When you first arrive you are greeted by warmth, and lots of it both by the weather and the people! Darwin has three seasons basically, the dry season which extends from May to September, the build up (which means we are building up to the wet season) which is from October to November, the wet season which is our monsoon time and the time of year to witness magnificent lightning storms which stretches into April and then we start all over again!
So what to do in Darwin? I’m going to give you how to fill in ten days and I guarantee you will come back to see what you missed. So you arrive at Darwin Airport, you can either take the shuttle http://www.darwincityairportshuttleservice.com.au/ or you may take a taxi which generally costs about $25.00 to Hidden Valley Holiday Park. So you’ve unpacked, now what to do? First you must look at your complimentary book that should be in your room or at reception – Destination Darwin and the Top End and this will tell you about any special events, it also has the fish feeding times in it and this is a must do for kids and adults alike. http://aquascene.com.au/ but first you have to plan your days. If you want to a tour of the city, there is the Darwin Explorer http://theaustralianexplorer.com.au/darwin-explorer.html this is a jump on – jump off bus and worth it to get acquainted with Darwin, plus it is a double decker bus and great to travel in. Have a chat with our reception staff and they will help you book your tours.
First day you must get familiar with Darwin, go for a walk in the Smith St Mall and check out the shops, Just Looking http://all-opening-hours.com.au/0723715/Just_Looking_Boutique has beautiful garments and is owned and run by Suzie who has owned this store for well over 30 years, check out the eatery and look through the souvenir shops, pop in the Book Shop http://www.bookshopdarwin.com.au/ and look at the many books written by local’s as there are some fantastic read’s. There are the usual touristy shops in the Mall but if you buy Aboriginal Art, PLEASE make sure it is original and has an authenticity paper with it as there are loads of fakes out there. There are also some fantastic eateries there. There is a Woolworths in Smith Street and a Coles in Mitchell St.
Go up to look around the Esplanade along the waterfront, visit Parliament House which is amazing http://www.nt.gov.au/lant/about-parliament/tours-of-parliament.shtml and enjoy the Library within, see the Surpreme Court building and the square outside just next to parliament House, from there you can see (but cant visit) the House of Eight Gables which houses the NT Administrator (we don’t have a Premier as we are not a state) http://www.govhouse.nt.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx . If you need a car, the best deals going are usually JJ’s Car Hire in Parap http://www.jjscarhire.com.au/ or if you want a cheap little car for round the town only, go to Pauls Service Centre http://www.paulsservicecentre.repcoservice.net/ a locally owned business and hire one there but this is for around the town only. So now you have wheels, off you go. You can also hire a scooter (no motorbike licence required) and scoot around town http://www.thescootershop.com.au/public/ScooterHire/DarwinScooterHire.html or go to the George Brown Botanical Gardens http://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/botanic and ride a Segway http://www.segwaytoursnt.com.au/. Some other interesting things to see or do is to do a walking tour of Darwin central http://walkdarwin.com.au/, fabulous way to see what is around. Visit the historic remains of buildings after Cyclone Tracy http://christchurchcathedral.org.au/ and walk back towards the Mall and see other historic remains of Cyclone Tracey.
There is an outdoor cinema in Darwin, one of two in Australia (the other in Broome) http://www.deckchaircinema.com.au/ and this is nestled under Parliament House. I highly recommend this and check with their website for screenings, it is in walking distance and licensed. Another great thing to do is go out with Geoff Carr looking at the stars/planets through his enormous telescopes, such a passionate man about the stars and well worth spending time with him. http://starsafaris.com.au/
You can also go shopping at Casuarina Shopping Centre http://www.casuarinasquare.com.au/ which you can get to by bus or taxi if you don’t have a car. If you drive to Casuarina, be sure to look outside the Casuarina Senior College for the power poles damaged from Cyclone Tracey, they are on Trower Road and you can stop and see them, they are like liquorice!
There is an enormous amount of history in Darwin and is a must do to find out more about it. http://www.bombingofdarwin.com.au/ another highly recommended tour of Darwin which also takes you to the Defence Museum at East Point http://www.darwinmilitarymuseum.com.au/ , it’s a very good tour and Gary’s knowledge is incredible. He takes you to most highlights. There is another which I believe is good but haven’t done it so cant comment http://www.darwinhistoryandwartimeexperience.com.au/
You can also do a land/water content history of the bombing of Darwin with http://seadarwin.com/ which can be a cruise only or a half day adventure and If you want to do something REALLY special, go watch turtles come up a lonely beach and lay their eggs (seasonal) with Sea Darwin too!!! A truly magical experience which is limited to 20 people only where you sit right next to the turtle when she is laying or experience little hatchlings bursting out of their nest at night. Sea Darwin also does private charters and if there is a few of you, (tide dependant) have a sunset dinner on a remote sandbar that disappears literally with the tide or a fish n chip tour.
An absolute MUST do is a sunset cruise on Darwin Harbour, there are many local operators so choose what you want to eat as this will help you make your mind up. If you would like to cater and BYO yourself, http://www.streetercruisers.com.au/ is what you want, a glorious old pearl lugger lovingly restored by the owner/operator. www.seadarwin.com do a fabulous fish and chips tour which is great value and pending the tide, Jim will put you onto the sandbar at the front of Cullen Bay for a walk, Darwin Harbour Cruises http://www.darwinharbourcruises.com.au/ where you can enjoy a buffet or just sit up the top and enjoy the cruise in comfort or enjoy the Tumlaren cruise if you are not that hungry with taste platters on an old pearl lugger. Also there is Cape Adieu http://www.capeadieu.com.au/ and enjoy a BBQ dinner.
Another great (and relatively new) option is a trip to the Tiwi Islands or Crab Claw on the big cat. https://www.sealinknt.com.au/, again something different to do.
If you have children, there is the Darwin Waterfront wave pool http://www.waterfront.nt.gov.au/.
Indo Pacific Marine is worth looking at for the harbour details and tropical fish/coral, a great place to see about our undersea water life in the Top End. http://www.indopacificmarine.com.au/. The wharf is now home to the Royal Flying Darwin/Bombing Darwin experience. www.rfdsdarwin.com.au. This is now on the wharf and there are heaps of eateries on the wharf but be careful a lot of the seafood is imported, its important to ask if it is local http://www.waterfront.nt.gov.au/darwin-waterfront-precinct/stokes-hill-wharf/. Or Leanyer Water Park http://www.sportandrecreation.nt.gov.au/sport-and-recreation/venues/leanyer#.UmsXR_mnrK0 which you will need a car or get a bus to there. Now everyone wants to see a crocodile so http://www.crocodyluspark.com.au/ is great but remember this IS a farm also.
The Darwin Museum is also wonderful http://www.viator.com/Darwin-attractions/Museum-and-Art-Gallery-of-the-Northern-Territory/d360-a322?pref=02&aid=g7755 and you can see this when you get on the “hop on – hop off” bus as will you see the Defence Darwin museum, another must do http://www.defenceofdarwin.nt.gov.au There is also “Flip Out” a trampolining venue great for all ages http://flipout.net.au/flip-out-indoor-trampoline-arena-darwin/ Also ten pin bowling http://planettenpin.com.au/ in Nightcliff and King Pin entertainment area https://www.kingpinbowling.com.au/ . For the smaller ones there is KJ’s in Malak https://kjsentertainment.com.au/
First you MUST see the jumping crocs at Adelaide River, http://www.jumpingcrocodile.com.au/ . I recommend do the early tours so you can then make your way further on to Corroboree Billabong and do a cruise on a magnificent billabong who can also pick you up if needed http://www.wetlandcruises.com.au/. The lunchtime cruise is the best value and food is excellent, also they have a shuttle that runs during the high season. On the way back, you might like to stop at the Corroborree Park Tavern for a great lunch, their meals are made in front of you and hamburgers are amazing. http://corroboreebillabong.com.au/corroboree-park-tavern/ Once you’ve done these, call into Windows on the Wetlands on the way back to Darwin. http://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/parks/windowwetlands#.VPZy6_mUegc Another good spot to stop at is the Fog Dam observatory http://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/parks/find/foggdam#.VPZ1Q_mUegc but again take repellent and watch for crocs. On the way back to the Arnhem Highway, you can also stop at the famous Humpty Doo Hotel which is a true territory pub, the meals are very good here too. http://www.humptydoohotel.net/info/humptydoo/
NT Bird Specialists can take you on a groovy bird watching tour too which is usually around the Adelaide River/Fogg Dam area, even if you don’t think you like birds this is well worth doing as the information they provide is amazing and they are a great tour http://ntbirdspecialists.com.au/
If you turn left after Corroborree Billabong if you’ve done the Wetlands Cruise, you will get to the famous Kakadu,everyone wants (and needs) to do Kakadu but it really can’t be seen at its best in one day unless you leave early and get back late. https://parksaustralia.gov.au/kakadu/index.html You really need to book ahead and book for a three day tour, you simply CANT do it in one day. It would be mandatory to do a flight over Kakadu with Kakadu Air http://www.kakaduair.com.au/ , visit Nourlangie and Ubirr Rock and get a guided tour with a local Aboriginal man Victor Cooper from Ayal Aboriginal Tours on 0429 470384. Another option is a 3 day or 5 day tour with Lords Safaris’ http://www.lords-safaris.com/ or Davidsons ArnhemLand Safaris http://www.arnhemland-safaris.com/, both very good operators but if you want a REALLY specialised and personal tour, I highly recommend Neville from Offroad Dreaming http://offroaddreaming.com.au/, an incredibly personal and knowledgable man. There are also some great tours for the younger ones but use Trip Advisor to see which is the best at the time as they vary from year to year.
Two very popular spots to camp in Kakadu are Gumlom Falls (where they filmed Crocodile Dundee) and also Koolpin gorge. Gumlom is sensational as is the walk to the top of the falls and swim in its own infinity pool. http://kakadunationalparkaustralia.com/Gumlon-Waterfall-Creek.htm Koolpin gorge you must get a permit before you travel and there is a key you must get also, limited camping (hence booking) but absolutely well worth it. http://kakadunationalparkaustralia.com/Koolpin-Gorge-Jarrangbarnmi-Kakadu.htm
So the next mandatory thing to do is Litchfield Park, a magnificent national park located some 100 kilometres from Darwin but it is an easy drive. Leave early in the morning to avoid the big tour buses and walk down to Florence Falls or swim at Buley Rockholes – both are free of crocodiles guaranteed! http://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/parks/find/darwin-region/litchfield#.UmsODfmnrK0. This is a full day or if you want to quickly breeze through early in the morning, drive out the “back road” after you leave the last falls – Wangi Falls and this will bring you to Cox Peninsula Road, this is a dirt road and OK for two wheel drive cars, you also pass an old limestone mine which is easily seen from the road and you can stop and pick up a piece but please check the road is open pending weather and the crossing at the Finnis River.
Once you hit Cox Peninsula Rd, if you turn right you will come to Berry Springs and then the Stuart Highway and back to Darwin but if you want to see something really different, call into the Litchfield Pub for a beer https://www.darwinrivertavern.com.au/ and take a walk on the wild side!. A good day is to visit Darwin River Dam https://www.powerwater.com.au/networks_and_infrastructure/darwin_river_dam_levels2 which is after the Litchfield Pub too.
Wildlife…..well there is loads of it to see. Head to the Territory Wildlife Park http://www.territorywildlifepark.com.au/, try to make it for the Birds of Prey show (check times on their website) as this is a real highlight of the park. Another great spot to stop at is Berry Springs which is just the second turn left after you leave the Wildlife Park. Tavern at Berry Springs now too http://www.berryspringstavern.com/ and they have awesome local food. If you travel on a bit further, there is the historic Litchfield Pubhttp://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/parks/find/berrysprings#.VPZz9vmUegc
Keep driving and a nice day out is to drive to Dundee Beach http://www.thelodgeofdundee.com.au/ which is a casual two hour drive, have a burger for lunch and a stroll along the pristine beaches. You can also organise a fishing charters out of there and hire boats http://dundeebeachboats.com.au/boats/ or you can hire one in town through http://www.barraboathire.com.au/ or There are also plenty of places to rent to stay at Dundee, check the local pages, Stayz and other short term pages. Watch out for wallaby’s and pigs in this area as they are a regular occurrence on our roads. You can do a fishing charter from there with Dundee Beach Fishing Charters http://www.dundeebeachfishingcharters.com.au/ . I recommend maybe staying a night there but try to do this on a weekend as the entertainment is usually very good. You can also visit Crab Claw Island http://www.crabclawisland.com.au/. Its currently undergoing renovations but still a great place to stay at, great location and they also have hire boats to fish in.
There is also another park on the way back to town, Howard Springs Nature Park http://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/parks/find/hsnaturepark#.VPZ0bPmUegc but word of warning, take repellant with you as there are loads of mozzies.
Another good day (it’s a long day) drive to Katherine and do a Katherine Gorge https://www.nitmiluktours.com.au/, if you stick to the speed limit (130 km on the open road) you can get there is just under 3 hours. It sounds like a long drive but it is an easy drive and you will get to see our famous road trains which can be up to 53 metres long and have 89 wheels including the spares! There is also the historic Adelaide River where you can have a meal or a beer and also the war cemetery there, http://www.adelaideriver-warcemetery.australianwarheroes.com/ some folk that were killed (civilians) during the Bombing of Darwin are buried there. You MUST stop at Emerald Springs Roadhouse for a snack and coffee, best in the Territory this food is just great, http://www.emeraldsprings.com.au/.
Pine Creek is an historic gold mining town http://www.smh.com.au/news/Northern-Territory/Pine-Creek/2005/02/17/1108500201652. or http://www.visitkatherine.com.au/pages/pine-creek/ There are three other stops on the way for rest breaks, drinks or food. A nice spot (if you want to do something REAL territory orientated is to visit the Grove Hill Heritage Centre http://www.ourterritory.com/katherine_region/grove_hill.htm and then visit Edith Falls http://www.ntsearch.com.au/katherine/leliyn-edith-falls.asp for a swim or go for the historic walk. You can stay overnight in Katherine as there is a bit to see there http://www.northernterritory.visitorsbureau.com.au/attractions/katherine.html and if you do stay, you can visit the famous Mataranka Thermal pool http://www.visitkatherine.com.au/pages/mataranka-roper-river/. There are also some thermal pools right in town which are really lovely to see and also have a swim. In the area there is plenty to do in the Katherine region so visit http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/Attractions-g256203-Activities-Katherine_Top_End_Northern_Territory.html or drop into Douglas Daly Hot springs http://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/10233/TjuwaliynPark_11.pdf.
A really good thing to do (but it is about $795.00) is to do a floatplane tour which is about 5 hours but well worth it, unbelievable is the word to describe this. http://www.outbackfloatplanes.com.au/ or go fishing for the day in a chopper http://helifish.com.au/helifishing another expensive thing but if you like fishing, it’s a once in a lifetime experience but check for the best season (usually February through to May).
Now fishing, well there are loads of fishing guides up here but I highly recommend Pete & Terri Barnes http://www.ntfishing.com.au/ who specialises in blue water & barra fishing. Please mention me when you ring Terri and she will look after you. Also Carl Skyring at http://www.darwinbarraandcrab.com/ who fishes Darwin Harbour and the mighty Daly River for barra, he is also an expert in catching and tying up crabs. Plus you get to eat the catch! Another fishing venture guide is Rohan from http://topendbarrafishing.com.au/ another very professional guide that again, does his absolute best to put you onto fish, All these operators are highly professional and highly recommended and again, if you want to catch a barramundi these are the best guides in town. If you wanted to be part of a much larger charter of up to 10 people (but the same price as private charters) http://www.arafurablue.com.au/ is always reliable and HIGHLY recommended, they do half and full day charters. If you want to fish solely for Barramundi, go visit (and stay) with Stuey and Marni at the Daly River Barra Resort, http://www.dalyriverbarra.com.au/ and Stuey will even take you out on a charter. Stuey and Marni will absolutely look after you and give you a real Daly River experience, great people. Another great place to camp in the Daly region is the Mt Nancar Eco Resort http://mountnancarwildernessretreat.com.au/ and enjoy the peace and quiet of the river, Mt Nancar or the area with its secret billabongs and hot springs. Another great place to stay is at Banyan Farm which is owned by Wal and Kerri, two really lovely down to earth people that work hard too. You can do a charter with Russell through them (quote me and tell him he’s the best LOL) http://www.banyanfarm.com.au/
Now what to eat? Darwin has markets on Thursday nights where you can eat absolutely everything from Asia to Japanese to pizza’s. These markets are also seasonal http://www.mindil.com.au/ and operate on Sunday nights also but this is only a half market. Saturday mornings Parap Village markets http://parapvillage.com.au/ for a famous Laksa from Mary Lei or buy fresh local produce. Sunday there are two markets, Rapid Creek http://www.rapidcreekshoppingcentre.com.au/rapid-creek-sunday-markets or Nightcliff Markets http://www.nightcliffmarkets.com.au/ both offer much of the same. Darwin Waterfront also is the home to many bars and restaurants all which are great but Fiddlers Green http://www.waterfront.nt.gov.au/darwin-waterfront-precinct/restaurants-and-eateries/fiddlers-green/ is highly recommended and there is also Darwin Wharf Precinct http://www.waterfront.nt.gov.au/ but please make sure you are eating local seafood as much of the barramundi is imported sadly, http://www.crustaceans.net.au/ is right on the wharf and is really nice. The Oyster Bar http://www.oysterbar.com.au/darwin for exceptional local cuisine and SA oysters. If you want to buy fresh local seafood, go to Fisherman’s Wharf http://www.darwinfishmarket.com/ where you can buy the seafood (and they will pack it for you to take home with you) and I highly recommend the Smoked Crocodile and Smoked Barramundi dip in a jar, its awesome. Or have fresh fish and chips there. This is a short walk from the city. There are many eateries that vary in price and many Asian cuisines from the Hot Wok (you pick your own ingredients) http://www.hotwokchineserestaurant.com.au/ to a real meat experience at Outback Jacks http://www.outbackjacks.com.au/locations/darwin/ for reasonable priced food or top shelf, Char http://www.chardarwin.com.au/. Another FANTASTIC local Greek restaurant is Manoli’s http://www.manolisgreektaverna.com.au/ and also Moorish Cafe http://www.moorishcafe.com.au which is a fabulous place to do taste plates which are seriously divine. Another fantastic place is Little Miss Korea http://littlemisskorea.com/ which is fabulous and also a great Thai place called Ruby’s at the end of the Mall http://lunchtime.com.au/Ruby/Darwin/menu/ .If you are adventurous, try Mitchell St at night for various pubs and eateries http://www.whatsondarwin.com/pubs/darwin.html another is a great Thai meal can be had at Thailicious http://www.thailicious.com.au/ in Mitchell St. There are loads of places to eat in Mitchell street all vary in prices and fare. Two absolute must eats are Tim’s Surf n Turf in Litchfield street http://timssurfandturf.com.au/Home.php which is amazing value, Tim is a long time Territorian and magician and if you are lucky, he will do a magic trick for you and Yots Greek Taverna http://www.yots.com.au/ and this will be your absolute MUST for authentic Greek food. Another great little restaurant is Laksa House on the Stuart Highway in Stuart Park just next to Cartridge World. Don’t be put off by the front of shop, I guarantee if you sit at the outside tables and don’t face the road, you would swear you are in Bali watching them cook your food http://www.darwinfoodies.com/directory/laksa-house-warung-ibu-amye
The Jetty restaurant is a great place and Seafood on Cullen – both smorgasboards are good value but I doubt if the prawns are local, I’d say imported as most places do import them sadly http://www.darwinfoodies.com/2013/01/the-jetty-restaurant/ , the Casino also does buffets of various types and has very good resturants http://www.skycitydarwin.com.au/restaurants/ and nearly all eateries in Darwin do breakfast. A really good pub meal can be had at The Cav http://www.thecavenagh.com/, Pee Wee’s is also amazing but can have midgy’s so take some repellent http://peewees.com.au/ and the food is absolutely awesome, top shelf. Another fantastic restaurant is The Pearl http://www.thepearl.com.au/ but it is not cheap but delightful food. You can also go to the Beachfront Hotel on the beach in Rapid Creek, great food and right on the beach. Casuarina Square has recently opened a new food court http://www.casuarinasquare.com.au/the-quarter?gclid=CjwKEAjww_a8BRDB-O-OqZb_vRASJAA9yrc5Mn9oXJdRKbo_IDNKd_FAeqyUJjCxMVuFu96sIBlvcBoCa7jw_wcB and its wonderful, as is the shopping at the NT’s largest shopping centre.
The three venues right on the water near to the city are all great, there is The Ski Club http://www.darwinskiclub.com.au/ which is right ON the beach at Fannie Bay next to the museum, go there for lunch or dinner and of course drinks at sunset, it has a great pool too. The two other most popular are the Darwin Sailing Club http://dwnsail.com.au/ or right next door the Darwin Trailer Boat Club http://dtbc.com.au/ which also has a pool. All are fantastic.
And if you are still awake at 11 at night, a must see is a local club called Throb http://www.throbnightclub.com.au/, don’t be put off that it is a “different” club but a must see is the shows that they put on!
I’m sure this will wet your adventurous side and make you come back here again and again as this is just SO much to see and do.
After all this you can grab a book from swap and go library and also relax by our pool too or do a day spa, .
All of our reception staff are local to Darwin and very happy to provide any other information and can book charters and tours for you.
What ever YOU want to do USE TRIP ADVISOR, a free and trusty tool to help you. I hope my little thingy helps you when in Darwin, this is why we never leave!.