If you’ve never been to Darwin, and up until Saturday 29th of June this year I hadn’t, I suspect it is one of those cities that you really can’t be too sure about. I know that’s how it was for me and as I said before on these pages, I’ve always felt it’s the kind of city you either love or hate.
That incredible bit of insight from me is entirely based on the fact that people who have commented or emailed me about the city have either loved it or hated it. I have had some readers describe Darwin as “a hidden paradise” and others as a “hellhole“.
So, after having spent 10 days there, which category do I fall into?
Our holiday in Darwin.
The idea of going to Darwin this month, apart from really wanting to see the place, was to have a summer holiday in winter. How did that work out?
Mission accomplished, I’d say, the weather was scorchio! Clear blue skies and not a hint of rain. Well, it’s not known as the dry season for nothing. Temperatures were hitting 32° to 35° each day; it was so much like the height of summer here in Brisbane.
So yes, we have had a summer holiday in winter.
But what’s Darwin like?
The city centre itself is incredibly small, there’s really not very much there. As for shops, very few of those too, and certainly no Myer, David Jones, not even a Kmart or a Big W. In fact, no major shopping mall (Update July 2015: oops, I really should not have used the word ‘mall’ because Darwin does have a shopping mall as explained to me by Michael below in the comments, my apologies for the confusion, I won’t do it again) or large indoor shopping complex at all in the city.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, just pointing out that the city centre is very small, although that shouldn’t surprise me as the population of Darwin, at about 127,000 if you include the very close city of Palmerston, is also very small compared to our other cities.
But if shopping is your thing, my guess is that you will be one of those who hate Darwin.
When we arrived at our apartment we were met by its owner, Paul. Mrs Bobinoz was quick to ask “I thought the apartment was supposed to be in the heart of the city?”
“You don’t get more central than this.” was the reply, and, as it turned out, we WERE right in the heart of it, it just didn’t feel that way.
Here are some views from our balcony…
And here’s a closer look at the Smith Street shopping precinct…
About a 10 minute walk from the main drag of the city, you could be at the Waterfront…
Remember, these pictures were taken right during the very middle of winter here; are you feeling slightly jealous yet?
The dry season
Of course, it may be the middle of winter, but Darwin doesn’t get winters or any of the four seasons, they get the wet season and the dry season. I was sure that I was seeing Darwin in its very best light having chosen to visit during the dry season.
Surely the wet season is simply too wet and too humid?
Not according to Paul the apartment owner, to whom I was bragging about the wisdom of the timing of my visit.
“Not really,” he said “I much prefer the wet season. The mango’s are in season, the fishing is much better and although it can, shall we say, get a little bit uncomfortable at times with the humidity, it’s still my favourite time of the year.”
In a way, I could imagine how different the area would be during the wet season with lush grass and billabongs replacing the dry, cracked up scorched earth I was seeing during my visit.
It’s not about the city
Darwin, from what I can make out, is definitely not about city life. It’s about enjoying the great outdoors and the area certainly has that in droves.
Eat picnic food and drink BYO beer and wine from your Esky while sitting at the free tables and chairs supplied at Stokes Hill Wharf; enjoy movies under the stars at the Deckchair Cinema; or enjoy the Mindil Beach Market before taking your picnic and drinks to the beach to watch the sunset…
Or visit Kakadu…
Darwin gets a big thumbs up, not just from me, but also from Mrs Bobinoz and Elizabeth. We loved it! We are not saying we want to live there, we are very happy in Brisbane, but we loved it as much as we loved Hobart two years ago, but for very very different reasons.
I know I could live in either of those places quite happily.
“What about the crocs and other killer critters in Darwin Bob?”
Yes, I thought you’d ask. So on Friday I’ll cover that and maybe we will do a bit of crocodile hunting.