Darwin is a small yet cosmopolitan city of approximately 110,000 people located on the Timor Sea (a branch of the Indian Ocean) in north-central Australia. Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory.
As one of the most isolated of Australia's capital cities, Darwin has a history and heritage unique to itself.
The earliest European efforts to settle the Top End were mainly due to British fears that other European powers might get a toehold on the Australian continent. Between 1824 and 1829 Fort Dundas on Melville Island and Fort Wellington on the Cobourg Peninsula, 200km (124mi) northeast of Darwin, were settled and then abandoned.
The explorer Ludwig Leichardt reached Port Essington overland from Brisbane in 1845, increasing government interest in the Top End. The entire region came under South Australia's administration in 1863, and more ambitious development plans were made. in 1864, a small settlement was established at Escape Cliffs on the mouth of the Adelaide River, not too far from Darwin's present location. This was abandoned, however, in 1866. Darwin itself was finally founded in 1869 - the harbour had been discovered back in 1839 by John Lort Stokes aboard the Beagle, who named it Port Darwin after former shipmate, Charles Darwin. The city itself was at first called Palmerston (after the British Prime Minister at the time), but this was finally changed to Darwin in 1911.
After a slow beginning, Darwin's developmentwas greatly accelerated by the discovery of gold at Pine Creek, about 200 km (124 m) south of the city in 1871. After the gold rush, Darwin's growth slowed, mainly due to the harsh, tropical climate, distance and poor communications with other Australian cities.
The Second World War put Darwin back on the map when the town became an important base for Allied action against the Japanese in the Pacific. The road south to the railhead at Alice Springs was surfaced, finally putting the city in direct contact with the rest of the country. Darwin was bombed 64 times during the war and 243 people lost their lives; it was the only locality in Australia to suffer prolonged air attack - on the 19 February 1942, for example, 242 Japanese warplanes attacked Darwin. The attack killed at least 243 people and caused immense damage to the town.
By 1974, Darwin was a growing settlement with a population of 48,000 that was developing new suburbs. Early on Christmas morning of that year, however, Cyclone Tracy passed over Darwin, killing 69 people in six hours (including 16 at sea) and flattening over 70% of the city.
Modern Darwin is one of Australia's most cosmopolitan cities, more open to Asia perhaps than any other Australian city. It plays an important role as the front door to Australia's northern region and as a centre for administration and mining. The port facilities have recently had a major upgrade, and the completion in September 2003 of a railway link to Alice Springs and Adelaide has locals hoping Darwin will become the continent's transport hub with Southeast Asia.
The Stuart Highway is the primary highway into Darwin; heading directly into the city centre and extending southwards all the way to Adelaide (3,042 km, or 1,886 miles).
In Darwin you will find a wide variety of tour services to suit every taste.
In Darwin itself you should take a look at: