- This article is about the capital of the Northern Territory, named after the famed British naturalist Charles Darwin. For other uses, see Darwin (disambiguation)
Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory, and is a city of 109,419 people (2001 census) on Australia's far north-western coastline. Darwin is reputed to suffer more lightning-strikes than any other inhabited place in the world. It is also home to the Territory's only university, Charles Darwin University.
Darwin's harbour was first sighted in 1839 by John Lort Stokes of HMS Beagle. The ship's captain, John Clements Wickham , named the port after Charles Darwin, the British Naturalist, who had sailed with him on an earlier expedition of the Beagle.
The Northern Territory was intially settled and administered by South Australia, until transferring it to the Commonwealth in 1911. On 5 Feburary, 1869, G.W. Goyder, the Surveyor-General of South Australia, established a small settlement of 135 men and women at Port Darwin. Goyder named the settlement Palmerston, after the British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston. In 1870, the first poles for the Overland Telegraph were erected. The discovery of gold at Pine Creek in the 1880's further boosted the young colony's development. Upon Commonwealth administration, Darwin became the city's official name.
On the Nineteenth of February 1942, during the Pacific War, 242 Japanese warplanes attacked Darwin. The attack killed at least 243 people and caused immense damage to the town. (See Air raids on Darwin, February 19, 1942).
Darwin was largely destroyed on Dec. 25, 1974 by Cyclone Tracy, which killed 50 people and destroyed over 70% of the town's buildings. After the disaster, an airlift evacuated 30,000 people. The town was subsequently rebuilt with newer materials and techniques during the late 1970s by the Darwin Reconstruction Commission. A satellite city of Palmerston was built 20km south of Darwin in the early 1980s.
On 17 September 2003, the Adelaide-Darwin Railway was completed.
Geography and climate
Location of Darwin in relation to other major cities
Darwin is situated in the Northern Territory, on the coast of the Timor Sea at geographic coordinates 12°27′ S 130°50′ E.
Darwin is closer to the capitals of three other countries than to the capital of Australia: Darwin to Canberra is 3144 km. Dili (East Timor) is 656 km from Darwin, Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) is 1818 km, and Jakarta (Indonesia) is 2735 km from Darwin. Even Singapore is only slightly further away at 3360 km, and Manila (Philippines) at 3206 km.
Darwin has a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The dry season runs from May to September. In the coolest months of June and July, daily temperature range is 19 to 30°C. The Wet season is associated with tropical cyclones and monsoon rains. The majority of rainfall occurs between December and March when thunderstorms are common and humidity is regularly over 70 per cent.
Some of its climatic averages:
- Mean January maximum temperature — 32°C (89°F)
- Mean January minimum temperature — 24°C (76°F)
- Mean July maximum temperature — 30°C (86°F)
- Mean July minimum temperature — 19°C (66°F)
- Mean annual rainfall — 1669mm (65.7 inches)
- Wettest month on average — January, 422 mm (16.6 inches)
- Rain Days: 110
Darwin has been administed by the Darwin City Council since 1957. The Darwin City Council consists of the Lord Mayor and 12 aldermen, 3 from each of the four electoral wards, Chan, Lyons, Richardson, and Waters.
The Legislative Council and Assembly of the Northern Territory convenes in Darwin.
The two largest economic sectors are mining and tourism. The mining and energy industry production exceeds $2.8 billion per annum. The most common minerals mined are gold, bauxite, along with manganese and many others. The energy production is mostly off shore with oil and natural gas from the Timor Sea, although there are significant uranium deposits near Darwin. Tourism employs 8% of Darwin residents, and is expected to grow as domestic and international tourists are now spending time in Darwin during the Wet and Dry seasons. Federal spending is a major contributer to the local economy as well. The continued involvment of Australian Army in the stabilisation of East Timor has swelled the military population of Darwin to over 11,000 individual as of 2001. Darwin's importance as a port is forecasted to grow in the future, due in part to the increased exploitation of petroleum in the nearby Timor Sea, to the completion of the railway link and continued expansion of trade with Asia.
As of 2005 there are two major construction projects in Darwin. One is the construction of a gas plant on Wickham point which is scheduled for completion in 2006. Another project yet to start is the upgrade of Stokes Hill Wharf. The Chinatown project is delayed and may be cancelled.
Culture and sports
Central Darwin, circa 1986
Darwin is known as the "Gateway to Asia," and the city's population is very multicultural. Seventy-five nationalities are represented in Darwin, and nearly a quarter of the population self-identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Darwin's Mitchell Street is lined with nightclubs, takeaways, and restaurants, many with al fresco-style dining.
The Beer Can Regatta, held in August, celebrates Darwin's love affair with beer and contestants race boats made exclusivly of beer cans. Also in Darwin during the month of August, are the Darwin Cup horse race, and the Rodeo and Mud Crab Tying Competition.
Darwin is also home to Indo-Pacific Marine & Australian Pearling Exhibition which houses an aquarium complete with living coral, and its complementary sea life.
Every two years since 1991, (excluding 2003 due to the SARS outbreak), Darwin has played host to the Arafura Games, a major regional sporting event.
In July 2003 and 2004, Darwin had the first cricket match as part of the 3 Mobile cricket tour. Rugby League and Australian Rules Football are played all year round.
As of the 2001 census, there were 6,441 students attending primary schools within the area covered by the Darwin City Council. There were also 3,943 students engaged in secondary education; 2,825 in government schools and 1,118 in independent schools. There are currently 35 primary and pre-schools, and 12 secondary schools (including both government and non-government). Most schools in the city are secular, but there are a small number of Christian, Catholic and Lutheran institutions. Students intending to complete their secondary education work towards the Northern Territory Certificate of Education , which is recognised in all states and territories.
The central provider of tertiary education in Darwin is Charles Darwin University. It covers both vocational and adademic courses, acting as both a university and an Institute of TAFE. While it has a number of campuses across the Northern Territory, its primary campus, where a large portion of the university's 19,000 students attend, is located in the Darwin suburb of Casuarina .
Darwin has only two commerical television channels, Seven Network Darwin and Nine Network, with the possibility of Network Ten coming from mid-2005, although it is unconfirmed. SBS and the ABC broadcast in Darwin as well. Darwin has two commercial radio stations, Hot 100 and Mix 104.9 along with other stations, including a uni-based Top 104.1 that is relayed throughout the Territory and ABC Radio.
Darwin has several newspapers Northern Territory News, produced by News Corporation is the only daily news paper in Darwin. The Southeast Asian Times and the Top End Review are produced weekly.