Historical records show that Parap was once part of an area called ‘Two and a Half Mile’. It is believed that local Aborigines originally callled the area Bun-Durik, with the origins of the name linked to the occurence of black cockatoos at a waterhole in the area. in 1918 the then Administrator for the Territory, Dr Gilruth, applied for the area to be called Billara, although this did not eventuate, with the area being called Parap. Dr Gilruth named the main suburb road ‘Paraparap Rd’ in 1918, although this was short lived, as it was abbreviated to Parap in 1919 when Dr Gilruth departed the Territory.
Parap used to span a much wider area including Stuart Park, but was downscaled after the war in 1950 to its present size today. Military post offices operated from Parap during 1941 – 1942 and again during 1946.
In 1957, two blocks of land were purchased by the NT Wholesale Drug Company for a figure believed to be around $800 each. This saw the development of the first block of five shops, including Bardens Pharmacy, (still in operation today) and the Village developed from there.
History tells it that the original planning concept of the Village did not incorporate an entry road from Parap Road, however the enterprising local shopkeepers created their own road by driving their vehicles over the mentioned area again and again until a well worn road was formed. The Council of the day, under the rule of Mr Harry Chan, did not object and actually bitumenised and improved the road.
Parap also used to be home to the Paspalis Parap Cinema on Gregory Street, an open air cinema constructed in 1964. After cyclone Tracy it was converted to an indoor cinema, but eventually the enterprise was replaced by the Cinema Darwin in Mitchell St.
In 1982 some of the local shopkeepers founded the Parap Village Markets and the Parap Village Traders Association was formed soon after to manage the markets. It was run by volunteers, especially Marlene Wood, for many years and has gradually developed into the current progressive and popular Saturday institution, attracting many loyal locals and curious tourists to the area.
Many well loved and unique shops and stalls have traded out of the Parap Village over the years, and today’s Village reflects the same independant, influential and creative flair.
References: The NT News, Parap Village 25th birthday celebration feature, Thursday 31 January 1985.
The Markets of Darwin, Tertiary level essay, – Jan Hintze, 1994
Photos courtesy of Alastair Shields