Equivalent in size to France, Italy and Spain combined, Australia’s Outback Northern Territory is bordered by Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia. Blessed with an abundance of natural environments, the Territory is famous for its spectacular wildlife and tropical lifestyle.
Darwin has a new mayor, elected in August 2016. Kon Vatskalis is Darwin’s first Greek-born mayor, who says his win was a victory for multiculturalism. It is a modern capital city highly valued by its diverse and highly multicultural population, with a strong position in business and industry. The city is treasured country to its traditional owners, the Larrakia people, who are prominent and active members of the local community.
Darwin has evolved from its days as a laid back frontier town and while it still retains its relaxed charm, it has become a sophisticated city. Many visitors are surprised to find that it has accommodation, eateries, clubs, pubs, museums and other amenities that are equal to those found in the southern cities.
Darwin is one of Australia’s thriving business capitals. In business and industry circles, the city is described as Australia’s gateway to South East Asia. It’s closer to the Indonesian capital of Jakarta than it is to Canberra and is about the same flying time from Singapore and Manila as it is from Sydney and Melbourne.
The majority of Darwin’s workforce, about 60 per cent, is made up of Government employees. It is also the main service centre for a wide range of industries headed by mining, offshore oil and gas production, pastoralism, tourism and tropical horticulture. The Port of Darwin is also the main outlet for Australia’s live cattle export trade into South East Asia. This is an environment that ebbs and flows with the seasons, of contrast and colour, where change is the only constant. The Northern Territory is made up of six council areas, each with its own unique attractions.
The city is both modern and multicultural, boasting a population made up of people from more than 60 nationalities and 70 different ethnic backgrounds. The city is characterised by its many exciting cultural festivals and weekly food and craft markets.
The city was founded as Australia’s most northerly harbour port in 1869, and its population rapidly expanded after the discovery of gold at nearby Pine Creek in 1871. World War II put the city on the map as a major allied military base for troops fighting the Japanese in the Pacific. Today travellers can see evidence of Darwin’s World War II history at a variety of preserved sites including ammunition bunkers, airstrips and oil tunnels in and around the city.
Darwin has evolved from its days as an incredibly laid back frontier town and while it still retains its relaxed charm, it has become a highly sophisticated city.
On 1 July, Territorians celebrate Territory Day. This is the only day of the year, apart from the Chinese New Year and New Year’s Eve, when fireworks are permitted. The main celebrations occur at Mindil Beach.
The Darwin Festival held annually, includes comedy, dance, theatre, music, film and visual art and the NT Indigenous Music Awards. Other festivals include the Glenti, which showcases Darwin’s large Greek community, and India@Mindil, a similar festival held by the smaller Indian community. The Chinese New Year is also celebrated with great festivity, highlighting the Asian influence in Darwin.
Weekly markets include Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, Parap Market, Nightcliff Markets and Rapid Creek market.