It may not have a uniquely shaped opera house or a bridge to climb, but the city of Darwin shouldn’t be overlooked as your next distant holiday destination as it is uniquely positioned to be your perfect gateway to Australia.
The city of Darwin, a former border post, located on the northernmost tip of Australia, is now the capital of the Northern Territory, home to approximately 150,000 people, and a gateway to the unique natural landscapes of Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park, and Nitmiluk National Park.
- It’s always summer in Darwin
- Darwin is a compact city
- Darwin’s Famous Markets
- Darwin is your gateway to Australia
- Freedom Destinations Expert View
It’s always summer in Darwin
If you like a tropical climate with warm temperatures, Darwin is the destination for you. It’s summer all year round in Darwin, so pack a t-shirt and shorts and go on a trip. The daytime temperature rarely drops below 30 degrees Celsius and there is about 12 hours of daylight all year round. There are really only two distinct seasons in Darwin:
- Dry summer: Between the months of April and October. there is generally not much rain and a dry heat. The weather is perfect for outdoor activities such as camping and sailing.
- Tropical summer: From November to March, in addition to warm temperatures, the air is more humid. This can cause the odd thunderstorm. However, this is good for wildlife and wildlife spotting in the national parks and makes for spectacular waterfalls in the gorges
There are tourists visiting Darwin all year round, but generally fewer in the tropical summer, so if you want to avoid the crowds, choose to travel during this time.
Darwin is a compact city
Unlike the sprawling metropolis of Sydney or the suburbs of Melbourne, Darwin is a small city, which makes getting around very easy as a tourist. Much of the city can be reached on foot, and when you’re not walking, a bicycle will take you wherever you need to go.
- Darwin Airport This is usually your point of arrival and it is the fastest route to Australia. With only one international flight arriving at a time, you don’t have to worry about immigration queues or baggage retrieval. Then it is only a fifteen minute transfer to the center of Darwin. And don’t think Darwin is isolated either, there are good connections from Darwin airport to all other cities in Australia and also to much of Asia.
- The Darwin Waterfront Precinct is just a short walk from the city center and is the perfect meeting point for locals and tourists alike. Whether you want to enjoy the man-made beach and wave pool, or simply have lunch or dinner alfresco by the sea, this is the place to come. There are shops, cafes, restaurants and museums to enjoy as well as fishing trips or sightseeing cruises from historic Stokes Hill Wharf.
- Did you know Darwin Harbour seven times bigger than Sydney Harbour? This means there’s a lot to explore and you can do it on one of the many tour boats and cruises that depart daily from Stokes Hill Wharf. Whether you want to go fishing in Barramundi, dive for WWII shipwrecks, or simply see the city skyline, boats are waiting for you. Perhaps most popular are the spectacular sunset cruises with cocktails on deck as the sun sets over the horizon.
- Cullen Bay is the other side of the peninsula, just two kilometers from the city center. It is a much sought after residential area with high quality homes, but it is also home to the marina and a collection of seaside cafes and restaurants. This is also the location for the ferry to the Tiwi Islands. Most of the inhabitants of the Tiwi Islands are of Aboriginal descent and are known for their traditional lifestyle, beautiful artwork, vibrant fabrics and textiles. There are two beautiful islands to explore, and you can learn all about the wildlife, environment, art and culture of the native indigenous tribes from a local guide.
- The Nightcliff Foreshore is a popular recreation area that extends all the way to Rapid Creek. There are beautiful parks that are perfect for a picnic or barbecue, and there is a pool where you can swim safely if you want to cool off. Fishing is possible from the jetty, while this is also another popular vantage point for the amazing Darwin sunset.
Darwin’s Famous Markets
Markets are an intrinsic part of Darwin’s culture. They are a place where locals and tourists alike naturally mingle and sample food and crafts that reflect everything from Darwin’s modern Asian influences to more European history. They are a melting pot of scents, flavors and colors unique to Darwin.
Darwin is your gateway to Australia
There is much to see and discover just outside the city of Darwin and although Australia is a huge country, Darwin and the Northern Territory are centrally located and are the perfect gateway to explore the rest of the country.
Driving from Darwin
Some of Australia’s most beautiful natural areas are easily reached by car from Darwin. Three of Australia’s exceptional National Parks are located in Australia’s “Top End”.
- Kakadu National Park is one of the largest in Australia, covers 20,000 square kilometers and is home to a third of Australia’s bird species. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site with ancient petroglyphs created by native indigenous tribes hundreds of years ago. The entrance to Kakadu National Park is a relatively short 90 minute drive from Darwin on tarmac roads, but getting to the center of the park again takes the same amount of time, and some features such as waterfalls and gorges require a 4×4 vehicle requires.
- Litchfield National Park is less than a two hour drive south of Darwin and is a favorite place for locals to escape the heat. There are several freshwater pools in Litchfield National Park that are perfect for swimming and cooling off after a walk through the Australian bush. For those with 4×4 vehicles, there are designated trails that take you further into the park, away from the busier tourist spots close to the tarmac roads.
- About a three-hour drive south of Darwin, just outside the town of Katherine Nitmiluk National Park. Formerly known as Katherine Gorge National Park, it is home to the Katherine River which winds its way through a series of 13 beautiful gorges. For a relaxed visit it is possible to take a river cruise, or for the more active you can walk the Jatbula Trail which follows the western edge of the Arnhem Land escarpment over sandstone plateaus and through woodland, and monsoon forests to Edith Falls about 62 miles away!
Flying from Darwin
Darwin is blessed with exceptional connections to the rest of Australia, allowing a visit to Darwin to be combined with a host of other destinations with a flight time of approximately four hours.
- Darwin to Alice Springs† While still in the Northern Territory, Uluru (Ayers Rock) is still some 2000 kilometers away. However, with regular flights from Darwin to Alice Springs it is possible to be at the Red Center in under four hours. Alternatively, you can take the train and board the famous Ghan train from Darwin.
- Darwin to Sydney; Most itineraries include a visit to Australia’s iconic city. Whether you want to visit Sydney’s Opera House, Harbor Bridge or Bondi Beach, Darwin’s daily flights to Sydney get you there in just over four hours.
- Darwin to Perth; You can be in the capital of Western Australia in less than four hours, with an average of two flights a day direct from Darwin to Perth. Visiting Rottnest Island to see the friendly Quokka is closer than you think.
- Darwin to Melbourne; There are daily flights between Darwin and Melbourne that will allow you to drive into Kakadu one day and follow the Great Ocean Road the next. A connection time of 4 hours and 5 minutes makes this combination extremely easy.
The Expert View of Freedom Destinations
“When you’re visiting Australia, it’s almost too easy to stay in the big cities and tick off the sights,” says Mags from the Freedom Destinations Australia team. “All too often that leads people to miss the Northern Territory on their vacation itinerary.”
“However, the opposite should be the case. Not only does Darwin provide you with a great base from which to explore some of Australia’s most beautiful national parks, but it also offers a great opportunity to visit the rest of Australia as well.” Proving that Darwin can be your gateway to Australia.
Contact the Freedom Destinations Australia team today to plan your next vacation to Darwin and the Northern Territory.
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