Darwin is a modern Australian city, an island of civilization in the “Top End” of Australia and has the atmosphere of the tropics meeting the outback.
The rest of the expanse of this immense area is a land of mystery, a land of intriguing natural features from waterfalls to wetlands, wide open spaces and a full tropical environment merging gradually into the red deserts of the interior of Australia.
It is still rugged and undeveloped outside of Darwin and the other towns of the area, and presents an opportunity to experience nature first hand unlike any other in the world. The downtown looks over the Harbour, being built on a low bluff. The Esplanade runs between downtown and the water, creating a well used open space for public activities. The population of Darwin is about 150,000.
Things to do in Darwin
- Mindil Beach Sunset Markets
- Get up close and personal a crocodile
- Chill out at the Wave Lagoon
- Check out the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
- Cruise the Mary River wetlands.
- Find out about Darwin’s World War II history.
- Learn about Aboriginal art and culture
- See the massive magnetic termite mounds
- Day trip to Kakadu National Park
- Visit Litchfield National Park
The Northern Territory and the area around Darwin was one of the first areas inhabited by the Australian Aborigines over 30,000 years ago, and has been an important part of the north/south trade routes between Australia and Asia ever since. During the 1600’s, the area was visited by Dutch explorers (hence names like Groote Eyelandt and Arnhem Land), but the first English arrival was the HMS Beagle in September of 1839. The commander of the Beagle named the area Port Darwin after Charles Darwin, a shipmate of theirs on the previous voyage.
The first British settlement in 1869 was named Palmerston, and the city was renamed Darwin in 1911. The trans Australia telegraph line was completed in 1872 and this linked the remote city to the rest of Australia and the world. In 2003, the railway was completed from Alice Springs to Darwin. Darwin is a modern city, having been almost completely rebuilt twice – once after the bombing raids by the Japanese in WW2 (more bombs were dropped on Darwin than Pearl Harbour, killing 243 people), and again after Cyclone Tracy devastated the city on Christmas Day 1974, killing 71 and absolutely flattening just about everything.
Geography and Weather
Darwin fronts directly onto the Timor Sea, and is built on a wide, low bluff of land surrounded on three sides by water. Darwin is remote – it is closer to Singapore than it is to the Capital of Australia, Canberra. Darwin is 3,969 Kms (2,466 miles) from Canberra. The older, Downtown area is separated from a lot of the newer suburbs by the Darwin International Airport. A recent redevelopment of the Stokes HIll Wharf Precinct has created a Convention Centre, hotel and public space environment.
The climate is one of Tropical Savannah, with a definite Wet and Dry Season. The annual rainfall is 1,731 millimetres (68 inches). The Wet Season runs from October to April, with April and October being “shoulder” months. Less rain, but still getting pretty wet. It does not rain every day in the Wet Season, though most days are humid and overcast. The Dry Season runs from May to September. this is the best time to visit if you have the option. Being so close to the Equator, Darwin has a steady, hot climate. The daytime temperature during the year varies only between 30 and 32 deg. C (87 – 90 deg. F).
The hottest month is November, just before the onset of the serious part of the Wet Season. During Summer (the Wet) you can expect average daily highs of 32 C (89 F), and overnight lows averaging 25 C (77 F). In the Winter (the Dry) expect average daily highs of 31 C (87 F) and overnight average lows of 19 C (67 F). During “The Wet”, Darwin is treated to amazing lightning displays, particularly during the evenings.
Map of Darwin
Zoom in and out for an interactive map of Darwin