Christmas Island History
1958 - Vickers Pembroke departing Christmas Island

Airport History

The original airport was a gravel strip at South Point which was used during the Second World War with amphibious aircraft landing at Flying Fish Cove when the swell permitted! The first passenger aircraft landed on 6 June 1974 at the current airport. The terminal was built in 1992 to service the Resort and Casino. It is an asphalt runway 2103 metres long running north to south.

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A Brief History

Christmas Island is less than 150 square kilometers (19km long and 14km wide) and lies approximately 300km south of Jakarta, Indonesia on a latitude / longitude of S10 27.0 E105 41.4.

The first recorded sighting of Christmas Island was 1615 and was named on 25 December 1643 by Captain William Mynors of the Royal Mary. But it wasn’t until 1688 that Captain William Dampier landed on the west coast on the British ship the Cygnet. However the island was not explored until much later in 1872 when the British naturalist Dr John Murray carried out detailed surveys of the island. It was then the potential for the phosphate mining was fully realized.

The valuable phosphate was exported from 1895 with the Christmas Island Phosphate Company formed in 1897 by George Clunies-Ross and Dr John Murray.

During the Second World War the Japanese occupied the island from 1942-45. Many of the locals fled or were evacuated prior to an invasion on 31 March 1942, however those remaining were kept prisoner in Settlement and many who fled to the jungle were later captured.

Christmas Island was administered through the British colony of Singapore and it wasn’t until 1957 that Australia purchased the island for 2.9 million pounds. Sovereignty was transferred to Australia on 1 January 1958 and Territory day is celebrated on 1 October every year with much enthusiasm by the locals.

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