Darwin is a small city with a huge history. Its glistening harbours were strong holds for allied troops during World War Two. Gold was found at nearby Pine Creek in the late 19th century. Paul Hogan shone a global spotlight Down Under when he traversed its surrounding regions for crocodiles. While Cyclone Tracy also made worldwide headlines, devastating lives and homes in the mid 1970s.
As Australia’s gateway to Asia and the Outback, Darwin is melting pot of people and traditions. Indigenous culture, natural treasures, tropical weather and a laid-back lifestyle attract thousands of visitors every year, looking to explore Australia’s vast and majestic Top End.
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Perched on the peninsula, with a year-round average temperature of 30°C, Darwin is a tourist hotspot with a premier dining scene.
Surrounded by ports, marinas and bays, Darwin’s dining experience is mainly concentrated on the waterfront – celebrating seasonal ingredients with spectacular vistas of the harbour and horizon. Cullen Bay has a reputation for being the Top End’s premier dining precinct, with a marina that hosts several acclaimed eateries.
Relaxed dining centred on modern Australian cuisine is a way of life in Darwin – as locals meet up at pubs to unwind after a long day. Swing by Mitchell Street, to sip on an ice-cold beer and watch the world walk by in the middle of Darwin's tourism precinct.
Located closer to South East Asia than the rest of Australia, Darwin is a great place to indulge in a food from a variety of Asian countries. Weekend markets – such as the ones at Parap, Nightcliff, Rapid Creek – are the best way to tap into Darwin's vibrant multiculturalism, with rows upon rows of food stalls serving delicious (and cheap) Asian eats, such as laksas, pho, Javanese satays and fresh Thai salads.
Darwin and the Top End offer unique shopping opportunities. Original Aboriginal art, hand-crafted jewellery, kitsch souvenirs and quality goods… the region has it all.
Smith Street Mall in the heart of the CBD is Darwin’s major shopping precinct. Take a stroll through the precinct’s five arcades, or drop into the Galleria. Populated by over 200 stores, the mall stocks everything from indigenous artefacts to locally cultivated pearls, and sportswear to music equipment.
Shopping facilities can also be found away from the city centre in the suburbs. Karama Shopping Plaza has all the mod-cons of a regional retail centre. Palmerston features two major shopping centres: the aptly named Palmerston Shopping Centre and Palm City Oasis. While Casuarina, is a favourite amongst serious shoppers, with two shopping hotspots: Casuarina Shopping Square – the Northern Territory’s largest shopping centre, boasting over 180 retailer and two major department stores; and Casuarina Shopping Village – a smaller hub catering for practical retailers with an array of electronic and hardware stores.
Make the most of Darwin’s balmy climate, shop at one of several of the region’s outdoors markets. Open every Thursday and Sunday night, from April through to October, Mindil Beach Sunset Markets feature more than 200 art and craft stalls. A Saturday morning favourite, the Parap Village Market sells local produce, local arts and crafts, entertainment and cuisine from around the world. Darwin's oldest market, The Rapid Creek Markets, offers a range of stalls that brim with fresh organic produce, flowers, seafood and local handmade crafts. Nightcliff Markets, held every Sunday morning, are a thrift-lover’s paradise, with stalls specialising in recycled goods and collectables.