Darwin is a safe and friendly city and the crime rate here is extremely low. What visitors do need to be prepared for though are the ever present dangers and irritations of nature. Crocodiles and box jellyfish make swimming off the water of Darwin unsafe. Extreme heat needs to be moderated also. Other travel needs are well catered for with plenty of ATMs and tourist information offices.
The Northern Territory has one of Australia's largest indigenous populations. Huge parts of the state are aboriginal reserves. While all of Darwin's peoples happily co-exist, a number of places, objects and ideas are sacred to Australian aboriginals. Some people will happily pose for photographs but in general, tourists should remember that the aboriginal people of Darwin are not tourist attractions. Certain aboriginal gatherings such as pilgrimages or meetings do not welcome non-aboriginals.
Drinking and dining the night away is an all-but compulsory part of local life. Public displays of excessive drunkenness are not particularly well tolerated, however. In general, life and lifestyles in Darwin are much the same as they are in any city in the western world.
The Australian dollar (AUD$) is the currency of Darwin. Paper currency comes in denominations of AU$100, $50, $20, $10 and $5. Gold coins cover AU$2 and $1 and silver coins come in denominations of AU$0.50, $0.20, $0.10, and $0.05. The old copper AU$0.02 and $0.01 coins were removed from circulation decades ago.
Credit cards can be used in all shops, bars and restaurants. Even some of the stalls in the night markets will carry wireless point of sale handsets. ATMs are everywhere, but visitors may want to stock up on cash before setting out to more isolated places in the Darwin region.
Darwin is hot and humid all year round. The dry season lasts from May to October and temperatures can routinely crest 40°C, with balmy temperatures continuing long into the night. Visitors should take precautions against sun stroke, sun burn and prickly heat.
The wet season hits from around December to April and it is known locally as ‘the wet'. It can rain continuously for weeks during this time and flooding is not unheard of. Breaks in the rain can make dashing from a hotel to a restaurant quite possible, but many dirt roads become unusable at this time. Monsoon and cyclonic conditions can occur.
Darwin International Airport (DRW) is located inside the metropolitan area, in the northern suburbs, and the road journey takes no more than around 15 minutes. Hire cars, particularly four-wheel drive vehicles, are a popular option, especially for those planning trips into the Northern Territory.
Darwin has a public bus service and all vehicles are air conditioned. They run through all the central areas of town and there are a large number of private bus companies offering charter services to areas of interest in the region. There is no metropolitan rail service in Darwin.
Spoken languages: English, Aboriginal languages
Phone/calling code: +61 8
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