Darwin Accommodation

Darwin, Australia

Darwin is deep in Australia's tropical north, the capital of the Northern Territory. In the north-western corner of the Territory, the city sits on a wondrous harbour twice the size of Sydney's, and is well-situated for exploring not only the tropical wetlands of the 'Top End', but the deserts and arid lands to the south, including Uluru, the famed Ayers Rock. Wedged like a piece of jigsaw puzzle between the huge states of Western Australian and Queensland, the Territory stretches from the Red Centre to the Top End, the exotic mixing pot of Aboriginal, Asian and European influences that often feels and looks more like south-east Asia than Australia.

Although the region's Aborigines recognise six seasons, only two really matter to visitors: the Wet and the Dry. Air temperatures remain fairly even throughout the year, so the seasons are characterised by humidity and rainfall, or the lack of it. The Dry (May to October) is the main tourism season, but the Wet (November to April), with its dramatic downpours, raging torrents and tropical humidity is the essence of the Top End, and perhaps more exciting because of it. However, it’s also the season of dangerous floods, deadly marine stingers and other tropical nasties.

The city's history is chequered and dramatic. From its origins under European settlement as Australia's most northerly port in 1869, Darwin has undergone tumultuous changes and development. Swelled by the gold rushes of the 1870s, it was razed by a cyclone in 1897, battered again in 1937, and fell into sleepy oblivion until World War II, which saw it become the major Allied military base for the war in the Pacific.

Mother Nature has taken a special interest in Darwin. Twice the city has been virtually destroyed by cyclones. The second time, on Christmas Eve in 1974, Cyclone Tracy left intact only 400 of around 12,000 houses, and engendered a move to design cyclone-proof architecture, which the modern city showcases today. And it's not only the buildings that have been replaced; of the evacuees after Tracy, 60% never came back to live.

Immigrants from all over Europe, Asia and the Pacific, as well as other parts of Australia, have made their way to the Northern Territory at least for the past couple of hundred years which, added to the indigenous population of Larrakia people, makes for an ethnic mix like nowhere else. Although not much more than 100,000 people, it's said that Darwin’s population is made up of more than 50 nationalities. Relations between them are not always harmonious, but the heterogeneity produces an interesting cultural and culinary mix.

Modern, cosmopolitan and exotic, Darwin offers visitors a huge range of accommodation and sumptuous gastronomic delights. Catering particularly for backpackers and adventure travellers, the city is a convenient launching pad for the interior and the tropical north.

Darwin is well-served by communication and transport lines, including the fabled Ghan (www.gsr.com.au/our-trains/the-ghan) through the red heart of the continent. More than 70 years after the great train route from Adelaide to Alice Springs was completed, the final destination has now been added. If you’re into great train journeys, this one incorporates at least three climatic zones, and covers almost 3,000km from the tropics, through the desert lands of Central Australia to the temperate climes of Adelaide.

The Top End's climate means lots of outdoor activity, and Darwin has a very casual approach to life. In a country famous for its laidback, laconic lifestyle, Darwin takes the cake. Outdoor markets, al fresco dining and all kinds of open-air entertainment and sport are the norm. The peninsula location of Darwin makes it feel as if it’s surrounded by water, and indeed it is: from Port Darwin in the east around the point to the Timor and Arafura seas in the north. A favourite activity after a hot day is to take a picnic or a barbecue and watch the sunset over the sea.

Whatever your activity in Darwin, always wear a wide-brimmed hat and apply plenty of highly-rated sunscreen. Temperatures here are fierce, and sunstroke very easy to acquire. Always check with locals about where and when to swim as there are many hazards, including saltwater crocodiles! More safety information

Welcome to Darwin, where the Far East meets the Top End on the way to the Red Centre.

Time Zone

Darwin is situated at 130°50'E and 12°28'S. Its time zone is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) + 0930. This is Australian Central Time and is the same as Adelaide, half an hour behind Sydney and Melbourne, and 1½ hours ahead of Perth. Some states in Australia have daylight saving (+ one hour during summer), but the Northern Territory does not. During summer (end October to end March) there are five time zones in Australia, and three during winter.

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