Australia’s smallest capital
Darwin is a place of many juxtapositions, the capital of a state bridled with mixtures of the old world versus the new, of harsh red dirt mixing with tropical greens.
It is Darwin, Australia’s smallest capital that encapsulates much of what makes the Northern Territory so great.
Darwin holds over half of the state’s population but is still the smallest capital in the country which only boggles the mind further when thinking about the expanse of land out there in the outback.
But the expanse of land slowly moulds itself into city life, one that is as remote to the eastern capitals as the landscape just out of town.
Darwin has become a vibrant city with the help of multiculturalism and incredible tropical weather.
With the mining boom around the state, Darwin is advancing slowly towards increased urbanism, but it is hard to imagine with all that is on its doorstep that it will ever lose what makes it such a fantastic city.
The youthfulness that comes from this growing city shows in many ways.
Firstly through its architecture, of its bold colours and metal shapes all wrung in odd angles only furthers the unique personality that Darwin has.
Secondly, in fitting with the incredible environment that is just out of town, Darwin is a very green city, full with expanses of parks and a beautiful botanic garden.
Set up a picnic and catch the sunset at Bicentennial Park or go for a stroll at East Point Reserve. The parks open up the city creating a more natural setting.
Thirdly and most importantly Darwin is a great place to find work for the cash-strapped backpacker, and as a result, the city stays youthful with the labour of the young and hence the nightlife is excellent, but more of that later.
When wandering around the captivated by the relaxing atmosphere, you will notice café tables branching out on to the streets, and soon you will stumble into yet another vibrant market that only further proves the point that Darwin is closer to South East Asia geographically and in spirit.
Some of the city’s best markets include the Mindil Sunset Market, Nightcliff, Palmerston and Rapid Creek Markets.
All are testimonies to Darwin’s fantastic mix of culture and heritage, exchange greetings in Indonesian before buying Greek moussaka and then stocking up on African chilly.
If you need to stock that hostel fridge, keen for a feed or want to get swept up in the multicultural atmosphere, then the markets of Darwin will deliver, then some.
After many hours of walking past stalls and learning hello and goodbye in 28 different languages, it is time for a cooling off. While there are many great natural water holes like Berry Springs, we will focus on strictly Darwin here.
Let’s talk about Mindil Beach and the waterfront.
Darwin is still tingling with wildlife not so prevalent in other beaches around Australia which leaves many to seek out the city’s wave and recreation lagoon. There are also some beautiful swim spots at Lee Point and Casuarina Beach.
Either way, come back to Mindil Beach for a beautiful sunset. Australia is a relatively new country and does not hold much history, but a lot of what it has is in Darwin.
The Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory holds a brilliant display of the 1974 Cyclone Tracy with left much of the city in ruins.
Together with many artefacts of WWII in which Darwin bore the brunt of most of the attacks on Australia. The incredible Aboriginal artwork that features all over the state plays a significant part in this museum.
As with most small cities, everything is on your doorstep that is the case with the nightlife in Darwin.
Drinking is as much a part of Darwin as its mixing cultures, whether that is good or not is up to you to decide.
But as a result, there are many great bars and clubs to check out most of which reside on Mitchell St.
Have a beer or six at the Victoria Hotel, listen to live blues at Nirvana or get down and dirty on the dance floor at Discovery.
With options aplenty is anyone brave enough to sample them all?
Awake and find yourself quite hungover, or that standard morning feeling for backpackers sneak out to one of the many morning markets and cure yourself.
Darwin is a big town or a small city but provides a wide variety of culture, weather and personalities, all of which combine to make the most underrated city in Australia.
Come here, expecting to use it as a base to explore Kakadu, and you will end up falling for Darwin as its place to be.