City of Darwin

About the area

Key Statistics


The City of Darwin is located in the top end of the Northern Territory. Darwin is the Capital of the Northern Territory and Australia's northern most city. The City of Darwin is bounded by Beagle Gulf (the Timor Sea) in the north and west, the Litchfield Council area in the east, and Port Darwin and Unincorporated Northern Territory in the south.

Included Areas

The City of Darwin includes the suburbs and localities of Alawa, Anula, Bayview, Berrimah (part), Brinkin, Buffalo Creek, Casuarina, Charles Darwin (part), Coconut Grove, Coonawarra, Darwin City (part), East Point, Eaton, Fannie Bay, Hidden Valley (part), Holmes, Jingili, Karama, Larrakeyah, Leanyer, Lee Point, Ludmilla, Lyons, Malak, Marrara, Millner, Moil, Muirhead, Nakara, Nightcliff, Parap, Rapid Creek, Stuart Park, The Gardens, The Narrows, Tiwi, Wagaman, Wanguri, Winnellie, Woolner and Wulagi.

Land Use

Darwin is a residential, commercial and military area. The City is home to several defence areas, including the Defence Establishment Berrimah, Larrakeyah Barracks, RAAF Base Darwin and the RAAF Bombing and Gunnery Range. The City encompasses a total land area of about 112 square kilometres, including many parklands and reserves, and several beaches. Retailing is concentrated in central Darwin and in the northern centre of Casuarina.

Name Origin

Darwin was named in honour of naturalist Charles Darwin.

Indigenous Meaning

The original inhabitants of the Darwin area were the Larrakia (Larrakeyah) Aboriginal people.


European settlement dates from 1869, although the area was explored as early as 1623 by the Dutch ship, Arnhem. Darwin Harbour was discovered in 1839 by a small party from the HMS Beagle. The first urban settlement was established in Darwin by GW Goyder, the South Australian Surveyor-General in 1869. Growth was slow until the gold rush and pearling days of the 1870s and 1880s. Development stagnated until 1911, when the first suburbs were created at Larrakeyah, Parap and Stuart Park. Growth accelerated again in 1914-1920 when a large meatworks was built, and again in the late 1930s when Darwin assumed strategic importance in the military lead-up to the Second World War. Darwin became an important base for Allied action against the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II, and suffered tremendous damage. Nearly all Darwin civilians were evacuated in 1941/42. The City was attacked by air raids 64 times during the war and 243 people lost their lives. Sustained development of the City of Darwin first occurred from the 1950s, with Darwin formally declared a city in 1959. Darwin experienced significant development during the 1950s and 1960s, expanding rapidly into new areas such as Winnellie, Nightcliff, Fannie Bay, Rapid Creek and Alawa, and then into new areas in the northern suburbs. On Christmas Eve/Christmas Day 1974, Darwin was struck by one of the greatest natural disasters in Australian history, Cyclone Tracy. The Cyclone killed 64 residents, injured thousands and left only about 500 of the City's then 8,000 homes habitable. The population of the City at the time was believed to be 49,000 (with 5,500 of those away). The City has undergone substantial repair, rebuilding and subsequent growth. The 1980s represented a period of significant growth for the City, partly due to continued reconstruction after Cyclone Tracy. From 1976 to 1998 the population of the City of Darwin more than trebled, and continued to grow until 1991. Growth slowed from 1991 to 1996, with the population declining slightly from 1996 to 2001, the result of decline in the average number of persons living in each dwelling and the development of the separate satellite city of Palmerston. The only population growth in the City of Darwin from 1996 to 2001 was in the southern suburbs, largely due to the development of townhouses and high rise units throughout the city centre and inner suburbs. The population then increased gradually, rising from about 69,000 in 2001 to about 78,000 in 2011.

Major Features

Major features of the City include the Darwin Central Business District, several Army bases, Casuarina Coastal Reserve, Holmes Jungle Nature Park, part of Charles Darwin National Park, East Point Recreation Reserve, Bicentennial Park, George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, Skycity Darwin Casino, Darwin Military Museum, Australian Aviation Heritage Centre, Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Government House, Parliament House, Crocosaurus Cove, Fannie Bay Gaol Museum, St Mary’s Star of the Sea Cathedral, Charles Darwin University (Casuarina Campus), Casuarina Square Shopping Centre, Marrara Sporting Complex, Larrakia Park (Darwin Football Stadium), Hidden Valley Motor Sports Complex and the Royal Darwin Hospital.


The City of Darwin is served by the Stuart Highway, the Darwin International Airport and The Ghan train.

City of Darwin

economic profile