Darwin, Gateway to Asia
There's more to Darwin than Crocodiles
In the Top End of Australia, one of the last remaining wild regions of the world, is Darwin, a thriving modern city with a relaxed multicultural lifestyle in the laid- back tropics.
Darwin is Australia's gateway to Asia. It's a beautiful city, with a tropical climate, small population and the relaxed atmosphere that goes with it. If you visit Australia you must get up to Darwin, you'll fall in love with it, as I have.
Sitting up on a low bluff overlooking the harbour which leads out to the Timor Sea, Darwin has a population of only 122,000 but it's one of our most modern and multicultural cities. Darwin has been almost entirely rebuilt twice, once due to Japanese air raids during World War II and again after being devastated by Cyclone Tracy in 1974.
But don't forget the Crocodiles!
Saltwater crocodiles, the most famous of the Territory's creatures, can be seen in most rivers and billabongs in the Top End or at the wildlife parks around Darwin.
Saltwater crocs, or Salties, as we affectionately call them, have an enormous range, populating the brackish and freshwater regions of eastern India, Southeast Asia, and the Top End of Australia. They are excellent swimmers and have often been spotted far out at sea.
Salties are classic opportunistic predators, they lurk patiently beneath the surface near the water's edge waiting for potential prey to stop for a sip of water.
They'll feed on anything they can get their jaws on!
Darwin looks out to Asia
Darwin looks outward
A long way from the major cities
Darwin is like no other city in Australia. It looks outwards to Asia.
It's closer to Jakarta than it is to Sydney, and closer to Singapore than it is to Melbourne.
East Timor is a stone's throw across the water and Papua-New Guinea is just a hop, step and a jump away.
Darwin has two Seasons - Wet and Dry
Forget any idea you had about four seasons, Darwin has only two.
The Wet Season from November to March, and the Dry Season from April to November.
In the Wet, monsoons bring heavy rain and incredibly humidity. The monsoons bring tropical cyclones too.
Go to Darwin in the Dry, when the weather is warm, dry (naturally) and delightful. 20C to 35C - 68F to 99F, and almost every day is bright and sunny
Surrounded by Beaches - Tropical sands
An excellent little video showing the stunning surrounds of this multicultural city. Runtime 4.24
Seventy Five nationalities
Darwin is a relaxed city, and cosmopolitan in a tropical atmosphere.
In a country that prides itself on ethnic diversity, Darwin may be the most multicultural city of all.
Seventy-five nationalities are represented, and nearly a quarter of the population self-identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
Many languages other than English are spoken and maintained in Darwin, languages such as Greek, Indonesian, Tagalog, Portuguese, including a number of both Australian Indigenous, and the Chinese languages.
Darwin Night Market
Just out of town is the busy Mindil Beach Night Market with cake stalls, fruit-salad bars, handicraft stalls, and often local entertainment in the form of strolling players and street theatre. It's a friendly carnival of food sellers, craft hawkers, jugglers and magicians, with the stalls along almost a half-mile of walkway.
Almost every kind of cuisine that can be sold from a stall is represented.
People begin arriving at Mindil Beach around dusk on Thursday and Sunday nights during the dry season to eat a lesiurely meal and watch the sun set over the Arafura Sea. They bring tables, chairs, rugs, chilled wine and children and choose their meal from about 250 food-stalls cooking fresh Thai, Sri Lankan, Korean, Indonesian, Vietnamese, Japanese, Chinese, Laotian, Malaysian, Greek and Portuguese meals and snacks.
You won't find a Big Mac here.
The Darwin Beer Can Regatta
© 2008 Susanna Duffy