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Place Names Register Extract

James Mallett Bennett Park

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Name James Mallett Bennett Park
Type Designation Park
Place Id 24780
Place Type Park or Cemetery
Status Registered
Date Registered 4 November 2019
Location (Datum GDA94)  
Latitude: -12° 21' S (Decimal degrees -12.353835)
Longitude: 130° 53' E (Decimal degrees 130.892049)
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Locality / Suburb  
  Town of Nightcliff
Local Government Area  
  Darwin City Council
History/Origin James Mallett Bennett was born on 14 January 1894 in St Kilda, Victoria, an airman and mechanic. In 1912 he joined the militia and served for three years with the 49th Battalion. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in 1915 and served with the British Expeditionary Force in Egypt. He was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his distinguished service as an air mechanic. After the Armistice, Bennett and Wally Shiers were invited to act as air mechanics for Captain Ross Smith, then attempting the first Cairo-Calcutta flight in a Handley-Page aircraft.

In 1919 the Australian government offered a prize of 10,000 to the first aviator to fly from England to Australia within thirty days. Ross Smith and his brother Keith entered the race with Bennett and Shiers as their mechanics and were the first to reach Darwin. Their success aroused world-wide interest and acclaim.

On 22 December the Smith brothers were knighted; Bennett and Shiers received Bars to their Air Force Medals. Popular opinion favoured greater recognition for the mechanics, especially after Ross Smith stated publicly that the success of the flight was mainly due to their skill and zeal.

In 1922, the Smith brothers planned a-round-world flight with the same crew. A test flight on 13 April ended in disaster with Ross Smith and Bennett being killed. The pioneer aviators were mourned as national heroes and their bodies were brought back to Australia. Bennett was buried in St Kilda cemetery on 19 June 1922 after a lying-in-state at Queen's Hall, Parliament House. An obelisk in his honour was unveiled at St Kilda on 26 April 1927.

Register & Gazettal information

Date Gazettal Comment
04/11/2019 Date added to the Register ( Certified Plan S2019/078)
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