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Darwin, Australia: Jump-off point to Down Under Nature, Heritage, Wildlife and Anthropology, by Shyam Amladi

Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory, Australia

 

Where is it?

It is in the sparsely populated Northern Territory of Australia and its capital. It is closer to Jakarta (1,692 miles) and Singapore (2,084 miles) than to Sydney (2,486 miles). It lies east of the Timor Sea, a relatively shallow body of water .and is officially in the tropical region, with over 3,000 miles of coastline.

History

Darwin was founded in 1869, and its population surged due to its advantage as the northernmost port city in Australia and also due to the gold rush of 1871, although its first recorded sighting was in 1623 by the Dutch explorer William Jootszoon Van Colster.

And now for the obvious question--is there any relation between Darwin the city and Charles Darwin?

???????????????????????????(Answer is at the end of this article)

Highlights

Darwin enjoys a tropical climate. January is the wettest month and average annual rainfall is 68”. While Darwin is not on every tourist map, it is close to some natural and historical sights that are rare. Best time to visit Darwin and its surrounds is May to October, the “dry’ season.

Things to See and Do

·         Local Guided tour: Guides take you on a 2 hour walking tour, explaining the city’s history, architecture and highlights. Prominent sites are the Military museum, Mindil beach, Wharf area, Government offices and park by the bay and war tunnels built during 2nd world war to store fuel.

Charles Darwin National Park

·         Miyimining Coastal Reserve and Casuarina beach: A nice stretch of sandy beach. Beware of jelly-fish and occasional crocodiles. And remember—sections of the beach are clothing-optional

·         Charles Darwin National Park: located within the city, this park is famous for housing most of Northern Territories’ Mangroves.

·         Kimberly waterfalls/Broome: While not very close (Broome, the city to go for the waterfalls is 1,160 miles from Darwin), it is worth visiting. The Kimberley in Australia, astonishingly sparsely populated (4 persons to a square mile, compared to 27,000 persons to a square mile in New York city !) it is truly a wilderness. It has landmarks from prehistoric period, lush greenery and outback landscapes.

·         Croc-watching: about 37 to 40 miles from Darwin, there reside about 1,600 crocodiles in the Adelaide river, and while you cannot swim with them, you can certainly take a Billabong tour of the Corroboree Billabong. Billabong in Wiradhuri language (native aboriginal people of Australia) means backwater. You will see wetlands, flora and fauna unique to the area and of course both fresh water and salt-water crocodiles including (see picture) ‘bleached’ Crocs.

      Salt Water Crocodile

·         Litchfield National Park: about 60 miles from Darwin, this Litchfield National Park is an ancient landscape shaped by water. It has stunningly beautiful, although not very wide waterfalls. The Park covers approximately 580 square miles and contains representative examples of most of the Northern Territory’s natural habitats—a mind-boggling 400 species of birds, 150 mammals, 300 reptiles, 50 frogs, 60 species of freshwater fish and several hundred species of marine fish.. Enormous termite mounds, historical sites and the weathered sandstone pillars of the Lost City are a must for visitors. It is a great place for Briskwalkers to hike its many trails.

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?Termite Mound

·         Kakadu National Park: is not only known for its spectacular scenic lookouts, it is also an enormous, biodiverse nature reserve. Spanning over some 7,500 square miles, it has wetlands, flora, fauna, and prehistorice sites. Some these  such as Nourlangie, Nanguluwur and Ubirr.

 

Kakadu is world famous for its ancient Rock art caves and walls. Some of these paintings, which even to this day appear freshly painted are up to 20,000 years old! Imagine a whole thriving civilization that lived in this area 15-20,000 years ago. The paintings depict life in the towns, and also have a moral story—e.g. there is a painting of a woman giving birth, an adulterous couple going into hell etc. etc. The Kakadu is a World heritage site.

?So now for the answer to the quiz above.

IS THERE ANY RELATION BETWEEN DARWIN THE CITY AND CHARLES DARWIN THE WORLD FAMOUS EVOLUTIONIST?

 

Yes, Yes, Yes.

Darwin was originally named Palmerston. While Charles Darwin never visited the city, one of his shipmates, John Stokes, discovered Palmerston's Harbor in 1839 and named it in honor of his friend and the famous evolutionist, Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1872).

While Darwin may be a bit off-the-map for general tourists, I would highly recommend it.

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