1. Spend hours browsing, tasting and enjoying a live performance at one of Darwin’s many street markets
Darwin is well known for its bustling and colourful market culture. With Asia at its doorstep, all the smells, tastes and vibrancy of the orient lead the way among craft stalls, live music and delicious food on Darwin’s streets.
Try a creamy curry laksa while you watch the sunset behind tall palm trees at the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, every Thursday and Sunday evening, or refresh with a mango smoothie and smashed pawpaw salad under the sun at Parap markets every Saturday morning.
Others to check our are Rapid Creek and Nightcliffe Markets every Sunday morning and the Malak Marketplace every Saturday evening.
2. Relax in a natural thermal spring
The area around Darwin is smattered with a multitude of crystal clear, natural thermal springs. Just 30 minutes from the city centre, Berry Springs boasts a network of warm, blue pools all connected by clear, rocky bottomed channels of water that are overhung with lush trees and vines – creating inviting tunnels just waiting to be explored.
Although a bit further away, Katherine also boasts a public thermal spring smack bang in the centre of town complete with a kiddie pool and waterfall. Laze around for as long as you desire, but always be aware that crocodiles have been known to enter these water systems.
3. Reel yourself in an exotic fish
Darwin’s waters are teaming with marine life. From mud crabs to the famous barramundi, giant trevally to various species of cod and groper – only the best are on offer.
Book yourself a cruise on one of many fishing charters or try your luck for free from Nightcliffe Jetty or Stokes Hill Wharf.
4. Wander among the tropical vegetation or catch a free flick at Darwin’s Botanical Gardens
These beautifully manicured gardens cover 42 hectares displaying everything from Northern Australian monsoonal mangroves, Tiwi Islands rainforests, fields of fat Boabs, a tropical waterfall and various picnic areas. Although the park was devastated by bombing during World War 2 and 80% of the plants decimated in 1974 during Cyclone Tracy, the park has been restored beautifully.
Grab a free map from the visitor centre and spend an entire afternoon exploring the gardens or come back on selected evenings for a series of family friendly outdoor movies.
5. Learn about Aboriginal history and culture at the Darwin Museum
Unlike many other museums and galleries, each piece of Indigenous art at Darwin’s museum is accompanied by a detailed description of what the painting/craft/sculpture depicts, what stories it tells and what meaning it holds for the Aboriginal people.
The detailed history of Australia’s first people is also on display alongside an interesting natural history section, the 5.1m long skeleton of local crocodile ‘Sweetheart’ and an interactive gallery about Cyclone Tracy and what it would have been like to experience Australia’s biggest ever natural disaster.
Well worth the visit, and all for free.
6. Get your adrenaline racing on a jumping crocodile cruise
Some of the world’s largest crocodiles live in the Adelaide River, south-east of Darwin. For 30 years a couple of companies have been taking tourists out on a boat and tempting crocodiles with chunks of meat on the end of a stick.
You’ll be surprised at how high the crocs will jump to get their chompers around some dinner. During the cruise you’ll be surrounded by crocodiles at every moment – some young and strong, and some up to 90 years old that measure well over 5 metres in length!
While you’re out this end of Darwin its well worth visiting one of Australia’s most famous national parks – Kakadu – just down the road.
7. Be blow away at the natural beauty of Lichfield National Park
Although a lot smaller than Kakadu, Lichfield National Park is jam packed full of some of Australia’s most beautiful landscapes (we can say this confidently after seeing a good part of this wild continent).
Our favourite spots were the pristine waterways and swimming holes of Buley Rockhole, the monsoonal forest-clad valley of Florence Falls and the deserted walk to the perfectly circular infinity pool overlooking Tjaetaba Falls.
Other favourites are the 2 metre high magnetic termite mounds that all face exactly north/south and the immense cascade of water and natural swimming pool at Wangi falls.