- Encounters with locals
- Beach / Seaside Resort
I spent several days in Darwin. This city, architecturally speaking, doesn't differ much from other Australian metropoles. It does, however, have a few interesting characteristics which give this place a very unique atmosphere.
Originally a town founded by explorers and pioneers, Darwin gives off rebellious, anti-authoritarian vibes, the kind that come to mind when you picture a town in the Wild West, where the quickest on the draw was king and where going into a saloon was a very risky decision. But in Darwin, there's equally an Asiatic ambiance that's much more pronounced than elsewhere in Australia, largely due to its closeness to Papua-New-Guinea and Indonesia, just opposite.
All in all, Darwin is a perfect base from which to discover the surrounding national parks, particularly Kakadou, one of the most beautiful parks in the country and full of crocodiles and alligators.
I arrived in Darwin during February. The final few rainy season downpours meant I got stuck in situ. The noise was incredible, the vegetation dense and the gardens sublime. At night the sound of croaking frogs filled the air. Then the dry season arrived. Despite the heat, the beaches were deserted, as the presence of crocodiles made itself felt. So I was pleased to be able to head to Waterfront - a man-made beach that is modern and family friendly.
Darwin is a multi-cultural town , as witnessed by the night market at Mindil Beach It's must-see where you can sample delicious Asian dishes.
All the same, I have mixed feelings about Darwin. Being isolated, the cost of living is very high. But the cost of living is one thing - safety is another. The tension between the Aboriginal population and the other residents is palpable, here more than elsewhere. As the birthplace of Aboriginal culture, the town is filled with galleries exhibiting bark or cloth paintings, didgeridoos and other creative designs.
Picnic at the George Browne botanical gardens. Take your boards to the wave pool. Visit the night market of Mindil Beach. Plan a day trip for big game fishing. Don't miss the national parks of Litchfield and Kakadu!
Many travellers wind up their trip to Australia by Darwin and then carry on to Indonesia. In fact, Darwin is only 2 hr 30 min by plane from Bali. If I hadn't been going to Bali, I don't think I would ever have gone to Darwin during my trip in Australia. The city didn't seem very attractive and was not a priority during my visit. Darwin is a guaranteed exotic destination. But I found the tropical heat to be suffocating. At night during the rainy season in the month of December in a room without air conditioning, I woke up several times with the unpleasant feeling of stifling. Another strange feeling overwhelmed me: the feeling of being alone and far from everything! When they said that Darwin was isolated (no large cities within a radius of 3,000 km!), I did not realise how true it was, all the more so as I was there around Christmas: very few planes were leaving and all had long been fully booked, the train fare was outrageous and the city was deserted. Fortunately, I was lucky to find a carpool to the south of the country.
Either you love Darwin or you don't. I might as well admit that I am among those who do not really appreciate the city. I didn't find it particularly hospitable; it is rather small and everything is more expensive than elsewhere in Australia. Thunderstorms threaten to burst every 5 minutes at that time of the year. It is located in a hostile environment, between saltwater crocodiles and deadly jellyfish. Bathing is strictly prohibited almost all the time. However, it is very nice to stroll through the botanical gardens and also along Bicentennial Park, as far as the wave pool on the sea front.
Finally, I was quite happy to leave for the south and to make the great crossing, passing by Uluru. On the way, I missed a few small gems for the lack of time, such as the national parks of Litchfield or Kakadu, with its famous waterfalls. These are must-sees during your tour of Australia and I really regret not having seen them!