Light Show, Nightcliff, Darwin, Australia

Nightcliff is a northern suburb of the city of Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia. The term ‘Night Cliff’ was thus applied to the locality, and it subsequently appeared in this form on Surveyor-General George W. Goyder’s original plan of 1869. Goyder also mentioned the locality a couple of times in the diary he kept as leader of the Northern Territory Survey Expedition. Despite these well established facts, many people have insisted that the name was derived from a misspelling of the name of John George Knight, one of the best known government officials in Darwin for nearly two decades prior to his death in 1892.

It was known that Knight enjoyed visiting the Nightcliff environs and it is believed that he spent long periods of contemplation on the cliff tops. As late as 1952, a former resident who had lived in Darwin between 1876 and 1926 wrote to the Northern Territory News insisting that the area was known during that period as “Knightscliff”. It is evident that many Territorians have preferred this variant form of name in deference to one of the most highly distinguished local public figures of the late nineteenth century. However, records show that Knight did not arrive in Darwin until 1873, several years after the publication of Goyder’s map.

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