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Darwin, NT

Dynamic, multicultural and exciting tropical capital of the Northern Territory.

Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory. Located between Beagle Gulf and Port Darwin and situated on Fannie Bay, it is a thriving and prosperous centre which has become the vital service centre for the Top End. While the city has its own attractions - the evening markets, the cruises on Fannie Bay, the exceptional restaurants on the shoreline, the interesting history of the its bombing during World War II - most visitors use it as a base to explore the surrounding area. It is an easy starting point for people wanting to explore the wonders of Kakadu National Park, Litchfield Park and the Tiwi islands. It is wonderfully multicultural and has a true tropical ambience. At times the visitor can wander the town and feel as though they have stepped into a Joseph Conrad novel. There is an overlay of wildness that belies the comfortable suburbia which surrounds the central business district. It's a city to be enjoyed like a good party, where a myriad of cultures (more than 100 nationalities at the last count) have mixed together to create a vibrant and fascinating potpourri like nowhere else in Australia.

Location

Located on Fannie Bay on the northern coast of Australia, Darwin is the administrative capital of the Northern Territory.

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Origin of Name

Darwin, or more correctly Port Darwin, was named by Captain J.C. Wickham who, exploring the coast aboard the HMS Beagle in 1839, named the bay after Charles Darwin who had once sailed in the Beagle. In 1869 the settlement was renamed Palmerston but in 1911 it changed back to Darwin.

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Things to See and Do

Darwin Walking Tours
Central Darwin is ideal for walking. These walking tours take only two hours and cover the Japanese invasion during World War II, the building of Parliament House, the Old Town Hall ruins, the impact of Cyclone Tracy, the monuments to the early explorers and the changes wrought by the Overland Telegraph to Darwin. Check out http://www.darwinwalkingtours.com or tel: (08) 8981 0227.

Darwin Explorer
The best way to orientate yourself and get to know the basic structure of the city is to purchase a 24 Hour Pass on the Darwin Explorer which stops at twelve key locations around the city including the Cullen Bay Marina, the Defence of Darwin Experience Museum, Mindil Beach, the Museum and Art Gallery, the Fannie Bay Gaol and the Waterfront Precinct. It is a good introduction and you can hop off and hop back on the bus whenever you like. It leaves every 35 minutes in the morning and every 45 minutes in the afternoon and takes 70-90 minutes to complete the circuit. Check out https://www.cityxplora.com/products/darwin-explorer-hop-on-hop-off-bus-tour. There is a two day ticket option.

Christ Church Cathedral
Located a 4 Smith Street, the Church Church Cathedral is an extraordinary example of a building which tells the story of Darwin and its catastrophes. The original building was constructed in 1902 and consecrated by the Bishop of Carpentaria. It was looted and vandalised in 1942-1943 and was 'enhanced' by the armed forces in 1944 with stones taken from the old Post Office. The RAN built a porch as a memorial to the people who had died in World War II. Cyclone Tracy nearly destroyed the church and when it was inspected on Christmas morning 1974 the only part of the Cathedral left intact was the porch and front wall which were incorporated into a new building which was consecrated on 13 March, 1977 with the Archbishop of Canterbury in attendance.
The interior of the church is particularly impressive with a jarrah log altar; the Christus Rex made from wrought iron and wood; art works including The Baptism of Jesus painted by a Western Arnhem Land clergyman; a Compass Rose and, most impressively, the Cyclone Tracy Memorial Window: "Set into the harbour wall, behind and to the right of the altar, is a contemporary-style stained glass window. Designed by Darwin artist George Chaloupka, it represents fishing nets and the upsurge of waves during a cyclone. The coloured glass in pastel shades was imported from England. This Dalle de Verre window was financed by a Gollin Kyokuyo Trust fund, and designed by George Chaloupka. Gollin Kyokuyo was a joint fishing venture operating out of Darwin at that time and had lost seven sailor/fishermen and three steel hulled trawlers out of six that had been in the harbour that night."  For more information check out https://christchurchcathedral.org.au/about/cathedral.

Bicentennial Park
One of the best ways of learning the history of Darwin is to walk the length of Bicentennial Park (it runs between The Esplanade and Port Darwin). It has a series of historic placards telling the story of the city and there are a number of important monuments to important people like the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt who walked from Queensland across to the area.

Government House
Located at 29 Esplanade, Government House was built in 1872. It was pulled down and rebuilt in 1879 and that building, known as the 'House of Seven Gables', still stands today surrounded by a white fence and magnificent tropical gardens. It has been noted that "The 1879 JG. Knight and GR. McMinn stone building, incorporating the circa 1938 verandah, represents the varied architectural influences that have characterised the NT from its inception. The Government House verandah served as the earliest ‘court room’ in Darwin." Its domination of the harbour foreshore is a combination of good luck and superb architecture. The town/city has been seriously damaged by cyclones three times and during World War II it was bombed over 60 times. Still it is a classic piece of tropical architecture and is currently the official residence of the Administrator of the Northern Territory. For more information check out https://govhouse.nt.gov.au.

British Australian Telegraph Residence known as Lyons Cottage
Located at 74 Esplanade, and now occupied by Aboriginal Bush Traders (a 100% not-for-profit organisation committed to selling ethically sourced and sustainable products that directly support local Indigenous communities - see https://aboriginalbushtraders.com for more information), Lyons Cottage was, as the Australian Heritage Database explains, "a residence directly associated with the overland telegraph/submarine cable system of communication which was seminal to Darwin's foundation and development and which connected Australia with overseas electric communications" It goes on the explain "The cottage is a single storey former residence, with front and rear verandahs enclosed by timber louvres and shutters. Walls are built of hammer dressed porcellanite which has been rendered internally. The roof is gabled in form. Designed on an open plan, with bedrooms opening off the central living area. A covered way connects with a kitchen and laundry at the rear of the site. The house was built in 1925 for the local engineer for the Eastern Extension Australasian and China Telegraph Company (successor to the British Australia Telegraph Company, which had brought the submarine telegraph cable to Darwin in 1872). Built by Harold Snell in 1925 , the building was the first stone building of consequence to be erected in Darwin since the Victoria Hotel in 1890. During World War Two the house was occupied by the American Navy. In 1948 Darwin lawyer, John Lyons (later Mayor), took possession and he and his family lived there until 1970. It was intended that the site would be redeveloped but Cyclone Tracy intervened. The house suffered roof damage, and for four years a tarpaulin covered the roof. In 1978 the cottage was set aside for conservation purposes and reconstruction works took place in 1979-80." Check http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/ahdb/search.pl?mode=place_detail;place_id=12 for more detailed information.

Stuart Memorial
The Stuart Memorial is located on the corner of Smith Street Mall and Knuckley Street. It celebrates the remarkable expedition, led by John McDouall Stuart, which traversed the continent from Adelaide to Chambers Bay east of present day Darwin.
The monument has the following inscription:
JOHN McDOUALL STUART
Surveyor - Explorer  1815 - 1866
Sculptured by Herbert Knoll
Unveiled by His Honour The Administrator of the Northern Territory Mr. J. N. Nelson
28 September 1974.
Between 1858 and 1862, John McDouall Stuart led six expeditions which included three attempts to cross the continent, south to north, passing through the centre of Australia, His final expedition (10 men with 71 horses) departed Adelaide on 25 October 1861, and reached Chambers Bay, east of present day Darwin, on 25 July 1862.
Members of Stuart's party
William Patrick Auld
John William Billiatt
James Frew
William Darton Kekwick
Stephen King
John McGorrery
Heath Nash
Francis William Thring
Frederick George ​Waterhouse
The sculpture was restored in 2008 by Geoff Todd
Stuart's route was more than just a piece of daring exploration. Within a decade the route had become the means by which the whole of the Northern Territory was opened up. It was used as the basis for the construction of the Overland Telegraph which established communities around the repeater stations at Darwin, Yam Creek, Katherine, Daly Waters, Powell Creek, Tennant Creek, Barrow Creek, Alice Springs and Charlotte Waters. Today, with minor variations, Stuart's route is still the major artery for transport through the Territory. It is appropriately known as the Stuart Highway. See https://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/landscape/exploration/display/80152-john-mcdouall-stuart for more information.

Chinese Temple and Museum
Located at 25 Woods Street, the Chinese Temple and Museum are part of Darwin's Chung Wah Society, a social and sporting club dedicated to promoting harmony and goodwill between Darwin's Chinese and the city's larger community. The Chinese Museum provides a comprehensive account of the Chinese people in the Top End of the Territory from 1874 to the present day through photographs, memorabilia, heritage objects and family history. The temple is used by practitioners of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Check out https://www.chungwahnt.asn.au for more information.

Crocosaurus Cove
Located at 58 Mitchell Street (corner of Mitchell and Peel Street) is Crocosaurus Cove, an entertainment designed to get visitors up close, and very personal, with the Territory's deadly saltwater crocodiles. It claims to have the world's largest display of Australian reptiles and some of the Territory's largest saltwater crocodiles. The experience is summed up on their website when they write: "Bring your bathers and Swim with the Crocs, jump on our Fishing for Crocs platform and smile for the camera while holding a baby Saltwater Crocodile. Check out the Barramundi, Archer Fish and Whiprays in our 200,000 litre fresh water aquarium and visit our turtles in our Top End Turtle Billabong." Check out https://www.crocosauruscove.com or tel: (08) 8981 7522. It is open daily from 9.00 am - 5.00 pm.

Burnett House
Located at 4 Burnett Street, Larrakeyah, Burnett House is a rare opportunity to experience what Darwin was like before the modern world provided buildings with air conditioning and barriers against the tropical heat and humidity. Built in 1938, as the National Trust explains: "This is the only surviving example of B.C.G. Burnett’s Type ‘K’ and was unusual in being of two-storey configuration. A unique feature is the coloured compass inlay in the ground floor concrete slab. Burnett’s original plans and early photographs indicate a rainwater tank at the rear, near the laundry."
The house was bombed during World War II and damaged by Cyclone Tracy but was carefully restored in 1988 and is a model of an old-style tropical residence. Its thoughtful tropical design ensures that it captures every sea breeze. On Sundays the National Trust serves high tea complete with scones and sandwiches from 3.30 pm - 6.00 pm on the third Sunday of each month. It is an suitable tropical ritual which was once part of elegant Darwin.
It is open Monday - Saturday 10.00 am - 1.00 pm and on the third Sunday of the month it offers high tea from 3.30 pm - 6.00 pm. Tel: (08) 8981 0165 or check out https://www.nationaltrust.org.au/places/burnett-house.

George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens
Located 2 km north of the city centre (enter via Gardens Road), the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens were created by the German botanist Dr. Maurice Holtze who had worked in the Royal Gardens in Hanover and the Imperial Gardens in St Petersburg before migrating to Australia. He became the government gardener at the Palmerston Botanic Gardens from 1878-1891. The Australian Dictionary of Biography writes of Holtze "the Palmerston Botanic Gardens ... had been used chiefly to supply government officials with fruit and vegetables but Holtze declared that the raising of cabbage heads was not the greatest ambition of the true botanist and suggested changes of function and site. With his eldest son Nicholas (d.1913) he pioneered tropical agriculture in the Northern Territory. They tested the suitability of a range of crops including rubber, rice, peanuts, tobacco, sugar, coffee, indigo and maize, and urged 'the introduction of cheap coloured labour, the passing of more attractive land legislation, and … Government assistance to settlers'. After touring Asian botanical gardens in Hong Kong, Canton, Saigon, Singapore and Batavia in 1887, the 'far-seeing' Holtze reflected that cheap labour could make 'the Northern Territory … the great rice field for the Australian colonies'."
In 1891 Holtze left the Territory and became director and secretary of the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. Today the gardens cover 42 ha and are noted for their exceptional collection of North Australian and tropical species.
The sensible place to start is at the Visitor Centre which is located at the Gardens Road entrance. It has an interpretative centre where visitors can learn about the history of the gardens and the centre also provides maps and information for self-guided walks around the gardens. Check out https://nt.gov.au/leisure/parks-reserves/find-a-park/george-brown-darwin-botanic-gardens/what-to-see-and-do which suggests that visitors:
* retreat in the shade garden
* walk through the rainforest and hear the sound of the waterfall
* count the different types of butterflies in the sensory garden
* relax on the fountain lawn
* enjoy a barbecue next to the lily pond and spot the water monitor lizard
* picnic on the lawns
* see the tallest fountain in the Darwin area
It also lists the fauna and flora to be viewed in the gardens.

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
Located at 19 Conacher Street, overlooking Fannie Bay, and open daily from 10.00 am - 4.00 pm, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory is something special. It has excellent short term exhibitions as well as being "home to internationally renowned artistic, cultural and scientific collections". There are a number of exceptional ongoing exhibition rooms including the Colin Jack-Hinton Maritime Gallery which has a display of traditional boats and canoes; the Nyapanyapa Yunupingu exhibition of indigenous art works; the Unruly Days: Territory Life 1911-1921 exhibition which recalls the early days of Europeans in the Northern Territory; the marvellously evocative Cyclone Tracy exhibition; and the huge, and famous, Sweetheart the Crocodile - one of the largest saltwater crocs ever caught in the Territory. For more information tel: (08) 8999 8264 or check out https://www.magnt.net.au/magnt.

Cyclone Tracy and the Exhibition
The Museum houses a Cyclone Tracy display (it is the most popular exhibit in the museum) which includes an excellent photographic display, a frightening recreation of the sound of the cyclone and a continuous 30 minute video. The story of Cyclone Tracy, which devastated Darwin on Christmas Day, 1974, received massive media coverage at the time. It was Australia's worst natural disaster. At 3 am the anemometer at Darwin Airport recorded winds of 217 km/h before it stopped working; winds of up to 250 km/h were estimated to have hit the city; total damage exceeded $1000 million and 65 people were killed; about 26,000 people had to be evaluated and over 1000 people needed medical attention; 16 people were lost at sea, their bodies never recovered; the ABC radio station, 8DR, was off the air for 34 hours; over 90 per cent of all buildings in the city were seriously damaged.
Some of the buildings which were devastated were the Old Police Station, the Court House and Cell Block all on The Esplanade. The buildings had been constructed in 1884 under the guidance of the architect John George Knight. The Police Station, Court House and Cell Block had all been used as the headquarters for the Northern Territory Mounted Police until World War II when the Royal Australian Navy took over the buildings and the area became known as HMAS Melville. They remained under Navy control until Cyclone Tracy damaged them. It was a comment of the building techniques of the nineteenth century that even after Cyclone Tracy had wiped out most of Darwin the buildings were still standing, albeit somewhat damaged. Check out https://www.magnt.net.au/cyclone-tracy for more details.

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets
Darwin's Mindil Beach Sunset Markets have become one of the city's must-do experiences. Combining outdoor markets, music, fine multicultural food and this is the place where the city's truly multicultural character is on show. The music from itinerant musicians a decidedly eclectic range of street food (more than 60 stalls) ranging from Indonesian and Malay to Chinese, Sri Lankan, Greek, Portuguese, Brazilian, Vietnamese and Thai. Buy a takeaway meal, listen to the music, enjoy the rich mixture of peoples in the crowd, and watch the sun set over the harbour. Check out http://www.mindil.com.au for times and information.

Fannie Bay Gaol
Located on the corner of East Point Road and Ross Smith Avenue, the Fannie Bay Gaol was constructed in 1882-1883 and closed in 1979. In 1982 it became the Fannie Bay Museum. The gaol, which is open on Saturdays from 10.00 am - 2.00 pm, has a number of interesting displays including the gallows which were erected in the infirmary for the Territory's last execution in 1952. Other interesting displays include the women's section and the mess. The website explains: "Male and female prisoners were held in separate buildings from 1928. The female prison block included a small garden designed to keep the prisoners busy. An infirmary was added in 1887, which contained gallows used up until the last executions held in the Northern Territory in 1952. A watch tower, "native section" for Aboriginal prisoners, kitchen mess building, remand section and two maximum security wings were added during the 1950s." For more information tel: (08) 8941 2260 or check out https://www.magnt.net.au/fannie-bay-gaol.

Defence of Darwin Experience
Located at 5434 Alec Fong Lim Drive, the Defence of Darwin Experience is open from 10.00 am - 3.30 pm. It was opened in 2012 during the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin in 1942. The exhibits tell the story of life in Darwin during World War II and the bombing of Darwin on 19 February, 1942. It explains the attack and provides fascinating first hand accounts of the bombing. In the area, and beyond the Defence of Darwin Experience are the East Port Fortifications at East Point. Not surprisingly East Port was the site of the first air attack on Australian shore. Today the headland has remnants of bunkers, command posts, gun emplacements and munitions facilities. For more information tel: (08) 8981 9702 or check out https://www.magnt.net.au/defence-of-darwin-experience.

Deckchair Cinema
One of Darwin's most unusual attractions is The Deckchair Cinema which is run by the community-based Darwin Film Society and operates in the dry season, from April to November. In the warm darkness at the edge of the harbour with a quiet and committed audience, people relax on deckchairs. There is an excellent Indian takeaway dining service and wine and soft drinks are served. The Deckchair Cinema is located at the end of Jervois Road, off Kitchener Drive, Wharf Precinct, Darwin. Tel: (08) 8941 4377 or check http://www.deckchaircinema.com for times and the program.

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Other Attractions in the Area

Aboriginal Art Galleries
Darwin has a large number Aboriginal art galleries ranging from strictly art for tourists to fine art. For an excellent overview of Aboriginal art, visit the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, which has an excellent representative collection of the best of local indigenous art. The collection on display at the Northern Territory Supreme Court, in which there are fine examples of works from the desert country around Alice Springs. 

Howard Springs Nature Park
Located 27 km south of Darwin (turn off the Stuart Highway at Howard Springs Road) this 283 ha nature park built around a freshwater spring includes monsoon forest, paperbark swamps, spring-fed creeks and the Howard Sand Plains. It is open all year with the gates being open from 7.00 am - 7.00 pm. It is an ideal location for swimming (there is a toddler pool, artificial rock pools and a waterfall); walking (there are two walking tracks - the Howard Creek Walk is 1.8 km and takes around an hour and the Spring Walk is 100 metres and takes around 15 minutes); birdwatching (it is a habitat for Magpie Geese, Whistling Ducks, Radjah Shelducks and Pygmy Geese) and tropical wildlife including Agile Wallabies, Ibis, freshwater turtles, Merten's Water Monitors, File Snakes and barramundi. The weir in the park was built by Royal Australian Engineers in 1944 and in 1957 Howard Springs became the first reserve in the Northern Territory. It is ideal for picnics and a pleasant day away from the city centre. Check out https://nt.gov.au/leisure/parks-reserves/find-a-park/find-a-park-to-visit/howard-springs-nature-park. There is a downloadable fact sheet on the park. It includes a useful map.

Litchfield Park
Located 116 km south of Darwin (an easy day trip) is the remarkable Litchfield National Park, an area of 143 sq km which was proclaimed as a National Park in 1986. Today more than 250,000 people each year make the journey to the Park where they inspect the sandstone pillars of the Lost City; explore the monsoon rainforest; swim in the spring-fed streams; admire the waterfalls; picnic beside the sublime swimming hole at Wangi Falls; and inspect the unusual magnetic termite mounds which point north-south to minimise heat retention.
The park was the home of the Wagait people for tens of thousands of years. In 1864 an expedition led by the Government Resident, Boyle Travers Finniss, passed through the area. A member of that expedition was Frederick Henry Litchfield after whom the park is named. After decades of tin and copper mining, and a short period when it was used as pastoral land, the area was officially proclaimed a park in 1986. In the winter months (May to September) it is an accessible and popular day trip destination from Darwin. During "The Wet" (October to April) it is commonly closed with swimming areas becoming unsafe; gravel roads becoming impassible; and the Finniss and Reynolds Rivers prone to flooding.

The main attractions:
Swimming: there are many pleasant swimming spots in the park. The most popular include Wangi Falls, Florence Falls, Tjaynera Falls and Buley Rockhole. Visitors should not swim in the Finniss or Reynolds Rivers as they are inhabited by Saltwater Crocodiles who are not averse to a little human flesh.
(1) Florence Falls are a spectacular double waterfall tumbling into a swimming hole. An easy grade walking track with wheelchair access leads from the main car park to a lookout with panoramic views of the creek and the pool below. A steep track and staircase (160 steps) leads down to the pool at the base of the falls.
(2) Buley Rockhole is a series of waterfalls and rock holes suitable for swimming. There is also a walk to the Tabletop Range Escarpment and Florence Falls which is 3 km one way (90 minutes).
(3) Tjaynera Falls are located in an open valley which is covered with paperbarks. The Falls can be reached by walking along a 1.7 km trail. The plunge pool is rarely crowded. Open May to November (4WD access only).
(4) Tolmer Falls cascade over two high escarpments into a deep plunge pool. The caves at the base of the Falls are home to several colonies of rare Ghost Bats and Orange Horseshoe Bats. There is an excellent 400 m walking track which heads out to viewing platforms with views across to the falls and the sandstone gorge.
(5) Wangi Falls are Litchfield's most popular attraction. The Falls are beautiful; flow all the time; and tumble into a large swimming hole which is usually warm and pleasant. There is a 3.2 km (round trip) walking trail through rainforest to the top of the falls. There is a large picnic area and kiosk where the ambience is that of a tropical paradise. The vegetation around the falls is thick and luxuriant and the water is beautifully clear.

Magnetic Termite Mounds
Located off Wangi Road are thousands of unusual, grey and narrow, termite mounds which are typically up to two metres high. The mounds' thin edges point north-south while their wide sections face east-west. It is believed that they form in this way as a kind of built-in temperature control mechanism. By being narrow and facing north-south they allow only the smallest possible area to be exposed to the sun. Check out http://www.litchfieldnationalpark.com/Magnetic_Termite_Mounds_Litchfield_National_Park.htm for greater detail.

The Lost City
Restricted to 4WD only (the track is rough and good clearance is needed) these sandstone block and pillar formations can easily be imagined as the ruins of a lost city.  They are only accessible in the winter months (May to October).

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History

* For tens of thousands of years prior to the arrival of Europeans along the coast, the area around Darwin was occupied people from the Larrakia language group.

* It is likely that the Portuguese, who had occupied Timor as early as 1513, had made the journey across to the mainland around that time.

* There is evidence that by the 1600s the Dutch, travelling from Batavia, had explored the coast and drawn maps.

* In 1839 Port Darwin was explored by Lieutenant John Lort Stokes and named by Captain J.C. Wickham when they travelled along the coast in the HMS Beagle.

* The settlement of Darwin was the end point in a long attempt to settle the north coast of the continent. There were failed attempts at Escape Cliffs, Port Essington and Fort Dundas. While in charge of the area, the South Australian government sent the Surveyor-General to the area in 1869.

* In 1869 the settlement was renamed Palmerston. It was surveyed and plans for leases were drawn up. This attempt would probably have failed had it not coincided with the construction of the Overland Telegraph.

* In 1870 the first pole at the northern end of the Overland Telegraph was placed in the ground.

* In 1872 Government House, a remarkably beautiful house overlooking Darwin Harbour, was built.

* The first Government House was pulled down and rebuilt in the 1880s and that building, known as the 'House of Seven Gables', still stands.

* The period from 1870 to 1900 saw successive waves of settlers. The Chinese who had worked on the Overland Telegraph established a thriving Chinatown.

* By 1881 the town had a population of 3,451.

* The Fannie Bay Gaol was built in 1882-3.

* The Old Police Station, the Court House and Cell Block were constructed in 1884 by the architect John George Knight, the Government Resident for the Northern Territory. They were destroyed by Cyclone Tracy.

* By 1891 the population of Darwin had grown to 4,898.

* In 1911 the name of the settlement was changed from Palmerston to Darwin.

* In 1918 the Australian Workers Union demanded the resignation of the Territory Administrator in which has become known as the Darwin Rebellion.

* During World War II The Police Station, Court House and Cell Block were occupied by the Royal Australian Navy and became known as HMAS Melville.

* On 19 February, 1942 188 Japanese planes attacked Darwin. 243 people were killed.

* In 1942-1943 Darwin was bombed repeatedly by the Japanese imperial forces.

* The Territory's last execution occurred at Fannie Bay Gaol in 1952.

* Darwin became a city on January 26, 1959.

* On Christmas Day, 1974, Cyclone Tracy, Australia's worst natural disaster, devastated the city. At 3 am the anemometer at Darwin Airport recorded winds of 217 km/h before it stopped working; winds of up to 250 km/h were estimated to have hit the city; total damage exceeded $1 billion and 71 people were killed; about 26,000 people were airlifted out of the city and over 1000 people needed medical attention; 16 people were lost at sea; the ABC radio station, 8DR, was off the air for 34 hours; over 70 per cent of all buildings in the city were seriously damaged.

* In 1978 The Police Station, Court House and Cell Block were rebuilt.

* The Fannie Bay gaol was closed in 1979

* In 1982 the gaol became the Fannie Bay Museum.

* During the 1980s the city of Palmerston was built 20 km south of Darwin central.

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Visitor Information

Tourism Top End, 6 Bennett Street, tel: 1300 138 886.

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Accommodation

It is worth remembering that Darwin, like the whole of the Northern Territory, relies on earning the bulk of its tourist dollars between May and October and consequently the price of accommodation during that time is nearly twice what it would be in the southern states. It is recognised that the prime accommodation is located on The Esplanade. It has excellent views across the harbour and is easily accessible to the CBD.

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Eating

Four Suggestions
Breakfast at the Roma Bar
Rumour has it that Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban used to breakfast here regularly during the filming of Australia. It had been a favourite with David Wenham who, apparently, recommended it . Breakfast degenerated into a paparazzi field day, disrupting the regulars with their coffee and pancakes. Enjoy the ambience and good coffee at this haunt of Darwin's journos, pollies and lawyers. Roma Bar, 9-11 Cavenagh Street. Tel: (08) 8981 6729; check http://www.romabar.com.au.

Cullen Bay Marina
If your tastes turn to fresh fish by the water's edge, there are good restaurants at the Cullen Bay Marina with tables overlooking the marina. The choice of food styles is extensive. An ideal place to relax as the sunsets over Port Darwin. Check out http://cullenbaymarina.com.au/5.html.

Char Restaurant
If you want something with a decidedly tropical-colonial feel try Char Restaurant on the corner of The Esplanade and Knuckey Street. It has tables under palm trees, a lazy tropical ambience and a multicultural menu. It's real Somerset Maugham country. A gin sling is essential. Tel: (08) 8981 4544 or check http://chardarwin.com.au.

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets
Darwin's famous outdoor markets boast a decidedly eclectic range of street food (more than 60 stalls) ranging from Indonesian and Malay to Chinese, Sri Lankan, Greek, Portuguese, Brazilian, Vietnamese and Thai. Buy a takeaway meal and watch the sun set over the harbour. Check out http://www.mindil.com.au.

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Useful Websites

The city's official site is http://www.darwin.nt.gov.au; the main tourism site is http://www.tourismtopend.com.au/regions/darwin-region.

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