An Introduction to Darwin

Darwin is a modern and vibrant city with a youthful atmosphere. It is multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multicultural. The city hosts a wealth of exciting festivals, cultural and social activities, and food extravaganzas. The size of the Northern Territory is vast and the environment is very diverse. You can enjoy beach strolls, camping in national parks, fishing for barramundi and may even spot a crocodile. It is home to many ancient sandstone formations, billabongs, wetlands and native flora and fauna exclusive to the region.

Darwin is the state capital of the Northern Territory and is located approximately 12 degrees south of the equator, laying at the roughly same latitude as Quezon City in the Philippines, Bangkok in Thailand, and Chennai in India. The city has a tropical monsoonal climate characterized by two distinct seasons, namely the wet and the dry. In the dry season (May-October), days are warm and sunny, and nights are much cooler. 

Scenic Flight with Airborne Solutions - Tourism NT-Daniel Tran

During the wet season (November-April), evenings are typically balmy, and you will often witness impressive lightning displays and tropical rainstorms. Despite being considered relatively small by world standards, Darwin has some spectacular attractions, exquisite dining places and beautiful sunsets. There are plenty of public transport options, theatres, sporting events, hospitals, medical centres, etc. 

The city’s multi-cultural setting lends itself to an array of cultural events, as well as famous markets where you can buy foods and goods from many different cultures.

Living in Darwin

Darwin is a very liveable city and many consider it to be one of the most cosmopolitan cities in Australia. It is very diverse, with more than 60 nationalities and 70 ethnicities living here. The city is host to many ethnic cultural festivals, with weekly food and craft markets being a key highlight. It is Australia’s fastest-growing state capital and has a constant influx of new arrivals.

Mindil Beach

Official Language

In Darwin, as is the case throughout Australia, English is the official language. However, there are many languages spoken in the city as there are people of many different nationalities who live, work and study here. As a whole, the Australian accent is relatively easy to understand, although some of the local slang may be confusing. 

Finding Accommodation

Many different types of accommodation are available during your stay in Darwin, including the  UniLodge, private rentals and homestays. UniLodge is a student residence situated within the Casuarina shopping district. It can be found right next to the Casuarina Bus Interchange, making it easily to travel to anywhere in Darwin and to the immediate surrounding areas. Private rentals are also available, and many people rent out their spare rooms to students. 

If you choose to live with a homestay family, you will have plenty of opportunities to integrate into an Australian way of life and to enhance your English. You will usually have your own bedroom in homestay accommodation, with study desk and access to a bathroom (ensuite or shared). The family with whom you are staying will provide you with two meals per day during the week and one at the weekend. Students are required to pay homestay fees directly to their host family, and such fees vary.

Living with someone you know is an excellent way to settle into Australian life. Friends and relatives may be able to provide you with much needed support during your first few days. Please note that approval from the education provider is required for anyone under 18 years of age.

Health & Medical Care 

Abundant medical facilities can be found throughout the Northern Territory, with both public and private facilities being available. A Critical-Care Centre and Trauma Response Centre are located in Royal Darwin Hospital, which is Northern Territory’s primary medical hospital. Patients covered by private health insurance can use the Darwin Private Hospital.
You can find medical professionals throughout Northern Territory, including general medical practitioners, dentists, specialists and allied healthcare professionals including physiotherapists, optometrists and pharmacists. If you wish to see any medical professional you should make an appointment. You can do this by searching online or in a phone book to find the relevant phone number. You should also confirm the costs of the appointment when making the reservation since fees can vary considerably.  

In Australia there are two health care systems. The first is the national public health system that is provided by Medicare Australia and offers medical care to all residents. The second is the private medical insurance system, which must be paid for with private health insurance.


Australia is well-known as having very high living standards, which includes public transport systems throughout the country. The public transport system is extensive and includes buses, coaches, trains, and even trams in some certain cities. Additionally, there are several major airlines and a number of regional airlines. The system for using public transport systems differs between states. 

The public bus network in Darwin is efficient and serves both the inner city and the outer suburb areas. As a student you can take advantage of discounted travel rates! The majority of bus routes begin at the Casuarina bus interchange, after which they take different routes throughout the city. Catching the bus is easy in Darwin; simply hail the bus while waiting at a designated bus stop area and pay your fare when you get on. A cheaper alternative is to buy weekly or monthly passes.

Students with a valid overseas driving license are permitted to drive in Australia. Licenses that are not written in English must be accompanied by a translation. A majority of international licences are valid for a maximum of three months from the holder’s date of entry into Australia. It is important to obtain an NT driving license if you wish to drive beyond this three month

Metered taxis can be found in all major cities and towns, as well as being available at all transport terminals, big hotels or shopping centres. Metered taxis have a fixed hiring charge, on top of which you pay per kilometre travelled. Tips are not necessary. Additionally, Uber is available in most Australian cities. 

Bicycle lanes are prominent in Darwin and it is a safe and easy form of transport. The city has in excess of 70km of cycle lanes, and cycling is very much promoted by the local government. You can purchase a bicycle easily and cheaply in Darwin. 

Dundee Beach


Finding a Job

Those who wish to work during their time in Darwin should go to the StudyNT website and search under the ‘Work’ section, as there is a great deal of information about employment. You can also look for jobs on websites such as SEEK, as well as looking in the Saturday edition of the Northern Territory News. Many jobs are found in the NT through more informal channels, such as electronic and other noticeboards, direct visits to a business or through friends. Some companies post job vacancies on Gumtree or LinkedIn.

Australian Immigration

You will be provided with an Incoming Passenger Card on the plane before arriving in Australia. You will be asked whether you have anything to declare. After landing in Darwin you will proceed through Australian Immigration (follow the ‘Arriving Passengers’ signs after exiting the plane). You will be asked to provide your completed Incoming Passenger Card, as well as your passport and proof of student visa. These documents will be checked by an immigration officer. You may be asked several questions regarding your plans in Australia.

Darwin Airport

Darwin airport is quite a small airport, which means it is fairly easy to navigate. All areas of the airport are (including directions to arrivals) signposted. After completing the immigration checks you will proceed to the baggage reclaim area. Make sure you check all of your belongings for any missing or damaged items. You can talk to the baggage counter staff if you have any issues with your luggage, or if you have lost or received damaged baggage and wish to make a claim.

Customs & Quarantine

Australian Customs and Quarantine Services are very strict, and this often takes students by surprise. It is recommended that, if you are unsure about whether your goods are allowed or not, you declare it on the Incoming Passenger Card. Many students have been issued instant fines for failing to declare items. You should check this with your airline before departure.

Getting to & from Darwin Airport

Those who have arranged an airport pickup should follow the instructions given to them by ISTA staff. For those who have not arranged airport transport in advance, taxis and shuttle buses are available to take you to your accommodation. Taxi fares are calculated on a meter and are extremely safe. The journey from the airport to the Darwin CBD should cost between $25 and $30.The Shuttle Bus fare varies from $20 to $25 and you can buy a ticket at the airport.