This capital city has a new place in my heart. I’m not sure why, but I wasn’t looking forward to travelling through Darwin. It might have been because everyone told us we were just going to sweat, like all the time and a lot more than we thought was humanly possible.
But my world has been flipped upside-down and I never want this summer to end. Max and I have been here two months now, and hopefully, we can give you a few tips on making the most of your time in and around Darwin.
Visit the Tiwi Islands, located just across the water from Darwin. Image: iamsavi
1. Sunday (or Thursday) nights at Mindil Markets
There is literally something going on every weekend and quite often it all ties in with Mindil Market. All your foodie dreams can really come true here, by the beach with live music and a side of whip-cracking. Every cuisine under the sun is waiting for you, you just have to decide. You’ll also find a selection of local products like crocodile leather and natural insect repellents.
Enjoy a barbeque while you watch the sun go down at Sunset Park.
2. Sunsets at Sunset Park
Sunset Park is one of the best places in town to see the sun go down and flip a burger at the same time. There’s a big park if you’ve decided to drag some small humans along for the journey and lots of grass for your four-legged friends. There are plenty of BBQs around and picnic tables so that you can make an evening of it.
Try to get to Berry Springs on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
3. A dip at Berry Springs
This place is no secret at all, and it goes off on the weekend. So considering this, get there early or at least on a weekday. This tropical oasis is so damn lovely, the water is blue and has the perfect temperature to cool off in. There are beautiful lawns to BYO picnic and shelter under the shade of pandanus.
Gunn Point is a great place to camp by the beach.
4. Camping at Gunn Point & Stingray Head
Both beautiful beach camping sites with sunsets over the water, 1.5-2 hours drive on opposite sides of the city. Gunn Point to the northeast is easy to access but for Stingray Head which is just out of Dundee to the southwest, you’ll need a 4WD and a Hema Map.
Take your 4WD to Stingray Head for the weekend.
5. Play at Palmerston Waterpark
With so many crocodiles sneaking around the Top End, Darwin has done its duty and supplied a water park to keep the adults and kids entertained… and alive. Always be #crocwise and swim in crocodile risk management areas. These water parks are so much fun and hard to believe they are free!
Bynoe is a hotspot for fishing.
6. Fishing at Bynoe
We got ourselves onto a few barramundi out here and now it’s our local. Stay out at Sandpalms Tavern, camping or motel, and drop the boat in just a kilometre away. The intricate waterways offer plenty of drains and snags to throw a vibe at and catch a chromie. Sandpalms also have 3 resident crocs – Two Dogs, Shrek and Fiona, in case you needed a close-up reminder of how big and scary crocs are.
For a luxurious camping experience, the Top End Safari Camp can’t be beaten.
7. Top End Safari Camp
The Top End Safari Camp is by far my favourite all-round Top End experience! Get picked up from the city and make a pit stop at Berry Springs on your way. When you arrive at camp and get settled into some of the most luxurious camping you’ll ever do, don’t get too relaxed. At any moment you’ll be up in a helicopter spotting wildlife or drifting down Sweets Lagoon on an airboat.
There’ll be time to score a selfie with one of our resident crocs and watch the outback evening colours change from the pool. Oh, and did I mention that breakfast, BBQ dinners and cheese boards are all included?
Grab a selfie with a croc on the Top End Safari.
8. Day tripping cultural experience on Tiwi Islands
Tiwi Islands are comprised of Melville Island, Bathurst Island and nine smaller uninhabited islands and are best known for the artists and AFL players it produces. On a day trip, you can see art demonstrations with in-house artists. Tiwi women elders serve damper and billy tea whilst they show you how to weave baskets from pandanus leaves.
Also, you can get a full tour of the Top End Wedding feature film set. You can either take a day trip with ferry transfers, or you can do things a little jazzier, take a helicopter, include a heli-fishing tour and a night away at a resort.
Take a helicopter over to the Tiwi Islands. Image: iamsavi
9. Litchfield National Park
This is one of nature’s prettiest parks. I’d recommend 3-4 nights here to really get to know the place, but a day trip from the city isn’t hard either. During the peak season this place really ramps up in popularity and you will need to get to the campgrounds before 10:30 am to secure a spot.
Wangi Falls, Buley Rockhole and Florence Falls are the obvious hit spots. But, do yourself a favour and explore around Tolmer Falls, Walker Creek, Sandy Creek and Surprise Creek too.
Explore the natural wonders at Litchfield National Park.
I’ve written a piece on Kakadu before which can you can read all about here. Litchfield is pretty and cute but Kakadu is huge and majestic, and an overnighter is a definite.
Swimming in the Moline Rockhole in Kakadu National Park.
Don’t let a tropical Darwin summer, otherwise known as the wet season scare you away, the Territory lights up with a bit of rain and is a must-see in all seasons. The waterfalls are pumping, the storms are the best light show you’ll ever see, and the fishing is on fire.
What’s your favourite spot in the Top End?
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