Tu Do arrived in Darwin on 21 November 1977 with 31 Vietnamese refugees crowded on board.

Their hopes for a better life in Australia were echoed in the vessel's name, which means 'freedom'. The first 'boat people' fled the turmoil of South Vietnam in simple coastal fishing craft, often unsuited to a long ocean voyage. Tu Do's passengers were lucky, outpacing pirates in the Gulf of Thailand and surviving violent storms at sea.