Darwin is a cosmopolitan, tropical city situated on the edge of the Arafura Sea in the Top End of the Northern Territory of Australia.
It is the international gateway to Australia’s Top End and the beautiful National Parks of Litchfield and Kakadu. Cheap flights to Australia that allow you to travel to Darwin from around the world enhances its status as a true international city.
The atmosphere is laid back and Darwin city is the kind of place where you can take a cruise on the harbour, go diving, explore the museum and art gallery, go shopping or just enjoy the local scene of outdoor living, markets, live bands, walks along the beach and watching the sun set.
Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory and the unofficial ‘capital’ of northern Australia, is closer to Jakarta than it is to Sydney and closer to Singapore than it is to Melbourne.
For this reason, as much as any other, Darwin looks outward to Asia as much as it looks inland to the rest of Australia.
This closeness and familiarity with Australia’s northern neighbours is reflected in the town’s relaxed, cosmopolitan, tropical atmosphere.
In Australia, a country that prides itself on its ethnic diversity, this may be the most multicultural city of all.
On Christmas Eve 1974 Darwin city was almost completely destroyed by Cyclone Tracy.
Of the city’s 11,000 houses, only 400 survived relatively intact and as a result the whole place had to be rebuilt and it is now well appointed and possessing most of the amenities expected of a much larger city.
Located on a peninsular with the sea on three sides it is a place that has never experienced winter, where the weather can best be described as hot or hotter.
Watching sunsets and storms are something of a local pastime, and after a cleansing rain shower you can almost hear things growing.
Aboriginals from this area divide the year into six seasons, but in Darwin people generally prefer to think in terms of the ‘wet’ and the ‘dry’.
The wet season begins in October, when humidity levels begin to climb, until by January and February the combination of heat and humidity can be quite stifling.
The end of the wet is characterised by the (sometimes very) fierce storms Aborigines call ‘knock ’em down storms’.
By contrast, the dry, (winter), is a delicious time of year, sunny and warm.
Modern Darwin is one of Australia’s most cosmopolitan cities; more open to Asia than perhaps any other Australian city.
It plays an important role as the front door to Australia’s northern region and as a centre for administration and mining.
The completion in mid-2003 of a railway link to Alice Springs and Adelaide fuelled hopes that Darwin could eventually become the continent’s transport hub with Southeast Asia.
A huge development of the city’s waterfront area was recently undertaken, with a new convention centre, a large hotel, numerous cafes and restaurants, a wave lagoon and a public promenade scheduled for completion by 2008.
Things to Do
Try Crocodylus Park at McMillans Road, Berrimah.
This park, which is a breeding complex, features hundreds of giant reptiles.
Tours include a feeding demonstration and a chance to cuddle? a baby croc.
A mini zoo houses lions and other big cats, spider monkeys, marmosets, tamarinds and large birds, including ostriches and cassowaries and a comprehensive museum covers all things crocodile related.
Or perhaps visit Darwin Crocodile Farm which is on the Stuart Highway, 35km south of the city.
When a croc is taken out of one of the Territory’s waterways, this is usually where it ends up.
Don’t imagine they’re here out of human charity, this is a farm and around 2000 of the animals are killed each year for their skins and meat.
Get here in the early afternoon for feeding time, if you can.
If crocs are not your thing then a visit to East Point Reserve on Alec Fong Lim Drive at Fannie Bay might be more to your liking.
This spit of undeveloped bushland north of Fannie Bay is good to visit in the late afternoon when the wallabies come out to feed.
A cool breeze usually springs up as you watch the sunset across the bay.
There’s also a salt water, jellyfish free lake where swimming is possible all year round.
What to See
If you’re into architecture and hot air then a visit to Australia’s newest Parliament House, opened in 1994, might be for you.
This beautiful building is a magnificent example of tropical architecture.
The Northern Territory Library is also located here.
Guided tours depart from the foyer at 9.00am and 11.00am every Saturday and on Wednesdays at 10.30am; they last 90 minutes and they’re free.
You’ll find the foyer of Parliament House on the corner of …