Wed, October 10th, 2012 - By

Spotlight on Darwin, Australia


Darwin, the capital city of Australia’s Northern Territory on the Timor Sea, conjures a mental image of a pioneer outpost. Which it was until relatively recently. The city/region was originally named “Port Darwin” in honour of Charles Darwin, father of modern evolutionary theory. Today, Darwin has been transformed into a modern and diverse city; the hub of the huge and very sparsely populated Northern Territory area.

Getting there by plane, you’ll land at Darwin International Airport (shared with the Royal Australian Air Force) in the Marrara suburb. The Alice Springs to Darwin rail line links to Adelaide. Alternatively, the Stuart Highway links Darwin to Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and Adelaide. There is a public bus network within the city (Darwinbus). Ferry services connecting to the Tiwi Islands run from Cullen Bay.

The city experiences similar average maximum temperatures all year-round with distinct wet and dry seasons (December to  March and May to October, respectively). Monsoon rains and tropical cyclones are typical during the wet season. Due to weather restrictions, tours to Katherine Gorge, Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park, run mainly from April to September.

Darwin’s many parks and gardens include the Charles Darwin National Park, the Casuarina Coastal Reserve, the Jingili Water Gardens, the Botanic Gardens and the Knuckey Lagoons Conservation Reserve.

Darwin’s superb beaches, including the Casuarina and Mindil, should be treated with some caution. Fishing the Mary, Daly, South and East Alligator Rivers for barramundi is world-famous. There’s also sea fishing for snapper, Black Jewfish, queenfish and Spanish mackerel.

Territory Day (July 1st) with fireworks at Mindil Beach, the annual Darwin Festival. The Chinese New Year, the Glenti (Greek community event) and the  India@Mindil festivals are celebrated with great funfare. Other events include the Speargrass Music and Film festival, the Seabreeze local talent showcasing festival in Nightcliff, the August Darwin beer-can regatta and the World Solar Challenge race.

The Ghan passenger train (named after Afghan cameleers) is one of the greatest train journeys of the world. The timetable ensures the best views are during daylight hours and the Adelaide – Alice Springs – Darwin journey (over 1,800miles) lasts two nights. Darwin’s proximity to Asia makes it possible to visit countries such as East Timor and Indonesia.

Image credits: Ken Hodge, Alex Healing, Kimble Young, Michael Wifall, Simon Pielow

Karen Bryan

As well as writing about travel, Karen Bryan offers tips on saving money, frugal living and how to live well on less, on her site Help Me To Save

Posted : Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 at 10:00
Category : Spotlight
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