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Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and Australia's smallest state capital, home to just over 100,000 people. It is a good base to explore the surrounding natural attractions including the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. Its blend of Caucasian, Asian and Aboriginal cultures make it an interesting place to spend some time.
The city has been virtually wiped out twice in its short history; once due to air raids during WWII and again when Cyclone Tracy hit in the 1970's. As a result, the city has a distinctly modern (albeit small scale) feel to it.
Darwin enjoys a tropical climate with year round warm temperatures. There are two distinct seasons in the Top End, "the Wet" and "the Dry". The heart of the wet season is in January and February when the monsoons bring heavy afternoon and overnight rains that flood the wetlands and turn the countryside green. Average temperatures are between 25 °C and 32 °C. In March and April, the rains subside and strong winds start to dry the land. Average temperatures range from 24 °C to 33 °C. The dry season lasts from May to September and is the most popular with travellers and locals, with humidity is at its lowest and the possibility of relatively cool evenings. Average temperatures range from 19 °C to 33 °C. From October to December the weather becomes increasingly humid and starts to build up to the monsoon season. Average temperatures range from 25 °C to 33 °C.
|Avg Max||31.8 °C||31.5 °C||32.1 °C||32.9 °C||32.2 °C||30.8 °C||30.8 °C||31.6 °C||32.7 °C||33.5 °C||33.5 °C||32.7 °C|
|Avg Min||25 °C||24.9 °C||24.7 °C||24.3 °C||22.5 °C||20.1 °C||19.4 °C||20.4 °C||23.2 °C||25 °C||25.6 °C||25.6 °C|
|Rainfall||465.5 mm||373.1 mm||335.4 mm||107.5 mm||24.7 mm||2.3 mm||1.2 mm||5.8 mm||17.4 mm||65.4 mm||136.8 mm||276.4 mm|
Darwin International Airport (DRW) is the only international airport in the Northern Territory and is located about 13 kilometres from Darwin's city centre. International destinations include Dili in East Timor, Bali, Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore. Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air North are the main operators flying here, with connections to Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Broome and Kununurra in Western Australia. Within the Northern Territory, there are connections to Alice Springs and several smaller airfields, including the Tiwi Islands.
To/from the airport
Taxis, shuttle services and rental cars are widely available at the airport.
The Ghan connects Darwin with Alice Springs and Adelaide in South Australia twice a week. It's invariably more expensive than flying, and usually slower than driving yourself, but it is a journey for those who enjoy train travel, or who want to bring their car without the hassle of driving. There are transfers in Adelaide from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. You can also transfer your car from any of these origins. The train line to Darwin was built relatively recently, and was designed primarily for freight. The terminus for the train is near the deep water port at East Arm, approximately 7 kilometres from the city centre; on the other side of Frances Bay, take a taxi, or get your accommodation to arrange a pickup for you. Buslink provides a complimentary service for guests travelling in Gold class. For guests travelling in Red class, a shuttle bus service is provided. Tickets are purchased from the driver and no booking is necessary. Return services run from the Transit Centre on Mitchel St. There is no public transport to the train station.
Darwin is the northermost point in the Northern Territory and the main highway goes south and is in good condition (tarmac). The Stuart Highway runs all the way to Adelaide, some 3,000 kilometres away.
Greyhound provides bus services to a number of towns and cities in Australia, including Alice Springs and as far as Perth.
There are trips by catamaran to Bathurst Island (one of the Tiwi Islands) from March to November, but no further public services exist.
Cruising has increased in popularity in the Northern Territory and the schedules for several international cruises include a day stopover in Darwin. Expedition cruise ships touring the northern coast of Australia are becoming a popular way to visit remote Aboriginal art communities in Arnhem Land and Groote Eylandt.
Cruise ships dock at Fort Hill Wharf, which is quite close the Stokes Hill Wharf by water, but it is a 2 kilometres or so by road. It is around 1 kilometre to the Esplanade, and 2 kilometres to downtown.
Driving is the best way to comprehensively see Darwin. Many of the sights are spread out, parking is easy and traffic is usually free flowing.
Rental cars are available at the airport and downtown Darwin. There are plenty of companies you could choose to hire a car from, including Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Thrifty. Car hire is often not available to drivers under 25, or if it is, it's more expensive for younger drivers.
There is a public bus service, which is useful for accessing areas close to the city. The services are more frequent closer to the central area where the routes overlap, but you will need to plan according to the timetable to get anywhere else - some services only run a couple of times a day. The buses are air-conditioned. $3 per 3 hour transfer or $20 for a weekly pass.
Walking between attractions or from a bus stop to attractions, even in the inner-city, can be very hot work for those not used to the Darwin climate. Dress to stay cool, and carry water.
Darwin’s downtown dining hub encompasses Mitchell and Knuckey Streets and is brimming with restaurants, cafes and pubs. Dinner in Darwin can be classy or casual, but always relaxed. For breakfast, Café Uno serves a tasty toasted avocado, tomato and cheese croissant, and coffee lovers should head to Café 21 in the mall. For something a little different, try the coconut loaf with lemon curd at Roma Bar or French toast with maple syrup and bacon at Ducks Nuts Bar and Grill.
Lunch options in the Central Business District are endless. Jump on the sushi train at Go Sushi, people-watch over a Caesar salad at Wisdom Bar & Café or try the crispy roast duck at Roast and Noodle. Enjoy Yum Cha at Tasty House, sample the variety of Tapas at Moorish Café or create your own stir-fry at Magic Wok. There is an array of pubs that serve up fish and chips, burgers and parmas, try Kitty O’Shea’s, Shennanigans or the Fox Ale House. For a juicy steak and fine wine visit Char Restaurant @ Admiralty, head to Hanuman for consistently great curry, get your Italian from Giuseppe’s or try mod oz fare matched with a colourful cocktail at Monsoons.
Parap, well known for its markets, also has a diversity of lesser-known restaurants. Try sizzling Mongolian beef at The Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant or steaming hot tamales from Prickles then move on to coffee and cake at The Cyclone Café or Paraparazzi. If you want to stock up on gourmet goodies, head to Parap Fine Foods, they’ve got a great deli and stock French home-style bread.
Best known for its views and pricey real estate, the assortment of dining in Fannie Bay is considerably less expensive than the housing. You can drink a glass of sparkling with breakfast at Cornucopia Museum Café, but be sure to book, as it is always busy. Across the road is the Darwin Ski Club, where the food is pub-style with harbour views. Try The Cool Spot Cafe, a trendy hangout that offers great light meals and snacks. The seafood dishes are a highlight at Pee Wee’s at The Point, especially the soft shell mud crab.
Cullen Bay offers an abundance of seafood choices and expansive harbour views, but you’ll also find Italian, Thai, Greek and French cuisine. Freshly shucked oysters are a specialty at Yots Greek Taverna, try the barramundi at La Beach, succulent battered bug tails from the takeaway fish and chip shop or settle with a glass of sparkling at Buzz Café. There is a large variety of restaurants along the boardwalk overlooking the marina, so you won’t be starved for choice.
Darwin has numerous clubs and bars. Also you can check out some local music at Brown’s Mart.
|Banyan View Lodge||119 Mitchell Street||Hostel||-|
|Chilli's Backpackers||69a Mitchell St||Hostel||73|
|Dingo Moon Lodge||88 Mitchell Street||Hostel||73|
|Elkes Backpackers Darwin||112 Mitchell Street||Hostel||-|
|Frogshollow Lodge & Backpackers||27 Lindsay St GPO Box 410 - Berrimah 0828||HOSTEL||58|
|Gecko Lodge||146 Mitchell street||Hostel||-|
|Melaleuca On Mitchell||52 Mitchell Street||Hostel||73|
|Value Inn||50 Mitchell St||Hotel||73|
|Youth Shack||69 Mitchell St||Hostel||71|
|Darwin YHA||97 Mitchell St||Hostel||76|
|Rydges Darwin Airport Hotel||Cnr Henry Wrigley Drive Sir Norman Brearley Drive||Hotel||-|
|Quest Apartments||55 Cavenagh Street||Apartment||-|
|Luma Luma Holiday Apartments||26 Knuckey Streets||Apartment||-|
Internet cafés are very common in the larger Australian cities and popular tourist destinations. However, once you leave the major population centres, you might have trouble finding somewhere to log on. Free wifi is getting more and more common (either with or without a code) in places like restaurants, some bars and coffee places and hotels. Sometimes a fee is required.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Australia is on a GSM 900/1800 network, so if you have an unlocked phone that works on those frequencies, you will be able to buy a prepaid SIM-card and stick into your phone when you're in Australia. You will receive a new Australian phone number with the SIM-card.
To dial out of Australia use the prefix 0011, followed by the calling code of the country you are trying to reach, followed by the area code of the city/town (without the 0!) and finally the phone number.
Within Australia, it is necessary to add an area code to the phone numbers if you are calling from outside the area. Below are Australia's area codes:
000 is the emergency telephone number in Australia, but the international GSM mobile emergency telephone number 112 also works on mobile phones.
Australia Post is the government's postal service. Most suburbs will have at least one post office. Opening times are mostly from around 8:00 or 9:00am to 5:00pm though larger ones keep longer hours sometimes. A standard letter or postcard sent within Australia will cost $0.60. Internationally, it costs $1.70 to send postcards anywhere in the world. Letters cost $1.85 to send within the Asia Pacific region and $2.60 to anywhere else in the world.. It is also possible to send things as parcels or by express mail. You can also use use private courier companies like TNT, UPS or DHL as they are competitive and reliable.
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