In April, I made my first visit to Australia’s Northern Territory, armed with only good reviews from friends and colleagues, I was keen to explore! There are some fun things to do in Darwin, so let me explain the highlights along the way and then I have some good recommendations for Darwin day tours too.
Darwin is right up your street if you’re looking for a small and intimate Aussie city with tons of character. The waterfront area is a lovely place to relax and sunbathe with a public lagoon and wave pool for families and those wanting to cool off (and my goodness, it is hot here!)
Mindil Beach has a fantastic market every Thursday and Sunday evening where you can watch the sunset, shop for jewellery and arts and crafts. The main highlight though is the street food – with everything from Malaysian, Brazilian, Chinese, Thai, Indian and Sri Lanka and European food available.
Situated right in the city, the Crocosaurus Cove attraction is also a must while you’re in town to get up close with the Saltwater Crocodiles. Here you’ll encounter an enormous display of Aussie reptiles besides the main crocs. If you’re brave enough it is also home to the ‘cage of death’ the only place in the world where you can get in the water with the Saltwater crocs!
Arguably the main reason to visit the greater Darwin area is for the wildlife and aboriginal cultural experiences you can find on Darwin’s doorstep. The main 3 Darwin day tours I recommend are Litchfield National Park, Kakadu National Park and the lesser known Tiwi Islands.
If you’re not in Darwin for long, Litchfield National Park is a really great little day trip. It’s just a 1.5 hour drive from the city, but Litchfield has camp grounds too if you do fancy lingering a little longer.
It actually felt a little cooler to me here with all its sheltered nooks and crannies than Darwin’s sweltering climate. The park has loads of short walks through the gorges and monsoon forest if you can withstand the heat!
Litchfield has several lovely waterfalls which cascade down into crystal clear waters below and you can swim under the falls or bob about in the water to cool down. (Don’t worry about crocs - there are plenty of sign posts clearly showing which places are safe to swim). My favourite spots were Wangi and Florence Falls which were just beautiful.
Something I’d never seen before were the gigantic termite mounds found all around the park. I’m no giant, but they towered over even the tallest of spectators! They really are quite massive and it was fascinating to see them and to find out how they are formed.
Kakadu National Park is probably the most well-known and visited of the areas around Darwin and covering an immense 20,000 square kilometres, there’s plenty to see and do.
One of the best ways to explore is to take a cruise along the Yellow Water billabong or along the East Alligator River. Seeing the abundance of wildlife from birds to the infamous saltwater crocodiles that lurk in the waters is a real Northern territory highlight.
This area is also rich in Aboriginal culture with the likes of Ubirr and Nourlangie Rock where you can see a wide range of aboriginal rock art. If you enjoy hiking, don’t miss the stunning lookout points that are not to be missed, like the Nadab Lookout. It has spectacular views over the floodplain and into Arnhem Land and the top of Nawurlandja lookout over Kakadu.
If you have time to spend, there are a variety of overnight trips that combine both Litchfield and Kakadu National Park camping. The accommodation is in permanent tents under the stars that are well worth the extra spend. This type of accommodation is very family-friendly so if it’s something you’re interested in just contact one of our travel consultants who can work this into your itinerary.
I’d never even heard of these islands before this visit to Australia, but they make and amazingly unique addition to your Northern Territory exploration – packed with authentic Aboriginal experiences that are amongst the best in Australia – read all about them here.
If you’d like some help planning your time in Darwin and the Northern Territory, we can help you make the most of your trip to Australia. We can arrange every aspect of your trip including flights, accommodation, car or campervan hire and any Darwin day tours – just call us on +44 1273320580 or make an enquiry by email.