Are you planning a holiday in Darwin or thinking of moving there for a while? Here’s an article that should be of interest to you: tips and advice on finding a job, partying and visiting Darwin!
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Good deals in Darwin: Transport
Darwin’s public bus network is called Darwinbus. It covers most parts of the city and offers affordable fares. You can buy tickets on board or you can buy rechargeable travel cards from ticket kiosks. It’s more cost-effective to buy a travel pass if you’re staying in Darwin for several days or weeks.
Darwin also has well-developed cycle paths and many places offer bike hire for everyday use. The city has recently introduced free-access E-scooters and E-bikes. You’ll find them all over Darwin and the surrounding area. Hire is an ideal way to discover the city at your own pace.
Finding a job in Darwin
When you arrive in town and plan on working make sure you arrive just before the ‘dry’ season to avoid competition with other backpackers (around mid-april). Those with a good command of English and hospitality experience will do better than others. In any case, make sure you are motivated and do not hesitate to leave Darwin to look around as there is a lot of work on the farms in the neighbourhood, especially during the mango season. You will hear this everywhere, but it’s true: the most effective method to find a job is through door-to-door visits, handing out your resume.
Know that there are quite a few HelpX and Wwoofing available in the area too. You can also go to one of the job agencies that specialize in temporary employment for backpackers. There are several in Darwin, such as Chandler MacLeod or Top End, and you won’t have trouble finding them.
You can also check websites like Gumtree or seek.com.au, which list numerous job offers. Count on the support of fellow travelers through various Facebook groups like “backpackers in Darwin” or “backpackers in Australia.” Many job offers are regularly posted there.
Accommodation in Darwin
With your van
If you are living out of your van, do not sleep on Mindil Beach, the Esplanade or on the Waterfront side. If you do, beware of fines! The trick is simple: park in the suburbs to sleep and go to the Waterfront the next morning to use the free shower and public lavatories. You can also sleep safely at Truck City, where you will have access to a shower and toilet.
💡 TIP: Free toilets/showers: around Darwin, you can take advantage of free swimming pools to cool off or take a shower, for example at Leanyer recreation park.
In Youth hostels
The Hostels are expensive and fill up quickly when its high season…
As for hostels, check out YHA MOM on Mitchell Street: the prices are not the lowest (about $ 40 a night), but it is located in the center of Darwin. It also has a bar and a pool. If you are on a tighter budget, go to the Gecko. It is a bit more eccentric and a night should cost you around $ 30 a night.
Many Australians welcome couchsurfers. The houses here are big, there’s always at least one sofa free, and the people are very friendly. It’s a great opportunity to meet the locals and learn more about local life!
Working in a hostel
Another fairly common solution for backpackers is to work in a hostel. Many hostels offer free accommodation in exchange for a few hours’ work a week as a housekeeper, barman or receptionist, for example. What’s more, it’s a great way to meet lots of other backpackers.
Going out in Darwin
If you looking to go out partying Darwin has exactly what you are looking for. The city has a reputation as a paradise for ravers. During the high season, there is a ‘doof party’ every week on Mindil Beach and there are many ‘bush parties’ – also knows as ‘raves’.
- Be responsible and respect the area! Pick up your litter behind you (Mindil Beach will thank you!)
- Let’s face it, when you say ‘party’, you often mean drugs. Apart from the fact that it’s totally illegal and dangerous for your health, you should know that Darwin has been able to develop this party business. People often complain about the poor quality and exorbitant price of the substances.
Darwin also has many restaurants and bars which you can find mainly around the Waterfront and Michell Street.
On Sundays, visit the Darwin Hotel for its “beer garden”.
Tuesday night at Nirvana host a Jam session: if you are a musician, come play music with others! If you are not a musician, come anyway.
Darwin tips: Food and drink
The best way to save on your food budget is to cook for yourself! If you cut down on fast food and restaurant outings, you’ll save money. Treat yourself but set yourself a certain limit (weekly or monthly) or a certain budget that you don’t want to exceed. Compare prices in supermarkets and shop in the big chains rather than the small ones where prices are multiplied by 2 or 3.
Know that large food shops generally close at 8 or 9pm. Go there before closing time to take advantage of reduced prices on fresh produce (meat, ready meals, fruit and vegetables). There is usually a section dedicated to special offers.
If you like to party, we recommend you try the local goon! It’s Australia’s cheap alcohol! Prices start at around $8/litre and can go down to $3 for smaller brands or if you buy several litres. There are often offers in Liquors Shops (2 bought, 3rd free).
Good deals in Darwin: Restaurants
Like most Australian cities, Darwin has a Chinatown full of small, inexpensive restaurants. The city is home to a large Asian community, and you’ll find plenty of restaurants serving delicious Asian food at affordable prices. Some of the best areas to find affordable Asian restaurants are the city centre and the Stuart Park and Nightcliff areas.
Darwin has several local markets where you can find delicious food at low prices. The Mindil Beach Sunset Market is one of the most popular. Here you’ll find stalls offering local and international specialities at low prices. You can also try buffalo burgers and other local specialities! The Mindil Beach Sunset Market is held every Thursday and Sunday evening from May to October, starting at 5pm.
Don’t forget the Tuesday evening specials at Domino’s pizza. Also check out the flyers that are distributed in town, sometimes offering a free drink with the purchase of a menu, or a dessert, etc.
Great ways to cool off for free in Darwin
As you can imagine, with its tropical climate, Darwin is a city where it’s often hot and humid! You can enjoy the lagoon at Wharf Precinct in complete tranquillity, as it is protected by a jellyfish net.
Leanyer Recreation Park is 15 km from Darwin. It offers a free swimming pool, open every day, with large slides and other accessible activities (including a skate park). All free of charge.
Another park well worth a visit is Palmerston Water Park. This too is a totally free water park with a 14 m high, 100 m long waterslide with six lanes, a play area for all ages, water jets, barbecues, shaded picnic areas and a skate park.
Finally, you can always go green in the Botanical Gardens of Life, which cover more than 42 hectares. Just the thing to cool off for a few hours under the trees!
What to do in Darwin?
For those interested in culture, the city has many museums on the Second World War, because Darwin was a strategic military base during this period. You can also visit the Parliament House and the Northern Territory Library. There you can also enjoy free wifi and access to computers. They are both worth a visit.
If you are into shopping, you can take a bus to the Casuarina shopping center.
You can also see crocodiles in the famous ‘Crocodile Cove’ and swim with them in a submerged cage!
The center of town is filled with souvenir shops. You can even buy crocodile skin belts and aboriginal art!
If you are planning to visit the surroundings, you can book trips to Litchfield and Kakadu National Parks – although we advise you to rent a 4WD and go on your own.