Darwin, the capital of Australia's Northern Territory

Find Darwin on this map

Find Darwin on this map

The city covers an area of 1,660 square kilometres and is built around Darwin Harbour in the Beagle Gulf on the Timor Sea. 

The city was officially named in 1839 after Charles Darwin, an explorer, naturalist (a person who studies plants and animals) and writer. 

The Larrakia: the Aboriginal peoples of the Darwin area

The first people to live in the area were the Aboriginal peoples. They had occupied the land for thousands of years before European settlers arrived. The Larrakia (say lara-key-uh) people lived on the land in the area. They lived by hunting and fishing.

European settlement began in 1860s and at first the different groups got on well and sometimes the Aboriginal people worked for Europeans. However as more and more Europeans arrived the Aboriginal camps were destroyed the Aboriginal peoples were moved away from the town.

Darwin Harbour with the city beyond it. ©iStock

Darwin Harbour with the city beyond it. ©iStock

Today the city is run by a city council, elected by the people of the city.  A Lord Mayor is head of  the city council. 

Darwin is the capital  city of the Northern Territory and so the Parliament House of the Territory is located there.



Modern Darwin

Darwin is a modern city, much of it having been re-built since the disaster of 1974, when Cyclone Tracy destroyed it.

In the city there are modern offices, shops and shopping centres, hotels, hospitals and schools. There are many parks and tropical gardens and there are many fine beaches close to the city. 

Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park ©iStock

Wangi Falls, Litchfield National Park ©iStock

Not far from the city is the spectacular Litchfield National Park where people can 4WD, hike, picnic and swim.

The climate of Darwin

The weather in Darwin is tropical, which means it is hot and wet. There are just two seasons, the 'wet' from November to March and the 'dry' from April to November.

During the wet season strong winds called monsoons bring heavy rain and the weather is humid.

Average temperatures are from 24C to 32C. During the dry season the weather is warm and dry with temperatures ranging from 19C to 30C.

Darwin is closer to the cities of many Asian countries than it is to many of the southern cities of Australia. The population is multi-cultural with people of more than 60 different nationalities living together with Aboriginal peoples and Australian born people.

Thousands of people of the Australian Defence Forces are based in and around the city.

There are many crocodiles in the sea and rivers in the area. There is a crocodile farm in Darwin. ©iStock

There are many crocodiles in the sea and rivers in the area. There is a crocodile farm in Darwin. ©iStock

People work in construction, mining, tourist services and for the government. 

Crocodile farming and fish farming are two more of the city's interesting industries.




Darwin : A short timeline of European settlement and development 1839 - 2008


Statue of Charles Darwin, the explorer after whom the city is named. It stands outside the city library. © iStock

Statue of Charles Darwin, the explorer after whom the city is named. It stands outside the city library. © iStock

Lieutenant John Lort Stokes of HMS Beagle discovered Darwin Harbour and Captain J.C. Wickham named it Port Darwin after explorer Charles Darwin


Scottish explorer John McDouall Stuart made an overland trek from Adelaide to Chambers Bay (close to Port Darwin) in an attempt to be the first person to cross Australia from south to north.


Northern Territory add to land controlled by South Australia


Explorer John McKinley selects Port Darwin as the site for a settlement


Small settlement begins at Port Darwin and is named Palmerston


Telegraph line links Palmerston (Darwin) and Adelaide


Submarine cables laid from Darwin to link Asia, Europe and Australia


Gold discovered at Pine Creek


First school opened


First plantings in Darwin's Botanical Gardens


Northern Territory gold rush. Thousands of people come from all over Australia.


Control of Northern Territory passed to Australian Government. Palmerston is renamed Darwin.


Ross and Keith Smith land in Darwin after making the first flight from England to Australia


Darwin bombed 64 times during World War 2.


Darwin rebuilt after the bombings


Cyclone Tracy destroys Darwin


People elect the first Territory government based in Darwin


Parliament House opened


The first train from Alice Springs arrived in Darwin in 2004, connecting Darwin with the rest of Australia

by rail.


The Darwin Convention Centre opened

Night market in Darwin

Mindil beach market, Darwin  Photo copyright NT Tourism: http://www.travelnt.com

Mindil beach market, Darwin  Photo copyright NT Tourism: http://www.travelnt.com

During the dry months in Darwin there are night markets such as the one on Mindil beach.

Food of many nations is available at the night markets on the beach;  Thai, Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese and Malaysian, Brazilian, Greek, Portuguese and many more are all availablefor people to enjoy.

Colourful arts and crafts vendors sell handmade jewellery, natural remedies, artistic creations and unique fashion garment. 





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Crocodile Farming