Many travellers visit Darwin briefly on their way to the national parks and sacred sites of the Northern Territory, but its wildlife, parks, restaurants and markets make it a great place to spend the weekend. So check out these 6 places you can cool off (and be cool!) in the Top End’s sticky city.
Jumping Crocodile Cruise
Just over 1 hours drive from Darwin is the croc-filled Adelaide River where you can join a Jumping Crocodile Cruise to get up close and personal with the local wildlife. You’ll spend an hour on the river learning more about the Jurassic looking inhabitants and (if they are hungry) will get a chance to see them jump.*
*Technically crocodiles don’t jump, rather they use their tails to swim vertically, but as the captain of our cruise said that title is not nearly as catchy!
Small group tours run several times a day from May to November (they close during the wet season) and cost $45 per adult.
Daytrip To Litchfield National Park
A little further afield are the waterfalls, swimming holes and termite mounds of Litchfield National Park. The Park is 2hr30 drive from Darwin but note it takes at least 30 minutes of driving within the park before you arrive at the first attraction.
There’s enough to do here to warrant a stay of a couple of days but if you’re looking to do it all in one (as we did) I recommend you focus on the Magnetic Termite Mounds, Florence Falls, Buley Rockhole and Wangi Falls.
It’s safe to swim in all the above, except after heavy rains when the crocs might be able to get in, so pay attention to the signs at the time of your visit! Also remember to bring lots of food and water. You can stop for supplies at Batchelor just outside the park and I recommend you do so as the café within the park was closed during our visit.
Within Darwin itself, one of the best ways to enjoy the balmy evenings is with a movie under the stars. The Deckchair Cinema screens 7 times a week from April to November and the programme includes Hollywood new releases as well as Aussie movies and documentaries. You can bring a picnic or enjoy food from the onsite caterers. There’s also a bar so you can sip a cold beer in front of the big screen.
Mindil Beach Sunset Markets
Another great evening activity are the hippy markets that are held at sunset on Mindil Beach. The Mindil Beach Sunset Market (April to October) has a mix of craft, fashion, wellness and massage stalls but food is the main attraction here with over 60 stalls offering international cuisine. Locals and tourists gather with their rugs and eskies in tow (you can BYO) to enjoy the atmosphere and music while watching nature’s show.
Brunch at Laneway Speciality Coffee
The best way to start a day in Darwin is with a wholesome brunch and coffee fix from Laneway Speciality Coffee in Parap. Giving the Sydney cafes a run for their money, Laneway serve Campos Coffee along with dishes like their Buckwheat Hotcakes with Pannacotta that I would gladly fly back to the NT for. There’s a little artisan food and craft market in Parap on a Saturday so that’s a good time for foodies to visit.
Make A Splash At The Waterfront
Finally, cool down with a dip in the Recreation Lagoon or make a splash at the Wave Pool at Darwin Waterfront. The Waterfront is home to a number of restaurants, cafés and bars with ocean views and as it’s conveniently connected to the CBD by an elevated walkway it’s a great place to be based during your stay in Darwin. We stayed at the Adina Apartment Hotel Darwin Waterfront, which offers modern apartments with handy kitchens and a communal pool. We’d also recommend the happy hour beers and cocktails at Hot Tamale and curries from Chow.