Closer to Indonesia than to any other Australian city, Darwin is the capital of the “Top End” – the remote, vast Northern Territory. Home to more than half of the territory’s population, the city reflects the rugged endurance and individualism required to survive the Outback, and also boasts a colorful history to add to that heritage.
During World War II the Japanese bombed the city and threatened invasion. In 1974, Cyclone Tracy cut a destructive swath through the region. In addition, man-eating crocodiles, tropical monsoons, searing heat, and bushfires that burn for weeks are all part of everyday life.
- The traditional owners of the Darwin region are the Larakia people, one of the many Aboriginal communities within the country. For 65, 000 years, the Larakia people have held a strong connection with the land and its wildlife. When the first European first invaded the land, the Larrakia people provided them with food, offering them welcoming wishes. The Europeans soon started forming a settlement, introducing the Larrakia people into their way of life, where the Aboriginal people lived in or around the town. Eventually, however, they were forced out to outer camp areas. Here they endured horrific treatment and were forced off their land. Despite this tragic past, the Larrakia people still remain a strong community.
- European HistoryAs Darwin was located in quite a remote area, settlements did not begin until well after the country’s development. The name ‘Darwin’ came from John Clements Wickham, the captain of the first ship to arrive at Darwin. He originally named the area Port Darwin, after the former shipmate Charles Darwin, who had sailed on the ship’s previous voyage, until it was shortened in 1911.
- The bombing of Darwin Darwin faced tragic loss in 1942 when Japanese warplanes bombed the city during World War II. The Fleet that led the attack was the same as those responsible for the famous Pearl Harbour bombing. This catastrophic event killed 235 people with a further 300 to 400 injured, including both soldiers and civilians. This is still listed as one of the most disastrous attacks on Australia during the war.
It’s known for its avid wildlife nestled in and out of the city. With lush national parks such as Litchfield only a short drive away, seeing the Aussie wildlife up close and personal is quite easy. One of the most popular attractions in Darwin is the Jumping Crocodile which includes a cruise along the large Adelaide river that is inhabited by a bucket load of crocs. Make sure to bring your camera as these creatures are well worth the photo opp.
Related article: What is the History of Darwin?
Locals in the Top End consume over 60 gallons of beer a year. All those empties don’t go to waste: Each year Darwin residents compete in the Beer Can Regatta, a race with boats, rafts, and other vessels manufactured out of beer cans.