DOCTOR'S GULLY
DARWIN FLYING BOAT BASE

 

RAAF Marine Section established a Marine Section Workshop at Doctor's Gully on the water's edge in Darwin near the north western end of the Esplanade in readiness for the establishment of the Doctor's Gully Flying Boat Base.

Two Oil tanks and a pump house were installed at the back of Doctor's Gully in 1943 as part of Darwin's strategic naval oil fuel supplies and to support the Catalina Flying Boat Base and RAAF Marine Section. 20 Squadron, 42 Squadron and 43 Squadron were all based at Doctor's Gully during the war.

 


Photo:- Harry Wortley via Les Jubbs

11 Squadron RAAF Catalina at Doctor's Gully, Darwin in July 1945, about
to be placed in the water beside the RAAF Marine Section Jetty after a service.
There appears to be a tower of some sort at the top right of this photo.

 

11 Squadron RAAFCatalina at
Doctor's Gully, Darwin in July 1945

 


Photo:- via Les Jubbs

Catalina Flying Boats based in Darwin lay at their moorings off Doctor's Gully.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

One of the large WWII oil tanks at the rear of Doctor's Gully

 

From Doctor's Gully Flying Boat Base the Catalinas ranged far and wide in their strikes against Japanese Bases and Ports from where they exported vital minerals and oil to the factories in Japan.

The RAAF Marine Section played a vital role at Doctor's Gully Flying Boat Base. The Catalina Air Crews depended upon the RAAF Marine Section boats and crews operating in a multitude of roles:-

On many occasions Catalinas returning from missions could be damaged, or had injured airmen onboard who required immediate medical attention. Crash boats would accompany these aircraft to render towing assistance to moorings if necessary, or, to be immediately along side the hull to collect wounded. This close liaison between Air Crews and the Marine Section crews was a matter of friendship and pride in their professional expertise.

 


Photo:- Harry Wortley via Les Jubbs

RAAF Marine Section boats were able to moor at the Marine Section Jetty when the tide was in

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

The same headland that can be seen in the WWII photo above.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Looks like an original ramp from WWII

 


Photo:- Ales Cumming Catalina Flight Engineer via Les Jubbs

A Catalina from Doctor's Gully in Darwin meets up with British Submarine HMS Telemacus to
collect Lt Cmdr Meadows, the Engineering Officer for urgent medical attention in Darwin Hospital

 

After the surrender by the Japanese, the men of RAAF Marine Section would be kept busy with the constant flow of Catalina Flying Boats arriving, with men just released from the Japanese Prisoner of War Camps. Hospital Ships like the "Oranji" would pass through Darwin and RAAF Marine Section Boats like 01.4, crowded with Crews would greet the returning POW's. The two Catalina Squadrons at Doctor's Gully Flying Boat Base were eventually posted southwards on 30 November 1945.

RAAF Marine Section would remain operational at Doctor's Gully in the early Post War years. Doctor's Gully was taken over by Carl Atkinson, a salvage diver in 1946. Some time later Stan Kennon, a Darwin Engineer, took over the former RAAF Marine Workshop and slipway for some time before Carl Atkinson took over the lease to expand his salvage base. Carl Atkinson held the salvage rights to many of the wartime wrecks in Darwin Harbour including USAT Meigs, USAT Mauna Loa, SS Zealandia and USS Pery. At low tide you can see the rusted bottoms of former military barges at Doctor's Gully.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Rusted remnants from WWII

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

More rusted remnants from WWII

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

More rusted remnants from WWII

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Some sort of anchor, possibly from WWII - wonder if it's off a Catalina?

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Possible a tie down weight for aircraft wings

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Possible relics from WWII

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Possible rusted relic from WWII

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Possible rusted relics from WWII

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Pipework possibly associated with the two WWII Oil Tanks that
 were located behind the Doctor's Gully Flying Boat Base

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Two story boards on the history of Doctor's Gully near the
walk-in entrance to Aquascene from the Esplanade

 

The former Doctor's Gully Flying Boat Base and RAAF Marine Section base is now a well known tourist attraction called Aquascene where at high tide, tourists can feed the hundreds of fish that come into the shallows looking for a free feed. Some of the fish are quite large. It's worth seeing. 

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

The car park area looking towards Aquascene

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Looking towards the rear of the car park. The WWII
Oil Tank is in there trees at the left of the photo

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Aquascene at fish feeding time in the morning

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

The far side of Aquascene

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Looks like an original WWII boat ramp

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Close up of the old ramp

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

An old tie up ring beside the boat ramp

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

An anchor and float possibly from the RAAF Marine Section workshop

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

The old boat ramp

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Some of the imprints left by the form work at the top end of the old boat ramp

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Catalina Propeller blade that was recovered from Darwin Harbour
50 years after it was discarded during routine aircraft maintenance.

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Story Boards telling the history of Doctor's Gully

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

One of the fish being fed at Aquascene

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Aquascene fish feeding area

 


Photo:- Peter Dunn 2 July 2011

Feeding fish at Aquascene

 

Crash of QANTAS Empire Airways Short Empire S.23 flying boat,
G-AEUF "Corinthian", 2 nautical miles off Doctor's Gully Flying Boat Base

 

"RAAF Flying Boats At War - The Way It Was"

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I'd like to thank Les Jubbs for his assistance with this web page.

 

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 Peter Dunn 2006

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This page first produced 3 September 2000

This page last updated 27 December 2014