The First Road: Hughes Avenue

Hughes Avenue is the oldest road in Darwin. The Avenue follows the contours of the escarpment from the Smith Street end of the Esplanade back down towards the sea finishing at the site where Europeans first camped.

In January 1869, George Goyder, with a party of 150 men, arrived from Adelaide to begin a land survey.

At Darwin Harbour, Goyder met the Traditional Owners of the land, the Larrakia people. Goyder said, “We were in what to them appeared unauthorized and unwarrantable occupation of their country.” Nonetheless, relationships between the newcomers and the Larrakia were cordial. Biliamuk, a young Larrakia man, assisted the survey party, and acted as an interpreter and cultural ambassador. Soon after, the Larrakia began trading bush tucker for tea, flour, tobacco and tools.

Hughes Avenue follows the path Goyder and his survey teams travelled up the hill. It is possible when travelling along Hughes Avenue today to see the remains of ironwood posts and sections of a dry stone porcellanite wall marking the old access route to Darwin.

Hughes Avenue was named after Captain Geoffrey Wesley Hughes, Harbour Master of the Port of Darwin from 1962 until his death in 1966.

To view a selection of heritage sites, please click here to download a copy of the Heritage & Cultural Trail brochure. We encourage visitors to follow the designated paths and trails while learning about our heritage.