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Popular Destinations near Darwin
Favourite Cities and Hotels in Australia

In many ways, the steamy, sprawling, Top End capital of Darwin is a microcosm of everything tourists associate with the ‘real’ Australia: constant 30+ degree weather, leathery, slow-speaking locals, rustic (but always full) pubs, crocodiles, sports, Aboriginal culture, prehistoric bushland, waterholes and lush palms.

Yet for Aussies, there is another side to Darwin. There’s something sacred and intoxicating about the place; something that is at once instinctively familiar and dangerously exotic.

Darwin, more than any other city in the country, has a healthy dose of drama about it. Unlike the manmade flair of Sydney and Melbourne, Darwin’s cosmopolitan centre is secondary to its breathtaking natural setting – in fact, it is dwarfed by it. Hugging the Timor Sea, surrounded by Litchfield National Park and the Casuarina Coast Reserve and within touching distance of Kakadu National Park, the star attraction in Darwin is definitely nature.

Whether you’re having a beer and watching the most spectacular sunset you will ever see at the Darwin Yacht Club or watching prehistoric monsters leap from the Adelaide River on a Jumping Croc Cruise, it’s the wildlife and scenery that will leave you enchanted… and more than a little frightened.

Things are done that little bit differently in Darwin. There are tubs of stubby-coolers at the entrance to every establishment, as a cold one doesn’t stay too cold in the top end. Vegemite is kept in the fridge (so is the red wine!) and locals brazenly sail very rickety looking Hobie Cats across croc and box jellyfish-infested water.

What’s that old saying: ‘You’ll never know if you never go’? Ernie Dingo had it right. See it and believe.

Darwin City/CBD

The heart and hub of Darwin has plenty to see and do. If you’re interested in the political side of life, take a trip to Parliament House, where you can take a guided tour and learn about the history of Darwin’s political scene. To indulge your arty side, head over to one of the many Aboriginal art galleries, such as the Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery, where you can find both traditional and contemporary creations. Wanna get wild? Head to Crocosaurus Cove to feast your eyes on the biggest crocs and the most dangerous snakes in Oz. Now that you’ve worked those legs to the point of collapse, go and lie down in the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens or Bicentennial Park and have a little siesta. Or head to nearby Mindil Beach if you feel like a dip!

Fannie Bay

This Darwin suburb has a slightly amusing name and a range of activities to keep you happy. Start by investigating the city’s history and cultural side at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (the Cyclone Tracy exhibit brings home the devastation the 1979 disaster wreaked) and then head south to hit up the Fannie Bay Gaol for a more rugged portrayal of Darwin’s colonial history. If you want a little relaxation, head to the East Point Reserve for a scenic walk, bike ride or just a BBQ and chill. You’ll also find Lake Alexander at East Point, a popular swimming spot for both locals and visitors.

Casuarina

This area is located in Darwin’s north and is home to the NT’s biggest shopping plaza (which, it has to be said, is not saying much), Casuarina Square. It’s biggest appeal is its hearty air-conditioning, which draws locals en masse during the cloyingly steamy wet season. Once shopping’s done, head to Casuarina Beach for a dip in cool waters and a chill on the clean sands and then head over to Casuarina Coastal Reserve for a picnic under the trees. Perfection.

• The temps stay pretty high throughout the year, but being tropical, Darwin has only two seasons, the dry (June to August) and the (very) wet (January to March).

• The dry season is waay more pleasant, as humidity levels can reach 90% in the wet. So from the moment you step out of the shower in the morning, you’ll feel damp, sweaty and bothered.

• The average temperature is 30°C all year. The difference is in the humidity, which can make you feel as though you’re wading through soup.

• Exploring this hot and humid city can prove mighty dangerous when it comes to dehydration, sunstroke and a bad case of sunburn. Make sure to wear adequate sun protection and drink plenty of water.

• Darwin’s critters can be a little scary (think: snakes, crocs and jellyfish). Always be wary of your surroundings, obey warnings and rules and dress sensibly.

Hiring a car is the best bet for travelling around Darwin – especially as it fees you up to explore the wonders that lie a little further afield. But there’s also a handy and cheap bus service run by the NT Transport Group.

Australia’s vast Northern Territory capital city, Darwin, parlays a rich Aboriginal past that dates over 40,000 years and a bounty of natural wonders to draw visitors from around the world.

Small in relation to other major cities, the regional capital of Darwin is nonetheless one of the most modern in the country. The tidy cosmopolitan town on the Timor Sea, provides world class recreation, sports, beachfront, parks and gardens. Copious festivals throughout the year unmask Darwin as a lively and convivial destination. With national parks the size of some nations within close proximity, Darwin is a city with magnetic appeal.

Sports fishermen prize the river system in and around Darwin, in addition to the pristine coastal waters, for rich schools of barramundi, snapper and jewfish.

If you enjoy the beach, Darwin is a superlative city. Casuarina Beach and Mindil Beach are the most popular, despite occasional visits by box jellyfish and saltwater crocodiles. Both contain numerous sites of interest, beyond the inherent opportunity soak up some sun.

Casuarina Coastal Reserve protects native fauna and flora between Rapid Creek and Buffalo Creek and features World War II artillery observation posts, as well as sacred aboriginal landmarks.

The sunset markets at Mindil Beach feature multicultural vendors and cuisine, a vibrant slice of Darwin life.

George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens has a wealth of plant life that spans the considerable range of the Northern Territory. For a practical look at the natural habitat of the area however, explore the national parks around Darwin. Kakadu National Park, at half the size of Switzerland, is a popular destination. With waterfalls, canyons, wildlife and Aboriginal rock art, the park also contains 30% of endemic bird life in Australia and was the location of the first Crocodile Dundee film.

Similarly beautiful, Litchfield National Park is a short drive from downtown Darwin and features falls, sandstone formations, immense termite mounds and superb trails and campgrounds.

Although Darwin has less than 125,000 people, the city has a full slate of festivals and events on tap.

A premier sports city, the Marrara Sports Complex hosts cricket, soccer, rugby, Aussie Rules football, basketball, field hockey and believe it or not, more sports, throughout the calendar year. Darwin also hosts the Arafura Games every two years, with participation by Asia-Pacific nations.

The Darwin Cup is second only to the Melbourne Cup in terms of horse race event importance in Australia. The event on the first Monday of August is a holiday in the Northern Territory.

The Darwin Symphony Orchestra plays regularly at the Darwin Entertainment Centre, the paramount venue in the city. Once complete however, the Darwin Waterfront project will support a number of superb recitals and concerts.

Bassinthegrass is a popular music festival held every May at Darwin’s Amphitheatre, with a diverse ensemble of acts from around Australia and the world.

With a reputation as the premier festival for the “Top End” of Australia, the Darwin Festival is the most popular annual event in the city, with a line-up spread over 18 days that includes cabaret, film, visual arts, dance and music.

A tropical monsoon climate provides Darwin with some erratic weather. Spectacular storms, cyclones and torrential rains are not uncommon. A long dry spell between April and November contributes to record sunshine in the city.

The mean temperature fluctuates very little from month to month in Darwin, with the annual average maximum and minimum at 32°C and 23°C. The monthly mean minimum never dips below 19°C, while the maximum never hovers above 34°C. If you want to avoid the rain, come in June, July and August.

Darwin Hotels

HotelClub

Delightful Darwin

If you replace the cowboys with British backpackers and the gunfighters with Steve Irwin imitators, Darwin has a Wild West sort of energy. Sitting all alone at the top of Australia, it’s a little kooky but at the same time very endearing. In fact, most people who have decided to call this place home in the last 40 years have done so after intending to merely stop by. ... Read more »

Darwinites aren’t too big on the modern fashion and beauty scene, but you can get a good exfoliation by having small fish eat your dead skin at Aquascene! If you’re looking to spot something a little bigger, the Adelaide River hosts crocodile-feeding tours, or enjoy the mix of mellow and metropolitan with a movie under the stars at the Deckchair Cinema – torrential rain and cyclones permitting…

Darwin’s Top 10

10. The Wharfs Bombed in World War II, the Wharfs are now adored for their delicious eating options and unbeatable view.

5. Berry Springs About a 45-minute drive from Darwin, this is a popular area for swimming and picnicking.

9. Northern Territory Parliament House Australia’s newest parliament building is an architectural behemoth.

4. World War II Oil Storage Tunnels One of the most unique spots in Darwin, this isn’t one for the claustrophobic.

8. Waterfront Precinct This newly renovated spot has something for everyone, including a peaceful lagoon and a not-so-peaceful wave pool.

3. Mindil Beach Markets With sea views, this craft and culinary market is a great location for watching the sunset.

7. Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory Houses great exhibits of the history, art and culture of the region, including indigenous artefacts and paintings.

2. Litchfield National Park Known for its fantastic nature walks, swimming and world-famous magnetic termite mounds.

6. Parap Markets The buzzing local markets are a perfect way to literally eat up time on a Sunday morning.

1. Crocodylus Park Kitschy but fun, this park allows you to get up close and feed one of the thousands of crocs that call it home.

Darwin History

  • Browns Mart – An early stone structure made in 1885.
  • Lyons Cottage – The only existing colonial bungalow residence that was constructed in the new settlement era.
  • Blyth Homestead – This homestead in Litchfield National park is the former location of a tin mine.
  • Fannie Bay – This was a huge detention centre in Darwin for about 100 years.
  • Government House – The Northern Territory’s most important and historic government building.

Darwin Art & Culture

  • Territory Craft Shop – Showcases numerous crafts made by local and aboriginal artists in Darwin.
  • Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory – Permanently displays products of Torres Straight and aboriginal arts.
  • Cross Cultural Art Exchange (CCAE) – An exhibition of different artworks from indigenous artists in Australia and the Asia-Pacific.
  • 24HR Art NT Centre – A haven for contemporary art, including multimedia projects, this centre has been ran by a non-profit organization since 1990.
  • Nightcliff Seabreeze Festival – A celebration focused on community involvement, culture and family entertainment, usually during the last week of April.

Darwin Shopping

  • Smith Street Mall – This major retail-shopping destination in Darwin has several boutiques, cafes, restaurants and specialty shops.
  • Mitchell Centre – A new complex dedicated to selling various retail goods and products.
  • Darwin Pearl Jewellery – Offers high-quality South Seas pearls found in the Northern Territory’s deep waters.
  • Sunday Markets at Mindil Beach – The usual beach activities become more interesting because of the arts and crafts stalls set up by local artists.
  • Parap Shopping Village – A site for the Parap Markets that is traditionally held every Saturday.

Gay & Lesbian Darwin

  • Throb Nightclub – This hip club offers the best dance music and live shows in Darwin.
  • Frangipani Holidays – This travel firm especially caters to gay and lesbian tourists to arrange trips and excursions.
  • Darwin Pride Festival – The only gay festival in Darwin takes place in the middle of June.
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  • Casuarina Free Beach – A nude and gay beach ideal for making new acquaintances while enjoying the heat and the white sand.
  • Vestey's Beach – This delightful spot becomes a popular mingling place for gay tourists and locals when the sun goes down.

Darwin Outdoor

  • Buley Rockhole – Located in the Litchfield National Park, this swimming spot boasts cascading pools surrounded by exquisite bushes and trees.
  • Darwin Botanic Gardens – Filled with trekking trails, playing areas, tropical rainforests and majestic waterfalls.
  • Gardens Flower – A majestic garden created in 1886 by aboriginal prisoners.
  • Nightcliff Jetty – A nice starting point for cruising and fishing, the waters in this area, whether high tide or low tide, contribute greatly to its beauty and appeal.
  • Wangi Falls – A Litchfield National Park attraction because of the water flowing to a swimming hole in the middle of a rainforest.

Darwin Sport

  • Experience world-class sport fishing in the coastal waters of Darwin.
  • Walk the 2.7km Greenant Creek route that leads to the majestic Tjaetabe Falls.
  • Test and enhance your sporting skills by participating in various sport activities at the Darwin Leisure Centre.
  • Play golf on a challenging 18-hole course at the Darwin Golf Club.
  • Witness an engaging NTFL (New Territory Football League) match applying Australian Rules.

Darwin Events

Pay your respects in February at the Anniversary of the Darwin Bombing, commemorating the soldiers and civilians who lost their lives in the 1942 attack.

The streets of Darwin spring to life in April for the Annual Territory Craft Fair, with bustling stalls and jam-packed galleries.

Only Darwin’s elite (!) are invited to pick their vessels and partake in June’s most glorious and gaudy event, the Beer Can Regatta.

The Darwin Rodeo in August sees the best of the Northern Territory on show in feats of calf wrestling, cow roping and steer riding.

See the soft side of Darwin when families gather in the Botanic Gardens in December for Carols by Candlelight.

When To Go

April to October brings hot days – 33ºC (91ºF) – plus balmy nights, warm water and clear skies. Darwin at its best!

Between November and March, the temperature drops (although not by much) and the city witnesses intense lightning storms and spot showers, not to mention the occasional cyclone.

July is easily the busiest month, but the wonderful weather is well worth the crowds.

Getting Around

The city is quite compact, with many attractions within walking distance.

Buses are great for getting from the airport into the city, but not for much else unless you’re staying in the suburbs.

Rental cars are very useful as many of the most popular attractions are a few hours’ drive away.

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Rydges Darwin Airport Resort
Reviewer score
3.7
out of 52 Reviews
1 Henry Wrigley Drive Marrara NT 0811

Rydges Darwin Airport Resort offers contemporary accommodation set amongst tropical gardens with a range of accommodat... More hotel details

Award Finalist 2012 : Best Place for Real Aussie Tucker
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Novotel Darwin Atrium
Reviewer score
2.9
out of 52 Reviews
100 The Esplanade Darwin NT 0800

A magnificent indoor tropical rainforest is a stunning feature of the Novotel Darwin Atrium. Overlooking Darwin Harbo... More hotel details

Award Winner 2012 : Top Spot to View the Famous Darwin Sunset
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Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront
Reviewer score
4.6
out of 53 Reviews
7 Kitchener Drive Darwin NT 0800

Sleek and stylish, Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront makes for an ideal base for business and leisure travellers with its p... More hotel details

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Rydges Darwin Airport Hotel
Reviewer score
3.7
out of 52 Reviews
Corner Henry Wrigley Drive & Sir Norman Brearley Drive Marrara NT 0812

Ideally situated next to the Rydges Darwin Airport Resort, Rydges Darwin Airport Hotel offers comfortable accommodatio... More hotel details

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Value Inn Darwin
Reviewer score
3.4
out of 53 Reviews
50 Mitchell Street Darwin NT 0800

Modern budget accommodation in the heart of the CBD, Value Inn is located on Mitchell Street - the shopping, restauran... More hotel details

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Adina Apartment Hotel Darwin Waterfront
Reviewer score
4.7
out of 52 Reviews
7 Kitchener Drive Darwin NT 0800

Whether in Darwin for business or for leisure, travellers find an ideal base in the plush spaces, top-notch facilities... More hotel details

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Darwin Central Hotel
Reviewer score
4.1
out of 52 Reviews
21 Knuckey Street Darwin NT 0800

Darwin Central Hotel is a chic boutique hotel that offers comfortable accommodations complemented by friendly service ... More hotel details

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Travelodge Mirambeena Resort Darwin
Reviewer score
3.5
out of 55 Reviews
64 Cavenagh Street Darwin NT 0800

Travelodge Mirambeena Resort Darwin is an inner city oasis, close to the action while providing privacy in a lush sett... More hotel details

Award Finalist 2012 : Best Base to Tour the Real Australia
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Mantra Pandanas Darwin
Reviewer score
3.9
out of 53 Reviews
43 Knuckey Street Darwin NT 0814

Whether in Darwin for business or leisure, travellers find an ideal base in the stylish accommodations and central loc... More hotel details

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Mantra On The Esplanade Darwin
Reviewer score
4.9
out of 52 Reviews
88 The Esplanade Darwin NT 0800

Offering chic comfortable accommodations with city or Darwin Harbour views, Mantra On The Esplanade Darwin makes for a... More hotel details

Award Finalist 2012 : Top Spot to View the Famous Darwin Sunset
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