Lyon’s Cottage, formerly known as BAT House was Darwin's first stone residence, built in 1925 to house executives from the British Australia Telegraph Company and their families. The British Australia Telegraph Company laid the first telegraph cable between Australia and Java in1871. They built several substantial buildings along the Esplanade, although many of these were destroyed in a major cyclone in 1937 or the 1942 Japanese bombing of Darwin.
During WWII most of Darwin City was destroyed during bombing raids, however Lyons Cottage survived intact and was subsequently occupied by the United States Army between 1943 and 1945. After the war the cottage was leased by Lawyer John ‘Tiger’ Lyons, who eventually purchased it in 1958. Lyons went on to be elected Lord Mayor of Darwin and to the Legislative Council.
Following Lyons death in 1970 the cottage was sold to a property developer who had plans to build a multi story hotel on the site. Ironically, Cyclone Tracy saved its life. Like most buildings in Darwin Lyons Cottage suffered some damage during the cyclone, the roof was blown off and the ornate plater ceilings were damaged beyond repair.
The building was repaired to reflect its pre 1942 appearance and was registered as a Heritage building in 1984. The building is managed by the Museums and Arts Galleries Northern Territory and Leased by Ironbark Aboriginal Corporation (Trading as Aboriginal Bush Traders).
Lyon’s Cottage now houses an interactive holographic display provides visitors the opportunity to learn more about the rich history of Darwin and the Overland Telegraph line.
Historical Holographic Display
Visit us to check out our historical holographic display to learn more about Lyon's Cottage history.