Living in Darwin: A Local’s Perspective on Life in The City

I finished uni in late 2004, and my dream career was no longer my dream. A bit lost about my future, I told my mum that I would be back in six months and that I was moving back to Nhulunbuy, where my dad lived. I’d work at Woolies until I decided what I wanted to do with my life, sounded easy.

That was 19 years ago. I never went back. In fact, it wasn’t until I’d moved to Darwin five years later and bought my unit three years after that Mum stopped asking when I would come home. Join me as I tell my story of living in Darwin.

My Journey to Living in Darwin, Australia

Lush vegetation with a view of Darwin City in the middle
Photo by Sarah H

Living in a remote NT town in my 20s was where I grew up and became an adult. I picked up work in admin rather than Woolies, which I’ve made my career, and spent the time doing all the random things anyone in their 20s would do.

Yes, we spent most weekends at the pub getting loose on the dance floor. Yes, I did get the work car so bogged it took two other four-wheel drives to rip us out, but I sold it as ‘testing the equipment and finding what failed’. 


Adventures in Nhulunbuy

Yes, I took selfies with friends at the ‘Crocodile sighted’ sign and went for a swim anyway (Because Croc Wise mustn’t have been a thing yet, and I was clearly an idiot).

We all built up excellent dress-up boxes because what else is there to do in a remote community other than having parties in a princess dress or a toga? And, of course, I spent a lot of time out bush visiting the most amazing rivers and beaches Nhulunbuy has to offer; it’s where I learnt to drive off-road (and get bogged). 


Crocodile warning sign
Photo by Sarah H

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Moving to Darwin

a gorge surrounded by water
Katherine Gorge by Sarah H

Moving to Darwin was a natural step for me. I lived in both Nhulunbuy and Darwin as a kid, so it just felt like I’d come home. Darwin is a unique destination and a very multicultural place to live. I love that about here, I mean, laksa for breakfast, anyone?

It has seen vast change over the past few decades and has stepped into its own. It still takes just 20 minutes to get anywhere, but we have new suburbs, places like the Waterfront with the wave pool, way more options for eating out, and better shopping options. 


Top Things to Do When Living in Darwin

The waterholes in the Top End are fantastic, and it is a great place to cool down on hot days; Berry Springs is beautiful, and so is Wangi Falls. Every sunset is better than the last, and a good photo opp to brag about how great it is here (but please, no need to applaud the sun setting, that’s a touro thing). 


Two people walking on the beach
Photo by Sarah H

Map of the Northern Territory, Australia

View of Ubirr Rock
Ubirr Rock in Kakadu National Park by Sarah H

Life in the Top End

Darwin is a place where you can go jet skiing in crocodile-infested waters, buy firecrackers in a shopping centre, or hop a helicopter to go fishing in the bush. There is a lot of adventure to be had here, some of it new and many classics. As a kid, we went down to Kakadu many times.

My family were the first-ever guests at the Kakadu Caravan Park, bartering to camp near the pool about a week before it opened to the public. Ubirr Rock is beautiful at sunset and one of my favourite places to step away from modern life.


Is Darwin A Good Place to Live?

The mantra in the NT is that you either love it or hate it. There is no in-between. The buildup, September to December, is the hottest time of the year, and if you can survive that in your first year with no air con, you’ll survive anything we have to throw at you, and we have things to test you (getting a cheap flight? Come at me!).

The Top End has a reputation for being laid back and relaxed. We run on NT Time, which is a couple of weeks behind the rest of the country, but don’t worry, things get done. 


A man standing on Ubirr Rock
Photo by Sarah H
a 4WD tilted on the left while on road with water outside darwin northern territory
4WD adventure by Sarah H

Worth a Visit

If you’ve found this blog, read to the bottom and still have questions, come for a few weeks and get out and about. Immerse yourself into local life, not just the touristy things, and see what we’re all about.

You’ll find the NT is an accepting place where people are easy to get along with and where getting wet in the rain won’t give you pneumonia. This is a place where you can advance your career somewhat quicker than you would down south (aka everywhere outside the NT border).

But don’t just take my word for it, a local of 29 years, come and see for yourself!


Norther would like to invite you to explore more about the beauty of Darwin here. And… as always, you can get more inspiration for other National Parks & Destinations to visit by following @northerhq or get your Darwin City daily fix by joining our FB group Darwin We 💙 Love You by Norther®

*Cover image is by Sarah H

Picture of Sarah H

Sarah H

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