Darwin historically has a reputation for being in the back of beyond as far as Australian cities are concerned. But with a mineral boom, the thriving tourist industry, exceptional dining opportunities, aboriginal art on show and natural splendour – combined with cheap flights, Darwin has become a tourist and business Mecca. However – there is much more to the city and its surrounds than might be obvious at first glance. Let’s take a closer look.
The proximity of Darwin to the ever-growing Southeast Asian markets means that the city is perfectly poised for growth – it is in fact closer to the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta than it is to the major Australian city of Canberra. It takes about the same time to fly from Darwin to Singapore and Manilla as it does to Sydney.
Given the natural beauty and aboriginal importance of the area surrounding the city, it should come as no surprise that tourism is the main driver of the Darwin economy (the Kakadu National Park is especially popular with visitors). Tourism and its related industries employ around 12% of the working force in the Northern Territory – and Darwin is the hub for those activities. Whether it is exploring the stark, yet beautiful surroundings of Darwin or going on a crocodile adventure the unspoiled surroundings of Darwin offer immense tourism potential.
The services sector in Darwin is vibrant and filled with opportunities for those who wish to explore a lifestyle that is far from the harried normal of major urban centres. The city plays host to a number of organizations that service the mining sector, offshore oil and gas industries (training and research) and horticulture. The port at Darwin also serves to service the needs of companies that are exporting live cattle to the countries of Southeast Asia.
The area surrounding Darwin is home to some of the globe’s richest mineral deposits. Exploration and mining of Uranium, zinc-lead, gold, bauxite, manganese and phosphate deposits all contribute to the economy of the Northern Territory. However – these established industries are not all that mining offers. deposits of copper, iron ore, tungsten, mineral sands and potash are all only now beginning to be exploited. the discovery of significant deposits of Rare Earth’s also has long term implications for the competitiveness of the Territory when it comes to supplying the global telecoms markets.
The vast expanses of Outback surrounding Darwin have also provided ample opportunity for companies involved in remote area medicine – and tropical medicine to engage in both the supply of services and intensive research. The long hours of sunlight have also made Darwin the center for research into cutting edge solar technology.
It should be mentioned that Darwin is the only city in Australia where the population is slowly declining. However – the decline is extremely limited – at just 0.2%. There are ongoing efforts to attract professionals to the city of 132,000. Including the sign off of the $200 million ‘Darwin City Deal’ aimed at revitalising the city.
The climate of Darwin can be split into two distinct seasons – the Wet and the Dry. January and February are at the heart of the wet season. This is when Monsoon conditions make late afternoon and evening rains almost certain. By Late March and April those rainy conditions begin to subside. During the wet season, the temperatures range from between 24.6 degrees Celsius (around 75 degrees Fahrenheit) at the low end to 31.9 degrees Celsius (around 85 degrees Fahrenheit) at the top of the scale. From May to September the tourist season starts to get into full swing. Cool nights and low humidity attract thousands to the natural beauty of the area. By October each year the Monsoon season is starting up in its annual cycle and humidity begins to climb. If one were to take an average then November is the most uncomfortable with high temperatures, however – for those who do not enjoy the rain January is not the ideal time to be visiting Darwin.
4. Getting around Darwin (and its surrounds)
There are plenty of options for those who want to explore Darwin and its surroundings. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are numerous biking, hiking and walking trails. Getting around the CBD is simplicity itself – there are numerous taxi ranks that make hailing a cab a pleasure. The bus system is highly efficient. It is run by the Northern Territory Government and all buses are comfortable and maintained to the highest international standards. The addition of air conditioning to the coaches is welcome during the hotter months of the year. The city is serviced by Darwin International Airport which is located 13 kilometres from the CBD. The shuttle bus service operates 24 hours a day and will deliver passengers to the CBD. The hotels in the area also operate regular shuttle services. There are also numerous shuttle coaches that can be booked on a party by party basis.
5. Heritage and History
The port in the city has always been known as Port Darwin – however, when it was established in 1869 the city was known as Palmerston. Its development was given a shot in the arm when gold was discovered at Pine Creek in 1871. By 1911 it was renamed Darwin. By 1959 it had achieved the status of a full-fledged city due to an increased population and solid economic growth. On Christmas Day 1974 Cyclone Tracy made landfall and devastated Darwin. However, the city has gone from strength to strength since that time. Today it is among the most cosmopolitan of Australian cities. It has a thriving Greek population and a large Asian community. The number of exceptional dining venues in the city is a testament to just how popular it is with these vibrant communities. Today Darwin is a city that is again reaching deep into the earth and looking to the future. The areas surrounding it – and its offshore natural resources make it attractive to anyone wishing to make their lives in this fascinating part of Australia.