Darwin might be Australia’s smallest capital city, but it has an excellent public transport network – with buses in Darwin operating 7 days a week (except Christmas Day and Good Friday), two passenger ferries, plus a fleet of e-scooters and e-bikes!
Getting around on a Darwin public bus is simple and convenient with 38 routes and 614 bus stops, all of which you can see on the Darwin public transport map. Plus, you can use the NT Bus Tracker app to find your nearest bus stop and track your bus as it approaches you in real time.
All you need to get started is a Tap and Ride card, which you can purchase at Casuarina, Darwin and Palmerston bus interchanges, and you can even purchase one from your bus driver if you are carrying cash. If you don’t want to commit to a card, you can also buy single paper tickets which are valid for three hours, or a daily paper ticket, which gives you a full day of unlimited bus travel! Concession fares for students are significantly cheaper – you can see a full breakdown of the tickets and fares on the Northern Territory Government’s website.
If you’re spending the day exploring the Darwin Waterfront, you don’t even need to worry about bus fares with the free Waterfront Shuttle Bus! The free Waterfront Shuttle Bus operates daily from 11:30am – 2pm, and 4pm – 9pm. With only 8 stops on the route, you can kick back and relax as you take in the scenic views and explore the Darwin Waterfront from Jervois Park to Stokes Hill Wharf.
There are two passenger ferries that depart from Cullen Bay in Darwin – Cullen Bay to Mandorah and Cullen Bay to Tiwi Islands. The ferry to Mandorah is a quick way to get from Darwin City to Cox Peninsula, turning a 130 kilometre drive into a 6 kilometre ferry ride! Once you’ve crossed the harbour to Mandorah, you can explore the picturesque Wagait Beach and enjoy a meal at the iconic Cox Country Club. The Cullen Bay to Mandorah ferry operates Monday to Saturday (except for public holidays) and departs from Cullen bay every 30 – 60 minutes from 5.45am – 11pm. You can purchase your ticket on board, and if you’re carrying your student ID card you can snag a return ticket for just $19.60!
The trip from Cullen Bay to Tiwi Islands is a little further, and takes around two and a half hours, at which point travellers arrive in Wurrumiyanga. The Cullen Bay to Tiwi Islands ferry operates from Thursday to Sunday, and while no permit is required to visit Wurrumiyanga, if you wish to see more of the Islands, you need to contact the Tiwi Land Council for permission.
How to plan your journey
Knowing how to navigate public transport in Darwin is made incredibly easy thanks to Darwin City’s handy Journey Planner. The Journey Planner will give you multiple options for your journey, including cycling, driving, e-scooters, buses, walking – or a combination. You can also filter your results based on travel time, the healthiest option, or cost. Journey Planner can even tell you where the nearest e-scooter, bus stop or water fountain is – not to mention calculating the CO2 emission of your journey!