Darwin

The Ghan, Tourism NT

Regarded as Australia’s northern outpost, Darwin retains a tropical, colonial feel despite having been largely rebuilt after the devastation wreaked by cyclone Tracy almost 40 years ago and the bombing of Darwin during World War II.

The founding fathers of Darwin laid out the city centre on a small peninsula that juts into one of the finest harbours in northern Australia. Their names live on in the wide streets of the city centre, which is easy to get around and lacks the winding lanes of older Australian cities.

The Larrakia people are the Aboriginal traditional owners of the land that Darwin is built on. It is a beautiful green city with parklands and gardens of palm trees, raintrees and frangipani while the waters of the Timor Sea lap three sides of the city.

The population of 129,000 comprises over 50 ethnic groups, the diversity stretching back to the early days of Darwin’s development when Aboriginal, European and Chinese people worked side by side. More recent arrivals include migrants from Greece, Timor, Indonesia and Africa.

Evidence of the early days remain, but Darwin is also a modern city. With so much natural beauty around its harbour, along the beaches and in its tropical parks, it remains one of the most fascinating cities in the world.

Visitor information

Tourism Top End

Tourism Top End, 6 Bennett St (08) 8980 6000 or 1300 138 886

www.tourismtopend.com.au

Getting Around

Darwin is easy to get around – city streets are laid out in a grid, most attractions are within walking distance, and traffic is rarely heavy.

A regular public bus service covers many of the suburbs as well as the satellite town of Palmerston (the city terminus is on Harry Chan Avenue). Taxis are available at either end of the mall but can also be hailed from the street.  

The Tour Tub is an open-sided bus service to the city’s top sights, departing every hour from the Knuckey St end of Smith St Mall.

Darwin’s network of bicycle paths extends from the city out to the northern suburbs, and bikes can be hired from many backpacker lodges, most of which can be found on Mitchell Street.

Public transport

Bus Service (08) 8936 4077.

Airport shuttle bus

Darwin Airport Shuttle Bus (08) 8981 5066; Metro Minibus (08) 8983 0577.

Police road report

1800 246 199 (a good source of information for travel outside Darwin, particularly in the wet season).

Bus tours

Tour Tub (08) 8985 6322. Available dry season only.

Motoring organisation

AANT (08) 8925 5901, roadside assistance 13 1111.

Car rental

Avis 13 6333; Britz Campervan Rentals 1800 683 367; Budget 1300 362 848; Hertz (08) 8941 0944; Sargent's four-wheel-drive hire service 1800 077 353.

Taxis

Radio Taxis 13 1008.

Bicycle and scooter hire

Darwin Scooter Hire (08) 8941 2434.

Experience

Smith Street

Window-shopping for pearls in Smith Street Mall


The Esplanade

Watching a movie at the Deckchair Cinema


Mitchell Street

A safe encounter with reptiles at Crocosaurus Cove


Fannie Bay Gaol Museum

A picnic at Fannie Bay


Sunset dining

Sunset drinks at the Darwin Sailing Club


Mindil Beach Sunset Markets

Shopping at the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets


Aquascene

Handfeeding fish at Aquascene


Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

Learning about cyclones at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory


Stokes Hill Wharf

Swimming in the wave lagoon at the Darwin Waterfront


East Point Reserve

Watching a thunderstorm in the evening sky


Wave Lagoon

 Swimming in the wave lagoon at the Darwin Waterfront 


Shopping

Casuarina Square

Every popular department and chain store is under one roof here, and there is also a huge eatery with more than 30 restaurants and cafes.


Framed – The Darwin Gallery, City

One of the oldest art galleries in Darwin with some of the best Aboriginal and Islander art in northern Australia. (08) 8981 2994.


Parap Shopping Village

With it's village atmosphere and Saturday markets, Parap is a unique shopping destination especially for Aboriginal art and crafts.


Smith Street Mall, City

A collection of interesting shops interspersed with outdoor eateries. There are five arcades and a galleria. Visit Paspaley Pearls or find unique gifts made from crocodile leather and Aboriginal art.


Darwin Waterfront

This retail and dining precinct features a promenade of shops and restaurants overlooking the water.


Walks & Tours

Batji Tours

Experience Darwin through the eyes of its traditional owners, the Larrakia people, on this walking tour along The Esplanade; 1300 881 186. 


Darwin Walking Tours

A guided tour to major heritage sites and attractions. (08) 8981 0227.


Ferry to Mandorah

Cast a line off the Mandorah Jetty or have a meal at the Hotel. It’s 130km by road, or a 20min ferry ride from Cullen Bay Marina. Mandorah Ferry Service. 1300 69 33 77.


Fishing Tours

Darwin Fishing Charters has a huge selection of fishing adventures; www.fishthetopend.com.


George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens Walks

Self-guided walks through different habitats; pamphlets available from the visitor centre at the Geranium St entrance. (08) 8981 1958.


Sunset Cruises

Take a cruise from Cullen Bay Marina or Stokes Wharf to see the sun slip below the horizon of the Timor Sea. City of Darwin Cruises 0401 118 777; Darwin Harbour Cruises (08) 8942 3131; Anniki Pearl Lugger Cruises 0428 414 000.


Tour Tub

Join this hop-on, hop-off bus to visit Darwin's must see attractions. (08) 8985 6322.


Sport

Darwinites love their sport. AFL (Australian Football League) is like a second religion in Darwin and the surrounding communities. In March the NTFL grand final is held at Marrara Stadium and the Tiwi Islands Football Grand Final is held on Bathurst Island, the only time Bathurst Island is open to visitors without a permit. Darwin and Territory teams often play a curtain-raiser to the Australian AFL season.

Rugby League, Rugby Union and soccer are also well supported in Darwin. Rugby League is played at Richardson Park in Fannie Bay, and Rugby Union and soccer are played at the Marrara Sporting Precinct.

Fannie Bay and Darwin Harbour are great for sailing or head down to the Ski Club to water ski

Fishing, especially during the 'run-off' is a high priority for locals and visitors to Darwin.

Entertainment

The outdoor cinema is a major drawcard in Darwin, and was one of the first examples of entertainment infrastructure ever established in the city. The Deckchair Cinema (on the shores of Darwin Harbour) operates throughout the dry season. There are also cinema complexes in Mitchell St, Casuarina Shopping Square and The Hub in Palmerston.

Swimming

Swimming in waters around Darwin is not recommended, particularly in the build-up to and during the wet seasons (October up until the end of April), because of the hidden dangers of box jellyfish and crocodiles. Although Darwin Harbour and the foreshores are patrolled regularly by Parks and Wildlife Commission officers, and saltwater crocodiles are relocated to farms, the seas are not completely free of dangerous creatures. Box jellyfish pose the biggest problem because they are small, almost transparent, and deadly. Some people do swim in the sea during the dry season, when box jellyfish are least threatening, but most locals do not. Preferred swimming spots include community pools at Parap, Nightcliff and Casuarina, Lake Alexander at East Point Reserve (), the lagoon and wave pool at the Waterfront and natural springs outside the city.

Cafes & restaurants around town

Casuarina Club

Situated in the northern suburbs near Casuarina beach, 15 minutes from the CBD, ‘The Cas’ is the place to come if you want friendly, community atmosphere with a wide selection of choice from the bistro and... Find out more


Char Restaurant

A stone’s throw from the harbour, looking over The Esplanade, order a gin and tonic, sit back as the sun dips into the golden waters of Darwin Harbour and go back in time. The restaurant encompasses Admiralty... Find out more


Chianti and Coffee

This small cafe/restaurant at Coolalinga shopping centre on the Stuart Highway serves some of the best home cooking and expertly frothed lattes in outer Darwin. The kitchen produces a great breakfast and at lunch the... Find out more


Crustaceans on the Wharf

Crustaceans on the Wharf is a true tropical dining experience. Specialties include freshly caught barramundi, oysters cooked nine different ways and stellar prawns. Located at the end of Stokes Hill Wharf, a modest walk... Find out more


Darwin Sailing Club 4 km

One of three community clubs right on the beach at Fannie Bay, a short drive from the CBD, with the others being the Ski Club (next to the museum) and the Trailer Boat Club (next to the Sailing Club). With bistro-style... Find out more


Essence Restaurant

Part of the Darwin Airport Resort, and only a three-minute walk from the airport, Essence is open from 5.30am. It’s popular with visitors who arrive in Darwin on an early flight. After breakfast at Essence,... Find out more


Evoo 2 km

Fine dining in Darwin doesn’t get much better than Evoo, at SKYCITY casino. Mediterranean, Eastern and Australian flavours come together, highlighting local seafood and produce, and complemented by a good local and... Find out more


Fannie Bay Super Pizza

Darwin’s oldest pizza restaurant is a five-minute drive from the CBD. Your senses are assailed from the moment you walk into this busy restaurant: the noisy open kitchen, luscious smells of cooking food and the... Find out more


Finlay’s Joint

A short drive from Palmerston, en route to Kakadu and Litchfield, you will recognise Finlay’s Joint immediately, thanks to the 15-metre dinosaur standing out the front. Next to it is one of the most exquisite stone... Find out more


Hanuman 1 km

Part of the Holiday Inn Esplanade complex in the CBD and a benchmark for multicultural dining in Darwin, Hanuman displays restaurateur Jimmy Shu’s love of Thai, Nonya and Tamil cooking. Jimmy can often be found at... Find out more


Indo Pacific Marine

Known locally as ‘corals by candlelight’, this tourist attraction on Stokes Hill Wharf provides a truly unique dining experience. On arrival, diners are given a detailed explanation of the living coral reefs... Find out more


K-Tong

This Chinese and Thai restaurant is popular with budget-minded locals, and is particularly busy on Friday and Saturday nights when local families stop by for dinner. Efficient staff wearing traditional Asian dress... Find out more


Moorish Cafe

Situated in the heart of the CBD, this cafe is one of the city’s most popular casual dining venues. Moorish serves an extensive tapas menu and, in true Spanish style, keeps the kitchen open late and is a venue for... Find out more


Nirvana

Well worth the brief walk from the CBD, this restaurant is also a bar that serves excellent cocktails (try the mango daiquiri) and a venue for some very talented blues and jazz musicians. Nirvana specialises in three... Find out more


Pee Wee’s at the Point 6 km

Pee Wee’s has one of the most magnificent views in Darwin – and that is saying something! Situated at East Point on the northern end of Fannie Bay, just a five-minute drive from the CBD, the restaurant has... Find out more


Raging Bull Steakhouse

In the Parap Tavern, a short drive from the CBD, this Western-themed steakhouse specialises in beef, beef and beef, with a few seafood dishes on the side. Expect good, hearty meals and a wine cellar that’s superior... Find out more


Rendezvous Café

Hidden away behind an unassuming shopfront in the Star Village arcade, off Smith Street Mall, this delightful South-East Asian cafe is the place to come for a laksa in Darwin. Don’t be fooled by the 1960s-style... Find out more


Roma Bar

In Darwin’s old Chinatown, this cafe is a Darwin institution. It first opened its doors in 1973, the year before cyclone Tracy struck, and is a favourite haunt for anyone who loves a hearty breakfast and good... Find out more


Santa Fe Cafe

On the Stuart Highway at Berrimah, between Darwin and Palmerston, this cafe has a vibrant Spanish/American decor and ambience. A number of private booths create an intimate atmosphere to enjoy wood-fired pizza, and the... Find out more


Seadogs Pizza & Pasta Bar 2 km

A short drive from the CBD, nicely sandwiched between the beach at Cullen Bay and the marina, reasonably priced Seadogs is run by a local Italian family. There is a real sense of traditional Italian family spirit as you... Find out more


Tim’s Surf and Turf

This reasonably priced restaurant is a favourite with locals, who appreciate its casual Top End style. As the name suggests, Tim’s specialises in seafood and beef, plus Tim is an amateur magician who has been known... Find out more


The Jetty Restaurant

A short walk from the CBD, at the entrance to Stokes Hill wharf, Jetty has a magnificent view of the harbour. The seafood buffet served here is one of the best priced in Darwin, loaded with fresh fish, crustaceans, eye... Find out more


Yots Greek Taverna

Nestled on a sailed wooden deck that gives the impression you have just put out to sea in a luxurious, open-aired lugger, Yots is one of Darwin’s most enjoyable waterfront restaurants. The menu is dominated by... Find out more


Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Darwin Airport Resort 7 km

Located only 350 metres from Darwin Airport, and ten minutes’ drive from the CBD, this beautifully landscaped, award-winning resort is a delightful blend of old Darwin and new Asia. Facilities include broadband,... Find out more


Feathers Sanctuary 8 km

Ideal for those who love wildlife, particularly birds, Feathers caters only for couples. Situated two minutes’ drive from Darwin Airport and ten minutes from the CBD, these four luxury huts are separated by lush... Find out more


Moonshadow Villas 1 km

The best example of stylish indoor–outdoor living in Darwin, this award-winning complex is located at Gardens Hill, within walking distance of the CBD. Many visitors find it hard to leave this paradise of... Find out more


Palms City Resort

Conveniently located on The Esplanade, a block from Mitchell Street and a short walk to Smith Street Mall, the resort sits on the site of the old Darwin Hotel. Set around a lush swimming pool, the free-standing villas... Find out more


Travelodge Mirambeena Resort Darwin

Centrally located, this resort has a good restaurant, two pools and beautifully landscaped gardens. With a choice of motel rooms and townhouses, the resort offers a variety of accommodation for all budgets. The post... Find out more


Popular events around town

The Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin

Commemorates the anniversary of the first Japanese bombing raid each year on 19 February.... Find out more


Sky City Triple Crown V8 Supercars Championship

Three days of V8 supercars at Hidden Valley Raceway. April–June.... Find out more


Darwin Beer Can Regatta

Boats built from beer cans. Races held in conjunction with Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. July.... Find out more


Royal Darwin Show

Three days of rides, equestrian and agricultural displays at the Darwin Showgrounds. July.... Find out more


Darwin Cup Carnival

The city’s premier horseracing carnival. Also Darwin Turf Club Gala Ball. July/August.... Find out more


Darwin Festival

A exciting programme of visual and performing arts. August.... Find out more


Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards

Exquisite Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art held at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. August–October.... Find out more


World Solar Challenge

This is a biennial solar-powered car race from Darwin to Adelaide held in Oct (odd-numbered years).... Find out more


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