Darwin – Gateway to Australia’s Top End
Darwin is a bustling city, a tourist mecca, and a laid back beach side town all in one. It's also home to some of the biggest crocodiles on the planet..
Darwin is the capital city of the Northern Territory and lies on the southern reaches of the Timor Sea. It is the ancestral home of the Larrakia people. It is closer to many other Asiatic cities than it is to southern Australia capital city counterparts. There are many historical sites that uncover it's colonial and indigenous past. Memorials and artefacts highlight the critical role that Darwin played in helping to defend northern Australia in World War 2, and the many men and women who have actively influenced it's past and the present. It is a place steeped in history.
The city is a melting pot of cultures and the culinary choices reflect this, particularly at the local markets. Darwin has a tropical climate with distinct wet and dry seasons. The warm waters support an array of marine life and deep sea fishing is a popular tourist activity. Saltwater crocodiles and marine stingers and jellyfish prohibit swimming on most beaches and waterways. The area is subject to tropical storms in the summer months, the most infamous being Cyclone Tracey in 1974. You can learn more about the devastation wrought by this event here or visit the Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory where you can see a display.
If you're looking for some fun ways to explore and enjoy the city of Darwin, then check out these 4 fantastic options.
1. Mindil Night Markets
Everyone who comes to Darwin, and those who live here, rave about the Mindil Night Markets, and for good reason. They are a Darwin institution that you just have to experience for yourself. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun. The sunset on the beach is beautiful and the perfect accompaniment for enjoying the delicious range of foods. You can pick yourself up some truly unique Australian souvenirs here as you wander through the stalls. While a cast of musical and carnivale performers offer some fun, chilled and eclectic beats. Come as often as your visit allows (there is a market on Thursdays from 5-10pm and Sundays from 4-9pm, April to October). But be warned, you’ll need more than one visit to get a taste of all the very different foods on offer.
For more information and details on upcoming events, visit their website here.
2. Deckchair Cinema
This superb outdoor cinema, located on Darwin’s tropical waterfront, is a truly unique way to experience this city at its finest. The balmy evenings are perfect for being outdoors, enjoying a meal or a cold drink, and relaxing with a good movie under the stars. The cinema is run by the not-for-profit group Darwin Film Society. The open air cinema hosts feature films 7 nights a week from April to November, and is a special treat you have to include during your visit.
Check out their website for more information and movie session times.
3. Crocosaurus Cove
If there is one thing the Northern Territory is famous for, its crocodiles! While stumbling across a saltwater crocodile in the wild is not so cool, seeing one up close and personal, especially ones over 5 metres in length, is super cool, and a real sight to behold.
Aside from the resident saltwater crocodiles, this multi level inner city attraction exhibits an array of reptiles, turtles and a large aquarium.
This wildlife experience is also totally interactive. Hold a baby crocodile, grab a baited pole and fish for crocodiles, swim with crocs, meet some of the local reptilians or watch the "barra" feed. This tourist destination is another Darwin staple experience, and one well worth it just so you can report back to your friends how you had lunch with a 5 metre crocodile!
Check out Crocosaurus Cove for more details on planning your visit and show times.
4. Darwin’s Waterfront
If you’re from the East or South coast of Australia, (or not even from Australia!) you may not be overly familiar with the swimming lagoons popular throughout Northern Australia. But wherever you find them, they are great fun. They are provided as an alternative to beach swimming or river swimming due to the prevalence of marine stingers and crocodiles in these areas, which make swimming in more natural settings dangerous all year round. A hot day in these parts of Australia is common and sometimes a refreshing swim is the perfect way to cool down or re-energise.
The Darwin Waterfront is home to two swimming lagoons and they are both are monitored by lifeguards.
The Recreation Lagoon is a body of ocean water pumped in through a sea wall and is surrounded by a small white sandy beach. It's calm, shallow waters are ideal for a morning or afternoon swim, some watery family fun, or to simply retreat from the heat. There are plenty of trees providing shade.
The Wave Lagoon in Darwin is the pick of all the public swimming facilities we’ve seen in Northern Australia. The waves are great fun for all ages, and whether you generally like waves or not, this place will certainly bring out the inner kid! A welcome experience to wash away the heat and prepare for the next source of your fun here in Darwin! Afterwards, wander the harbour precinct and enjoy some fresh local cuisine at one of the many restaurants or alfresco eateries that overlook the waterfront area.
Visit Darwin Waterfront for more information.