Here’s our guide to Darwin – and what to expect on your first visit to this fast-growing, youthful, multicultural city.
Southeast Asian communities have a particularly strong presence, which is most notable in the city’s cuisine. In fact, laksa – a spicy, creamy noodle soup found across Southeast Asia – has arguably become Darwin’s favourite dish.
The best places to sample city’s culinary diversity are the Parap Village and Mindil Beach Sunset markets, where you can find everything from authentic Vietnamese pho to crocodile tail sushi.
The Tiwi people had only limited contact with mainland aboriginal societies until the nineteenth century, so they developed their own distinct language and culture.
You can visit the Tiwi Islands on a day trip from Darwin, but if you have more time available, travel 150km east of the city to Kakadu National Park. As well as a profusion of wildlife, the reserve has some eye-catching examples of ancient aboriginal rock art, some of it over 20,000 years old.
Stokes Hill Wharf, which has undergone a major revamp, is another popular drinking spot, with an array of restaurants and bars overlooking a croc- and jellyfish-free lagoon and beach. And at sunset, the beachside Darwin Ski Club, north of the city centre, is hard to beat.
Litchfield is also rich in birdlife: keep an eye out for spangled drongos, rainbow bee-eaters, and yellow orioles.
But some historic gems have survived in the city centre, if you know where to look. The highlight is Government House, a huge gothic pile surrounded by manicured gardens.
Also keep an eye out for the ruined Palmerston Town Hall, which is now used for open-air theatre performances, and Lyons Cottage, which was the first stone house in the city when it was built in 1925.
Based in a former wartime command post, the Darwin Military Museum brings this period to life through its immersive, multimedia Defence of Darwin exhibition.
If you prefer to see them in the wild, however, visit the nearby Adelaide River, where several agencies offer “jumping croc” cruises during which the “salties” leap out of the water to snap at morsels dangled from gingerly-held fishing rods.