Capital of the Northern Territory and situated on the Timor Sea, Darwin is a multi-cultural city, renowned for its lively markets and festivals, its top Asian cuisine and its huge natural harbour, which is even larger than Sydney's. Darwin holidays are also a great chance to visit the remote Tiwi Islands, the monsoon forests of Litchfield National Park and, further afield, one of the world's largest collections of aborigine rock art at Kakadu.
Things to do
One of the most popular Darwin attractions is Aquascene, where delighted tourists come to hand-feed hundreds of tropical fish that swim to the shallow shoreline of Darwin's Doctors Gully at high tide. A visit to the Deckchair Cinema, where you can watch a film under the stars on the city's waterfront, should also be on your to-do list.
Food & restaurants
There are many fine Darwin restaurants at the historical waterfront precinct of Stokes Hill Wharf, which bore much of the brunt of the Japanese bomb that destroyed a lot of Darwin in 1942. Today it is still a working wharf and as such you should treat yourself to some fresh-off-the-boat seafood, such as Coffin Bay oysters, salt and pepper squid, and chilli mud crab, which are all on offer at Ocean Fresh.
Most Darwin accommodation is situated around the harbour and the Holiday Inn is worth a punt if you want clean rooms with a port view. For a more laid-back feel, Moon Shadow Villas offers rainforest-style chalets in a beautiful tropical garden setting, complete with waterfall pools, just a short walk or drive from the city centre.
Held every Thursday and Sunday night from April to October, the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets are Darwin shopping at its best. With stalls selling everything from arts and crafts to international food, accompanied by good music and friendly faces, it's also a great spot to kick back while watching the sun set over the horizon. Other good markets include Rapid Creek Markets and the Friday night market in Palmerston.
The annual Darwin Festival takes place every August and is an exciting round-the-clock cultural event where virtually anything can happen ¬¬– you can channel your inner burlesque, wander through strangers' back gardens, or dance until the sun comes up. Many events are free, so stock up on your sleep and be prepared for an eventful couple of weeks.