A lot of travellers consider popular cities like Melbourne or Sydney as the best starting point for their adventure in Australia. However, what they don’t know is that they could fly into Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, to kick-start their travels in the Land Down Under.
There are a number of reasons why Darwin makes for a great jumping-off place to the best of Australia. It is located in the Northern Territory’s Top End, making it the most northerly of all the capital cities in the country and the one closest to Southeast Asia. In fact, Darwin is closer to Bali than it is to Perth, earning it the nickname, “Asia’s gateway to Australia.” And if you are coming from the UK, Darwin is your fastest entry route to Australia, compared to Sydney or Melbourne.
Aside from that, Darwin also has so much to offer. From its highlights and less heralded attractions to its rich history and laidback outdoorsy lifestyle, it is everything you could hope for in a travel destination. Let’s take a look at the 10 best things to do in Darwin.
Indulge in glorious food.
Darwin may not be known worldwide as a major food city but it is a foodie’s destination in its own right. Due to its proximity to Southeast Asia, it is filled to the brim with eateries and restaurants offering Asian cuisine so you need not worry about those late-night cravings for laksa or dumplings. Moreover, don’t miss out on the fabulous local cuisine and try local meats like kangaroo and crocodile meat. If you love seafood, you’ll never go wrong with grilled wild barramundi and chilli mud crabs.
Explore its colourful outdoor markets.
Exploring Darwin’s markets is an activity you wouldn’t want to miss when in the city. Check out the highly popular Mindil Beach Beach Sunset Markets. You will have a grand time browsing through its food stalls that sell food, artworks, and souvenir items. The market is open Thursday and Sunday evenings, from April to October. But for a truly local experience, visit the Nightcliff Markets or the Rapid Creek Markets on a Sunday morning and enjoy great bargains on delicious food, fresh produce, and collectibles.
Take in the gorgeous waterfront views.
Darwin is a waterside city and there’s no better way to enjoy unrivalled views of the Timor Sea than spending a few hours at its flourishing waterfront precinct and suburbs. Choose from the multitude of dining options and enjoy a mouthwatering meal and a cooling drink as you catch the sunset.
Discover priceless Aboriginal art.
The indigenous Australian culture is woven into the very core of the Northern Territory. An integral component of the oldest continuous cultural tradition in the world, Aboriginal art is celebrated in Darwin. For an authentic taste of the local culture and see some of the best examples of Aboriginal art in Australia, visit the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, the leading cultural institution in the state capital.
Watch Adelaide River’s jumping crocodiles.
Take your Darwin experience a notch higher by joining a cruise on the crocodile-infested waters of the Adelaide River. Watch in amazement as saltwater crocodiles leap out of the water to snatch food that’s dangling from a pole. Make sure to take photos of the agile prehistoric jumping beasts.
Immerse yourself in Darwin’s WWII history.
Darwin has a rich wartime heritage and its role in the war is retold through the government-owned Defence of Darwin Experience. The facility seeks to provide visitors with a real sense of the effects of the war on the city and its residents through immersive, interactive, and multi-sensory exhibitions.
Luxuriate in the pristine natural beauty of Litchfield National Park.
An easy drive from Darwin, the Litchfield National Park is a must-visit nature attraction in the Northern Territory. An outing to Litchfield National Park is a wonderful opportunity to marvel at the stunning beauty of its numerous cascading waterfalls, plunge pools, rockholes and streams surrounded by lush forests. Check out the fast-flowing Wangi Falls and the multi-tiered Florence Falls.
Spend a day at the Kakadu National Park.
The largest national park in Australia, Kakadu National Park is one of the Northern Territory’s most treasured gems. It is included in the esteemed UNESCO World Heritage List for its great ethnological and archaeological importance. You can still see the rock carvings, cave paintings, and archaeological sites that offer insight into the lives of the land’s original owners, from the prehistoric inhabitants to the indigenous Australians still living in Kakadu. Featuring wetlands, waterways, and sandstone escarpments and a mix of lowlands, plateaus, and floodplains, Kakadu National Park is a lush habitat for a wide array of plants and animal species that includes flatback turtles and saltwater crocodiles.
Enjoy an outdoor movie-going experience.
Darwin’s warmer climate provides for numerous activities to enjoy the great outdoors. And if there’s one attraction that encapsulates Darwin’s easy, outdoors lifestyle, it is the Deckchair Cinema. Taking advantage of a waterfront location offering spectacular views of the harbour, the Deckchair Cinema screens unique and independent films amidst a relaxed atmosphere. You can also enjoy a great-tasting meal and some alcoholic drinks at the venue.
Admire the stunning gorges of Nitmiluk National Park.
Also known as the Katherine Gorge National Park, Nitmiluk is a hauntingly beautiful attraction that boasts stunning gorges and spellbinding scenery. Hop on a cruise to enjoy its gorges – particularly Katherine Gorge – to see the breathtaking Edith Falls and take a dip in the waterhole-fed plunge pool below it. The gorges and Nitmiluk National Park’s surrounding landscapes are of great cultural and spiritual importance to its local Aboriginal owners and if you’ll walk the Jatbula Trail, you’ll see ancient Aboriginal rock art paintings on the gorges’ steep sandstone walls.
Planning your dream vacation in Australia? Your adventure starts here.
By: Brendelyn Balaga