When to fly:
The dry season - April/May through September/October - is when most travellers book flights to Darwin. Travellers and locals can enjoy one of the most popular racing events in the Australian horse racing calendar, The Darwin Cup. The Northern Territory sees over 20,000 attendees gather each year to experience, not only eight fun-filled days of high quality racing, but also to enjoy top end hospitality, activities and entertainment. The middle of the dry season is particularly busy. This is when schools are out and families holiday in the region. Expect large crowds during the last two and a half weeks of August, as Darwin sees more than 100,000 people flock to get involved in the Darwin Festival. The festival was introduced to celebrate the states unique identity through an array of vibrant arts and cultural events that are performed outdoors in the Botanical Gardens. Residents and guests can enjoy an 18-day programme of theatre, music, dances, visual arts, workshops, film and comedy.
January, February and March are, in general, the off-peak season. This is the wettest time of the year and there's also a good chance of cyclones and floods. However, many consider this the best time to book flights to Darwin. With the rains, the earth bursts into life. Flowers and plants bloom, animals mate and rivers fill up and run off onto teeming waterfalls.
Darwin is Australia's fastest-growing capital city and one with the youngest population. Its history of frontierism, gold prospecting and war (it was a major military base for troops fighting the war in the Pacific) gives it a unique cultural heritage. Today, more than 50 nationalities share an easy-going lifestyle in this cosmopolitan city.
Darwin might just be the ultimate budget-break destination. There is so much about Darwin that's not about spending money. Getting a flight to Darwin during the wet season means you can watch as nature puts on its own show. Watching the sky turn indigo and storms roll in over the harbour, basking under the flaming gold skies at sunset, oohing at the spectacular lightning shows or aahing at the sound frogs croaking late into the night - all are wonderful and free.
It's also an excellent base to explore the nearby World Heritage-listed lands - Kakadu National Park, Litchfield and Nitmiluk National Parks, the Tiwi Islands and Arnhem Land.
Darwin has its fair share of cultural offerings. The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory tells the story of the region in five major permanent galleries while the historic Fannie Bay Gaol and Lyons Cottage are well worth a visit.
The city's greatest sights are provided by nature however. There are lots of tours devoted to the menacing crocodiles and Crocosaurus Cove, in the middle of the city, allows visitors to get as close as they like to the sharp-toothed reptiles. There's even a Cage of Death.
But strolling through the Mindil Beach markets (last Thursday in April until the last Thursday in October) and seeing the sun set over the ocean are reason enough to take flights to Darwin.