Darwin, and the Northern Territory are popular places to visit. On Census Night 2016, for example, the Australian Bureau of Statistics tells us that there were nearly 18,000 visitors to Darwin. Census Night was on August 9th 2016 – Winter! No wonder there were so many visitors to Darwin. In August there is a mean maximum temperature of 31.4C and a mean minimum temperature of 20.3C. That’s a little different to many southern areas of Australia during August. So, is this one of Australia’s best kept retirement secrets?
Where to retire in Australia? For one couple, originally from Hobart, there was no other place on their list than Darwin. Having moved from Hobart, raised children, worked and become part of the community – Graeme and Sally say that Darwin is their pick for a retirement spot.
In Darwin, it seems like you can forget traffic jams and say hello to warmer weather, a welcoming community, conveniently placed shopping centres and a senior community that is relaxed and friendly. In fact Graeme says that Darwin is one of Australia’s best kept retirement secrets!
Here’s Graeme And Sally’s Story:
Have you lived in Darwin all your life?
No – we moved to Darwin in October 1980, from Hobart
This means we have now lived here now for almost 38 years. I was originally successful in being appointed to a senior ministerial staffer job with the NT Minister for Health, Community Development and Mines and Energy.
Sally and I made the decision to move to Darwin with our two young children (3years and 18 months) after being flown up to look at the city and facilities available for a young family. This was a time of unprecedented development in the NT. Self-Government was only two years old and being at the sharp end of Government was really exciting.
Why do you think the Northern Territory is a good place to retire?
Darwin must be one of Australia’s best kept secrets and the NT is an excellent place to retire. Mostly the weather is warm and pleasant. The social environment is especially senior friendly.
There is a whole new seniors population developing as more people make the decision to retire here after finishing work.
Seniors make such a valuable contribution to our community and society. They extensively volunteer and mentor as well as provide help with supporting their children and grand-children which is a new dimension to the NT population base. When we moved here there were virtually no grand-parents in the community – except in the dry season which was commonly known as the “granny” season.
Now with retirees staying on we see much more help for families with inter-generational support. There are many senior friendly groups, PROBUS, U3A, Rotary etc. which have extensive membership and offer helpful and friendly environments for interaction and social exchange.
There are lots of opportunities for community and social engagement – for instance I am President of the Darwin Branch of the Association of Self-Funded Retirees which is a community based lobby/advocacy group representing the interests of partly and fully funded retirees.
Through this position I have representation on the Ministerial Advisory Council for Senior Territorians.
What does the Northern Territory offer to retirees?
A relaxed, supportive and senior friendly community is the most outstanding attribute of the NT. There is a lot of excellent infrastructure here for all family cohorts, playgrounds for grand kids, sporting grounds and clubs, and seniors groups all support retirees here. There are bike-path systems to keep retirees active.
There are also lots of groups promoting Pilates, stretch exercises and gym sessions.
Shopping centres are conveniently located close to all suburbs and an excellent road system make driving around an easy task.
No Rush Hour
What’s it like living in Darwin?
We really enjoy living in Darwin – 10 minutes suburban driving from most places – no rush hour grid-lock. For most of the year the weather ranges from fantastic (dry season) to spectacular (wet season). The build-up season (October November and much of December) can be challenging, but it is proving a great time to travel interstate or overseas now that we are retired.
Darwin is also a very social place. We have a great group of good friends – all of whom we have known for over 30 years from times when we all arrived here not knowing anyone and, of necessity, creating new friendships in a new place.
How do you cope with the heat and humidity?
We are now well acclimatised to the heat and humidity. In fact we now find it too cold for comfortable living when visiting my 90 year old Mum in Hobart – especially during the winter.
The heat and humidity is at its worst in October, November and most of December which is known as the “build-up” to the wet season which generally starts at the end of December – lasting until early April.
Darwin has a simple weather system – northwest monsoons for the wet season with the wind changing to the south-easterly trades for the dry season. When we moved to Darwin in 1980 it was from Hobart directly into the October build-up – quite a challenge for a young family!
Aside from really enjoying every single day of the dry season – no rain for 5 months the wet season is also quite spectacular. The storms and lightning shows are such special weather event displays.
During the build-up we use air–conditioning of a night time but not usually during the day.
What are the medical facilities like in Darwin?
Darwin has excellent medical facilities. There are plenty of bulk billing GP clinics. Also there is a 350 bed public teaching hospital in the northern suburbs with extensive facilities including accident and emergency, intensive care, coronary care, operating theatre suites, new imaging department and a 12 bed hospice.
The hospital is also home to the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre established after the 2002 Bali Bombings. Royal Darwin employs over 1500 people and is the largest hospital in the Northern Territory.
Located in the same precinct is the Darwin Private Hospital which is a 104 bed facility with a paediatric unit. A new regional hospital at the satellite suburb of Palmerston is about to commence operation.
There are also well established senior residential care facilities in both Darwin and Palmerston.
For people thinking about retiring to the Northern Territory, do you have any suggestions to help them?
For people thinking about retiring here, I believe it would be a good suggestion to visit the city to have a look around and investigate the facilities, shopping, housing availability seniors groups and social opportunities.
Travel opportunities are a distinct advantage from Darwin with close proximity to Bali and Indonesia and particularly Singapore with links to South East Asia and indeed world-wide air links.
We often travel to Bali for holidays with travel time, expenses and travel experiences much different to our southern states.
Are there many downsides to living in the Northern Territory?
Whilst there are many benefits to living in Darwin the only real down side from our experience is that of being disconnected from family who live in the southern states. This is particularly evident in times of sickness or family emergency, which causes short notice travel with the associated expensive air-fares.
Thanks Graeme! It certainly looks like this could be one of Australia’s best retirement secrets.
Let us know your preferred lifestyle location.