Contrary to popular belief, the words Darwin and Culture do not form an oxymoron. Darwin has a thriving Arts community which all territorians can be justifiably proud of. From the Darwin Symphony Orchestra performing at Katherine Gorge to impromptu performances featuring alternative theater groups at Mindil Beach Markets, Darwin is alive with cultural activities.
During the Dry Season, Darwin plays host to many outdoor performances. One of my favorites is the Sunset Jazz which is held on occaisional Sundays on the lawns of the Casino. Local and visiting Jazz artists play in front of crowds of music loving Darwinians in a fantastic, informal, outdoor setting next to Mindil Beach. Entry is free and food and drinks are readily available. The crowds sit back in their deckchairs or lie on their blankets listening to the music as the fabled Darwin sunset bathes the sky in colour. If you like Jazz, this really is a treat.Call the MGM Casino for details.
Deckchairs take pride of place in Darwins only outdoor cinema too. The aptly named Deckchair Cinema, runs throughout the Dry Season and provides Darwin moviegoers with a range of alternative films which would not normally be shown in the larger, more commercial, cinemas. It's quite an experience to be sitting (lying), in your deckchair, watching a movie while Fruit Bats fly noisily past the big screen. On a balmy tropical night the smell of the sea and the palms fringing this intimate little venue, add an atmosphere which would be difficult to replicate elsewhere. The last time I was there we were all entertained, not only by the movie (Monsoon Wedding), but also by the pair of Possums doing a high wire act directly above our heads on a power line from the screen to the projection box. A word of advice though, take a pillow, blanket and mozzie repellent if you want to get the most out of your viewing. Wine, beer and soft drinks are on sale and you can drink while you watch the movie. Look for posters in cafes, shops, etc, which will give the cinemas program for the Dry Season months. The Deck chair cinema is off Frances Bay Drive.
A cinema complex operates at Casuarina Square with seven screens and comfortable surroundings. This complements the five screen complex in the city and the cinema complex in Palmerston.
Darwin has several museums in and around the city. The biggest is the Museums and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory at Bullocky Point. Here you can find some pretty spectacular displays of local interest along with travelling interstate and overseas displays. The collections include the normal flora and fauna of the area along with a great display of maritime artifacts and indigenous art and artifacts. There used to be a couple of refugee boats from the seventies which were used by Vietnamese refugees who fled to Darwin under appalling conditions. The museum also houses that legendary Top End, outboard motor eating, crocodile (now deceased), Sweetheart. Check out what's happening at the Museum
Darwin's military past is highlighted at the East Point Military Museum. Great displays of military artifacts, including vehicles, weapons, clothing, etc. The museum is situated overlooking the sea and entry is reasonably priced. The old Fannie Bay Jail, on East Point Road is also worth a look. The Jail features an exhibition on Cyclone Tracy as well as memorabilia on the old jail. The Aviation Heritage Centre features exhibits representing Darwin's aviation heritage. Exhibits includea B-52 Bomber, Spitfire replica, bits of Japanese fighters and bombers, helicopters and more. Well worth a look. There website should be ready in April / May 99. Lyons Cottage in the city is also worth a visit as is the old chinese Temple. The Australian Pearling Exhibition / Indo Pacific Marine is situated in the old power station down on the Wharf Precinct. Ind-Pacific features self sustaining living reef exhibitions which are almost unique in the world (it's won quite a few awards). The Pearling exhibition features Darwin's Pearling history and the characters who made it.