Australian politics

Dec 7, 2017

The empty shops of Darwin CBD – where retail goes to die

Empty shops and broken dreams ... the fag end of small business in the tropics.

Bob Gosford — Likes birds and people, not necessarily in that order.

Bob Gosford

Likes birds and people, not necessarily in that order.


I spent a few days in Darwin last week and a is my won’t, I spent a bit of time wandering around the CBD—popping into a pub here to catch up with mates, buying some shit that I can’t get in my home-town of Alice Springs there.

In between I popped a few pix of the many empty shops scattered around the small area that is the Darwin CBD. I’ve lived in darwin on-and-off for more than a few years since I staggered off a McCafferty’s bus in the dry-season of 1984 and since then my measure of how busy the town area is was measured against whether you could get a park in Cavanagh Street between Knuckey and Bennet Streets.

For a long time you’d be buggered if you could find a midday park in that busiest of blocks but over the past couple of years I’ve not even need to use my cripple card to get a park. This past week I could’ve fired a shotgun down the block and not caught too many of the stragglers.

Meanwhile I took a number 4 bus out to Casuarina Square shopping centre in the northern ‘burbs. If I’d fired a shotgun in that place I would’ve been done for mass murder. That the money has moved where the masses are is no surprise but while Casuarina and other suburban centres thrive, the CBD shrivels and dies a slow death.

Here are a few of my shots from the empty shops of the Darwin CBD, where retail goes to die.

You can see earlier posts on this them from Darwin’s own Koulla Roussos on the empty shops of Darwin here and my look at the empty shops of Geelong here.


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2 thoughts on “The empty shops of Darwin CBD – where retail goes to die

  1. Xoanon

    Interesting. Presumably the clever strategies used in other cities to revitalise their CBDs might work in Darwin – eg making it an oasis of walkability and interesting specialist shops and bars. But does the weather or other local factors (eg poor public transport) militate against that happening?

    1. Rodney Pearce

      The problem with Darwin, IMO and living here, is the recently widely discussed heat problem, goegraphical location with respect the major suburbs, public transport service issues, and lack of a drawcard shopping centre.
      Wider Darwin does have a thriving micro-business scene, thanks to a large array of outdoor market venues. The city is getting in on this by opening up the mall to markets on some Friday evenings.
      The government has been looking at how to address the heat issue of late (oh my gosh it seems like functional government again. We’re so used to the shenanigans of the CLP that not hearing things bi-weekly makes us nervous). Darwin just wasn’t designed to deal with tropical heat post Cyclone Tracey, and the buildings often comply with the same heat retention regulations as the southern states (which promotes excessive aircon use). Casuarina Square a large self contained shopping centre in the Northern Suburbs, and it’s either air-conditioned or well shaded and breezy.
      The public transport has an itinerant problem for most of the population. Late night buses especially are like a reality style freak show at times.
      The mall, and the associated walk down to the Waterfront, are barely covered, bloody hot and useless in the rain. There is cover installed, but it’s completely useless at being actual sunshade. The Waterfront is reasonably pleasant I think and it gets plenty of patronage. And shops have opened up there too. It’s not managed by the Darwin City Council….

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