As the capital of the Northern Territory, Darwin is a relatively small city. In fact, my town back in England is probably bigger, no definitely in fact. Coming up here was a spare of the moment thing for me. I had just finished my East Coast trip, and was on the verge of starting the “working” section of my journey. Before I bedded in for my three months of regional work, I felt I had an excuse to see more of the “real Australia” after doing the standardised tourist route in the east. The Northern Territory and its inhabitants, the “Territorians” are certainly more remote and liberal in both geography and attitude.
The Northern Territory is a technically a Territory, not a State. The speed limit is the highest in Australia at 130Km, and at one time the previous government legalised cannabis and euthanasia (now revoked). This city was Australia main defence station during World War 2, the surrounding roads utilised as take-off/landing strips for fighter pilots deflecting Japanese bombers.
The CBD is made up of four main streets with access to the ocean at one end accommodating a group of bars/restaurants, a swimming complex with artificial wave machine and picnic area. They are some very scenic views looking over the pleasure boat harbour and an outer mooring point for the larger ships. Within the central CBD area, Mitchell Street is the main hub of activity with several bars and clubs including Monsoon and Shenanigans. Spitting distance away from these amenities finds accommodation options, Dingo Moon, Chillis, and Youth Shack backpackers. The latter two share use of a bar area above youth shack and have various drink/meal deals at certain times of the days or week.
Mitchell Street also plays host to Crocosaurus Cove, an indoor crocodile zoo housing many large saltwater specimens. The star attraction (at an extra cost), visitors are lowered into one of the enclosures encased in a giant Perspex box and partially submerged in the beast’s pool for a close-up underwater experience! Darwin is a good place to relax for a few days, however at the time I visited (in November) it was an absolute scorcher with temperatures reaching well up in the mid-thirties. Even in the evenings, as soon as you leave the air-conditioned room, it’s like being hit with a wall of hot air, sometimes feeling like being blown around in a giant tumble-dryer. You do get used to it though, sort of, after a few days.
During my short stay in Darwin, I found this place to have most amenities you could need. To be fair though, there isn’t a great deal to do unless you either hire your own car, or have an itinerary of trips/activities to book. Almost all of these things require travelling some distance from the city itself. Whilst I was there, I chose to visit Litchfield National Park, although theres a choice seeing Kakadu National Park, going on fishing charter trips, or various Aboriginal cultural tours.
This was my first introduction to the Northern Territory, and probably the closest stereotype to what people back in the UK pictured Australia as with rust-coloured earth, high temperatures, and utter remoteness. I hope to return sometime soon and maybe do more.