The Northern Territory’s capital Darwin might be the smallest capital city in Australia but it is rich in Aboriginal culture, steeped with history and offers plenty of things to see and do. Once a small port, today Darwin is a thriving modern city that also has iconic natural sights such as Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks and Katherine Gorge right on its doorstep, Darwin is the best place to explore and experience the Top End of Australia.
The land was initially owned and inhabited by the indigenous Larrakai people, until British settlement which renamed the region Port Darwin after English Naturalist Charles Darwin. With the Larrakai still active members of the community, Darwin has the highest proportional indigenous population in Australia. Today, the city’s make up is multicultural due to its proximity to south-east Asia and is evident through the numerous ethnic cultural markets and festivals.
The city’s dramatic history encompasses the tragic bombing of Darwin by Japanese air raids during WWII and the devastation of Cyclone Tracy which destroyed over 70% of the town in 1974. Its unique and tragic past and present, comprising of reconstruction and rejuvenation of the city has led Darwin to being one of Australia’s most modern and multicultural cities.
Darwin’s year-round warm weather creates a relaxed atmosphere and is perfect for those who enjoy an outdoor lifestyle. Much of Darwin’s action happens along its waterfront situated on the edge of a harbour bigger than Sydney’s, thriving with restaurants, shops and parklands. Stop by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory to take in the events based on the region's interesting displays of art, history and culture. Wander the Botanic Gardens and see displays of plants from the Top End and around the world and also features self-guiding Aboriginal plant-use trails.
Travel east of Darwin and you’ll find yourself in the in the heart of the Top End at the World Heritage Listed Kakadu National Park. You can cruise the fabled Yellow Water Billabong and view ancient Aboriginal rock art sites at Ubirr and Nourlangie. Kakadu has one of the highest concentrations of rock art anywhere in the world and will give you an insight into life in this region 20,000 years ago.
Kakadu is also home to the Aboriginal Reserve, Arnhem Land and is the perfect place to be immersed in Aboriginal culture. It is home to one of the largest indigenous groups in Australia and is where the didgeridoo, the famed instrument of indigenous Australians originally came from.
Along the banks of the Katherine River, is a town named Katherine. The highlight of the region is undoubtedly Katherine Gorge, made up of thirteen towering gorges. This natural haven is guaranteed to take your breath away. Also connected by the Katherine River is (Leilyn) Edith Falls, a series of cascading waterfalls and crystal clear rock pools on the western side of Nitmiluk National Park.
Two hours south of Darwin is Litchfield National Park, a jewel of the Top End. This amazing natural wonderland is home to three spectacular waterfalls Florence, Tolmer and Wangi Falls. These sparkling cascades offer an opportunity to cool off from the tropical heat.
A short scenic flight north of Darwin will take you to the wonderful Tiwi Islands. A trip to the Tiwi Islands will allow you to experience life in a modern-day Aboriginal community. Voted as one of the top 100 things to do before you die by Australian Traveller in 2011, this is a must do.
AAT Kings offers a variety of tours in Darwin and its surroundings including Kakadu, Tiwi Islands, Litchfield National Park and many more amazing destinations. View our range of day tours below or explore The Top End on an extended Short Break tour or Guided Holiday.