First Impressions of Darwin

Having arrived in Darwin at night, and driving into the city from the airport, I didn’t have much of an opportunity to observe Darwin, but it did seem to be a well laid out, modern and efficient city.

Now that I have been for a walk around the city centre, I have to say that I was very impressed with this compact place.

In some ways it is reminiscent of Singapore, in that Darwin is tropical, clean, lush with foliage, and is a port city with quite a large harbour.

Darwin is, or course, a lot quieter than Singapore. Scattered amidst the high rise are some older buildings which, presumably, survived Cyclone Tracy, which devastated Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974. Many of those buildings seem to have been lovingly restored, and sit well amidst their more modern neighbours.

There is a prevailing fragrance of frangipani in the air, and these flowering frangipani trees are scattered in groves right throughout the city.

I wandered down to the waterfront, where there is a small, netted, beach for swimming, and a wave pool. The net is essential as Darwin Harbour is known to be home to saltwater crocodiles, which are at the top of the food chain in this region. You also get deadly box jellyfish in the waters at certain times of the year, so the net would help to keep them at bay. There were a few people enjoy the warm waters of the Arafura Sea, and many of the cafes were beginning to open as I wandered past. It would be a perfect place to enjoy breakfast, and it is on my list of things to do.

As I wandered back to my hotel, Darwin was starting to spring to life as workers made their way to their various shops and offices.

It is a beautiful, sunny day, but I expect that to change later on this afternoon as it is getting into the wet season here, and no doubt we will, at some stage, be in for one of Darwin’s famous tropical storms.

Whilst Darwin has a reputation for its humidity, I find that it gets most uncomfortable at night. The other surprise for me is that the city actually faces the opposite direction to that which I initially thought. By that I mean that the waterfront area, which I thought faced West, actually faces East, and the area out towards Fanny Bay faces West. It’s not a big thing, but it was only when I observed my first sunset and sunrise, that I realised my mistake. Now that I know the true bearing of the city my sense of direction is slightly better than it was before.

Most importantly, I have found the locals to be very friendly, and most are up for a chat at any time.

My first impression of Darwin is that it is something of a hidden treasure. A true gem of a place that is very easy to like, and a place that I would have absolutely no hesitation in planning a return visit.

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