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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