Darwin: Your Gateway to Australia

Darwin: Your Gateway to Australia

It may not have a uniquely shaped opera house, or a bridge that you can climb, but the city of Darwin should not be overlooked as your next long-haul holiday destination, as it is uniquely positioned to be your perfect gateway to Australia.

A former frontier outpost, located on the northernmost tip of Australia, the city of Darwin is now the capital of the Northern Territory, home to around 150,000 people, and a gateway to the unique natural landscapes of Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park, and Nitmiluk National Park.

Darwin, Northern Territory
Darwin; Your gateway to Australia

It’s Always Summer in Darwin

If you like a tropical climate with warm temperatures then Darwin is the destination for you. It is summer in Darwin all year round, so pack a T-shirt and shorts and get travelling. Daytime temperatures rarely drop below 30 degrees centigrade and there’s around 12 hours of daylight all year long. There are really just two different seasons in Darwin:

  • Dry Summer: Between the months of April and October. there is generally not much rainfall and a dry heat. The weather is perfect for outdoor activities such as camping and sailing.
  • Tropical Summer: From November to March, as well as warm temperatures, the air is more humid. This can trigger the odd thunderstorm. However, this is good for nature and wildlife viewing in the National Parks and creates spectacular waterfalls in the gorges
Always summer in Darwin
It is always summer in Darwin

There are tourists visiting Darwin all year round, but generally there are fewer in the Tropical Summer, so if you want to avoid the crowds then choose to travel during this time.

Darwin is a compact city

Unlike the sprawling metropolis of Sydney or Melbourne suburbs, Darwin is a small city, that makes getting around as a tourist very easy. Much of the city is accessible on foot, and if you are not walking then a bicycle will get you everywhere you need to go.

  • Darwin Airport This is usually your arrival point, and it is the quickest route into Australia. With only one international flight arriving at a time, you don’t have to worry about queues at immigration or baggage collection. Then it is just a fifteen-minute transfer to the centre of Darwin. And don’t think Darwin is isolated either, there are good connections from Darwin’s airport to all of Australia’s other cities and to much of Asia too.
  • The Darwin Waterfront Precinct is only a short stroll from the city centre and provides the perfect meeting point for locals and tourists. Whether you want to enjoy the man-made beach and wave pool, or just want to enjoy lunch or dinner al fresco by the sea, this is the place to come. There are shops, cafés, restaurants and museums to enjoy, as well as fishing trips or sight-seeing cruises from the historic Stokes Hill Wharf.
  • Did you know that Darwin Harbour is seven times larger than Sydney Harbour? This means that there is a lot to explore, and you can do this on one of the many tour boats and cruises that depart daily from Stokes Hill Wharf. Whether you want to go fishing for Barramundi, go scuba diving on WWII shipwrecks, or just want to view the city skyline, there are boats waiting for you. Perhaps most popular are the spectacular sunset cruises providing cocktails on deck as the sun goes down behind the horizon.
Cullen bay, Darwin
Cullen Bay Marina
  • Cullen Bay is the other side of the peninsula, just two kilometres form the city centre. It is a much sought-after residential area with high value homes, but it is also home to the marina and a collection of shoreside cafés and restaurants. This is also the location for the ferry across to the Tiwi Islands. Most of the residents of the Tiwi Islands are of Aboriginal descent and are famous for their traditional lifestyle, stunning artworks, vibrant fabrics and textiles. There are two beautiful islands to explore, and you can learn everything about the wildlife, environment, arts and culture of the indigenous aborigine tribes from a local guide.
  • The Nightcliff Foreshore is a popular recreation area that stretches to Rapid Creek. There are beautiful parklands that are perfect for a picnic or barbecue, whilst there is a pool for safe swimming if you want to cool off. Fishing is possible from the jetty, whilst this is also another popular viewing point for the amazing Darwin sunset.

Darwin’s Famous Markets

Markets are an intrinsic part of Darwin’s culture. They are a place where locals and tourists naturally mingle and sample food and crafts that reflect everything from Darwin’s modern Asian influences to its more European history. They are melting pot of smells, tastes and colours that are uniquely Darwin.

  • Mindil Beach Sunset Market, occurs every Thursday and Sunday evening and attract thousands of guests each market day. The beach is the perfect place to watch the Darwin sunset, so time your visit to give you plenty of time to browse the stalls that include food outlets as varied as Mediterranean salads, Asian fusion and freshly caught fish. Collect your chosen meal and then take a seat on the sand to watch the orange and pink colours of the famous Darwin sunset.
Mindil Beach Sunset Market
Mindil Beach Sunset Market
  • On a Saturday morning wander down to the Parap Markets, a popular destination for locals. As well as fresh fruit and vegetables, this is where you can enjoy a relaxed brunch or browse the local craft stalls. The food offerings are always varied including Indonesian, Thai and Cambodian influences as well as Lebanese and locally caught seafood.
  • The Nightcliff Market on a Sunday morning follows a very relaxed vibe, with a focus on live music and events, massages, and lifestyle stalls. Food is always readily available with a focus on organic and ethically sourced produce.
Rapid Creek Market
Rapid Creek Weekend Market
  • Rapid Creek Weekend Market is Darwin’s oldest market, and this is reflected in authentic products such as tropical fruits grown just outside Darwin. Although located in an urban setting, this market is the best for locally produced vegetables and fruit, as well fresh fish from Darwin Harbour. This is a must attend market for foodies, as the smoothies are second to none and the banana fritters are to die for.

Holidays that Visit Darwin

You can book these itineraries as they are or alter them to suit your plans.

Uluru Tours

Singapore, Sydney & The Outback

Holiday Idea 16 days from £2875
Apollo 4WD Motorhome

Northern Territory’s National Parks

Self Drive Holiday 15 days from £2285
Mount Chambers, Flinders Ranges National Park

Outback Adventure

Escorted Tour 15 days from £4696

Darwin is your gateway to Australia

There is a lot to see and explore just beyond the city of Darwin and whilst Australia is a huge country, Darwin and the Northern Territory are centrally located providing the perfect gateway to explore the rest of the country.

Driving from Darwin

Some of Australia’s most beautiful nature areas are easily reached by vehicle from Darwin. Three of Australia’s exceptional National Parks are in Australia’s “Top End”.

  • Kakadu National Park is one of the largest in Australia, covering 20,000 square kilometres and is home to a third of Australia bird species. It is also a UNESCO world heritage site that features ancient rock art created by indigenous aboriginal tribes hundreds of years ago. The entrance to Kakadu National Park is a relatively short 90 minutes’ drive from Darwin on tarmac roads, but to reach the centre of the park will take the same length of time again, and for some of the features such as waterfalls and gorges a 4×4 vehicle is required.
Kakadu National Park
Kakadu National Park
  • Litchfield National Park is less than two hours drive south of Darwin and is a favourite place for locals to escape the heat. There are several freshwater waterholes within Litchfield National Park that are perfect for swimming and cooling off after a hike through the Australian bush. For those with 4×4 vehicles there are designated trails that take you further in to the park away from the more crowded tourist spots close to the tarmac roads.
  • Around a three-hour drive south of Darwin, just outside the town of Katherine lies Nitmiluk National Park. Formerly known as Katherine Gorge National Park, it is home to the Katherine River as it makes it way through a sequence of 13 beautiful gorges. For a leisurely visit it is possible to embark on a cruise along the river, or for the more active you could hike the Jatbula Trail that follows the western edge of the Arnhem Land escarpment over sandstone plateau and through woodlands, and monsoon forests to Edith falls some 62 kilometres away!

Flying from Darwin

Darwin is blessed with exceptional connections to the rest of Australia, that enables combining a visit to Darwin with a huge number of other destinations all with a flight time of around four hours.

  • Darwin to Alice Springs; Although still in the Northern Territory Uluru (Ayers Rock) is still around 2000 kilometres away. However, with regular flights from Darwin to Alice Springs it is possible to be in the Red Centre within four hours. Alternatively, you may want to let the train take the strain and board the famous Ghan train from Darwin.
  • Darwin to Sydney; Most itineraries will include a visit to Australia’s iconic city. Whether you want to visit the Sydney’s Opera House, Harbour Bridge or Bondi Beach, Darwin’s daily flight connections to Sydney mean you can get there in just over four hours.
Australian Flight Departures
Darwin is well connected
  • Darwin to Perth; In less than four hours you can be in the capital of Western Australia, with an average of two flights a day direct from Darwin to Perth. A visit to Rottnest Island to see the friendly Quokka is closer than you think.
  • Darwin to Melbourne; There are daily flights between Darwin and Melbourne that enable you to be in driving in Kakadu one day and then following the Great Ocean Road the next. A connection time of 4 hours and 5 minutes makes this combination extremely easy.

Freedom Destinations’ Expert View

“When visiting Australia, it is almost too easy to stay in the big cities and tick-off the sights” says Mags from Freedom Destinations Australia team. “All too often that leads to people missing out the Northern Territory on their holiday itinerary.”

Mindil Beach Sunset
Watching the sunset at Mindil Beach

“However, the opposite should really be the case. Not only does Darwin give you a great base to explore some of Australia’s most beautiful National Parks, but it also provides a great opportunity to visit the rest of Australia too.” Proving that Darwin can be your gateway to Australia.

To begin planning your next holiday to Darwin and the Northern Territory, contact the Freedom Destinations Australia Team today.