Population: 107,000 residents
Founded:1869 (called Fort Darwin then)
Best time to visit Northern Territory and Darwin: April
Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and located in the northern tropical area of the continent. It is named after the father of the theory of evolution, who was aboard the ship of the discoverer of Darwin Bay, John Lorth Stocks. Darwin is considered exotic by most travelers since it is far from tourist spots such as Sydney, Melbourne and Queensland. Darwin serves as the main starting point for travelers’ routes in the North, especially to Kakadoo National Park.
Darwin exudes the general feeling of a relaxed, tropical place. It has a beautiful promenade with an amazing view of the bay, from where you can watch the especially colorful sunsets typical for this area. Parallel to the promenade runs Mitchell Street; pulsing with life 24 hours a day, this is the city’s entertainment center. So Darwin is a modern, cosmopolitan, and thriving city.
Darwin has a stormy history. In the past it was destroyed, abandoned and badly hit by cyclone storms in 1897 and 1937. During WWII the Japanese air force attacked the city as part of an attempt to invade Australia. In 1974 cyclone Tracy destroyed more than 90% of all buildings in the city and killed 66 people, however, Darwin was rehabilitated each time, and since cyclone Tracy all buildings in town have being built cyclone-proof.
A large Chinese community lives in Darwin dating back to 1870 when the British brought Chinese people to build the intercontinental telegraph line. The Chinese community is well established. Darwin is the only city in Australia that had a mayor of Chinese origin.
Darwin’s port is especially busy. It is the export center for Australia’s meat industry, agriculture, and North Australia’s minerals. There is sparse unemployment in Darwin. It is the capital of what is apparently the richest state in Australia and responsible for a third of Australian exports. Since Darwin is a strategic port city one cannot help but notice a military presence around the city. There are army airports and the presence of Australian navy vessels is noticeable at the port. There is also a regular US Army presence. There are plenty of backpacker jobs in Darwin that you can search for on our backpacker job board Darwin.
Where and When to Travel:
Darwin is a relatively small town and we recommend dedicating two relaxed days for touring. The best time for trips is during the dry season between May and September, since during the rest of the year heavy tropical rains come down and make traveling uncomfortable. Darwin has a bus system covering all of town and its suburbs. A day ticket costs 5 Australian dollars. With just a short 10 minute bus ride from the center of town you can get to the Botanical Gardens with rare tropical species and the Darwin Museum where entrance is free.
Aeronautics fans will find Australia’s Aeronautical Museum of interest. Here planes from WWII are exhibited as well as more modern models. One of the attractions is a B52, which is the only one shown to the public outside the USA. The museum is close to Darwin’s airport where the longest runway in the southern hemisphere is being built. For gambling fans there is Darwin’s casino next to Mindil Beach. We must mention that this casino is very compact and modest in comparison to its huge counterparts in Melbourne and Sidney.
Most tourist attractions are within walking distance from the center of town and the area of the promenade. Within 3 or 4 hours you can cover them all. They include the harbor, bunkers from WWII hewn into the rock, the ancient Chinese temple, the government building, the parliament building, the mall, the promenade and the memorial for fallen WWII soldiers, as well as the botanical garden shown on the picture.
Living in Darwin – Nightlife:
Nightlife is concentrated on Mitchell Street where you can find pubs, clubs, restaurants, and coffee shops. We recommend ordering the national dish of the Northern Territory “barra and chips” with a XXXX beer. The oldest pub in town is called “The Vic” and located on the mall at the end of Smith Street.
The town is an ideal starting point for a trip to the outback which is a wild and unsettled area in the Northern Territory, and includes places like Kakadoo Park, Litchfield Park, along with the Katherine area.
Use our backpacker job board Darwin to find backpacker jobs in Darwin