Moving to Darwin? 6 Epic Things To Know About Living in Darwin!
22nd January, 2023
If you are moving to Darwin for a fresh start; whether to relocate for study, career, or a sea-change, then you have made an excellent (and unique choice) in choosing to live in Australia’s charismatic, and oh-so photogenic ‘Top End’ regional centre of Darwin.
Considered Australia’s most laid-back city, Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory with a modest population of just over 116,000 people. Given the median age of the population is about 31 years, you’ll be surprised to discover a youthful zeal and progressiveness in Darwin, of which is complemented by wide open spaces, plentiful adventure activities on offer, excellent educational and career opportunities, and a relaxed lifestyle.
As the principal business and political hub of Australia’s “Top End,” Darwin’s proximity to Southeast Asia also makes it a prominent diplomatic, cultural, and economic hub, and this is one of the many influencing reasons it boats perhaps the best Asian cuisine in all of Australia. Indeed, with Darwin being home to more than 100 nationalities, including a large Australian indigenous population and many Australian Defence personnel, you’ll fall in love with this vibrant and multicultural city that is rich in culture, food, and lifestyle.
Need we say more? Oh, but we must. For Darwin is a city not to underestimate. Rather, it’s a very special city, home to the most iconic natural attractions in Australia, and one very famous character… Crocodile Dundee, anyone?
Start to get excited before the big move now and know what to expect when living in Darwin. Read on for our 5 Essential Things to Know Before Moving to Darwin!
1. Living in Darwin – Opportunities & Property
Darwin has a growing population, and a robust and diverse economy that spans across a wide range of employment opportunities. A hub for the oil, gas, defence industries – it sits as Australia’s number one performing economy and as such, is in high demand for skills in all trades and professions including hospitality, tourism, health, management, and administration. So, if you’re moving to Darwin hoping to snag a great career, you’re in luck – because there’s a lot of job opportunities here.
Have education, or scholarships on your mind? You’ve made a great choice choosing Darwin to study in. Unlike Australia’s bigger capital cities where competition is rife, you’ll discover that in Darwin, it’s a whole lot easier – notably thanks to a lower population and its excellent top-tier programs, student grants, and generous scholarships to name some. You’ll also find that class sizes across Darwin’s education providers are deliberately kept smaller, which will make mentoring and engagement more personalised for your success. And for international students – Study NT offers International Student Accommodation Grant to assist all those relocating to Darwin.
Speaking of top-tier education, Darwin’s very own Charles Darwin University is a top 100 university in the Asia Pacific, having been ranked as =30th for “Millennial universities” in the Times Higher Education University Rankings and also coming in at #2 in Australia for graduate employment, and #1 for graduate salary. This globally connected and highly respected University boasts campuses across the Northern Territory, making it an excellent University to consider furthering your studies and career if you are living in Darwin or the greater Northern Territory.
Moving to Darwin and haven’t yet decided where to live? To simplify it, Darwin and its surrounding suburbs are roughly in a triangular shape, with older suburbs located in the southwest, and newer (northern) suburbs located by Darwin International Airport and the Royal Australian Air Force Base. High-income earners enjoy living in the pricier neighbourhoods in the coastal suburbs of Larrakeah and Brinkin, while low-income families opt to reside in Coconut Grove and Millner.
Rural places like Howard Springs, Humpty Doo, and Berry Springs are also rising in popularity, as is Palmerstone, a satellite city 20km south of Darwin. If you are after a family friendly neighbourhood, consider Rosebery; if you want upmarket – Bayview suburb is only 5 minutes from the CBD. Other worthy suburbs include:
When looking at homes in Darwin, you will fall in love with the distinct charm and character of tropical properties. These traditional elevated homes are recognisable by their louvered windows and ceilings fans, of which help ensure that tropical breeze will flow throughout the home. You can also expect large outdoor living areas, balconies, and swimming pools with lush, tropical backyard gardens.
2. Public Transport in Darwin
When living in Darwin, expect to get around by bus, bike, or ferry, thanks to the NT Government. Public buses operate 7 days a week (except Christmas Day and Good Friday), running from Darwin, Casuarina, and Palmerston bus interchanges. You can download Public Timetables & Maps here. You can also retrieve real-time information about public buses in Darwin and Alice Springs, simply download the NT Bus Tracker App to your smartphone or tablet for Android or Apple; or view the live web version here. Two passenger ferry services (an NT Government and Sealink partnership) are also available in Darwin, operating from Cullen Bay to Mandorah; and Cullen Bay to Tiwi Islands.
For seniors and people with a disability, there is help for you too in getting around Darwin. First, you may be eligible for the transport subsidy scheme and/or lift incentive scheme. Secondly, bus and taxi assistance are on offer, as well as a free bus for Palmerston seniors and mobility impaired, read more on that here.
Cycling and walking is a popular mode of transport in Darwin, mostly thanks to the variety of walking trails and cycling paths that weave around Darwin and have been designed to give you easy access to stunning nature parks and reserves found throughout the region, making cycling and walking is a popular mode of transport in Darwin. For some of the best trails in Darwin, read more here, or download the NT cycle path maps from here.
3. Weather in Darwin
As the smallest, wettest, and most northerly of all Australian capital cities, Darwin offers a unique tropical savanna climate that is defined by very distinct wet and dry seasons. Many people love the exotic climate here, and adapt very well, while others may take a little more time getting used to the humidity, and tropical living.
The dry season (between May and October) are generally considered comfortable months, where there is very little rain, and the temperatures are more moderate. Humidity and nocturnal temperatures are also lower, and you’ll enjoy a cooler tropical breeze. These are the months you’ll find Darwin is busy with tourists, and popular watering holes and camping sites packed to the rim!
In contrast, the build-up to wet season (November – April) brings greater maximum temperatures and higher relative humidity, and this is when thermal comfort is at its lowest. Storms, monsoonal rains, and high humidity are typical during wet season, with the average temperature between 24.7 and 32 °C (76.5 and 89.6 °F), while the humidity level may exceed 80%.
Other good things to note – the wettest month is January, with 1727.3 mm (68 inches) of annual rainfall on average. While the hottest month is December, with an average temperature of 29.5°C (85°F). Now that’s a hot Christmas!
Moving to Darwin and worried about wet season? Don’t be! If you are ready for a little heat, humidity, and rain, Darwin is a terrific destination during the wet season, particularly if you are a photographer and nature enthusiast. Epic lightning storms, roaring waterfalls, bursting river systems, and lush, fertile National Parks are all at their peak during this time of year and will have you in absolute awe.
4. Darwin is An Exotic & Culturally Diverse Place!
The Northern Territory is an exciting, culturally diverse region, home to various multicultural community organisations and services. Thanks to its geographical proximity to Southeast Asia (and countries such as Indonesia and East Timor),
you’ll discover a vibrant, cultural melting pot where different ethnicities from all walks of life come together through celebration, exotic foods, and entertainment.
When living in Darwin, you’ll feel embraced by the local communities here – which are incredibly friendly, inclusive, culturally sensitive, and very culturally aware. You will also marvel at all the beautiful community and cultural events on offer. Some of our favourites include the city’s Darwin Waterfront Harmony Soiree – an annual event in May that “celebrates NT’s cultural richness, diversity and display of harmony as a cultural society”, and the famous Darwin Festival. An event held over 18 days and nights in August during Winter, that will bedazzle you with its sparkling ambience, performances, comedy, film, lively atmosphere, markets, food stalls and more!
It’s also fair to say that the exotic landscape and multiculturalism of Darwin naturally lends itself to some of the most exciting and exotic markets you’ve seen in Australia yet. Better get a diary, and jot down some of these great markets:
- Parap Village Markets – Offering tropical flavours and a true Territory atmosphere, the Parap Village Markets run every Saturday 8am-2pm (rain or shine) all year round, with live music, exotic dishes and more on offer.
- Nightcliff Markets – Set in Nightcliff Shopping Centre, operating from 8am-2pm every Sunday. The ideal place to find an unusual bargain or unique gift from the variety of stalls and specialist vendors.
- Mindil Beach Sunset Markets – Darwin’s largest market that runs along the foreshore of Mindil Beach, famous for its stunning sunset of the Timor Sea. Operates throughout Dry Season; reopening in late April each year.
- Rapid Creek Markets – Darwin’s oldest markets, operating every Saturday and Sunday from 7am – 2pm, offering a range of fresh organic product, Asian fruits, vegetables, seafood, spices and herbs, exotic plants, local handmade arts, and crafts, and more!
5. Adventure Awaits in The Northern Territory
After moving to Darwin, you should waste no time in putting together a planned itinerary to explore the magnificent Northern Territory outback landscape. Famed for its vast ochre deserts, spectacular night skies, deep canyons, rocky outcrops, wetlands, billabongs, and hidden waterfall havens – the NT Outback is a geographer’s dream landscape and the ultimate 4WD trip of a lifetime!
Assuming you’ve already acquainted yourself with the beautiful parklands within Darwin itself, such as George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, Berry Hot Springs Nature Park, East Point Reserve, Bicentennial Park, Lake Alexander, and Darwin Waterfront Precinct to name just some – you should now be itching to explore the Northern Territory outback, but keep in mind – a fair amount of driving could be involved, so make sure to be well-prepared ahead of departure.
Luckily for Darwin locals, the city is flanked by three national parks just a short drive away – Charles Darwin National Park – notable for its World War 11-era concrete bunkers and excellent lookout towards the city of Darwin; Mary River National Park, famous for its river, wetlands and billabongs (a haven for anglers and wildlife watchers); and Litchfield National Park – a locals’ favourite for its fun-filled, multiple spring-fed swimming waterfalls and waterholes! A perfect spot for families and 4WD enthusiasts.
Got a long weekend up your sleeve? Pack the car, and road trip up into Kakadu National Park, a massive biodiverse nature reserve that encompasses wetlands, rivers, and sandstone escarpments; home to 2,000 species and Aboriginal rock paintings that date back to prehistoric times. It’s a fascinating place to explore.
For those who want to just keep on driving and have a week or more to spare – consider a longer drive out to one of the many unique towns in the Northern Territory. We highly recommend you drop into visit these special spots:
- Katherine – Situated on the Katherine River, 230km southeast of Darwin, known as where the “outback meets the tropics” – enjoy outback hustle and bustle here and proximity to the famous Edith Waterfalls.
- Mataranka – Located 420 km southeast of Darwin, renowned for its sandy-bottomed thermal pool, swimmable lagoons and pastoral history.
- Daly Waters – Located 620 km of Darwin, made famous by the iconic and characterful Daly Waters Pub roadhouse, a true attraction in itself.
- Alice Springs – Australia’s famous remote ‘Red Centre’ town that needs no introduction – halfway between Darwin and Adelaide, both of which are 1,500km away, close to the iconic Uluru and vast Simpson Desert.
With so many national parks and outdoor activities on the table when living in Northern Territory, make sure to familiarise yourself with the NT Parks Pass requirements for next year, so you don’t get slapped with any surprise fines!
6. Thirsty Yet? Best Breweries in Darwin!
Fancy yourself a drink after all this hard work of exploring, hypnotising water buffalos (a Crocodile Dundee reference in case you missed it), and chasing sparkling waterfalls? We don’t blame you, because exploring the NT outback is thirsty work. Thankfully, there’s a thriving industry of brewers, distilleries, and winemakers in and around Darwin. Check out some of our favourites below:
- One Mile Brewery
- Beaver Brewery
- Purple Mango Café & Brewery
- Six Tanks Micro Brewery
- Darwin Distilling Co
- Willing Distillery
- Chares of Darwin – Restaurant, Bar, Distillery
Pair this down with some of Darwin’s famous dumplings (the Asian influence in Darwin brings perks!) and you’ll be in absolute heaven. Yes, you are truly spoilt with great food, quality beverages, and an enviable outdoors lifestyle when living in Darwin.
Conclusion? Darwin is the Exotic Pulse of Australia!
Don’t underestimate the city of Darwin, for what it lacks in big city action, it certainly makes up for in nature and wildlife, adventure, and an eclectic personality – indeed, if you want to experience what authentic Aussie living is truly like, Darwin is the place to reside.
Surrounded by some of Australia’s most iconic and stunning national parks, rainforests, reserves, and hot springs, it should come as no surprise as to why Darwin is so incredibly popular with residents, tourists, and backpackers alike.
If you love the outdoors, balmy evenings, camping and meeting characterful individuals with great stories to tell – then Darwin is for you. Sure, the distinct wet and dry seasons can take some initial getting used to, but you will be surprised at how quickly you can adapt into enjoying all year-round warmth. Goodbye, cold!
You’re making a great decision in escaping to the more relaxed lifestyle offered in Darwin. Again, congratulations on moving to Darwin. You’re going to have the greatest adventure of your life and create unforgettable memories. Enjoy!
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