Feb 11, 2009 | 1
If you can’t wait until tomorrow to celebrate Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday, just call someone in Darwin, Australia. That northern Australian city, nine and a half hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time – near Darwin’s birthplace of Shrewsbury, England – has already begun celebrating the 200th birthday of its namesake.
It’s a bit unclear when Darwin – population 120,900 – got its name. Here’s the story, as best we can tell: The first Westerners who paid a visit to the area, which was and still is home to the Aboriginal group the Larrakia, were the Dutch in the 1660s. They were busy mapping the coast and didn't bestow the spot with a name.
Fast-forward to 1836. Darwin returns from his journey around the world, which included stops along the southern side of Australia on the HMS Beagle. The next year, the Beagle set out on a surveying expedition with the same captain, John Clements Wickham, and admiral, John Lort Stokes. In September 1839, they spotted the harbor, which Wickham and Stokes decided to dub Darwin Harbor in honor of their former traveling companion.
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