Guide to Darwin

It mightn’t be the biggest of cities, but Darwin is a multi-cultural capital bustling with life. The modern city has grown into a tourism hot spot, welcoming thousands of visitors each year.

Darwin City

The city holds a strong connection with its traditional owners, the Larrakia people. The city has grown past its days of lazing about to build a prominent CBD with the charm of a small down. A trip to Darwin will surprise you. With fantastic accommodation, eateries and attractions, the city should not be missed.

If there is one word to describe Darwin, it’s alive. The city is full of colour and tastes and light. Relax on the sand with delicious street food watching the sunset. Or wander the night markets on the hunt for the perfect addition to your art collection. Go beyond the city and head to the surrounding national parks and stunning wetlands. No matter what your style Darwin has something for you.

CBD

The Darwin CBD is thriving all year round. With plenty of markets, shopping, and food stops there is always something to do!

Head down to the waterfront to enjoy a decadent meal of locally caught seafood. Darwin has some of the most amazingly fresh seafood on the market. Local chefs will prepare you delicious meals. Sit down along the waterfront and watch as magical sunsets or lightning storms dance across the horizon.

Darwin loves a market and they have many for you to choose from! Take a stroll through the evening markets. Look for local crafts, Aboriginal arts, and tempt your tastebuds with street foods. Head down to a Sunday vintage market to pick yourself up rare and unusual wares.

Markets aren’t the only place to go shopping though. Darwin is home to fantastic local fashion and jewellery designers. From prints to crocodile skin and Australian pearls there is something for everyone. Plus, there are plenty of souvenir shops for you to visit too!

Darwin History

One of the most famous historical events in Darwin is the bombing in WWII. Used as a strategic Allied military base, the city was bombed by Japanese planes in 1942. The bombing was larger than that of Pearl Harbour, and became a regular events through the rest of the war. The bombing saw military forces move away from Darwin, but their presence is still felt today.

There are many heritage spots around Darwin including tunnels, ammunition bunkers, and watch towers. Visit the East Point Military Precinct to learn more about Darwin’s military history.

Things to see & do in Darwin

  • Adelaide River

    Adelaide River

    Weaving around Darwin, the Adelaide River is the perfect habitat for Australia’s beautiful native animals.  The stunning river flows from Litchfield National Park through to the Timor Sea. Wandering its banks, you’ll be surrounded by ancient scenery and the songs of native birds.

    The rich population of wildlife along its banks makes it the perfect place for animal lovers. Look out for birds, flying fox and eagles circling above. The river helps to form important conservation areas for many species. The rivers biggest animal star however is the saltwater crocodiles.

    People from around the world flock to the river to see the prehistoric reptile. Watch as they heave their incredibly large bodies out of the water, searching for a feed.

  • Jumping Crocodile Cruise

    Jumping Crocodile

    One of the best ways to see saltwater crocodiles is to join a Jumping Crocodile Cruise. See these magical creatures in their natural habitat. Watch them leap out of the water, reaching for the delicious food above them. These spectacular tours are a rare opportunity to meet these creatures in the wild.

    Believed to be going extinct in the 1970s, the crocodiles were named a protected species. As their population has grown, crocodiles continue to rule the waterways in the Northern Territory. Prepare for your cruise by visiting the large python display at the check-in kiosk. Snake shows operate fifteen minutes before each cruise. Hold one of the incredible snakes if you dare!

  • Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve

    Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve

    Continue on your animal adventure with a visit to the Fogg Dam Conservation Reserve. The reserve is a stunning landscape no matter what time of year you visit.

    The dam was first built as part of an agricultural scheme. The scheme tried to provide irrigation for the nearby Humpty Doo Rice Project. When the scheme failed the dam had already become a refuge for wildlife during the dry season. Thus, the dam was left and was declared a Conservation Reserve in 1982.

    While visiting there are several walks for you to enjoy. Walk up to one of two lookouts to watch as the sunsets and the birdlife settles around you. Or, enjoy a walk through the various habitats at the reserve. Follow the signs to immerse yourself in paperbark forests, monsoon forests, and floodplains.

  • Window On The Wetlands

    Window on the Wetlands

    Here is the highest viewing platform looking over the Adelaide River floodplain. Inside the centre you can learn about Aboriginal Culture and European history. Learn about the ecology, seasonal changes and populous wildlife of the area.

    During the wet season, when the area is flooded, you can watch mesmerising lightning shows. During the dry, the floodplains are baked under the hot sun, proving the region is one of great contrast. The Limilngan-Wulna people speak for this area of land. The centre is built on land that is important to their Turtle Dreaming and has significant cultural meaning. They staff the centre and work to make you feel welcome. While here view artwork by Limilngan-Wulna artists and buy a piece to take home with you.

  • George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens

    George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens

    Spanning over 42 hectares the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens are just north of Darwin. They are known for their stunning collection of Native northern Australian and tropical plant species.

    Stop into the visitor centre to learn about the plants growing here and the history of the gardens. Grab yourself a map and head out for a walk through the beautiful grounds. Follow the Tree Walk to discover 18 significant trees throughout the gardens. Or, the Matboerrma Walk will teach you about how the local Larrakia people use native plants for traditional purposes.

  • Crocosaurus Cove

    Crocosaurus Cove

    Do you dare to enter the water? Crocosaurus Cove is the only place in Australia you can dive with a croc. Explore the world’s largest display of Australian reptiles and learn more.

    Head to the Big Croc Feed show for a demonstration of the power of these creatures massive jaw. Go fishing for crocodiles and feed juvenile crocs some juicy snacks. Watch as they develop their natural leaping skills, used in the wild to hunt flying bats and birds. Head to the World of Crocs to learn about these animals’ history. Don’t forget to take your chance to hold a baby saltwater crocodile. Let us tell you, they are much less scary as babies!

    Crocosaurus Cove is a fun day out for the whole family. You can easily spend the day here learning about, meeting and seeing all types of Australian reptiles.

  • Litchfield National Park

    Litchfield National Park

    Found just an hour’s drive south of Darwin, the Litchfield National Park is a visually magnificent landscape. Filled with cascading waterfalls, serendipitous waterholes and stunning vine rainforests, Litchfield National Park is a must see. The lush rainforest provides a perfect canopy of shade and respite from the harsh Territory heat.

    Get off the beaten track and enjoy one of Australia’s best hidden gems!

  • Tolmer Falls

    Tolmer Falls

    One of the most visually spectacular falls in the Litchfield National Park is Tolmer Falls. Cascading down over two escarpments into a singular deep plunge pool you can hear waterfall well before you see them.

    Follow a short walking track to a viewing platform atop the falls. The view from above is spectacular and one you should not miss. From here, choose to follow a looping track that leads you along the Tolmer Creek and past beautiful rockpools. The area is rich in native wildlife, so keep your eye out for rare bats and bird species.

  • Magnetic Termite Mounds

    Magnetic Termite Mounds

    The Magnetic Termite Mounds are some of the most iconic sites in Litchfield National Park. Scattered across the horizon you’ll see hundreds of termite mounds standing up to 2m tall. Unique to this region of Australia many of the magnetic termite mounds are up to 100 years old.

    Iconic for their careful construction the mounds minimising their exposure to the sun. The mounds point north-south, meaning their broad east-west facing backs aren’t baked in the Territory’s hot sun. The nearby information shelter will teach you more about the mounds, and how they help keep the termites inside cool. Nearby you’ll also find the giant Cathedral Termite Mounds.

  • Florence Falls

    Florence Falls

    Hidden away in a small pocket of the Litchfield National Park monsoon rainforest you’ll find Florence Falls. Enjoy a cooling dip in the crystal-clear water or enjoy the panoramic views from atop the falls. Bring a picnic along with you and relax along the banks of the pool.

  • Buley Rockhole

    Buley Rockhole

    The Buley Rockhole is a popular swimming spot within the Litchfield National Park. It’s the perfect place to sit down and rest, or float in a cooling natural pool. Soak in your surrounds, listening to chirping birds and breathing in the fresh bush air.

    The collection of cascading pools means that even in high season you can get yourself a private swimming spot. There are plenty of facilities available including a picnic area and barbeque!

  • Wangi Falls

    Wangi Falls

    Wangi Falls is one of the most easily accessible falls in Litchfield National Park. Manicured lawns and a picnic area welcome you to the site as you head towards the falls. Below the crashing water is a huge pool, begging you to wade in for a swim.

    The falls are well equipped for you to spend the day. A kiosk, camping ground, showers and barbecues are nearby. Play on the grassy areas or follow boardwalks along with a number of beautiful walks into the nearby monsoon rainforest.

  • Mataranka Thermal Pool

    Mataranka Thermal Pool

    The small town of Mataranka found its fame in the book We of the Never Never. Today however, many of its visitors arrive on the lookout for the Mataranka Thermal Pools. These natural hot spring pools are the perfect place to relax for a day.

    Float between the connected pools, as the soft current pulls you along the waters surface. The warm water will soothe your aching muscles, and the palm trees lining the banks will make you feel like you’re in a tropical oasis. The water here is impossibly blue and the sandy bottom makes for a comfortable swimming spot.

    On busier days, head around to the nearby Bitter Springs. They are slightly harder to access and as a result are usually less busy. They are also deeper, so be prepared with floatation devices if you’re not a confident swimmer.

  • Alice Springs

    Alice Springs

    First and foremost, Alice Springs is located 16 hours from Darwin, so unfortunately no day trips. However, travelling between Darwin and Alice Springs over two days is a fantastic trip.

    There are some amazing things to do once you do reach Alice Springs though! Found in the heart of the Australian desert the town is the iconic vision of the Red Centre. From here you can explore Uluru, Kata Tjuta, and the Devils Marbles with ease. Visit the Sounds of Starlight Theatre to discover the history of the iconic didgeridoo. Watch the unforgettable Camel Cup, an annual camel race just outside of Alice Springs.

    Alice Springs is a fantastic place that you absolutely must visit. Whether you start here before heading to Darwin, or work your way here from the Top End, you’re sure to love it!

Darwin may not have the size or population of Sydney or Melbourne, but it sure has the spark. There are so many things to do in Darwin that this list has barely scratched the surface. Be sure to check out What’s On calendars for bespoke events and special installations.

Language »