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The smallest and northernmost of Australia’s state capitals, the former pioneer outpost of Darwin on the Timor Sea is capital of the sparsely populated Northern Territory and the centre of the Top End.

Darwin’s proximity to South East Asia makes it a major gateway to Indonesia and East Timor. The city occupies a low bluff overlooking the harbour, spreading to the satellite city of Palmerston along the Stuart Highway, which runs from here to Port Augusta in South Australia, on the other side of the country. The climate is tropical with pronounced wet and dry seasons, and temperatures are consistently high throughout the year. In the wet season, Darwin is prone to cyclones, and experiences heavy monsoon downpours and spectacular shows of lightning; in the dry season, however, there are blue skies and gentle sea breezes over the picturesque harbour.

The area is the ancestral home of the Larrakia Aboriginal people, however in 1839 HMS Beagle sailed into the harbour while surveying the area, and named it Port Darwin in honour of their former shipmate, Charles Darwin. The settlement established there was known as Palmerston, but renamed Darwin in 1911. The city has been almost entirely rebuilt twice in its history, due to Japanese air raids during World War II, and after the devastation caused by Cyclone Tracy in 1974, so is one of Australia's most modern capitals.

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Key info

  • Where: Northern Territory, Australia

Wildlife trips

This location is featured in the following itineraries:

Crocodile & Jabiru Self-drive

This self-drive trip covers the best of the Top End, visiting four national parks: Mary River, Kakadu, Nitmiluk (Katherine Gorge) and Litchfield. Various excursions designed to showcase these iconic locations are included, but there’s still time to do your own thing and arrange activities locally .

  • When to go: Apr-Nov
  • Duration inc. flights: 13 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £3,395 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Kakadu Wildlife Bonanza

This special journey through Australia’s tropical Outback – the Top End – is for curious adventurers with a taste for wilderness and wildlife. During your stay in Arnhem Land at Kakadu and Mary River National Parks you’ll walk and visit rock art sites, and learn about the Top End’s remarkable fauna.

  • When to go: Aug
  • Duration inc. flights: 17 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £7,495 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Wildlife of Kimberley & Bamurru Plains

The remarkable Kimberley Coast is home to towering waterfalls, rugged outback landscapes, ancient Aboriginal art and abundant wildlife – there is no place on earth quite like the Kimberley, and no better way to discover it than on an unforgettable small ship cruise between Darwin and Broome.

  • When to go: May-Sep
  • Duration inc. flights: 22 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £8,595 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Wings over the Top End

Flying over Kakadu National Park, and into Bamurru plains and Arnhem Land, gives you a fantastic bird’s-eye view of the incredibly rich biodiversity. The coastal floodplains of Northern Australia are home to prolific birdlife, while Kakadu and Arnhem Land are the heartland of its indigenous culture.

  • When to go: May-Oct
  • Duration inc. flights: 12 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £5,845 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea
Suggested accommodation is shown below. Please contact us for further recommendations.

Skycity Hotel & Resort

Nestling in 12 hectares of tropical gardens beside the Arafura Sea, Skycity is a bustling resort with excellent accommodation, a wide choice of dining options, conference and event facilities and a casino. As Darwin’s only five-star oceanfront resort, it also boasts a private white-sand beach.