Darwin is a beautiful city in northern Australia, with plenty of adventurous things to do. As the capital of the Northern Territory, Darwin is diverse in its nature and people, with a population of more than 60 nationalities. From beautiful scenic hikes to water parks and night markets, there is so much to explore in the Northern Territory’s capital city.
In our 2020 Guide to Darwin, you’ll find random facts about the region you may not know about, as well as things to do to suit everyone. Swimming in waterfalls, watching baby turtles hatch, and going bar hopping by helicopter are just a few of Darwin’s highlights. Right now, travelling to Darwin may or may not be on the cards for you, so for now, add them to your bucket list.
Photo by Max Gotts on Unsplash.
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5 Random Facts About Darwin
- Darwin’s average temperature is 30°C.
- The Capital of the Northern Territory was named after Charles Darwin in 1839 and was founded thirty years later.
- The traditional land owners are the Larrakia people.
- Darwin was a major military base during WW2. It was bombed by the same fleet that bombed Pearl Harbour.
- It’s estimated there are about 200,000 crocodiles in Australia, with a large majority found in Darwin and surrounding areas (100,000 estimated in the Northern Territory).
7 Top Things to Do in Darwin
1. Swim in lakes and waterholes.
Well known for its natural beauty, Darwin has plenty of beautiful places to swim and explore. From rushing waterfalls to relaxing waterholes, there are so many trips to take when in Darwin.
Located just 10 minutes drive away from the city centre, Lake Alexander is a man-made lake that opened almost 20 years ago. Named after Alec Fong Lim, who was the mayor of Darwin from 1984 to 1990, Lake Alexander is now a lake enjoyed by many locals. Additionally, it’s an area where they can swim without being worried about crocs, but remember it’s still important to be crocwise; crocodiles have managed to get into this lake before. So, always check crocodile updates before going.
Berry Springs Nature Park is another beautiful area to swim. With the beautiful Berry Springs Nature Park waterfall and natural pools, there are so many options. The pools also feature built in ladders. Moreover, the park has ruins from WW2, when over 100,000 soldiers were based in this location.
Litchfield National Park.
Litchfield National Park is with beautiful scenic hikes, waterfalls, waterholes and wildlife. If you look at any lists for things to do in the Northern Territory, this national park will be on it. This may be because not only does it have extensive and rich biodiversity, but it’s got everything from swimming to 4WD tracks.
There are plenty of areas safe to swim in, some only during certain seasons. As mentioned before, it’s important to check what seasons are crocodile-free, and which areas this impacts. Either way, always check local crocodile news updates before heading off to swim.
Wangi and Tjaynera Falls are only safe to swim in during the dry season (April through ‘til October), while Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole are safe all year round (unless there’s been extreme flooding).
2. Enjoy sunset activities.
Sunset kayaking or canoeing.
Darwin offers great recreational activities, including kayaking and canoeing. You can explore Darwin’s beautiful waterways when canoeing, seeing a vibrant marine environment. If you’re more keen on a bigger adventure, then you can opt-in for sea kayaking, which lets you enjoy coastal views and Darwin Harbour. You can rent kayaks and canoes from local outlets, which can give you additional gear to suit your activities.
Tip: Always check the weather beforehand, in addition to the local info on crocodile activity in the area.
If you’re looking for something more exquisite then you can opt in for a sunset cruise. Sailing around Darwin Harbour is an elegant way to spend an evening in Darwin. There’s also a great selection of food and beverage options that come with the cruises. While sunset cruises normally go for 1 to 2 hours, you can also embark sailing tours lasting multiple nights or even cruises to the Tiwi Islands for multiple days. With plenty of cruise options, the choice is in your hands.
Sunset drinks and restaurants.
This is a great option for anyone. There’s something magical about watching the glowing sunset, especially when in Darwin. You can often enjoy vibrant, orange sunsets, which look even better while enjoying a delicious meal. There are plenty of restaurants and bars around the Darwin Harbour with a beautiful view of the water.
3. Explore Darwin’s night markets.
If you’re in Darwin for the dry season (April to October) then you should check out the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, which has more than 300 stalls and has been around for 30+ years.
These markets boast delicious international foods, local artisans and Aboriginal art, and much more. You can shop, eat and explore while enjoying the beautiful sunset above.
Open: 4:00pm to 9:00pm on Thursday and Sundays, from April to October.
Another market open during Darwin’s dry season is Malak Market Place, which consists of fresh produce, jewellery, clothes and more with live entertainment. This market is also open from 4:00 to 9:00pm, but only on Saturdays.
Open: 4:00pm to 9:00pm on Saturdays, from April to October.
4. Watch baby turtles hatch.
This is a unique activity that Darwin offers. You can watch baby turtles trek to the ocean to begin their lifelong journey. You can do such a tour through Turtle Tracks, which lets customers watch this extraordinary event without disturbing these beautiful creatures. The tour features a quick boat ride to and from Bare Sand Island, a guided tour, food and beverages and your ticket prices contributes to the Austurtle for Sea Turtle Research.
5. Check out the open-air cinema.
Check out Darwin’s Deckchair cinema, where you can enjoy films under the stars during the dry season. Offering a range of Australian and international films you can watch under the Northern Territory’s night sky, this is a true Darwin experience. There is also food and drinks available for purchase for those who enjoy classic movie snacks.
6. Scenic tours.
You can enjoy beautiful views of Darwin from above, too. There are multiple helicopter companies offering beautiful scenic tours of this Northern Australian city from dusk to dawn.
There’s even the Heli Pub Crawl, which takes you to 5 different pubs via helicopter for an exciting 7 hour day trip.
7. Enjoy Darwin’s local art centres, museums and art galleries.
With Darwin’s rich culture, it’s no surprise the city boasts beautiful aboriginal art found in museums, art galleries and art centres.
The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) has been around since 1981, with multiple locations in the Northern Territory. You can visit the MAGNT any day between 10:00am and 4:00pm. Here you can see art from international artists, scientific and cultural collections in addition to research programs. Check out their website to see which exhibitions are currently running.
The Outstation Gallery works with and promotes art from Aboriginal-owned art centres. This gallery displays art from well known and new artists from Tiwi Islands, Arnhem Land, the Western Desert, the Kimberley and Central and South Australia. By promoting Indigenous art, Outstation Gallery is great for not only one-of-a-kind pieces to admire, but they also have cultural significance.
Looking for somewhere to stay in Darwin? Check out what other visitors to the NT have to say about the top spots on localsearch.com.au.