A Map of Darwin
For other places with the same name, see Darwin (disambiguation).

Darwin, a small yet cosmopolitan city, is the tropical capital city of the Northern Territory. People from more than 50 nations make up its population of 110,000. It is located on the Northern Territory coast (in north-central Australia), with the Timor Sea (a branch of the Indian Ocean) to the west, and the Arafura Sea to the north in Indonesian waters.


Darwin has a relaxed lifestyle and unique multiculturalism, where people from over 50 different cultures live and work side by side. The regular Asian-style markets form an intrinsic part of the everyday Darwin landscape, for local residents see food, music, language, and culture from just about every Asian nation, alongside "crocodile hunters", local Aboriginal artists, musicians of every genre, sports fishing operators, sunset sails, and families with children playing on the beach. Darwin's unique cosmopolitan makeup has been recognised as an "multicultural icon of national significance" by the Australian National Trust.

Darwin's tropical climate has two major seasons: the 'dry', from about May to October, and the 'wet', from November to April. There is also the 'build up', the time from the end of the dry, leading into the wet when the humidity rises, but the rain doesn't fall. The arrival of the wet is always a welcome break from the buildup.

Major cyclones have occurred approximately once every three decades. Much of the city was destroyed by Cyclone Tracy in 1974. More recent cyclones have not been as dangerous, and building codes and emergency procedures have improved since then.

Darwin is also the only Australian capital city to have come under substantial attack during a war. On 19 February 1942, Japanese planes made two major air raids on Darwin from the aircraft carrier fleet that had attacked Pearl Harbor less than 3 months earlier. These were the first of 64 air attacks sustained by the city during World War II, the last being on 12 November 1943. (Other areas in northern Queensland and northern Western Australia were also bombed by Japanese aircraft.)


Darwin was first named in 1839 by John Lort Stokes during the third voyage of the Beagle. It was named after his former shipmate and famous naturalist Charles Darwin. Darwin's development was accelerated by the discovery of gold at Pine Creek, about 200 km south of the city in 1871. After the gold rush Darwin's growth slowed mainly due to the harsh, tropical climate, distance and poor communications with other Australian cities. The Second World War put Darwin back on the map when the town became an important base for Allied action against the Japanese in the Pacific. The road south to the railhead at Alice Springs was surfaced, putting the city in direct contact with the rest of the country. 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 door to Australia's northern region. Natural wonders such as Kakadu, Katherine Gorge, and Litchfield are all within driving distance from the city and still contain near pre-colonial populations of crocodiles, goannas, snakes and wallabies.

Today Darwin is a fast growing regional centre that has unique history, culture and adventure.

Darwin's Climate

The following chart outlines Darwin's monthly climate averages as an indicator for the whole northern region.

Jan - Feb Min average temperature - 24°C (75°F) Max average temperature - 31C° (88°F)

Mar - Apr Min average temperature - 24°C (75°F) Max average temperature - 32°C (90°F)

May - Sept Min average temperature - 21°C (69°F) Max average temperature - 31°C (88°F)

Oct - Dec Min average temperature - 25°C (77°F) Max average temperature - 32°C (91°F)


The Top End, which includes Darwin, Katherine, Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land, has a tropical climate. Darwin has an average temperature of 32°C (90°F) all year, with varying humidity.

Darwin is climatically perfect to visit from May to October. There is no need to check the weather forecast as it is nearly always 31°C (89°F) and sunny during the day, with cooler nights.

November and December is the time the build up, or pre-monsoon season, begins and humidity levels start to rise. The summer rains bring the natural landscape to life and deliver the picturesque storms and sunsets the Northern Territory is renowned for. Some people enjoy this aspect of the wet, with the rivers and waterfalls in full glory, and the landscape greener.

Get in

Aerial Shot of Darwin City

By plane

Jetstar offer direct flights to Darwin to and from Singapore, and flying from Asia or Europe to the eastern Australian capitals via Darwin is practical, and will often cost no more than flying direct. Darwin also has international flights to Bali, Saigon, and East Timor. The following airlines also fly into Darwin. Air Asia (From Bali), Qantas and Virgin Blue (Anywhere in Australia), Tiger Airlines (Brisbane), Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumper), Air North (Northern Australia and East Timor) Silk Airlines (Singapore) and Philippines Airlines (Manila)

Darwin is easily accessible from most major Australian cities by several domestic carriers.

There is an airport shuttle bus, which meets all flights 24 hours, and taxis are available.

There are limited public transport services to the airport. Bus 3 has two deviations (c) and (d) which service Charles Eaton Drive and Henry Wrigley Drive. Bus 3(c) services run at three times between 6:25 and 8:05AM, one at 12:30PM Mon-Fri. Bus 3(d) services run at three times between 3:55 and 5:20PM Mon-Fri. If you are travelling outside these times, it is still possible to catch bus 3, get off just after stop C (Jingili shops) just before the bus turns down Scales St, and walk the 2 km down Henry Wrigley Drive to the Airport. Allow 30mins to walk there. Once you check in at the airport and go through security, there are free (hot) showers upstairs (turn right at the top of the escalators) to freshen up after your walk. Bus 3 is a circuit service starting and finishing at Casuarina Interchange (so you could also use this service to get from the airport to town). If you are travelling from the Darwin city centre, bus 10 operates from Darwin Interchange to Casuarina Interchange where you can then catch bus 3 to the airport. For detailed timetable information and fares, refer to the Darwin public transport website.

By road

The Stuart Highway is the only highway into Darwin; heading directly into the city centre and extending southwards all the way to Alice Springs (about 1,500 km) and Adelaide (3,042 km or 1,886 mi). You can access Darwin from all the Australian capital cities staying on regularly trafficked sealed (bitumen) roads with regular services. The drive from Sydney or Perth is about 4000–4500 km (2485 mi-2800 mi) depending on the route you choose, plan your trip and your stops carefully. Don't assume you can get fuel at night.

By train

The Ghan arriving in Darwin

The Ghan is a tourist train that crosses the continent from Adelaide to Darwin twice a week. It's invariably more expensive than flying, and usually slower than driving yourself, but it is a journey for those who enjoy train travel, or who want to bring their car without the hassle of driving. There are transfers in Adelaide from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. You can also transfer your car from any of these origins. The train line to Darwin was built relatively recently, and was designed primarily for freight. The terminus for the train is near the deep water port at East Arm, approximately 7 km (4.5 mi) from the city centre; on the other side of Frances Bay, take a taxi, or get your accommodation to arrange a pickup for you. Buslink provide a complimentary service for guests travelling in Gold class. For guests travelling in Red class, a shuttle bus service is provided. Tickets are purchased from the driver and no booking is necessary. Return services run from the Transit Centre on Mitchel St. There is no public transport to the train station.

By ship

Cruising has increased in popularity in the Northern Territory and the schedules for several international cruises include a day stopover in Darwin. Expedition cruise ships touring the northern coast of Australia are becoming a popular way to visit remote Aboriginal art communities in Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt.

Cruise ships dock at Fort Hill Wharf, which is quite close the Stokes Hill Wharf by water, but it is a 2 km or so by road. It is around 1 km (0.6 mi) to the Esplanade, and 2 km (1.2 mi) to downtown.

Get around

Darwin International Airport

Driving is the best way to comprehensively see Darwin. Many of the sights are spread out, parking is easy and traffic is usually free flowing.

There is a public bus service , which is useful for accessing areas close to the city. The services are more frequent closer to the central area where the routes overlap, but you will need to plan according to the timetable to get anywhere else - some services only run a couple of times a day. The buses are air-conditioned. $3 per 3 hour transfer or $20 for a weekly pass.

Walking between attractions or from a bus stop to attractions, even in the inner-city, can be very hot work for those not used to the Darwin climate. Dress to stay cool, and carry water.

Tours are available, and tour coaches are available to some attractions.


War Memorial






Replica Spitfire at the Aviation Historical Society of the Northern Territory



Mindil Beach Markets, Darwin


Study options in the Northern Territory include VET courses and apprenticeships, as well as undergraduate and post graduate tertiary qualifications. Charles Darwin University is the main tertiary education institution in the Territory, and delivers university and vocational education from several campuses in Darwin and the main towns. See the Territory Government's website for information about studying and working in the Northern Territory.


Working Holiday

A working holiday in the Northern Territory gives you the opportunity to experience a lifestyle and culture that's completely different from the rest of Australia and, in fact, the world. From outback stations and horticultural farms to hospitality and nursing, there are many ways to fund your holiday in the Northern Territory.


Automatic Teller Machines are available extensively. Foreign exchange is available at most banks.


Visiting the local markets is a must-do Darwin experience.


Start at Smith Street Mall in the city centre then branch out into the surrounding streets. Travellers will find a range of shopping experiences including local galleries specialising in Aboriginal art or speciality shops selling world-class pearls and crocodile-skin products.


Darwin’s downtown dining hub encompasses Mitchell and Knuckey Streets and is brimming with restaurants, cafes and pubs. Dinner in Darwin can be classy or casual, but always relaxed. For breakfast, Café Uno serves a tasty toasted avocado, tomato and cheese croissant, and coffee lovers should head to Café 21 in the mall. For something a little different, try the coconut loaf with lemon curd at Roma Bar or French toast with maple syrup and bacon at Ducks Nuts Bar and Grill.

Darwin CBD

Asian Restaurant on Smith St Mall

Lunch options in the Central Business District are endless. Jump on the sushi train at Go Sushi, people-watch over a Caesar salad at Wisdom Bar & Café or try the crispy roast duck at Roast and Noodle. Enjoy Yum Cha at Tasty House, sample the variety of Tapas at Moorish Café or create your own stir-fry at Magic Wok. There is an array of pubs that serve up fish and chips, burgers and parmas, try Kitty O’Shea’s, Shennanigans or the Fox Ale House. For a juicy steak and fine wine visit Char Restaurant @ Admiralty, head to Hanuman for consistently great curry, get your Italian from Giuseppe’s or try mod oz fare matched with a colourful cocktail at Monsoons.




Stokes Hill Wharf

Stokes Hill Wharf Watch the barges, sail boats and tinnies out on the harbour or peer over the edge to see moon fish getting their feed from chips dropped by diners. Most of the food served here is picnic style take away. Stir-fried noodles, beer battered barramundi, crumbed calamariand other choices are presented on plastic plates. Make sure you visit the ice cream shop and refresh your palate with a scoop of butterscotch or mint choc chip. There is also a more upmarket seafood restaurant on site.


Well known for its markets, but also has a diversity of lesser-known restaurants. Try sizzling Mongolian beef at The Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant or steaming hot tamales from Prickles then move on to coffee and cake at The Cyclone Café or Paraparazzi. If you want to stock up on gourmet goodies, head to Parap Fine Foods, they’ve got a great deli and stock French home-style bread.



Fannie Bay

Best known for its views and pricey real estate, the assortment of dining in Fannie Bay is considerably less expensive than the housing. You can drink a glass of sparkling with breakfast at Cornucopia Museum Café, but be sure to book, as it is always busy. Across the road is the Darwin Ski Club, where the food is pub-style with harbour views. Try The Cool Spot Cafe, a trendy hangout that offers great light meals and snacks. The seafood dishes are a highlight at Pee Wee’s at The Point, especially the soft shell mud crab.



Cullen Bay

Offers an abundance of seafood choices and expansive harbour views, but you’ll also find Italian, Thai, Greek and French cuisine. Freshly shucked oysters are a specialty at Yots Greek Taverna, try the barramundi at La Beach, succulent battered bug tails from the takeaway fish and chip shop or settle with a glass of sparkling at Buzz Café. There is a large variety of restaurants along the boardwalk overlooking the marina, so you won’t be starved for choice.



Consumption of alcohol in public places

Please note, within certain areas of the Northern Territory, there are restrictions on the consumption of alcohol in public places. More information on specific restrictions can be found at the Tourism Northern Territory website

Brownsmart Theatre, Darwin

Darwin has numerous clubs and bars. Also you can check out some local music at Brown’s Mart.


Warning! book ahead in dry season as accommodation gets VERY full.

Aerial shot of Darwin




Stay safe

In an Emergency dial 000 for ambulance, fire or police.

  1. Dial 000 and request the service that you need
  2. Remember to remain as calm as you can and give a clear description of your location
  3. Speak clearly and give the details as requested

Royal Darwin Hospital is one of five public hospitals located within the Northern Territory. The hospital is on Rocklands Drive, Tiwi, on the northern side of Darwin. As you approach Casuarina, blue signs give directions to the hospital, but it is better to familiarise yourself with the Hospital's location before you may need to find it. Darwin Private hospital is situated across the road. Extensive delays may occur for treatment of anything other than very serious illness or trauma injuries at the Accident and emergency section of Royal Darwin Hospital. Be prepared for a long wait, especially on weekends.

Drink plenty of water; at least 1 litre of water for every hour of walking in very warm weather. Ensure you have an adequate fitness level for the bushwalk you plan to undertake.

Avoid walking in the hottest part of the day or walking alone, register with the overnight bushwalking register if you plan an extended walk. Carry a map of the area you're walking/camping in and know how to read it, tell someone your plan and when you expect to return. Carry a mobile telephone if in a potential coverage area but do not expect coverage anywhere other than very built up areas with good line of sight to a transponder tower. Under no circumstances should you rely on mobile telephony for essential communications unless within the city area. Ensure you are using a mobile telephone service that provides usable coverage in the Northern Territory. Not all of the service providers give even faintly adequate coverage throughout the Darwin area and much less so outside the immediate city and suburban area. Please see the Driving in Australia article for some useful tips that apply to travelling by road in the Northern Territory. Even locations very nearby to the city can present serious challenges and concerns unless properly skilled and prepared for the conditions. The effects of hot weather and exhaustion can set in quickly if you encounter difficulties. Even if you are successful in raising an alarm for assistance it may still be a long wait before it can arrive.

Malaria does not exist in or around Darwin and during the peak of the dry season (the preferred travelling season) Mosquitoes are still present though in areas where there is water. Bring a DEET based repellent, as this will also work on sandflys. Risks arising from Dengue fever should be considered.

The dreaded Box Jellyfish is a potentially deadly beach hazard between the months of October and May, but less so during the peak travel season. When swimming at local beaches, even in the 'safe' season of June to September, bring vinegar and pour it over the wound if stung. Transport to hospital is a must as the venom of the Box Jellyfish can be deadly - remember CPR.

Crocodiles are very common in waterways, but are only occasionally found on public beaches. The local newspaper loves a good crocodile story. If a crocodile is nearby to a public place it will often feature in the local media.

Never camp near the water's edge.

There are safe swimming areas in and around Darwin, but caution should always be practiced- if you are even the slightest bit unsure about an area do not swim. A 6 m crocodile can lie completely invisible for more than 2h in less than 1 m (3 ft) of water, so unless an area has been deemed safe by the local wildlife management, you'd be best to leave it alone. A check with the NT Parks and Wildlife Service will reveal which parks are open, and which are open with swimming prohibited.

Snakes inhabit most areas of the Territory, so be cautious when walking through long grass



Many hotels, motels and backpacker lodges have Internet access with special deals for guests. Some accommodation providers have free internet for guests.

Local roadhouses increasingly offer internet kiosks. Darwin libraries offer Internet access terminals for $3 per half hour for visitors, and there are variety of Internet cafes around the city.

Free Wi-Fi is available at Darwin Airport, Smith Street Mall, CBD library, Casuarina Shopping Centre as well as McDonalds restaurants (in the CBD, Stuart Park, and Bagot Road near the Airport).

Go next

Indigenous culture in Tiwi Island

Darwin is the gateway to the rest of the Northern Territory. It provides a base for day trips to explore the 'Top End' of Australia.

Routes through Darwin

END  N  S  Katherine, Tennant Creek Alice Springs
END  N                            S  Katherine

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, September 24, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.