ANZPT Darwin: Top End To ANZPT Season

You'll never, never know, if you never, never go!

For years, the motto of the Northern Territory teased tourists with a holiday destination that is like no other. Iconic landscapes, rugged outback ranges, spectacular national parks, a rich indigenous culture and abundant wildlife - this is Australia's true outback.


We find ourselves in the territory's capital of Darwin as the SKYCITY Casino provides a stunning backdrop to the finale of Season Two of the Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT).

Darwin is a vibrant, modern city with a deep and rather devastating history.

In recent history, Darwin has twice been victim of tragic moments that have all but wiped out the city. In February of 1942, the city of Darwin was bombed by During World War II by Japanese aircraft in what was both the largest Japanese attack since Pearl Harbour and also the largest ever military attack against Australia. It caused massive damage to the city and hundreds of lives were lost.


The explosion of an oil storage tank hit during the first Japanese air raid on Darwin on February 19, 1942. In the foreground is HMAS Deloraine, which escaped damage.

Darwin rebuilt and thrived as people were attracted to the warm waters and exotic location, however an even more devastating disaster was to follow.

It was Christmas of 1974 when tropical cyclone "Tracy" hit the coast of Australia with a ferocity never before seen. Wind speeds of 217 km/h were registered at Darwin Airport before the equipment itself was blown away, with estimates of maximum speeds of 300 km/h.

Tracy killed 71 people but caused a staggering $837 million in damages as it destroyed over 70% of Darwin's buildings and houses. More than 40,000 of Darwin's residents were left homeless, with many of those who evacuated to the Southern states never returning.


The devastation of Cyclone Tracy in Darwin
(Image courtesy of the National Archives of Australia)

It is for that reason that Darwin today is a very new city as everything had to be rebuilt after Tracy had flattened the city. Remarkably it was able to recover and has grown into a thriving, modern metropolis built overlooking a beautiful harbour. With a population of 125,000, it is the smallest of the country's capitals, but the city provides an important port and a hub connecting Australians with many of Asia's major cities.

And how about the weather? Well it's hot, damn hot. Darwin enjoys a tropical climate with suffocating humidity and an average temperature of 32 degrees Celcius all year round. However the distinct wet and dry seasons provide some epic thunderstorms with Darwin known as being one of the most lightning-prone cities in the world.

Those brave enough to venture outside will be rewarded with some of the most unique highlights that the country offers. PokerStars qualifiers this week will enjoy the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park with either a day tour or four-wheel drive camping safari, the Territory Wildlife Park and the Litchfield Park where a tangle with a crocodile is assured!

If our first night in Darwin is anything to go by, then we're in for a spectacular week in the top end. We arrived to a gloriously mild spring evening and joined the locals at the Mindil Beach Markets - just a leisurely stroll up the beach from our hosts at the SKYCITY Casino.


Darwin's Mindil Market and beachfront

With over fifty different stalls of food, drink, arts and crafts as well as live entertainment, it was amazing to see how many locals arrived with picnic rug in hand to grab a bite and find a position on the beach to watch one of the most stunning sunsets you'll ever see. Of course, most stayed well clear of the water's edge in the knowledge that these waters are enjoyed more by box jellyfish and salt water crocodiles than recreational swimmers. We dared not to test the waters and followed the lead of the locals - as ferocious a critter as the Tasmanian Devil is, it would be no match for one of the Northern Territory's "salties".


Image courtesy of Tourism NT

It has set the scene for an exciting week at Australia's top end. Our players will be gearing up for potentially four days of action on the felt at the SKYCITY Darwin Casino. It is one of the most remote and unique stops on the ANZPT tour as major tournament poker hits the Northern Territory for the very first time.

Darwin provides a sensational backdrop to the season-ending ANZPT event where we'll crown our eighth champion of the year and reward three of the season's most consistent players with our Season 2 ANZPT Player of the Year awards. It's going to be a thrilling finale with John Maklouf holding the narrowest of leads over Andrew Scarf, with defending POTY and Team PokerStars Pro Tony Hachem in third, and several others lurking within striking distance, like a croc waiting in the shallows ready to strike!

Who will emerge with the title? Stay locked into the PokerStars blog to find out as all the live action kicks off at 12:30pm local time (GMT +9:30).