On September 9, 1839, the HMS Beagle sailed into this harbour while surveying the area. John Clements Wickham named the region "Port Darwin" in honour of former shipmate Charles Darwin. The settlement was known as Palmerston after 1869, but renamed Darwin in 1911.
The capital city of the Nothern Territory, has grown from a pioneer outpost and small port into one of Australia's most modern, multicultural and liveable cities. Damaged by Japanese air raids during World War II, and again by Cyclone Tracy in 1974, the city has been almost entirely rebuilt twice. Proximity to Indonesia makes it Australia's Asian gateway, and the tropical climate results in Wet Season heavy rainfall, spectacular lightning displays and greening of the landscape.
Tourism has grown to be one of the city's largest industries with tours to Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park and Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park high on visitor's list of destinations. Most tourists arrive during the cooler dry season from April to September.
The Darwin Symphony Orchestra is among the city's cultural centerpieces, and the Darwin Entertainment Centre is the city's main concert venue with theatre and orchestral performances. The Darwin Convention Centre, opened in July 2008, is part of a $1.1 billion Darwin Waterfront project. Skycity Darwin is the city's one gaming casino.
The Indo-Pacific Marine & Australian Pearling Exhibition houses an aquarium with living coral and complementary sea life. The Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery present the history of the area, including Cyclone Tracy exhibits and boats of the Pacific Islands. The East Point Military museum tells the story of the Japanese air raids on Darwin during WWII. Scenes in the movie Australia depict the attack. The Darwin Festival and the Darwin Fringe festival are annual events. A range of art galleries include local Aboriginal artworks.
Local and visiting musical bands can be heard at venues including the Darwin Entertainment Centre, The Vic Hotel, Happy Yess, and Brown's Mart Theatre. An yearly May music festival, Bass in the Grass, is very popular with youth from the surrounding area. Artists such as Jessica Mauboy and The Groovesmiths call Darwin home.
Mitchell Street in the central business district is lined with nightclubs, takeaways, and restaurants. This is the city's entertainment hub. There are several small theatres, three cinema complexes (CBD, Casuarina, and Palmerston), and the Deckchair Cinema, an open-air cinema which operates through the dry season, from April to October, screening independent and arthouse films.
Getting here, getting around
Darwin International Airport, in Marrara, is Darwin's airport, which sharing its runways with the Royal Australian Air Force's RAAF Base Darwin.
Darwin can be reached via the Stuart Highway which runs the length of the Northern Territory from Darwin through Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and on to Adelaide. The greater Darwin area is served by Darwinbus and various contracted bus operators,
Ferries leave from Port Darwin to island locations, mainly for tourists. The SeaLink Northern Territory ferry has service to Mandorah and the Tiwi Islands from Cullen Bay.
Darwin has no commuter rail system, but The Ghan passenger rail service links Darwin to Adelaide by way of Alice Springs two to three times per week depending on the season.
Throb Nightclub and the gay-friendly venues are located in the area on and around Mitchell, Smith and Knucky Streets in downtown Darwin City, the city's busiest commercial strip.
Currency and Money
The local currency is the Australian dollar. You shouldn’t have trouble finding ATMs in most urban areas.
Media & Resources
DNA is the national glossy magazine with some very impressive photography.
Tourism Top End has a Darwin Visitor Centre at the corner of Smith and Bennett Streets, Darwin City, and a helpful website about the city and surrounding areas.
For some downtown hotel and guesthouse suggestions, see our map and listings pages.
Bogart's Bar & Grill (52 Gregory St, Parap), local institution, comfy cocktail lounge and restaurant, live music.
The Cavenagh -aka "The Cav" (12 Cavenagh St), gay-popular restaurant, cafe, bar and bottleshop; breakfast, lunch and dinner, snacks, wines. Gay men's Pride Thursday Drinks, 5pm. Also with full ensuite motel rooms and pool.
Deck Bar (22 Mitchell St), restaurant and bar, cocktails, 80+ beers, brunch, large outdoor patio space/ beer garden, Asian-style tapas, lunch/dinner; mixed gay-friendly crowd, open day and night every day.
Throb (64 Smith St, level 1), the only GLBT nightclub in the Territory, open 11pm-4:30am Friday and Saturday nights only, elaborate late night drag shows.
Viva La Vida (48-50 Smith St), gay-friendly wine and tapas bar, breakfast to dinner all day menu; gay pride special events.