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World War II Oil Storage Tunnels

Home > Darwin > Unusual Things to do | Tours | Quirky | Places of Interest | Museums
by Amanda I (subscribe)
I'm a freelance travel writer living in Brisbane. Visit my blog at
Published November 22nd 2018
A unique history
I'm standing in a huge, dark and eerie tunnel. Water is dripping. I'm in awe: this tunnel was built using just picks and shovels.

I'm touring the World War II Oil Storage Tunnels. Nestled beside the Darwin Wharf precinct, these tunnels are a unique tourist attraction.

When Darwin was bombed in 1942 and 1943 its oil supplies were destroyed. As a result, the Civil Construction Corps began work on eight underground storage tunnels.

It is believed that as many as 400 men helped build the tunnels. Conditions were difficult and industrial action slowed the construction progress. Only five of the tunnels were completed when the war ended.

The tunnels were never used for bulk oil storage, although aircraft fuel for the RAF and RAAF was stored in tunnels 5 and 6 in the 1950s.

Although concrete and steel lined the tunnels, it was apparent in 1945 that the tunnels leaked. The water seeped between the steel and concrete, creating corrosion and it was deemed too expensive to fix. After a period of heavy rain, the system became inoperable.

Allow 30-45 minutes for this self-paced tour. Interpretation boards and photos line the tunnel walls providing fascinating insight into Darwin's rich history. Books are for sale at the entrance and the knowledgeable gate keepers are available to answer any questions.

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Why? Historical tour
When: May to September 9am–4pm, October to April 9am–1pm
Phone: (08) 8985 6322
Where: WWII Oil Storage Tunnels
Cost: $8 for an adult
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