Located at Australia's "Top End," Darwin serves as the capital of the Northern Territory with a population of not quite 100,000. The city resides atop a plateau above the Timor Sea, which hosts cruise ships and serves as a base for trips into the Outback and Indonesian islands. The main drive parallels a leafy cliff-side park with views out to the sea, while one block inland, an arcaded street with restaurants and shops provides shade from the hot sun.
What We Love
Mindil Beach Sunset Market: From late April to late October, this evening market on Thursdays and Sundays is the place to be in Darwin. Chefs serve Sri Lankan, Vietnamese, and Chinese food alongside more than 100 craft vendors.
Crocosaurus Cove: Get close — real close — to enormous saltwater crocodiles at this attraction where you can submerge into the water in the Cage of Death or swim freely behind a thick glass wall to see them at eye level.
Best Known For
George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens: Darwin’s botanical gardens have 105 acres studded with palms, orchids, baobab trees, and mangroves, plus plants and flowers you've likely never seen before.
The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory: This institution at the edge of town exhibits Aboriginal Australian and Indonesian art; and natural history displays of Australian birds, mammals, exotic reptiles, and spiders guaranteed to frighten. Cyclone Tracy, a Christmas Eve 1974 storm that virtually leveled the city, comes back to haunt in films and photographs.
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Who It's Best For
War and Natural History Buffs: Darwin’s unusual role in World War II is a great draw, and the only-in-Australia creatures that slither and jump are sure to intrigue and astound many.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Heat and Humidity: From November to April, Darwin experiences unpleasantly high temperatures and humidity, drenching downpours, and severe storms, while the rest of the year, by comparison, seems like paradise.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.