Darwin, the capital city of the Northern Territory, is situated on
Australia's far north-western coastline. Australia's northern-most
capital, Darwin has evolved out of the devastation caused by Cyclone
Tracy in 1974 into an attractive vibrant and progressive city that
serves the country well as its northern gateway. No longer a pioneer
outpost and small port, it is now one of Australia's most modern and
multicultural cities with a unique tropical flavour.
Darwin is situated at the head of Darwin Harbour on the coast of the
Timor Sea at geographic coordinates 12°27' S 130°50' E. Darwin
is closer to the capitals of three other countries than to the capital
of Australia: Darwin to Canberra is 3144 km. Dili (East Timor) is 656
km from Darwin, Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) is 1818 km, and Jakarta
(Indonesia) is 2735 km from Darwin. Even Singapore is only slightly
further away at 3360 km, and Manila (Philippines) at 3206 km.
Darwin is known as the "Gateway to Asia" and is often called the
multicultural capital of Australia. Seventy-five nationalities are
represented in Darwin, and nearly a quarter of the population
self-identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Darwin has the
largest proportional population of Indigenous Australians of any
Australian capital city, and a significant percentage of the people in
Darwin are recent immigrants from South and East Asia. Due to its
proximity to Asia, Darwin is an important port, particularly for the
live export of sheep and cattle, and of minerals. It is also the site
of a large Australian Army base and a naval facility supporting patrol
boat activity off Australia's northern coastline.
Darwin's Mitchell Street is lined with nightclubs, takeaways, and
restaurants, many with al fresco-style dining. The Beer Can Regatta,
held in August, celebrates Darwin's love affair with beer and
contestants race boats made exclusively of beer cans. Also in Darwin
during the month of August, are the Darwin Cup horse race, and the
Rodeo and Mud Crab Tying Competition.
Every two years since 1991, Darwin has played host to the Arafura
Games, a major regional sporting event. In July 2003 and 2004, Rugby
league and Australian Rules Football are played all year round. One of
the major events that occurs in Darwin is the V8 Supercars. This event
thousands of locals, interstaters and international tourists. This
event occurs in the mid year period and lasts 3 days. Darwin also has a
horse racing cup carnival that starts in the last week of June and goes
through to August.
Darwin has a tropical climate, and is subjected to tropical
thunderstorms and cyclones during the wet season (December to March).
Darwin has felt the fury of tropical cyclones or more than one occasion
- the first recorded cyclone to hit Darwin was the 1867 cyclone, and
much of the city was destroyed by Cyclone Tracy in 1974. It is also the
only Australian city to have come under substantial attack during any
war: Japanese planes bombed Darwin during the Pacific War.
Why Go There?
Like Perth, Darwin is an isolated city in terms of its proximity to
the other states and capital cities, which raises a curiosity in
people’s minds as to what it is like. For many Australians, to
travel so far is like going to another country, except here there are
Aussies just like them living a lifestyle similar to theirs. That is a
very attractive (and justified) proposition for people who want to do
some serious travelling to somewhere far away from home, but
don’t want the hassles, risks and safety concerns in going to
Darwin is unique among Australia’s capital cities in that it
is the only capital in the tropics. Darwin’s climate, vegetation,
wildlife and dress code are all quite different to those of the other
capitals; Townsville and Cairns are the only other Australian cities to
share a similar tropical climate and lifestyle.
Its uniqueness: Where else in Australia can you experience a live
crocodile show in the main street, grab a bite to eat at an oceanside
market and then watch an incredible sunset from your vantage point on
the beach as you dine, or decide take a drive and end up in Kakadu
National Park before lunchtime?
Darwin has a tropical climate with distinct wet and Dry Seasons. The
Wet Season is associated with tropical cyclones and monsoon rains. The
majority of rainfall occurs between December and March when
thunderstorms are common and humidity is regularly over 70 per cent.
Darwin’s climate averages are:
Mean January maximum temperature – 32°C
Mean January minimum temperature – 24°C
Mean July maximum temperature – 30°C
Mean July minimum temperature – 19°C
Mean annual rainfall – 1669mm
Wettest month on average – January, 422 mm
Rain Days: 110
The Dry Season, from April/May until September/October, yields
pleasant weather that is similar to summer in the southern states. In
Darwin during these months, humidity is low, the temperature is almost
monotonously constant (around 30 degrees), and the days are warm and
pleasantly sunny. For this reason, the Dry Season is also the peak
The Wet Season is hot and humid with high rainfall. The tropical
cyclones, choppy seas, endless days of rain and high humidity levels
associated with the Wet Season would indicate that the Wet is not the
time to visit the Top End, but there are actually two sides to this
picture. The Wet Season brings forth the lush scenic beauty, raging
waterfalls, an abundance of barramundi for those who love fishing, low
prices all round and a lack of crowds at popular tourist haunts.
So there is a side to the Tropical North that you will never see if
you are not there during the Wet Season, but there is a price to pay
– heat, humidity, rain and the possibility of cyclonic weather.
September to December, whilst not being particularly wet, are
nonetheless very humid and quite unbearable, so it is best to stay away
during those months too if you find humidity unbearable.