What it’s like living in Darwin, the melting pot city with a tropical lifestyle

One in five residents of Australia’s Top End are born overseas, according to the City of Darwin Council, and the Northern Territory is home to more than 60 nationalities.

From as far afield as India and England, Greece and Nepal, Ireland and the Philippines, the population of Darwin is among the most diverse in the country.

Multicultural melting pot

“The demographic is vast and very multicultural,” says Jeremy O’Donoghue, from O’Donoghues First National Darwin. “And all these people are accepted in the community.”

Sunshine in winter and ample outdoor activities are key drawcards.Sunshine in winter and ample outdoor activities are key drawcards. Photo: Shaana McNaught

Diversity is celebrated in the city’s varied cuisine, colourful street markets and cultural festivals. O’Donoghue’s favourites are Hanuman, for Thai and Indian, and The Pearl, for modern Australian food with a French twist.

You can also enjoy Japanese, Congolese and Pacific Islander fare at the Malak Marketplace, and choose from among Nightcliff’s variety of food vans, including Yummy Yianni’s Greek Cuisine or indigenous pop-up Elijah’s Kitchen, where the crocodile laksa is flavoured with lemon myrtle and native thyme.

The iconic Mindil Beach Sunset Market, set under the coconut palms between Sky City Casino and the Botanic Gardens, runs every Thursday and Sunday in the dry season with dozens of food stalls and 200 vendors.

Local agent Jeremy O'Donoghue says Darwin has "the feel of a big city" but with small-town charm.Local agent Jeremy O’Donoghue says Darwin has “the feel of a big city” but with small-town charm. Photo: iStock

Then there’s the mid-year Territory Taste Festival, which gives locals and visitors the chance to try local produce, participate in workshops and watch cooking demonstrations. Every May, the Darwin Waterfront Harmony Soiree gives community groups a chance to showcase their culture through performance, art and food.

Tomorrow, the annual Darwin Festival, an 18-day celebration of music, theatre, visual art, dance and cabaret, kicks off with hundreds of local performers among the acts. Expected to attract up to 100,000 people, the festival will include appearances by comedian Joel Creasey, music duo Electric Fields and a program of works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.

Outdoor lifestyle

The city has a way of getting under your skin, says O’Donoghue, who made what was supposed to be a temporary move from Melbourne to Darwin 20 years ago and fell in love with the city and its eclectic vibe.

Darwin enjoys a multicultural demographic and a tropical climate.Darwin enjoys a multicultural demographic and a tropical climate. Photo: Shaana McNaught

“Darwin’s got the feel of a big city but small-town traffic and better service,” he says.

“There are lots of water activities, fishing, horseriding – it’s great for an outdoor lifestyle. And there’s no shortage of sunshine through winter, with temperatures ranging from 19 to 30 degrees right through the dry season.”

Top home in the area

17 Hickey Court, Cullen Bay NT.
17 Hickey Court, Cullen Bay. Photo: Supplied

Drink in the sparkling views over Cullen Bay from this modern home in one of the city’s most coveted, waterfront enclaves.

There are two large living spaces and impressive marble kitchen. The property comes with its own jetty, marina berth and a boatshed.

It’s for sale through O’Donoghues First National Darwin, with a price guide of $2.35 million.