Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory. It’s about as far north as it’s possible to get. Its busy port and close ties with South East Asia make it particularly important to the Australia economy. It may not be the major bustling metropolis of Sydney, but it doesn’t lack for big-city amenities or lifestyle. In fact, it’s considered one of Australia’s most modern cities, and is certainly one of its most multicultural. Another important point in its favour is the fact that it’s the best city in Australia employment-wise, at least according to a study by Adzuna job board.
Let’s take a closer look at what <Darwin has to offer students.
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Universities and Colleges
Charles Darwin University
Charles Darwin University
Charles Darwin University takes care of all of Darwin’s higher education needs, from apprenticeships and TAFE courses to undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. It’s evolved from a small local college to one of the best universities in Australia – the quality of its research has earned it a five-star rating from the Good Universities Guide. Some of the research programs conducted in partnership with professional research organisations, government departments, and other organisations delve into the link between human activity and climate change, indigenous ageing, gambling, and aquatic ecosystems and water resources.
There are three faculties, each with its own schools:
- The Faculty of Engineering, Health, Science & the Environment, which includes the School of Engineering & Information Technology, School of Environment, School of Health, and School of Psychological & Clinical Sciences.
- The Faculty of Law, Education, Business & Arts, which includes the School of Academic Language & Learning, School of Business, School of Creative Arts & Humanities, School of Education, School of Law, and School of Indigenous Knowledges & Public Policy.
- The Faculty of Vocational Education & Training, which includes Office of VET Business Improvement, School of Business & Service Industries, School of Primary Industries, School of Trades, and School of VET Health, Community and Children’s Services.
Of the campuses only one is in Darwin: Casuarina Campus.
On the TAFE and VET side of things, Charles Darwin University offers over 150 courses in all major studies areas. These include:
- Primary Industries, such as Agriculture, Land Management, Horticulture & Aquaculture.
- VET Health, Community & Children’s Services, such as Aged Care, Youth Work, and Population Health.
- Business & Services Industries, such as Business, Tourism, Cookery, IT, Hairdressing, and Retail.
- Trades, such as Auto & Civil, Construction, Plumbing, Metal Trades & Maritime, Electrotechnology, and National Transport & Logistics.
- Office of Business Improvement, such as English as a Second Language, AMEP, Adult Literacy & Numeracy, and IELTS.
- VET Creative Arts
VETiS – VET in Schools – programs are also available for secondary school students.
Charles Darwin University offers students on-campus accommodation, and also has services to help students find off-campus accommodation. On-campus accommodation is at International House Darwin (IHD), which actually belongs to a network of International Houses that offer local and international students different accommodation options. IHD at Casuarina campus, for example, offers students anything from single rooms to shared apartments on a short- and long-term basis.
Off-campus rental options include single or shared accommodation in houses, townhouses, duplexes, apartment complexes, and hostels.
Homestays are quite popular. This is when students stay with a family in the area. The families are thoroughly vetted and trained to give students a well-rounded experience of Darwin. Homestay options range from the room only to full board.
Living in Darwin
A lot of Australian cities like to think that they are the most cosmopolitan in the country. Darwin’s claim is probably the closest to the truth. It’s estimated that Darwin’s population draws from 70 different ethnicities from more than 60 countries. It’s considered the country’s gateway to Asia, so a lot of the influence, especially when it comes to the cuisine, is Asian.
Darwin has a tropical climate with temperatures that seldom drop below 21°Celsius. It can get humid and balmy in summer, however, which is why winter is actually considered the best time of year. You can expect monsoon-like rains between October and March.
Public transport in the form of buses is reliable, but many people, especially students, opt to cycle around the city.
Its relative remoteness makes the cost of living higher than in some other cities, but it depends on what you’re buying and where you buy it. There are several bargains to be found if you know where to look, and most students who have spent some time in the city know exactly where to look – tap into their knowledge.
Australia is known as a somewhat sports mad country. Darwin lives up to that reputation with a lot of sporting events and sporting and exercise opportunities for fitness fanatics. It also has several cultural outlets (museums, galleries, theatres) to quench those with an aesthetic thirst. The variety of restaurants is astounding, even for students on a budget.
Things to do on a budget
There are a lot of affordable things to see and do to keep students entertained. Some of the most popular include:
- Mindil Beach Sunset Market
Mindil Beach Sunset Market has become an institution in Darwin. Not only does it support small local businesses and provide citizens with access to a range of affordable goods, but it also fosters a sense of community. Markets are held on Thursdays and Sundays between the end of April and the end of October (the dry season). Stalls include food and fresh produce from five continents, as well as jewellery, indigenous art and crafts. Buskers and street performers provide entertainment at five locations.
Mindil Beach Market
- NT Chinese Museum
The Chinese have a long and not always happy history in Darwin. The museum is designed to bring that very influential history to the public’s attention. It includes a model of the old Chinatown and photographic exhibitions showing the Chinese way of life (from political, social, religious, and cultural perspectives) in Darwin at various points in history.
While you’re there, you can visit the famous Chinese Temple which is home to practitioners of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
- East Point Reserve
East Point Reserve is the biggest park in Darwin. It contains 30 hectares of natural forest and Lake Alexander, where residents enjoy saltwater swimming all year round. Another popular attraction is the Mangrove Boardwalk, which is a half-hour walk through a vine forest and various mangrove communities. The reserve is great for picnics, walks, barbecues, and general outdoors fun and recreation.
- Leanyer Water Park
Leanyer Water Park is part of Leanyer Recreation Park. The water park contains three exciting water slides, swimming areas and a water playground. Entrance is free, which is music to any student’s ears. The recreation park also boasts a playground, skate park, half basketball court, cycling path, a café and picnic areas.
Read our guide to TAFE courses in Australia.