Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory, Australia. Situated on the Timor Sea, Darwin has a population of 120,900, making it by far the largest and most populated city in the sparsely peopled Northern Territory, but the least populous of all Australia's capital cities. It is the smallest and most northerly of the Australian capital cities, and acts as the Top End's regional centre.
Over time Darwin has grown from a pioneer outpost and small port into one of Australia's most modern and multicultural cities. Its proximity to Asia makes it an important Australian gateway to countries such as Indonesia and East Timor. The Stuart Highway begins in Darwin, ending at Port Augusta in South Australia.
The city itself is built on a low bluff overlooking the harbour. Its suburbs spread out over some area, beginning at Lee Point in the north and stretching to Berrimah in the east – past Berrimah, the Stuart Highway goes on to Darwin's satellite city, Palmerston, and its suburbs.
The original inhabitants of the greater Darwin area are the Larrakia people. On 9 September 1839, the HMS Beagle sailed into Darwin harbour during its surveying of the area. John Clements Wickham named the region "Port Darwin" in honour of a former shipmate, famed scientist Charles Darwin.
Having been almost entirely rebuilt twice, once due to Japanese air raids during World War II and again after being devastated by Cyclone Tracy in 1974, the city is one of Australia's most modern capitals.
The first British person to see Darwin harbour appears to have been Lieutenant John Lort Stokes of HMS Beagle on 9 September 1839. The ship's captain, Commander John Clements Wickham, named the port after Charles Darwin, the British naturalist who had sailed with them both on the earlier second expedition of the Beagle.
In early 1875, Darwin's European population had grown to approximately 300 because of the gold rush. On 17 February 1875, the SS Gothenburg left Darwin en route for Adelaide. Amongst the approximately 88 passengers and 34 crew (surviving records vary) were government officials, circuit court judges, Darwin residents taking their first furlough and miners. While travelling south along the north Queensland coast, the Gothenburg encountered a cyclone-strength storm and was wrecked on a section of the Great Barrier Reef. Only 22 men survived, while between 98 and 112 people perished. Many passengers who perished were Darwin residents and news of the tragedy severely affected the small community, reportedly taking several years to recover.
The period between 1911 and 1919 was filled with political turmoil, particularly with trade union unrest, which culminated on 17 December 1918. Led by Harold Nelson, some 1000 demonstrators marched to Government House at Liberty Square in Darwin where they burnt an effigy of the Administrator of the Northern Territory John Gilruth and demanded his resignation. The incident became known as the 'Darwin Rebellion'. Their grievances were against the two main Northern Territory employers; Vestey’s Meatworks and the Commonwealth of Australia. Both Gilruth and the Vestey company left Darwin soon afterwards.
Around 10,000 Allied troops arrived in Darwin in the early 1940s at the outset of World War II, in order to defend Australia's northern coastline. On 19 February 1942 at 0957, 188 Japanese warplanes attacked Darwin in two waves. It was the same fleet that had bombed Pearl Harbor, though a considerably larger number of bombs were dropped on Darwin, than on Pearl Harbor. The attack killed at least 243 people and caused immense damage to the town. These were by far the most serious attacks on Australia in time of war, in terms of fatalities and damage. They were the first of many raids on Darwin.
Despite this major attack, Darwin's development was furthered considerably during the war, with sealed roads constructed connecting the region to Alice Springs in the south and Mount Isa in the south-east, and Manton Dam built in the south to provide the city with water. On Australia Day (26 January) 1959, Darwin was granted city status.
On 25 December 1974, Darwin was struck by Cyclone Tracy, which killed 71 people and destroyed over 70% of the town's buildings, including many old stone buildings such as the Palmerston Town Hall, which could not withstand the lateral forces generated by the strong winds. After the disaster, an airlift evacuated 30,000 people, over half the city's population at the time. The town was subsequently rebuilt with newer materials and techniques during the late 1970s by the Darwin Reconstruction Commission, led by former Brisbane Lord Mayor Clem Jones. A satellite city of Palmerston was built 20 km south of Darwin in the early 1980s.
On 17 September 2003, the Adelaide-Darwin railway was completed.
Darwin is situated in the Northern Territory, on the Timor Sea. The town proper is built on a low bluff overlooking Darwin harbour, flanked by Frances Bay to the east and Cullen Bay to the west. The remainder of the city is flat and low-lying, and coastal areas are home to recreational reserves, extensive beaches, and excellent fishing.
Darwin is closer to the capitals of five other countries than to the capital of Australia: Darwin is away from Canberra. Dili (East Timor) is from Darwin, Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) is , Jakarta (Indonesia) is from Darwin, Bandar Seri Begawan (Brunei) is from Darwin, and Melekeok (Palau) is from Darwin. Even Singapore is only slightly farther away at , as is Manila (Philippines) at , and Honiara (Solomon Islands) at . Ambon, Indonesia is only away from Darwin.
Along with its importance as a gateway to Asia, Darwin also acts as an access point for the Kakadu National Park, Arnhem Land, and northerly islands such as Groote Eylandt and the Tiwi Islands. The city is the largest in the area, and provides services for these remote settlements.
Darwin and its suburbs spread in an approximately triangular shape, with the older southwestern suburbs - and the city itself - forming one corner, the newer northern suburbs in another, and the eastern suburbs, progressing towards Palmerston, forming the third.
The older part of Darwin is separated from the newer northern suburbs by Darwin International Airport and Royal Australian Air Force Base. Palmerston is a satellite city 20 kilometres south of Darwin that was established in the 1980s and is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Australia. The rural areas of Darwin including Howard Springs, Humpty Doo and Berry Springs are experiencing strong growth.
Darwin's central business district is bounded by Daly Street in the north-west, McMinn Street in the north-east, Mitchell Street on the south-west and Bennett Street on the south-east. The CBD has been the focus of a number of major projects, including the billion dollar redevelopment of the Stokes Hill wharf waterfront area including a convention centre with seating for 1500 people and approximately 4000m2 of exhibition space. The development will also include hotels, residential apartments and public space. The city's main industrial areas are along the Stuart Highway going towards Palmerston. The largest shopping precinct in the area is Casuarina Square. The most expensive residential areas are located along the coast in suburbs such as Larrakeyah and Brinkin, despite the slight risk these low-lying regions face during cyclones and higher tides. Inner, eastern suburbs such as Malak and Karama are home to lower-income households.
Darwin has a tropical savanna climate (Köppen Aw) with distinct wet and dry seasons and the average maximum temperature is similar all year round. The dry season runs from April/May to October (the southern hemisphere winter), during which nearly every day is warm and sunny, and afternoon humidity averages around 30%, but varies. There is very little rainfall between May and September. In the coolest months of June and July, the daily minimum temperature may dip as low as 14 °C (57 °F), but very rarely lower, and frost has never been recorded.
The wet season is associated with tropical cyclones and monsoon rains. The majority of rainfall occurs between December and March (the southern hemisphere summer), when thunderstorms are common and afternoon relative humidity averages over 70% during the wettest months. It does not rain every day during the wet season, but most days are warm to hot with plentiful cloud cover; January averages under 6 hours of bright sunshine daily. The hottest month is November, just before the onset of the main rainy season. Due to its long dry season, Darwin has the most daily average sunshine hours (8.4) of any Australian capital with the most sunshine from April to November. The sun passes directly overhead in mid October and mid February. Climatically Darwin has more in common with Singapore than Sydney as it sits well inside the tropical zone.
Darwin is located in one of the most lightning prone areas in the world. In 2002 a single thunderstorm produced 1,634 lightning strikes in Darwin in just a few hours, which is the same amount that Perth, Western Australia experiences in an entire year.
|Notes: Temperatures are in degrees Celsius. Precipitation is in millimetres. Darwin Airport Latitude: -12.42° S Longitude: 130.89° E Elevation: 30 m ASL|
|Major overseas born populations|
|Country of birth||Population (2006)|
|Papua New Guinea||488|
| Darwin |
Population by year
Darwin's population is notable for the highest proportional population of Aboriginals of any Australian capital city. in the 2006 census there were 10,259 (9.7 per cent) of Aboriginals living in Darwin.
Darwin's population changed after the Second World War, Darwin like many other Australian cities experienced influxes from Europe, with significant numbers of Italians and Greeks during the 1960s and 1970s, Darwin started to also experience an influx from other European countries, which included the Dutch, Germans, Serbs and many others. A significant percentage of Darwin's residents are recent immigrants from South East Asia (Asian Australians were 9.3% of the Darwin's population in 2001).
Darwin's population comprises people from many different ethnic backgrounds. The 2006 Census revealed the following most places of birth for overseas migrants: United Kingdom (3.4 per cent), New Zealand (2.1 per cent), Philippines (1.4 per cent) and East Timor (0.9 per cent). 18.3 percent of the city's population was born overseas which is less than the Australian average of 22%
Darwin has a youthful population with an average age of 32 years (compared to national average of around 35 years) assisted to a large extent by the military presence and the fact that many people opt to retire elsewhere.
The Darwin City Council (Incorporated under the Northern Territory Local Government Act 1993) governs the City of Darwin which takes in the CBD and the suburbs. The City of Darwin has governed the City of Darwin since 1957. The Darwin City Council consists of 13 elected members, the Lord Mayor and 12 aldermen. The City of Darwin electorate is organised into four electoral units or wards. The names of the wards are Chan, Lyons, Richardson, and Waters. The constituents of each ward are directly responsible for electing three aldermen. Constituents of all wards are directly responsible for electing the Lord Mayor of Darwin. The current mayor is Graeme Sawyer after council elections in March 2008 replacing Garry Lambert, who took over from previous mayor Peter Adamson.
The rest of the Darwin area is divided into 2 local government areas. One of these is designated as a City, and the second, which is on the city's outer fringe, has the title of Shire. These areas have elected councils which are responsible for functions delegated to them by the Northern Territory Government, such as planning and garbage collection.
The Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory convenes in Darwin in the Northern Territory Parliament House. Government House, the official residence of the Administrator of the Northern Territory, is located on The Esplanade.
The two largest economic sectors are mining and tourism. Mining and energy industry production exceeds $2.5 billion per annum. The most important mineral resources are gold, zinc and bauxite, along with manganese and many others. The energy production is mostly off shore with oil and natural gas from the Timor Sea, although there are significant uranium deposits near Darwin. Tourism employs 8% of Darwin residents, and is expected to grow as domestic and international tourists are now spending time in Darwin during the Wet and Dry seasons. Federal spending is a major contributor to the local economy as well.
The military presence that is maintained both within Darwin, and the wider Northern Territory, is a substantial source of employment. The continued involvement of the Australian Army in the stabilisation of East Timor has swelled the military population of Darwin to over 11,000 individuals as of 2001. There is also a substantial United Nations presence in Darwin, since Darwin serves as the staging center for U.N. workers and contractors en route to nearby East Timor.
Darwin's importance as a port is expected to grow, due to the increased exploitation of petroleum in the nearby Timor Sea, and to the completion of the railway link and continued expansion in trade with Asia.
During 2005, a number of major construction projects started in Darwin. One is the redevelopment of the Wharf Precinct, which includes a large convention and exhibition centre, apartment housing including Outrigger Pandanas and Evolution on Gardiner, retail and entertainment outlets including a large wave pool and safe swimming lagoon. The Chinatown project has also started with plans to construct multi-level carparks, Chinese-themed retail and dining outlets.
Education is overseen territory-wide by the Department of Education and Training (DET), whose role is to continually improve education outcomes for all students, with a focus on Indigenous students.
There were 9,764 students attending schools in the City of Darwin area. 6,045 students attended primary schools and 3,719 students attended secondary schools. There are over 7,161 students enrolled in government schools and 1,108 students enrolled in independent schools. There are over 35 primary and pre - schools, and 12 secondary schools including both government and non-government. Most schools in the city are secular, but there are a small number of Christian, Catholic and Lutheran institutions. Students intending to complete their secondary education work towards the Northern Territory Certificate of Education, which is recognised in all states and territories. Many of the schools are undergoing renovations and reconstruction. Schools have been restructured into Primary, Middle and High schools since the beginning of 2007.
The Darwin Festival held annually, includes comedy, dance, theatre, music, film and visual art and the NT Indigenous Music Awards. Other festivals include the Glenti, which showcases Darwin's large Greek community, and India@Mindil, a similar festival held by the smaller Indian community. The Chinese New Year is also celebrated with great festivity, highlighting the Asian influence in Darwin.
The Seabreeze festival, which first started in 2005, is held on the second week of May in the suburb of Nightcliff. It offers the opportunity for local talent to be showcased and a popular event is Saturday family festivities along the Nightcliff foreshore which is one of Darwin's most popular fitness tracks.
The Speargrass Festival is held annually the week prior to July's first full moon and celebrates the alternative Top End lifestyle. The festival activities include music, screening of locally produced films, screen printing, basket weaving, sweat lodge, water slides, human pyramid, hot tub, frisbee golf, spear throwing, Kubb competition, bingo, communal organic cooking, morning yoga, meditation, greasy pig and healing circles. The festival occurs at the Speargrass property, 50 km northeast of Pine Creek.
The Darwin beer-can regatta, held in August, celebrates Darwin's love affair with beer and contestants' race boats made exclusively of beer cans. Also in Darwin during the month of August, are the Darwin Cup horse race, and the Rodeo and Mud Crab Tying Competition.
The World Solar Challenge race attracts teams from around the world, most of which are fielded by universities or corporations although some are fielded by high schools. The race has a 20-year history spanning nine races, with the inaugural event taking place in 1987.
The Darwin Symphony Orchestra was first assembled in 1989, and has performed throughout the Territory. The Darwin Theatre Company is a locally produced professional theatre production company, performing locally and nationally.
The Darwin Entertainment Centre is the city's main concert venue and hosts theatre and orchestral performances. Other theatres include the Darwin Convention Centre, which is expected to be open in mid 2008. The Darwin Convention Centre is part of the $1.1 billion Darwin Waterfront project.
Darwin is home to the Indo-Pacific Marine & Australian Pearling Exhibition, which houses an aquarium complete with living coral, and its complementary sea life. The Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery in Darwin gives an overview of the history of the area, including exhibits on Cyclone Tracy and the boats of the Pacific Islands. The East Point Military museum tells the story of the Japanese air raids on Darwin during WWII.
Darwin has a vibrant arts scene given its size. The Darwin Festival and the Darwin Fringe festival are annual events. Darwin has a range of quality indoor and outdoor live music venues hosting local and visiting acts. A range of art galleries including specialised Aboriginal art galleries are a feature of Darwin.
Local and visiting bands can be heard at venues including the Darwin Entertainment Centre, The Vic Hotel, Happy Yess, and Brown's Mart. An yearly music festival, Bass in the Grass, is very popular with youth from the surrounding area. Artists such as Jessica Mauboy and The Groovesmiths call Darwin home.
Considering its moderate size, Darwin has a lively night scene. Mitchell Street in the central business district is lined with nightclubs, takeaways, and restaurants, many with al fresco dining. This is the city's entertainment hub. There are several smaller theatres, three cinema complexes (CBD, Casuarina, and Palmerston), and the Deckchair Cinema. This is an open-air cinema which operates through the dry season, from April to October, and screens independent and arthouse films.
The city has many kilometres of wide, unpolluted beaches, including the Casuarina Beach and well renowned Mindil Beach, home of the Mindil Beach markets. Darwin City Council has designated an area of Casuarina Beach as a free beach which offers a designated nudist beach area since 1976. Swimming in the sea during the months of October–May should be avoided due to the presence of deadly box jellyfish.
Saltwater crocodiles are very common in all waterways surrounding Darwin and are even occasionally found swimming in Darwin Harbour and on local beaches.
Fishing is one of the recreations of Darwin locals. Visitors from around the world flock to Darwin aiming to catch the prized barramundi, an iconic fish for the region. The Mary River, Daly River, South and East Alligator River are just a few of the water bodies where the barramundi thrive. Outstanding blue water fishing is also available off the coast of Darwin; Spanish mackerel, dhufish, queenfish, snapper and other varieties are all found in the area and accessible in a day trip from Darwin. Lake Alexander is a man-made lake which is generally considered safe, bar a freak jellyfish outbreak in 2003, and is located at East Point Reserve.
The Darwin Surf Lifesaving Club operates long boats and surf skis and provides events and lifesaving accreditations.
The Marrara Sports Complex near the airport has stadiums for Aussie Rules (TIO Stadium), cricket, rugby union, basketball (and indoor court sports), football(soccer), athletics and field hockey. Every two years since 1991 (excluding 2003 due to the SARS outbreak), Darwin has played host to the Arafura Games, a major regional sporting event. In July 2003, the city hosted its first international test cricket match between Australia and Bangladesh, followed by Australia and Sri Lanka in 2004. Australian-rules football and rugby league are played all year round. Melbourne's Western Bulldogs Australian Football League side plays one home game at Marrara Oval each year. The ATSIC Aboriginal All-Stars also participate in the AFL pre-season competition. In 2003, a record crowd of 17,500 attended a pre-season game between the All-Stars and Carlton Football Club at Marrara.
The Darwin Cup culminating on the first Monday of August is a very popular horse race event for Darwin and draws large crowds every year to Fannie Bay Racecourse. While it is not as popular as the Melbourne Cup, it does draw a crowd and, in 2003, Sky Racing began televising most of the races. The Darwin Cup day is a public holiday for the Northern Territory (Picnic Day public holiday).
Five free-to-air channels service Darwin. Commercial television channels are provided by Southern Cross Darwin (Seven Network affiliate), Channel Nine Darwin (formerly branded as Channel 8) and Darwin Digital Television (Network Ten relay), which launched on 28 April 2008. The two Government owned national broadcast services in Darwin are the ABC and SBS Television.
Darwin has radio stations on both AM and FM frequencies. ABC stations include ABC News Radio (102.5FM), ABC Local Radio (105.7FM), Radio National (657AM), ABC Classic FM (107.3FM) and Triple J (103.3FM). SBS (102.5FM) also broadcasts its national radio network to Darwin.
Darwin has two commercial radio stations Hot 100 100.1 and Mix 104.9. Other stations in Darwin include University-based station 104.1 Territory FM, dance music station KIK FM 91.5, Italian language channel Rete Italia 1611AM, community based stations includes Radio Larrakia 94.5 and Yolngu Radio 1530AM and Rhema FM 97.7.
There is one major private hospital Darwin Private Hospital located at Tiwi, opposite the Royal Darwin Hospital.
Darwin International Airport, located in the suburb of Marrara, is Darwin's main and only International and Domestic airport, which shares it's runway with the Royal Australian Air Force's RAAF Base Darwin.
Darwin can be reached via the Stuart Highway which runs the length of the Northern Territory from Darwin through Katherine, Tennant Creek, Alice Springs and on to Adelaide. Other major roads in Darwin include, Tiger Brennan Drive, Amy Johnson Avenue, Dick Ward Drive, Bagot Road, Trower Road and McMillans Road. The greater Darwin area is served by Darwinbus.
Ferries leave from Port Darwin to island locations, mainly for tourists. A ferry service to the Tiwi Islands, the Arafura Pearl operates from Cullen Bay.
Darwin, suburbs, Palmerston and Katherine is powered by the Channel Island Power Station. The largest power plant in the Northern Territory A new power plant is currently near to completion, the Weddell Power Station. The first generator is due to come on line in late January 2008. The new power station will add 30% capacity to Darwin power supply. A second generator is due for completion in 2008.
Tourism is one of Darwin's largest industries. Tourism is a major industry and employment sector for the Northern Territory. In 2005/06, 1.38 million people visited the Northern Territory. They stayed for 9.2 million nights and spent over $1.5 billion. The tourism industry directly employed 8,391 Territorians in June 2006 and when indirect employment is included, tourism typically accounts for more than 14,000 jobs across the Territory.
Darwin is a hub for tours to Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park and Katherine Gorge. The Territory is traditionally divided into the wet and dry, but there are up to six traditional seasons in Darwin. It is warm and sunny from May to September. Humidity rises during the green season, from October to April bringing thunderstorms and monsoonal rains which rejuvenates the landscape. Tourism is largely seasonal with most tourists visiting during the cooler dry season which runs from April to September.
Darwin has played host to many of aviation's early pioneers. On 10 December 1919 Captain Ross Smith and his crew landed in Darwin and won a £10,000 Prize from the Australian Government for completing the first flight from London to Australia in under thirty days. Smith and his Crew flew a Vickers Vimy, G-EAOU and landed on an airstrip that has now become Ross Smith Avenue. Other aviation pioneers include Amy Johnson, Amelia Earhart, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Bert Hinkler. Darwin was home to Australian and U.S. pilots in World War II with air strips being built in and around Darwin. Today Darwin provides a staging ground for military exercises.
Darwin was a compulsory stop over/check point in the London to Melbourne Centenary Air Race in 1934. The official name of the race was the MacRobertson Air Race. Winners of the great race were Tom Campbell Black and C.W.A. Scott.
The following is an excerpt from Time Magazine, 29 October 1934, Volume XXIV, Number 18.
The Australian Aviation Heritage Centre is located approximately 8km from the City centre on the Stuart Highway and is one of only two places outside the United States where a B52 bomber (on permanent loan from the United States Air Force) is on public display.