8 things you didn’t know about Darwin

It’s known for roving crocodiles and a steamy climate but there’s more to this multicultural city and tropical paradise than meets the eye.

Darwin Festival
  • Syafii Ghazali and Peta Murray
  • February 2020

Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia, has become a vibrant cultural centre worth exploring for its arts scene, gorgeous scenery and luxury accommodation. Here are 8 things you need to know before visiting.

1. Darwin is closer to Singapore than Sydney

Darwin Laksa
A testament to how much they love their laksa, Darwin held its first International Laksa Festival in November 2019.

Darwin is Australia’s closest capital city to Asia, and Southeast Asian communities have a strong presence here, especially in the city’s food scene. In fact, the Peranakan laksa has become something of the capital’s favourite.

READ MORE: The ultimate guide to eating out in Darwin

2. The city was named after British naturalist Charles Darwin

While Charles himself never set foot in the city, it was christened in honour of the English naturalist famous for his work on the theory of evolution. The moniker was bestowed by Darwin’s former shipmate Admiral John Stokes, the first European to observe Port Darwin in 1839.

3. It’s NOT the hottest city in the country

Mindil Beach
It’s beach weather all year round in Darwin.

Darwin holds the title of sweatiest city among its state capital counterparts, but it’s far from the hottest place in the country. Darwin’s maximum average temperature hovers around 32°C, while Wyndham in Western Australia has a scorching high average of 35.6°C.

4. It has only two seasons

Kakadu National Park
The evenings are especially cool from May to July, with temperatures ranging from 17 to 23°C.

As Australia’s only tropical city, Darwin doesn’t have the traditional four seasons like the rest of the country, but just two: wet and dry. The former is from November to April, when it’s hot and humid with bouts of monsoon rain. The rest of year is the dry season, when days are warm and sunny and the nights are crisp.

5. You have a choice of luxurious accomodation options

Mindil Beach Casino Infinity Pool
Mindil Beach Casino Resort’s stunning pool is a great spot to catch the sunset while sipping on a cocktail. It’s open to non-hotel guests as well, with a minimum spend of $20 after 4pm.

Surrounded by the vast Outback, Darwin is a bushwalker’s dream. But it’s also a great place to live it up. Five-star options include Hilton Darwin opens in new window with harbour views in the heart of the city; and the Mindil Beach Casino Resort opens in new window, which boasts four restaurants and a private beach set among acres of lush tropical gardens. Further afield, glamping doesn’t get any grander than Bamurru Plains opens in new window, a luxurious eco-friendly safari lodge on the edge of Kakadu National Park opens in new window.

6. There are plenty of safe places to swim

Darwin Waterfront
Two man-made beaches in the Waterfront Precinct — the Wave Lagoon and Recreation Lagoon — offer family-friendly swimming all year round.

While crocodiles and stingers like box jellyfish pose a threat in the ocean, there are plenty of swimming holes around Darwin where it’s perfectly safe to take a dip in the dry season.

7. Darwin has a thriving arts scene

Mindil Beach Market Performance
Open every Thursday and Sunday from the last week of April to October, Mindil Beach Sunset Market hosts street performers amidst craft and food stalls on the stretch of parkland behind the beach. (Image credit: facebook.com/mindilmarket)

With more than 20 museums and art galleries, as well as independent exhibitions and music festivals opens in new window, a thriving theatre scene and a throng of colourful markets including the must-visit Mindil Beach Sunset Markets opens in new window, Darwin offers enough to keep even the most ardent culture lovers and history buffs happy.

8. Crocodiles are kept at a safe distance from people

Saltwater crocodile in Adelaide River
Saltwater crocs, or “salties” as they’re locally called, are the largest species of reptile in the world.

A protected species since 1971, there are an estimated 200,000 crocodiles in the Northern Territory. But while crocs can sometimes be found in unusual places, rangers are vigilant in trapping the reptiles before they pose any threat to people.

READ MORE: Here’s where you can get up close and personal with a saltwater croc