The vast Northern Territory of Australia occupies about one sixth of Australia's total landmass. Darwin, the capital city of the territory, is a great place to be based, with an incredible range of truly unique experiences to enjoy - and the perfect gateway to exploring other parts of this incredible part of the world, also known in Australia as the Top End.
Situated on the edge of a vast harbour, larger by comparison than Sydney's, Darwin is Australia’s only fully tropical city, with a fascinating diversity of people, culture, history and natural wonders.
Darwin, facing out over the Timor Sea, is a vibrant, exciting city that draws on its cultural diversity in its array of food, entertainment and lifestyle – and offers plenty to show off the Northern Territory’s remarkable scenery from rainforest wilderness, desert to ocean and the abundant wildlife in each of these contrasting environments.
More than 50 nationalities are represented here, including the indigenous people whose history, art and culture is a must to learn about whilst here. Reflecting the many nationalities living here in Darwin, the food markets and local restaurants also provide a delicious culinary map to enjoy.
Darwin has plenty to offer the culinary adventurer. Buzzing street-side restaurants and bars, Darwin's cultural mix is deliciously represented in the many places to eat within the city. Fresh, local seafood, Asian food, Australian bush food, European food with a local flavour – and you always have the choice from 5 star fine dining to casual restaurants to delicious street stalls and cheap, good quality food.
An essential visit to experience the heart of Darwin’s diversity is the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Market. Enjoy international cuisine from over 60 food stalls – Fresh, fun, cheap, good street food – Sri Lankan, Turkish, Greek, Cambodian, Japanese, Malaysian, Indonesian, local Australian – and eat on the beach as the sun sets over the Arafura Sea.
There are also arts and crafts stalls to browse for hand made items, local and international. Music, street performers, fire twirling, ice cream carts and fresh, tropical fruit vendors all add to the great atmosphere for all to enjoy.
Mindil Beach Sunset Market is held Sunday and Thursday nights during the dry season – check the website or information centres for details. Mindil Beach is about 2km from Darwin's city centre - an easy walk or jump on buses 4 or 6 instead.
The natural wonders of the Northern Territory’s famous national parks of Kakadu and Litchfield are only a few hours' drive away and easily accessible by car or through organised tours. Enjoy the heart of Australia on a day tour of adventure and discovery. Towering termite mounds, waterfalls to swim in, wildlife to observe. Take a ride on the Adelaide River where you can spot huge crocodiles from the safety of the boat. Perhaps take the opportunity to go out on an ocean trip, fishing or sight seeing.
Families often enjoy the local adventure parks where visitors can see crocodiles or interact with other wildlife in the Top End. One such place is The Territory Wildlife Park, a 45-minute drive south of Darwin, allows you to see dingoes, enjoy their walk-through aviary, nocturnal house, goose lagoon, aquarium, billabong and monsoon forest walk.
INDIGENOUS ART AND CULTURE
Take the opportunity to explore the enthralling culture of the local Pudakul people on an authentic, nature-based experience. Learn about bush tucker (food) and traditional medicine, try blowing a didgeridoo, play the clapsticks, throw a spear and see basket and dilly bag making demonstrations. Discover the significance of Dreamtime and Djukbinj, the Rainbow Serpent and enjoy damper (bush bread) and tea.
Take some time to explore the well-appointed museums that explain and celebrate the city and territory’s past. The history of this land is truly remarkable – the sad times, the good times – so important for us to learn about and acknowledge in this land steeped in culture. Stunning galleries showcase the region's rich indigenous art and offer explanations of the significance of each piece.
A visit to the Top End would not be complete without a trip to the Tiwi Islands called Melville and Bathurst. The island of Bathurst is just a short boat trip from Darwin. There you can experience life in a modern-day Aboriginal community - learn about the rich and fascinating history and culture of the Tiwi people and take the opportunity to purchase examples of the unique and wonderful Tiwi Island arts and crafts.
Once you’re done with adventuring for the day, you might like to watch a movie under the stars at the Deckchair Cinema in Darwin. Perhaps climb aboard a luxury yacht or an old 'pearl lugger' for a dinner cruise around Darwin’s magnificent harbour at sunset. Or, just enjoy a simple sunset picnic with a cold beer and some local food.
Lonely Planet - Darwin
Travel NT - useful travel information including accommodation, tours and weather
The terminal at Darwin International Airport is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Both domestic and international flights leave from the same building. The city centre of Darwin is just 15 minutes drive from the airport.
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