8 Things to Do in Darwin
Featured destinations: Darwin
Published 31 May 2017
Darwin: the capital of Australia's Northern Territory (NT) and its largest city, gateway to the dusty rock formations of the Red Centre and the wild waterfalls and crocodiles of the Top End. Come to soak up the sun, laze on the beach and watch the sunset, or for the more active, explore the surrounding rivers and islands. Whatever you’re into, there’s plenty to see and do here in the tropics; here are a few of our favourite things to do in Darwin:
Visit the markets
Darwin’s Mindil Beach Sunset Markets are some of the most popular markets in the entire state. Their beachside location makes them a massive draw, particularly at sunset, when seemingly the entire population of Darwin shows up with a picnic blanket and a bottle of wine to watch the sun sink below the horizon. The market stands sell all sorts, from snacks and cakes to jewellery and clothing, and are open during the dry season from May to October only.
Hit the beach
Darwin’s location on the edge of the Timor Sea brings warm waters and soft sandy beaches to the region. One of the city’s most popular sunbathing spots is the lovely Casuarina Beach, a vast swathe of white sand popular with dog walkers and sunset watchers. Named after the casuarina trees that grow here, the beach, which includes the sandstone cliffs of the Casuarina Coastal Reserve, is affected by high and low tides, so do check before you visit.
Watch for wildlife at Berry Springs Nature Park
If you wake up to a bright sunny day and fancy a picnic, then Berry Springs Nature Park is the place to go. Here, crystal clear pools are filled with fish (bring your goggles or snorkelling mask), waterfalls cascade, and there are plenty of easy walks through the forests to try. The park is home to numerous birds, and is located right next door to the crocodiles and wallabies of the Territory Wildlife Park, where wildflowers bloom at the end of the wet season in March and April.
Swim with crocs at Crocosaurus Cove
If you’ve always wanted to get up close to a giant saltwater crocodile (and if so, are you crazy?!) then this is the place to do it. At this wildlife park, in the heart of Darwin, brave swimmers are lowered into crocodile infested waters inside a Perspex box, allowing them to get closer to crocodiles than ever before. If that’s a little too extreme, you can also check out the turtles and barramundi, and even cuddle a baby crocodile, although we can’t vouch for how cuddly they actually are.
Cruise the Adelaide River
Continuing the crocodile theme, these fearsome creatures lurk in the murky waters of the Adelaide River, about an hour and a quarter’s drive from Darwin. To see them, your best bet is to join a river cruise, many of which feature Jumping Crocs which are tempted out of the water by large chunks of meat hung from passing boats, creating a once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity not for the faint-hearted.
Sail to the Tiwi Islands
Around 60 miles north of Darwin, out in the middle of the ocean, you’ll find the Tiwi Islands, a small cluster of landmasses with a population of just 2,000 people, most of whom are aboriginal. Day trips to the islands by ferry from Darwin are easy to arrange and highly recommended for the insight they give into Tiwi island culture, including the beautiful Tiwi artwork on display. Local artists produce exquisite and pretty distinctive pieces including paintings, pottery, carvings and sculptures, and you can even learn how to create your own piece to take home.
Ride the Ghan Train to Adelaide
The Ghan Train makes the 1,851 mile journey from Adelaide to Darwin and back twice a week, taking four days and three nights. The ride is a great way to take in the vast emptiness of the Red Centre without the hassle, as it’s easy to arrange with transfers to and from your Darwin hotel included. Once on board you can luxuriate in the fine dining atmosphere, and watch the red sands and rock formations roll by from the comfort of your private cabin. The train makes stops at Katherine and Alice Springs along the way.
Make a day trip
There’s a list as long as your arm of day trips to take from Darwin, but some of our favourites include Kakadu National Park, where you can hike to caves filled with ancient aboriginal rock art, Litchfield National Park, where swimming to refreshing waterholes is the order of the day, and Katherine, where a dramatic, steep-sided gorge is the ideal spot to have a go at canoeing or kayaking among the birds and wildflowers. Why not stay a while and do them all?
Explore Darwin with Round the World Experts’ Darwin holidays.