6 Reasons To Visit The Jewel Of The North
Photo Credit Shaana McNaught/Tourism NT
The New York Times ranked Darwin 12 out of “52 Places to Go in 2018”, I reckon it should be ranked higher and here’s why.
The tropical city of Darwin is the multicultural capital of the Northern Territory and with so much to see and do, you’ll need time to enjoy the entire experience that is Darwin and its surrounds. The best bit is you don’t need to plan much as Darwin is an extremely laid-back city where time moves nice and slow.
1. Swim with Man-Eaters
Crocosaurus Cove is home to the world’s most extreme adrenaline rush. You can hop into the “Cage of Death” and get lowered into the water with a hungry saltwater crocodile waiting for you. You’ll be amazed at being so up close and personal with these prehistoric creatures.
If your courage levels aren’t that high, enjoy the crocodile feeding tour, the fishing for crocs platform or watch the daily barramundi feeding. Crocosaurus Cove also has the largest display of Australian reptiles, you can even get to hold one if you’re lucky.
Cost is from $23, Cage of Death $170, VIP Tour from $42
2. Leap from a Plane
If you’re still hunting an adrenaline rush, why not try tandem skydiving. Top End Tandems operate out of Darwin airport. As you suit up your instructor takes you through the proper procedures for skydiving. You are then strapped to your instructor before squeezing into a Cessna.
The 20-minute flight to the drop-off point won’t seem that long and your heart rate will climb as the plane does to 8,000 feet. Once above the drop zone, you will jump from the plane, free falling for a few seconds before the parachute opens and you glide slowly down to the beach landing at Casuarina Point.
Cost is from $380 (8,000 Feet), $420 (10,000 Feet), $450 (12,000 Feet)
3. Mingle at the Markets
Every Thursday and Sunday afternoon during the dry season the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets are operating and a definite must see. Here you can enjoy the tastes of five continents, over 50 different food stalls, more than 1200 different menu items, browse handcrafted items including jewellery, crocodile products and indigenous art. Relax on the grass while enjoying your food selection and soak up the ambient music and tropical atmosphere as the sun sets over the horizon.
Each Sunday, check out the Nightcliff Market located at the Nightcliff Shopping Village. Perfect for a Sunday brunch listening to the local artists perform before you browse one of the stalls looking for that bargain or unique gift. You can even relax during a massage or have your cards read in the shade.
Parap Village Market is Darwin’s longest running market and well known locally for a Saturday breakfast of laksa or tropical smoothie. With diverse food stalls, arts and crafts from local artisans the vibrant and colourful market will enchant you.
4. Cause a Feeding Frenzy
Looking for something fun for the kids? Check out Aquascene Fish Feeding Sanctuary at Doctors Gully. Walking distance from the Darwin CBD this truly unique experience is a little gem. Hundreds of fish visit the shallows of Doctors Gully every high tide in search of a free meal.
With bread supplied, you can feed the fish, and even touch them if you’re lucky. With species such as mullet, barramundi, milkfish, bream and catfish this really is a must-see experience. If you time it well, you may even get to see a giant groper that sometimes comes close in when the tide is high enough, and I must say, he is huge.
Cost is from $10
5. Relax on a Sunset Cruise
For a romantic escapade, try the 3-hour sunset dinner cruise upon the Cape Adieu will certainly satisfy you. An old cray and shark fishing lugger now used for harbour cruises this relaxing cruise through the harbour to Mindil Beach in time for a colourful tropical sunset is well worth the money spent. The seafood buffet dinner with all the oysters, prawns, salads, fish you can eat, followed by fillet steak cooked to your liking. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Cost is from $60
6. Dine at Stoke Hill Wharf
Within walking distance of Darwin’s CBD, the historic wharf offers you an opportunity to enjoy a variety of dining options from casual alfresco eateries to an award-winning a la carte seafood restaurant. There are also two murals that depict the events surrounding the first bombing raids over Darwin.
At Crustaceans, a seafood restaurant at the end of the wharf you can create your own ‘seafood platter’ including barramundi, prawns, calamari and the best Morton Bay bugs. Paired it with a chilled wine or beer you can watch the sun go down from the edge of the wharf.
Darwin is serviced by several domestic and international flights from a range of destinations across Australia, Europe, the USA and Asia. The Stuart Highway leads to Darwin and is the ideal route if you prefer an adventurous drive. For a bit of luxury, why not hop aboard The Ghan railway from Adelaide or Alice Springs.