Managing extreme heat and smoke in Darwin

Project Duration: July 2021 – June 2022 

Extreme heat and poor air quality from bushfire smoke can lead to illness and even death. Darwin has a hot tropical climate and many landscape fires in the dry season. It’s important to understand how very hot weather and smoky conditions can be best managed to protect your health and wellbeing.

Sports training under lights at the the Gardens Oval (Photo: Charlie Bliss)

What are we doing to help you manage extreme heat and poor air quality? 

We conducted focus groups with Darwin’s outdoor workers, teachers and carers, and sports people, who are highly affected by these conditions. We asked questions to find out how people managed extremely hot weather and smoky conditions where they lived, worked and played. We wanted to find out what people did to cope, what made it easier, and what could be done to help make it even better. 

What did we find out?  

We found out that extreme heat and smoke made it much harder to be productive at work, to care for others, and to play sport. We found out there were a lot of things people did to make living with these conditions better, but often it was difficult to manage. Sometimes it was dangerous. There were some great ideas and suggestions on what could be done to make it easier to cope with heat and smoke, and ultimately make Darwin a more liveable city. This report summarises findings from the focus group discussions.

What’s next? 

We will use this information to recommend further research about the health impacts of extreme heat and smoke in the Top End. We will also use this information to make recommendations for education, infrastructure and policy improvements that will make Darwin a better place to live.   

What else is going on? 

You can download a free smartphone app called AirRater. AirRater gives you timely information on temperature and air quality in your current location. You can also see if there are fires nearby or if it’s hot or smoky in the location where you will be travelling. AirRater is available from the AppStore and Google Play, or visit for more information. 

For further information

Dr Sharon Campbell

Project Leader

  • Environmental Health Research Unit, Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania