Heritage Submission


Frog Hollow Precinct


Frog Hollow is situated on Lots 5665 and 5672 in the City of Darwin. All of Lot 5665 and the northwestern portion of Lot 5672 are covered by parkland with many old and shady trees. All of the parkland is referred to on the City of Darwin website as Frog Hollow Park “a popular space for events and gatherings”. The remaining south-eastern portion of Lot 5672 houses the Frog Hollow Centre for the Arts which includes the Darwin Visual Arts Association.

Currently Lot 5665 has Heritage Listing established 1993 with the following description:

Frog Hollow is open parkland that was originally utilised as worker camps in the initial years of Commonwealth jurisdiction over the Northern Territory. The open land of Frog Hollow is highly valued by the Darwin community for its social and educational associations with the workers camps and later the Darwin Primary School. It is also valued as natural parkland within the Central area of the city. Figure 1 indicates the area known as Frog Hollow that must be preserved.

Figure 1 


All lots as bounded by McMinn Street, Lindsay Street, Wood Street and the outer boundary of Lot 5672.

This application is to request an extension to the existing heritage listing from the small remnant park of Lot 5665 to add Lot 5672.  This would serve to ensure that ALL of Frog Hollow and the Darwin Primary School would be preserved, protecting valuable natural, cultural and historical assets.  Figure 1 indicates the area known in Darwin as Frog Hollow that must be preserved…incorporating Lots 5665 and 5672.

This Lot 5672 must be preserved for its intrinsic value but also to protect the heritage value of the exiting heritage place Lot 5665.

The current listing does not include the valuable cultural and historical remnants of the Darwin Primary School which includes the Wishing well, fountain, steps and the footings of the original buildings. The size of the boundary of the current listing does not reflect the physical dimensions of the much larger area historically and colloquially known as Frog Hollow.




Lot 5665 - Darwin City Council - Harry Chan Avenue Darwin NT 0800

Lot 5672 - Northern Territory Government - Parliament House Darwin NT 0800

Does the owner know about this nomination?


Is the Place or Object currently used?

Yes, public recreation

Brief Description

Frog Hollow is a valuable green space with large trees that is becoming increasingly rare in Darwin’s CBD.  This space houses both Frog Hollow Park (LOT 5665) which is heritage listed, and the old Darwin Primary School (Lot 5672) which has contributed to the unique educational and social history of Darwin and the rich multicultural diversity that Darwinites enjoy today.

The whole Frog Hollow area is highly valued by the Darwin community. Additionally, the recent City of Darwin election highlighted the importance of natural green space within the City of Darwin, particularly in the CBD.

The Darwin Primary School was built in 1951(?) on the area known as Frog Hollow; the school buildings were on what is now Lot 5672 and the school playground covered the western portion of Lot 5672 and Lot 5665. Prior to the school Frog Hollow was a natural drainage line which became a wet season creek. Lot 5665 of Frog Hollow was declared as a Heritage Place under the Heritage Conservation Act in March 1996. The Heritage Register states “Frog Hollow is open parkland that was originally utilised as worker camps in the initial years of Commonwealth jurisdiction over the Northern Territory. The open land of Frog Hollow is highly valued by the Darwin community for its social and educational associations with the workers camps and later the Darwin Primary School. It is also valued as natural parkland within the Central area of the city.”

The community values the whole of the Frog Hollow precinct, not just Lot 5665. The central part of the precinct proposed to be developed into a main road is on Lot 5672 and contains many of the highly valued trees.

Lot 5672 is currently in poor condition.  The trees and infrastructure have largely been neglected for many years. The area has not been watered so is dry and brown. The major milkwood tree west of the school buildings is overgrown with a creeper and the entire space is encircled by a cyclone fence.  This appears to be designed to keep citizens out as there is no pathway through the park form the area where people commonly park on McMinn St and walk the five minutes to the CBD.

Figure 2 Neglected FH

Figure 3 Cyclone fence

Figure 4 Milkwood banyan



Lot 5665 and part Lot 3658 were declared a heritage place on 19/3/1996 to be retained as parkland.

We have addressed history throughout the document below (Bring in dot points - the significant history)


(a) it is important to the course, or pattern, of the Territory's cultural or natural history;

Frog Hollow Reserve is a popular space for events and gatherings. - Darwin City Council https://www.darwin.nt.gov.au/explore/out-and-about/find-a-facility/frog-hollow-park

Darwin’s natural history includes the climate and environment that the city occupies. For much of the year, Darwin is hot and humid. Preservation of green space is not just important but critical to the natural history of Darwin.  Green space is now not just about maintaining or improving the ambience of Darwin but is now fundamental to enable the population’s ongoing survival. Increasing heat will impact negatively on Darwin’s liveability and trees are the most cost-effective, effective means of mitigating this impact.

According to arborists, parts of central Darwin are two to four degrees hotter than the surrounding monsoon woodland and as much as twelve degrees warmer. The dramatic difference in temperature between the city and its surrounding non-urbanized areas is known as the urban heat island effect. Asphalt, car engines and exhausts are significant contributors to this.  (Cox & Nield)

Darwin city has been identified as having a hot future. Government commissioned heat studies have identified that the hottest parts of the city are those areas of unshaded asphalt with streets and parking lots having surface temperatures from 55°C-67°C (Santamouris, 2017).

These temperatures are virtually unliveable which will impact severely on the population of Darwin. As one writer describes “…with temperatures nudging 70°C, Darwin CBD has already been dubbed a “river of fire”. Deadly heatwaves could make it a no-go zone.” (Brook, 2017)

The most effective means to reduce the future increases in heat expected due to the heat island effect is shade trees, but Darwin’s loss of trees is only going to escalate.  The shading effect from trees and greenery is very effective in lowering the surface temperatures. Trees and greenery are much cooler areas with temperatures ranging from 28°C -38°C. for trees and from 32°C -46°C for greenery.

 “...Trees are one of the most cost-effective means to reduce urban heat island effects and transform our urban environments to create prosperous, liveable cities. However, in less than two decades, Darwin will have lost one in two street trees due to age and natural decline. On top of this, new developments and increased population densities will result in major tree losses…”  (Cox & Nield)

There are few treed spaces left in Darwin to that are able to mitigate this increasing heat, with many trees lost due to cyclones and the purposeful cutting down of large mahogany trees.  Frog Hollow needs to be listed as a heritage site to protect the site intact and maintain its capacity to help cool the city and provide welcome respite from the heat for locals and visitors alike. Even further benefit would be gained from restoring the creek to its original path through the Hollow.

Trees and green spaces are increasingly being valued as urban infrastructure.

 Urban forests in and around urban communities provide physiological, sociological, economic and aesthetic benefits. They should contain carefully ordered urban oases and open spaces for recreation…instead of seeing trees as ornaments, we need to see them as critical infrastructure. Rather than thinking of them as having no monetary worth, we need to recognize their economic value…”  (Cox & Nield)  

Not only will mitigation of the increasing heat be lost with the loss of green space and trees in Frog Hollow, but the heat effect will be rapidly accelerated by the paving of green space with bitumen threatened by the construction of Barneson Boulevard.

Figure 5 :  Frog Hollow green space Lot 5672

Figure 6: Frog Hollow Lot 5672

Figure 7:Frog Hollow Lot 5672, part of School building

Cultural history – uncommon fountain and remnants of school buildings h

(c) it has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of the Territory's cultural or natural history;

The Darwin Primary School was a school ahead of its time. The architecture, style of learning incorporating nature and the uniquely multicultural attendees are strong contributors to the history and development of the Norther Territory (Tokmakoff, 2007).

Darwin Primary was established in 1951 to house one hundred and twenty Grade 7 to Year 11. In 1949 there were 525 students at the whole school but rapid growth in the school numbers meant that the Cavenagh Street site of the Darwin Higher Primary School was not big enough. Federal Parliament had approved the building of a new high school at Bullocky Point but in 1951 it was still in the planning stages and students needed to be housed.

The entrance to the Frog Hollow school was beautiful. A polished Territory ironwood sign announcing the school’s name was hung over an archmesh archway, grown over with a purple-pink bougainvillea, which welcomed students and visitors to Frog Hollow. Once through the archway the path divided into two, one each side of the huge shady milkwood tree, and immediately to the left on a little hill stood what looked like a small cottage.  This in reality was the toilet block, however, surrounding the building were tall colourful poinsettias which drew attention to themselves rather than to the building. The last of the poinsiettas remaining in Frog Hollow was lost in January 2018 in a wind storm. It had been largely neglected for many years and deteriorated.

Figure 8: The last poinsietta in Frog Hollow, lost in January 2018

Frog Hollow Frame Tree in Flower

The architecture was unique in Australian educational history. The school building was a rectangular tin shed on concrete foundations. The longer side walls were basically all louvres so that children could see the beautiful grounds and benefit from the cooling breezes that passed through freely. Inside, half height partitions divided the building into four sections, creating an 'open plan' school. Frog Hollow was an open plan school long before the concept was formally introduced into education. The dividers which separated the classes were movable and reached a little above head height with a gap of about 70cms to the floor. This open planning allowed a free flow of air and the walls were mainly louvres, so students could sit in class and look out at the lovely trees, red poinsettias, many coloured cratons and the general greenness all around. The Frog Hollow site itself had a lovely atmosphere. A small creek lined with tall eucalypts and other smaller trees wound its way from the Wood Street side.

The gardens and much of the historic infrastructure remining was built by the school children themselves. One of the long-time teachers, Harry Parker, recruited the Grade 7 students to learn about the natural environment through experience!  Mr Parker’s Friday afternoon class of forty Grade 7 children at Frog Hollow produced the brightly coloured garden beds, rockeries, fruit trees, rustic bridges and the beautiful bouganvillea archway entrance.  Mr Parker’s students also built a traditonal Wishing Well which can still be seen. If you wander down the slope from the present education centre there are signs of former building foundations and what currently looks like a broken stone and concrete rubbish bin partly filled with dirt and with small trees and grass growing in it. This was the 'Wishing Well' at Frog Hollow.

Figure 9: The gardens and fountain at Frog Hollow School, Students learning in the shade of large trees

Figure 10:  The fountain and the corrugated iron school classroom with louvres along both long walls for airflow and valuable cooling

Figure 11: Remnants of the fountain today 2018

Frog Hollow school had a successful fruit orchard of banana palms, demonstrating the success of children themselves planting the trees and looking after them. The Grade 7s reaped what they sowed, and shared and ate the fruit when ripe, much to the envy of the other classes. School gardens are highly valued today but not successfully implemented across Australia.

Steps were built in strategic places using local recycled products whenever possible. Few today really appreciate the sweat that went into making Frog Hollow the lovely site it was and could be again if maintained.

The English classroom was a bench under the trees along the creek. Another classroom was the seat under the milkwood tree at the entrance to Frog Hollow, shared with a frilled-neck lizard who sat on a higher branch. This milkwood tree is still living, one of the largest trees in Frog Hollow, entwined uniquely with a Baan Yan tree.

The Frog Hollow experience contrasted with more traditional schooling of the time, where small windows let in little light and air and the views were usually of a nearby brick wall. Except for a small patch of grass and a few small trees in the front, the rest of the grounds were paved in most schools.

The link between the Frog Hollow school and the headmaster’s office and assembly area that was housed in a Queenslander on the site of the current Australia Post car park is outlined further in the document attached (Tokmakoff, 2007).  This building, including a ‘Sydney Williams’ hut used as a classroom and the tennis courts and all their stories are now lost to Darwin’s history.

Students who attended the school were taught along educational principles currently exemplified by some private and parent directed schools. At Frog Hollow there were small classes where the teachers had time to get to know their students, timetables were flexible and extra-curricular activities valued. The importance of affective factors in learning was recognized both by surrounding the building in a park-like setting and by involving students in the reaping of rewards.

Frog Hollow remains a unique place in Darwin and the Territory’s history that previous students and Darwin citizens value. Preservation of the site has historical and cultural significance to the development of Darwin and for maintenance of liveability into the future.

Northern Territory Register of Significant Trees

The Northern Territory Register of Significant Trees was established by the National Trust of Australia (NT) and Greening Australia (NT) to raise community awareness about the value of trees and to protect and maintain this important part of our natural and historic heritage. Trees are included on the register on the basis of one or more categories of significance. The Northern Territory Register of Significant Trees is housed at the National Trust of Australia (NT)’s Darwin office at Audit House, 2 Burnett Place, Larrakeyah.

Frog Hollow Significant Tree Listing

The trees at Frog Hollow were listed on the Northern Territory Register of Significant Trees as a “Group of Trees” on 8 July 1986. Their number on the register is “Area 1” and the listing covers Lots 5665 and 5672 and adjacent road reserve. The categories of significance that the trees were nominated under are:

  • Category 2: Any tree outstanding for its large height, trunk circumference or canopy spread. •  Category 6: Any tree which occurs in a unique location or situation or provides a significant contribution to the landscape, including remnant native vegetation, important landmarks and trees which form part of an historic garden, park or town.
  • Category 10: Any group or avenue of trees conforming to any of the above criteria.

Many of the trees at Frog Hollow are included in the listing. The trees mapped in the significant tree listing are shown on the image on the following page. Many of the trees were planted in the 1950’s when Frog Hollow was the site of the Darwin Primary School. The Register of Significant Trees includes maps, species lists of all the mapped trees, and photos of some of the trees. There were 33 different species of trees included in the listing. It appears some trees have since been removed, or have possibly died. However many of the listed trees remain. - PLan - The Planning Action Network https://planinc.org.au/news/current-campaigns/206-frog-hollow-significant-trees.html


(d) it is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural or natural places or environments;

Unique in Australian history at one time in the NT, the Chinese community outnumbered the European population of Darwin. (Chung Wah Society, n.d.)  The Northern Territory welcomed the Chinese settlers who worked hard and helped build the economically successful Darwin that was evident by the 1920s.

These early Chinese settlers were mainly from the Kwantung Province in south China and primarily spoke the Sze Yup and Hakka dialects. The impact of the Chinese population has been well noted in politics, in business, in sport and recreation and in the development of the general lifestyle of the Northern Territory. Today Darwin is a sister city with Haikou, a city in Southern China based on the historical links between Darwin and Haikou.

Children of Chinese settlers attended the Frog Hollow school side-by-side with European Australian children in a successful multi-racial education environment that was way ahead of its time.  This still ought to be celebrated today where there is a sharing of culture and blending of knowledge and roots. Many of the Darwin Primary School’s former students have gone on to become influential business and political leaders in Darwin’s history.

Darwin’s multicultural forefathers helped create a successful multi-racial community and society in Darwin today and the unique Darwin Primary School (Lot 5672) contributed significantly to this.

Inclusion of this rich cultural history and stories in the ongoing development of relationships with the People’s Republic of China through tourism and economics are valuable today. Restoration of the Darwin Primary School classrooms and gardens, fountain and wishing well to their former unique glory, featuring the stories and histories of students and teachers and their contribution to the development and rich history of the Northern Territory is an opportunity that will be lost if Lot 5672 is not preserved for its historical and cultural significance.

(e) it is important in exhibiting particular aesthetic characteristics;

The fourishing gardens were uncommon in the education environment of the 1950's.

(f) it is important in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement during a particular period;

This could be seen in the creative efforts of the teachers and students in creating a beautiful representation of the tropical built environment of it's time.

The Darwin Primary School in Frog Hollow in its entirety is highly valued for its natural assets and as a living testament to the students who attended. The school was ahead of its time with a unique educational approach held in buildings of unique architectural style.  The school has major relevance to the development of the unique cultural and social history of multicultural Darwin.

The Darwin Primary School natural, cultural and social assets include: the concrete foundations and other historical remnants of the corrugated iron classroom, separate toilet block, fountain, wishing well, steps and gardens built by the students of the Darwin Primary School.  These assets are still evident today and are complemented by large shade trees which also featured at the school.  Some trees of significance to the NT stand on this site.  

(g) it has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons, including the significance of a place to Aboriginal people as part of their continuing and developing cultural traditions;

In discussion with local elders it is clear there is work to be done by specialists in this area of learning, particulary in association with the natural water course.

(h) it has a special association with the life or works of a person, or group of persons, of importance in the Territory's history.

Many prominent Darwin citizens were students at this school.

Current Threats

This valuable space is under extreme and urgent threat. Lot 5672 is the proposed path of a major arterial that will destroy the assets this application seeks to protect.  Also, this road will bring traffic directly next to Lot 5662 rendering it useless as a public park due to noise, traffic pollution, visual pollution and potential traffic danger to children and others using the park.


The existing heritage listing of the small park area (Lot 5665) will be severely impacted by the proposed Barneson Boulevard.  Barneson Boulevard will require construction of an embankment and the loss of large established shade trees along the entire length of the park. The remaining trees in the park will be at increased risk of poor health due to the loss of protection by the existing large trees.


Many of the trees in Lot 5672 have already been cleared however they will regrow if this space is preserved. The remnants of the school buildings have had loads of soil dumped on them and the fountain which featured at the school is directly in the path of the 4-lane arterial road which will pave over this whole area with bitumen.  This cultural and socially historical space will be lost forever under layers of bitumen. What will become of the school buildings remaining that are currently housing the Darwin Visual Arts Association is unknown, but it is most likely that they will be demolished.


Figure 4:  Current State of Frog Hollow Lot 5672




Brook, B. (2017, November 27). Deadly mix of heatwaves and humidity could make some Australian cities virtually ‘uninhabitable’. Retrieved from news.com: http://www.news.com.au REF https://www.news.com.au/technology/environment/climate-change/deadly-mix-of-heatwaves-and-humidity-could-make-some-australia-cites-virtually-uninhabitable/news-story/f90ff75e2f982e741efc714a1b7cf0a6

Chung Wah Society. (n.d.). Short History. Retrieved from Chung Wah Society: http://www.chungwahnt.asn.au/index.php?page=short-history

Cox, T., & Nield, L. (n.d.). Architectureau. (Architecture Media, Ed.) Retrieved from Architectureau.com: https://architectureau.com/articles/cooling-a-tropical-city/

Darwin CIty Council. (n.d.). Sister Cities Program. Retrieved from Darwin City Council: https://www.darwin.nt.gov.au/community/programs/sister-cities-program/overview

Santamouris, M. (2017). Heat Mitigation Program, Darwin Northern Territory. Faculty of Built Environment. Sydney: University of NSW.

Tokmakoff, E. (2007). MEMORIES OF FROG HOLLOW A School Ahead of its Time. Occasional Paper Series(No. 3). (Y. Forrest, Ed.) Darwin, NT, Australia: Historical Society of the Northern Territory.



Other Relevant Information


Person Making Nomination