A Tropical City

Mindil Beach Markets in Darwin
Mindil Beach Markets, Darwin
An open-air food and craft market is held at Darwin's Mindil Beach every Thursday night in the dry season. Photo by G Crane.

Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory in Australia.

Darwin today is the administrative centre of the Northern Territory and the trading link to nearby Asian ports. Darwin is an important base for the Australian Defence Force.

Darwin and nearby Palmerston have a combined population of 123 000 people from many different backgrounds and cultures. Successive waves of migrant workers from China, Indonesia, Malaya, the Philippines, Greece and Vietnam arrived over the course of a century to build a unique community.

Darwin has a rich and somewhat tragic history. Port Darwin was named in 1839 when HMS Beagle visited there. Darwin was named by the ship's Captain for his former shipmate, Sir Charles Darwin. Present day Darwin was founded in 1869 as an Overland Telegraph station and it grew when gold was discovered 225 km (140 mi) away at Pine Creek in 1871.

Darwin is well known for being bombed in more than 60 Japanese raids in World War II and for almost being destroyed by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Eve 1974. Darwin was also devastated by another cyclone back in 1897.

Today Darwin is a modern city, almost entirely rebuilt after Cyclone Tracy. For visitors there are hotels, markets, parks, historical sites, a casino and nearby natural attractions. Access to Darwin for most visitors is by air, with direct links to Australia's other capital cities. Distances to the other Australian State capital cities from Darwin are huge:

Road Distances to Darwin
Capital City Distance (km) Distance (mi)
Adelaide 3000 1860
Brisbane 3400 2110
Melbourne 3700 2300
Perth 4000 2480
Sydney 4000 2480

These are long road journeys of at least three or four days, even with the Territory's open-ended speed limit!