Megan came to Darwin some 23 years ago for a limited 2 year contract and we are still here. Why? Because this is an awesome place with so much to do and see and I’d like you to know just HOW much there is to see and do in the NT based on my experience.
When you first arrive you are greeted by warmth, and lots of it both by the weather and the people! Darwin has four season 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 a shuttle http://www.darwinairportshuttle.com.au/ or you may take a taxi which generally costs about $20.00 to the city. Accommodation can be expensive during the Dry season so Google various accommodation sites, there are lots including apartments in the suburbs, self contained units and motel units. 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 – its called “Whats happening in Darwin this week” 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 Tour Tub which you can pick up from most major hotels, this is a jump on – jump off bus and worth it to get acquainted with Darwin.
First day you must get familiar with Darwin, go for a walk in the Smith St Mall or go shopping at Casuarina Shopping Centre which you can get to by bus or taxi if you don’t have a car. If you need a car, the best deals going are usually Advance Rental Cars http://www.advancecar.com.au/ or if you want a cheap little car for round the town only, go to Pauls Service Centrehttp://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. First you MUST see the jumping crocs at Adelaide River, http://www.jumpingcrocodile.com.au/ they do have a shuttle if you don’t have a car. 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 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. Once you’ve done these, call into Windows on the Wetlands on the way back to Darwinhttp://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/parks/windowwetlands#.UmsNPvmnrK0, this tells you about the wonderful wetlands. Then on the way back, you simply must stop at the Humpty Doo Hotelhttp://www.humptydoohotel.net/info/humptydoo/ and read the story of the beer swilling buffalo on the wall. The food is excellent here too and it’s a real Territory pub. Then you head into town to get ready for dinner (more about food later).
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 and along this road is 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. You can then make your way back to Darwin some 40 minutes away.
A great whole day adventure into Litchfield is with Tess Adiehttp://www.aboriginalaustralia.com.au/tour_info.cfm?id=175 and she will take you to places that others can’t get to as she is a traditional owner.
Another good day (it’s a long day) drive to Katherine and do a Katherine Gorgehttps://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. Pine Creek is an historic gold mining town http://www.smh.com.au/news/Northern-Territory/Pine-Creek/2005/02/17/1108500201652. There are three other stops on the way for rest breaks, drinks or food. You can stay overnight in Katherine as there is a bit to see therehttp://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/.
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 charter for the day through the lodge http://dundee-explorer.com.au/. If you don’t stay the whole day, call into the Territory Wildlife Park either on the way there or on the way back. Watch out for wallaby’s as they are a regular occurrence on our roads. I recommend maybe staying a night there but try to do this on a weekend as the entertainment is usually very good.
A really good thing to do (but it is about $700.00) is to do a floatplane tour which is about 5 hours butwell worth it. http://www.outbackfloatplanes.com.au/ or go fishing for the day in a chopperhttp://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 Barnes http://www.ntfishing.com.au/ who specialises in blue water fishing but does barra fishing in season and 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 Justin Jones from Obsession Fishing Charters, http://obsessionfishing.com.au/ 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.
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
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.
If you have children, there is the Darwin Waterfront wave pool http://www.waterfront.nt.gov.au/ 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.
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 marketshttp://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 Greenhttp://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. If you want fresh local seafood, go to Fishermans Wharf http://www.darwinfishmarket.com/ where you can buy your own (and they will pack it for you to take home with you) 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/. If you are adventurous, try Mitchell St at night for various pubs and eateries http://www.whatsondarwin.com/pubs/darwin.html 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!
A 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. 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 Adieuhttp://www.capeadieu.com.au/ and enjoy a BBQ dinner.
If you want to do Kakadu, you can in one day but you don’t get to see the real Kakadu. Allow yourself three days and go with Lords http://www.lords-safaris.com/ who are great and their knowledge is just so comprehensive. You can fly from Darwin also. Kakadu for a day really isn’t going to show you exactly what the REAL Kakadu is about but will give you a taste, this is when I would take a flight but Lords or Anhemland Safaris are very good too.
I’m sure this will whet your adventurous side and make you come back here again and again as this is just SO much to see and do. You can also relax by the pool too or do a day spa.