Home » Surprise city crowned the ‘cultural capital’ of Australia

Surprise city crowned the ‘cultural capital’ of Australia

Surprise city crowned the ‘cultural capital’ of Australia

Darwin may be Australia’s smallest capital city – but it’s recently been crowned the number one for cultural experiences.

In fact, in a recent study of cultural experiences across Australian capital cities per capita, Darwin in the Northern Territory emerged as the top-ranked city in Australia.

Its vibrant indigenous art scene, multicultural festivals, and rich historical sites make it a standout destination for cultural immersion.

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Darwin CBD
Darwin is Australia’s ‘culture capital’. (iStock)

And according to locals, August is the best time of year to visit, when most Australian capital cities are in the cold depths of winter.

Getting to Darwin is an easy three-to-four-hour flight from most cities. Then you’ll have plenty to choose from including Unique Territory dining experiences, a buzzing markets scene, outdoor adventures, an epic coastline from which to worship spectacular sunsets, and one much anticipated Darwin Festival 2024 – that goes for almost the entire month.

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Here are some of the best ways to immerse yourself in the culture capital this August.

Catch a performance at one of many theatres 

From Aussie icon Missy Higgins, a tribute to the Warumpi Band with Big Name, No Blankets, and the National Indigenous Music awards at the Botanic Gardens outdoor amphitheatre – to dance spectaculars Cloud Split and Wayfinder at the Darwin Entertainment Centre – there’s plenty of shows to see in Darwin during August.

Catch a comedy performance at the INPEX Sunset Stage, or a world premiere performance like Yolngu cultural performance  Song Spirals, at Browns Mart Theatre.  

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Minoli De Silva's mango salad
You can visit Minoli De Silva’s award-winning Sri Lankan restaurant Ella. (Nine)

Eat and drink

Take your tastebuds on a culinary journey around Darwin’s diverse food culture – with three  hatted restaurants in the city, many street food trucks and a collection of both of these things every night in Darwin Festival’s ‘Festival Park’.  

Meet some of Darwin’s favourite food personalities under the festoon lights and the banyan trees – from venues like the award-winning Sri Lankan restaurant Ella by Minoli (who happens to be 9Honey Kitchen’s columnist), local legend  Benjamin from pizza truck Cucina Sotto Le Stelle, and the always smiling Nim from Thai food truck Hugs Panim.  

Go on an art exhibition tour

Start at the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory – experience Australia’s longest running and most prestigious Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art awards, the NATSIAAs.  

Then make your way around Darwin city to check out one of the at least 12 visual art  exhibitions happening during August, showcasing works from a variety of art communities  and NT artists, across galleries from the Darwin Waterfront out to Parap and Coconut Grove.  

crowds come to watch the sunset at Mindil Beach Darwin
Crowds come to watch the sunset at Mindil Beach Darwin. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Celebrate the sunset

Did you know that thousands of people clap the sunset every Thursday and Sunday at the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets? It’s a mecca for arts, crafts – and delicious street food.  

Or if you’re looking for a more chilled sunset experience, grab a beer at the Darwin Ski  Club’s Bali Bar for sunset. If you’re in town on the August 23-25, you can catch  performances from Marlon Williams, Kate Miller-Heidke, and The Cat Empire while you’re at  it!  

Challenge your senses

DARKFIELD is a collection of experiences that utilise striking sets inside shipping containers, featuring binaural 360- degree sound, complete darkness and a variety of sensory effects, where each participant is situated at the centre of an unsettling narrative.

During August, you can find two DARKFIELD shipping containers, SÉANCE and FLIGHT in Darwin Festival Park.