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Darwin Travel Guide: 695 reviews and 2,097 photos

Situated on the shores of Van Dieman Gulf, Darwin is Australia's northern-most city. A capital city even, though not of a state but of a territory. When first established, in 1869, it was named Palmerston, then subsequently renamed. Lying about 12 degrees off the equator, its climate is often referred to as "wet/dry monsoonal." It has a hot, dry dry season, and a hot, humid wet season. The north-west monsoon brings the humidity and the rain, whilst the south-east monsoon brings dry sunny weather. But then again, whilst it can be quite sunny and dry during the wet season, rain during the dry season is very unlikely.

In 1824 the first British settlement in the present day Northern Territory was established at Fort Dundas on Melville Island. In 1827 another settlement was established at Fort Wellington on Cobourg Peninsula. In 1829 both settlements were abandoned due the climate, disease and attacks by hostile natives (Aborigines). In 1838 another settlement was established on the Cobourg Peninsula, at Port Essington, and named Town of Victoria. The following year, 1839, John Stokes on HMS Beagle landed at and named Port Darwin. The Beagle was the ship that Charles Darwin sailed in that led to the development of his theory on evolution. By 1849 the settlement at Port Essington was also abandoned, leaving shells of buildings, grave stones, and animals new to Australia let loose - ie pigs and Asian water buffalo.

Up until this time the Northern Territory had been a part of the Colony of New South Wales. However, in 1863 it was formally annexed by the Colony of South Australia which promptly tried to encourage private investment in the area. The first Government Resident (the senior government officer) set up at Escape Cliffs, near the Adelaide River mouth, however, one of his main concerns was to find a suitable location for a capital, to be named Palmerston.

In 1866 the settlement at Escape Cliffs was finally abandoned and in 1869 the site for Palmerston was surveyed at Port Darwin. Things moved quickly from then as gold and other minerals were discovered in surrounding areas. The under sea telegraph cable from Java (present day Indonesia) came ashore in late 1871 whilst the overland section from Adelaide, South Australia, was connected in mid 1872. A newspaper began to be printed in 1873 - the Northern Territory Times.

The name Palmerston was dropped in the early part of the 20th century and the town became Darwin. To make things confusing, in more recent times a new satellite town was developed near Darwin and called Palmerston.

On Christmas day 1974 Darwin was virtually destroyed by Cyclone Tracy. The population of some 40,000 was evacuated by air. The town was rebuilt and then expanded to a population a bit over 80,000 by the end of the 20th century.

Darwin has spread out from the main centre. The main street, Smith Street, was converted into a pedestrian mall but most commercial activity moved out into the suburbs along with the population. The city centre these days is mostly peopled by tourists who think the town is underpopulated and small. In fact the main shopping precinct is Casuarina in the northern suburbs where the retail centre is a huge undercover and airconditioned complex. The mall helps to keep the tourists away from the locals.

Darwin VT Meeting 2008

Plans for the main Darwin VT meeting 23 to 25 May 2008 are complete but there is still some flexability possible. The events are expected to follow along the lines of :

Friday evening -

Meet and greet at the Novotel Atrium hotel bar. This is the flash hotel along the Esplanade in the city. Despite being so flash, a lot of those attending the meeting are staying here ;O)

Saturday Morning -

Board self-drive coaster bus Darwin (weekend cost @ 19 people = approx $35 PP - fuel extra)

Kakadu Winery - usual tastings, BYO cheese and bikkies. Costs depend on how much cheese and bikkies people eat, and for the individual, how much wine they buy. Might be an idea to keep in mind what people want to drink at the BBQ on Sunday at Berry Springs.

Darwin Crocodile Farm $10. Not only can you see the process of farming crocs, and crocs being 'processed', they also have souvenir croc products.

Lunch - light meal at Croc farm, possibly around $10 - $15 depending on individual tastes.

Jumping Crocodiles Cruise ($25) 3.00pm - 1 hour cruise. At their main office onshore they have light refreshments and souvenirs.

Saturday evening -

Darwin Waterski Club- an economical type of place with the greatest sunset/harbour views. Steaks cost around $22. There's another function on that night but I've booked the tables nearer the water with the views. Dress is casual but neat.

Sunday morning -

Board bus Darwin (cost included in Saturday's figures above)

If we're up extra early we could possibly squeeze in the Rapid Creek markets, well worth it for the food, exotic fruits (predominantly Asian). But to get a park anywhere nearby, you definitely have to get in early. As early as the proverbial sparrow's ....... (well you know what I mean).

Territory Wildlife Park open 8:30am-6:00pm - $20 adults. It's large with exhibits spread out but there's a 'train' which you can get on and off at any point. An excellent 'walk-through' aquarium. All the animals are local, including some feral locals.

Berry Springs Nature Reserve (see tips 19 - 28, on 2 pages) BBQ, swim, bushwalk, cricket, frisbee and/or relax. Just the cost of food and drinks. Throughout the afternoon, depart in time for the Sailing Club.

Sunday evening -

Sailing Club - a bit of an 'up market' version of the Waterski Club. Prices only marginally more but there's a $5 surcharge for non-members. Again, I've asked for the best tables with the views.

What needs booking has been booked (ie restaurants, hire bus, Jumping Croc Cruise). Hopefully Darwin won't look like this photo after the VTers finish partying. Please be gentle.

Some friends have suggested the Deckchair Cinema and some of the markets, particularly Rapid Creek (Mindal Beach is overly touristy in my opinion). Perhaps a Thursday prior to main meeting?

There's a broad range of accommodation available in Darwin, everything you could think of, including 'long grassing'.

We have 19 people on the list so far for this meeting.

Latest info as at 29 April 2008


Details for this meeting have been moved to the travelogue below

ALSO PLEASE NOTE - Positions for this trip have now closed. Final bookings and payments are in progress.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Different in so many ways
  • Cons:Distance is a mixed blessing
  • In a nutshell:You'll never ever know if you never ever go!
  • Intro Updated Nov 2, 2008
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Reviews (58)

Comments (39)

  • wise23girl's Profile Photo
    Sep 7, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Good stuff Zig

  • kiwi's Profile Photo
    Jul 31, 2012 at 10:51 PM

    I can't believe it's 4 years since our amazing trip !!

  • wise23girl's Profile Photo
    Jan 20, 2012 at 2:52 PM

    Looking at your page with a friend...What type of snake was it Zig?

  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
    Jun 27, 2011 at 1:30 AM

    Hi Zig A lovely reminder of why I used to love going to Darwin on business! Hopefully I'll get to put your 'off the beaten track' tips to good use one day! Regards Cathy

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Oct 2, 2009 at 10:20 AM

    G'day, mate! Zig, thanx for your story! I especially liked Vic Hotel! Greetings! ~ Vic

  • pattypoo's Profile Photo
    Jun 3, 2009 at 3:56 AM

    I'm missing Australia Zig so came back to be reminded of it by your pages, Thanks Zig for all you knowledge of the Northern Territory. Wish you well xx

  • zanzooni's Profile Photo
    May 30, 2009 at 6:47 PM

    My granddaughter and I really enjoyed looking at your pages on Darwin together. She really wants to come and visit Auz. ~

  • janetanne's Profile Photo
    May 25, 2008 at 2:40 AM

    I take it that snake was of the nonpoisonous variety! Well, whatever, you can keep those snakes down under! I don't like creepy crawly things...except maybe a octopus or two:):) Nice photos.

  • nezz's Profile Photo
    May 2, 2008 at 3:50 PM

    Hi Zig, this may be the last chance I get to wish you all well & happy camping for your VT survivor trip. I'll be with you guys virtually I hope!!! Sandra.

  • Marianne2's Profile Photo
    Apr 9, 2008 at 7:19 PM

    Super expedition! I have done some of it, although not by camping. I will e-mail you about something else.... Cheers!


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