the country to a line at Gosford, which was then a distance North of Sydney (whether it’s now part of Sydney depends on who you ask). This was planned so that any invader would need to cross 1000 km of desert in order to fight - which would be an huge logistical challenge and put massive strains on supply lines.

What sparked the move away from British/Australian relations was the British abandonment of Singapore - which the Australian government represented had taken them by surprise - and the fear that the same would happen with Australia.

And American/Australian relations during WWII were very strained at a personal (if not governmental) level over the period, too - debatably our largest race riot was the Battle of Brisbane, and there were a number of other race riots where the Americans were stationed - often either US vs Australia or US Whites vs US Blacks and Australians.