Exploring Darwin

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Exploring Darwin

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Darwin, featured in the movie Australia, is the tropical capital city of Australia’s Northern Territory. Darwin has a relaxed outdoor lifestyle and enjoys warm weather all year round. Perched on a peninsula with sea on three sides, it's an excellent base to explore the natural attractions of World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, Litchfield and Nitmiluk National Parks, the Tiwi Islands and Arnhem Land.

Darwin was founded as Australia’s most northerly harbour port in 1869, and its population rapidly expanded after the discovery of gold at nearby Pine Creek in 1871. World War II put Darwin on the map as a major allied military base for troops fighting the Japanese in the Pacific.

Darwin Australia aerial view

Darwin today

Today travellers can see evidence of Darwin’s World War II history at a variety of preserved sites including ammunition bunkers, airstrips and oil tunnels in and around the city. You can also experience the RFDS Darwin Tourist facility out on Stokes Hill Wharf, giving you an interactive experience on two of the great stories of the Northern Territory, that being the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the bombing of Darwin. Darwin again made world news when the city was rebuilt in the wake of Cyclone Tracy in 1974 - an event well documented at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Its colourful history has contributed to Darwin’s cultural diversity - more than 50 nationalities make up its 100,000 population, including the area’s traditional landowners, the Larrakia Aboriginal people. The cultural and culinary benefits of such a melting pot and its close proximity to Asia are best experienced at Darwin’s weekly markets, variety of restaurants and through the annual calendar of festivals and other Darwin events.

The centre of Darwin is a great hub to relax in, with many youth hostels, hotels, cafes, restaurants, bars and nightclubs all in one space. Mitchell Street is where Darwin comes alive in the evenings. 

Close to Darwin is the Mary River region. This area is renowned for its wetlands and wildlife, and is home to millions of birds, saltwater crocodiles and fish, including the mighty barramundi, which makes it a fishing hot spot. Also nearby, the Tiwi Islands’ are known for their dense rainforests, sandy beaches and rock pools. These beautiful islands lie 80 kilometres north of Darwin and can be reached by light aircraft in 20 minutes or in two and a half hours on an air conditioned boat ride.

Litchfield National Park sunbathing

Heritage and culture

Darwin’s cultural heritage is a unique blend of ancient Aboriginal custom, European pioneering legacy, WWII history and fresh Asian influence. A visit to the eclectic collection at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, just 4 kms from the city centre is a great place to start your exploration of Darwin’s heritage.

Top things to do in Darwin include: cruising the harbour, taking in the night life, strolling through the tropical George Brown Botanical Gardens, having a stand-off in the same tank as a crocodile at Crocosaurus Cove, browsing the open air markets at Parap, Nightcliff and Mindil Beach or catching a movie down at the Deckchair Cinema. There's a lively atmosphere, which goes some way to explaining why it's known as the 'gateway to adventure'.