This is actually a tip for leaving Darwin, rather than going to. Many people are keen to travel between Europe and Australia overland only, or at least using no airplanes. There are no ferries that operate between Australia and Indonesia, so this is a significant gap in that trip.
Once a year around July 22nd, however, there is a sailing rally from Darwin to Indonesia, first port of call, Kupang, (West) Timor. Many yachts continue on across Indonesia and up to Thailand. Occasionally they need extra crew for this trip and may take you on if you have sailing experience. The trip to Kupang can take approximately 3 to 5 days, depending on wind, of course. You would be expected to do an equal share of crew duties and watches through the nights, including meal preparation and cleanup. You will probably be expected to pay for your share of the food, and you may need to have your own foul weather gear. It differs from boat to boat. I think it would be very hard for couples to get positions on the same boat. If they need a crew, they probably only need and want one.
I have extensive offshore sailing and racing experience, so I tried this in 2007. I failed. I still think it's possible, but you need to spend some real time in Darwin, at least three weeks beforehand, to secure a crew position. I could only spare over a week. The first stop is to check out the rally web site at www.sailindonesia.net. If you dig, you will find a "Crew Positions" page which will not list crew-available positions, but will list crew-wanted positions. It will also give you some further tips on looking for a boat.
About six months before the race. I dug into that web site and copied down the list of every yacht sailing that year. Then I searched each yacht name in Google and noted down any that had their own web pages, or otherwise found e-mail contact details. I was able to find an e-mail address for at least half the yachts. I e-mailed them all, citing my sailing CV and asking if they had crew positions. I got a few replies, but no hits. When sending e-mail, keep it as plain text, very short, and do not add attachments. Often they receive e-mail at sea via radio and it is very slow. If they spend half an hour waiting for your e-mail to download, they will be very irritated indeed. If you secure a crew position this way, then your life is much easier; it's all settled beforehand.
The main hangout for the sailors before the race is the Darwin Sailing Club. I contacted them ahead of time and arranged for a temporary membership. I forget the cost; it was either free or something cheap like $25. I think you can get a per-visit permit for free each time you go there without a membership, but my temporary permit made my life easier in that regard. The club is very nice, down to earth, and relaxed. It has good meals and you can sit outside and watch the spectacular sunsets.
The club is out past Mindel Beach a fair way from central Darwin. There is a bus that runs out there every half hour or so, but it stops running at maybe 23:30. I rented a motor scooter the whole time I was there, which made it a 10 minute drive each way.
I spent 8 evenings at that club schmoozing the rally folk. I paid a $10 fee and placed a quarter- page advert on their bulletin board, and I also placed that advert at various yacht clubs and marinas all around Darwin. I even placed an ad in the local newspaper. I even crashed the rally pre-departure party. In the end, I got no offers from that group.
Lesson learned: the Indonesia cruising permit is very restrictive. The skippers must list each crew by name and submit it many weeks before entering Indonesia. For this reason, they are reluctant to take on last-minute crew unless they are desparate (perhaps their slated crew could not make it). I've heard that it's still possible to immigrate Indonesia in spite of this (maybe with some special "fees" to officials), but it would certainly slow down the immigration process on arrival, which already takes from half a day to a day.
Near the end, I did find a guy looking for crew. He was not sailing with the rally, but was going to follow along with them. We were all set to go, but then he lost a critical piece of hardware over the side of the boat as he was repairing it, and couldn't get a replacement for another week. I simply couldn't wait that long, so unfortunately I had to bail.
So aside from the rally, the "season" that sailors leave from Darwin is July/August. If you plan to do this, you really need to prepare and you need to spend some serious time in Darwin.
The airport - city shuttle bus is great. It's a fast trip into town and much cheaper than a taxi and the depot is right in town.
This is not a huge city so there are few traffic delays so you don't need to waste your money on a taxi. They run frequently meeting international and domestic flights
I see these guys around alot in Perth and have viewed their site and continue to recommend them.
So it was exciting to see the Western Xposure bus at Adelaide River on our way to Darwin from the long trip over the top end from Cairns. .....Wonder where they were off to?.. :o)
Anyway, if you are planning on doing a trip from Darwin... then may I suggest you check out the Western Xposure web site below. I don't think you can go wrong!
There is a good public bus service to get you around Darwin. Travel is cheap with a 3 hour ticket $2 or an all day ticket $5. Pensioners or Australian citizens holding a Seniors Card obtain Free Travel.
Hi ..if you arriving in Darwin by The Ghan train..there is a bus that meets every train at the railway station that goes to the city centre (about $15.00 I think.).drops you at the transit centre which is right in the middle of Mitchell Street where there are many backpackers and Hotels.buses to the airport depart from this area as well..The trip to the city is about 15 to 20 minutes...prepare yourself for a really good time while in Darwin.....Denny..
We travelled to and from Darwin from Perth 2 different ways.
We went with Virgin Blue via Melbourne to get there as this was the cheapest option.
And we travelled straight to perth via Qantas on the way back.
If I had to compare both....I would take the Virgin Blue option. I will be reluctant to fly Qantas at all from now on as the food is crap....but I always knew that....and now you have to pay for the grog!...Well that did it for me!! .....Qantas is not the flash alternative it used to be! Not any more!!....and if it comes down to service & nice food....allbeit that you have to pay extra....then Virgin Blue wins hands down!!
Zig arranged our outback troupie vehicle hire through Thrifty. As far as I know we didn't have a problem with them. So if you want to hire a 4 wheel drive to go outback, then Thrifty is the place to check out.
We also rented our bus for the big weekend from Thrifty, so if you are planning to hire a bus....then they will be able to help you also.
A must do: a cruise on the Adelaide river!
During your trip you will see some huge saltwater Jumping Crocodiles...
so keep safe as me behind the window and enjoy some refreshment from the onboard bar ;-)
This is when you find out that Darwin’s a long way from anywhere! Darwin is 4000km from Sydney, or Perth; 3700 from Melbourne, 3400km from Brisbane and 3000km from Adelaide. If you work on the basis that you’ll be lucky to average 100kph for an eight hour driving day (800km), you’ll be looking at about a five day trip from Sydney: and that’s without taking any time for sightseeing on the way.
If you drive, of course, you will be in excellent company. Road trips have always been very popular in Australia and in recent years, upon retirement, many retirees have taken to doing the leisurely ‘big trip’ around Australia that they have promised themselves for years. There are so many that they are collectively known as “Grey Nomads”. It’s far more a ‘lifestyle’ thing than a financial one – this is more about seeing Australia, rather than finding an inexpensive living option: many of these people buy the latest in caravans and tow vehicles before heading off into the distance.
This is certainly the fastest and probably also the cheapest way to reach Darwin. You won’t see much en-route, but the long miles are soon gone. Darwin is served by all four major Australian domestic airlines (VirginBlue, Tiger, Qantas and Jetstar), as well as by regional and some international airlines.
As usual though, there is something of a catch. For airline scheduling reasons, many flights arrive in Darwin very late at night and depart at ridiculous hours of the morning (our flight departed at 0220, and the terminal was full of passengers waiting for other flights). It’s all related to curfews in places such as Sydney, and the airlines wanting to keep the planes flying – so the long haul flights to and from places such as Darwin (with no curfew) become overnight runs – and those red-eye flights are where you will find the discount fares.
Taking the train to Darwin involves travelling on the tourist-style “New Ghan”, intended more as a drawcard in its own right for train enthusiasts, rather than as transport. The transcontinental railway was finally completed in 2004. only about 120 years after the idea was conceived. Although the line was intended mainly for freight, it seems that most freight is still carried to and from the south by road transport – but the railway trip, known as “The Ghan” after the original passenger train from Adelaide to Alice Springs (on a completely different line) is now a roaring success.
The “Ghan” we watched pass must have had over 25 carriages, I didn’t count. It runs twice weekly in each direction, with the fare options ranging from a “daynighter seat” for $710A to $2975A for “Platinum Class”. We’re not talking of a European style high speed train here, the “Ghan” leaves Adelaide at 1220 in the afternoon, then rolls into Darwin at 1730 on the afternoon two days later, after travelling 3000km across the continent.
If you’re a train enthusiast, you can find all the details here or book online. The “New Ghan” was named after the (locally) famous original Ghan which for many years ran from Adelaide to Oodnadatta, where it was met by ‘Afghan’ camel drivers to take goods onward to Alice Springs. The line was later extended to Alice Springs, but closed when an entirely new set of tracks was built in more suitable country – and the current “New Ghan” uses the new tracks.
Very easy to travel around Darwin on the local buses. It costs $2 to from Darwin to Casaurina and the ticket will last for 3 hours. All the bus drivers I met were very helpful and friendly. The bus depot is in the city centre but there is a bus stop near Woolworths on Cavenagh St which all the buses seem to stop at.
If you are travelling with a partner/friend you can hire a car and drive yourself to Litchfield, Berry Springs, Territory Wildlife Park, Jumping Crocodiles etc. and save a considerable amount over doing these via tours. We did a tour to Kakadu because of how far it was.
Most of the hire cars only include 100km per day as part of their rate. Avis however included 150km. If you are doing all the sites via car, you will definately exceed the 100km/day and most probably the 150km/day allowances. Avis offered additional km for AU$0.27/km. I would suggest working out how many km you expect to use and considering whether you want to hire the car for additional days for use around Darwin to get extra km. After taking into account the extra 150km we got, it only cost us an extra AU$15 to get the car for an extra day. This was less than the taxi fare to the sites around Darwin we visited that day.
For all your Auto requirements visit of of the two Supercheap Auto stores in Darwin.
11 Mile: 1 Olive Place
08 8932 9866
Casuarina: 58 Bradshaw Terrace
Casuarina Shopping Area
08 8927 2888
Other Auto alternatives are Autobahn, Repco and Independent Motormart
Darwin's airport is small and easy to use. There is service from major Australian cities and it also handles some international flights. You can take a shuttle into town to drop you off at your hotel/hostel.