These ferocious reptiles have been roaming the planet for over 200 million years, making an up-close encounter with them akin to seeing a dinosaur. Darwin is home to the country’s only crocodile dive experience, known frightfully as the Cage of Death. Here you can spend 15 minutes submerged in a glass cage with the prehistoric croc beast as it bashes its 5 metre body underwater on the other side. You can also see a crocodile in the wild quite easily in Darwin, with many fishing charters ploughing through rivers and billabongs filled with cranky, hungry crocs.
Visit the Tiwi Islands
11 islands sit adrift the northern lands of Australia 80 kilometres north of Darwin, floating in the marine filled Arafura Sea. Almost 3,000 people live on the cluster’s two inhabited islands, Melville and Bathurst Island, where a slow and traditional way of life prevails. The indigenous locals of Tiwi live in harmony with the land, often admired gently walking the coastline in search of dinner fresh from the ocean. The rugged landscape of eucalypt forests and black mangroves are home to a diverse range of wildlife, gifting visitors with a display of birds and marine life unique to the Tiwis.
Stroll through the Darwin Botanic Gardens
The George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens can be found just 2 kilometres out of the city, offering visitors a tropical utopia of rainforest highlighted by an ornamental fountain and a waterfall. Owls, snakes, spiders and chickens can be seen roaming the gardens, along with many flowers like roses and frangipanis. Spend some time ogling at baobabs in the African Madagascar Garden and tiptoeing past orchids in the plant display house. Finish your visit in the converted 1886 church of Eva’s Cafe where you can enjoy the likes of granola with coconut yoghurt panna cotta or a New York style salmon bagel.
Chill out at the Wave Lagoon
Even in the thick of the Australian winter, Darwin can sit simmering at a sweltering 31 degrees thanks to its tropical savanna climate. With crocs and stingers making swims in the wild a little risky, Darwin’s lagoons have become the ultimate way to cool off in the city. Two swimming lagoons have been crafted into Darwin’s harbourfront; the 4,000 square metre chlorinated wave lagoon and the recreational lagoon that allows a dip in the water of the harbour with the protection of mesh screens. Take a towel and flop on the sand before wasting a few hours in the sunshine - you’ll be surrounded by locals and travellers soaking up this great feature of the city.
Cruise the Mary River wetlands
Wallabies, lotus flowers and vibrantly coloured birds are just some of the highlights of an adventure through the Mary River wetlands. Part of the Mary River National Park, the 225 kilometre river flows during the wet season and sits stagnant as pools and billabongs when the season turns dry. Filled with over 30 species of fish including barramundi, bream and trout, it is a popular fishing spot - but with the number of crocodiles in the area, fisherman are recommended to be aboard a sizable boat. No one wants their Darwin travel ending in an unplanned croc encounter!
Learn about Aboriginal art and culture
The original landowners of Australia play an important role in the current culture of Darwin. Many sacred Aboriginal landmarks can be found in the Northern Territory, with almost half of the state’s land still owned by Aboriginals. Though Aboriginal culture permeates through everyday life in Darwin, plenty of opportunities to take a closer look at the culture exist. Travellers could attend the Aboriginal Art Fair held for 3 days each August, visit the Aboriginal Fine Arts gallery in Mitchell Street, or admire authentic arts at Mbantua Gallery in Darwin’s mall. Lucky visitors may also get to witness special dances and ceremonies that tell the vibrant inner-workings of Australia’s true heritage.
Things to do in Darwin
Held every year since 2003, Bassinthegrass is held for one day each May and has grown to be the state’s biggest music festival. It draws in big names from the Australian indie music scene such as Angus & Julia Stone, Birds of Tokyo and San Cisco.
Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta
Topping the list of unique and authentic Aussie festivals is Darwin’s annual Beer Can Regatta, bringing joy to the area since 1974. Homemade boats crafted from beer cans descend upon Mindil Beach in a display of charity and good humour, originally a humble idea to clean up litter in the area. Things to do in Darwin don’t come more comical than this.
Crownbet Darwin Triple Crown Supercars
Those with a weakness for fast cars will get their kicks at the Crownbet Darwin Triple Crown Supercars, a leg of Australia’s car racing championship. Held since 1998 at the 2.86 kilometre track of Hidden Valley Raceway, the 3 day event draws visitors from right around the country for a combination of motorsport and rowdy antics.
A celebration of independence from the Commonwealth Government, Territory Day of the 1st of July now has four decades of history. It is the one day of the year in which personal fireworks can be used in the state, meaning the night sky erupts into a display of light and colour.
Darwin International Film Festival
For ten days of September the city of Darwin transforms into a celebration of the screen. Known locally as ‘DIFF’, the Darwin International Film Festival showcases a careful curation of films from within the state and country, as well as a few international selects.
Top 5 Festivals In Darwin
The festivals held in Darwin are as unique as the rugged Australian outback, with fast cars and homemade beer boats highlighting the calendar. More civilised culture can be found in the annual Darwin International Film Festival, while Bassinthegrass is here to satisfy lovers of Australian indie music.
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
Open since 1981, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory is the state's most respected gallery space. Home to both contemporary and indigenous artworks, as well as many pieces that tell the stories of Australia's changing landscape and culture, this gallery is a must visit in Darwin.
Darwin Military Museum
Stepping back to the year of 1942, the Darwin Military Museum explores the bombing of Darwin by 242 Japanese aircraft, still referred to as the most significant attack on Australian soil. Visitors are taken on an intense audio-visual journey that shares accounts of the day from men and women who survived.
Designed by famous Australian architect Beni Burnett, the Burnett House is a two-storey dwelling that has been standing in Myilly Point since 1938. Symbolic of tropical architecture it is referred to as a Type K style home, with a visit revealing tales of survival from both the Japanese bombing of 1942 and Cyclone Tracy in 1974.
Australian Aviation Heritage Centre
Admire over 15 aircrafts on display at the Australian Aviation Heritage Centre, an aerospace museum that will see you up close and personal with engines, warplanes and special artefacts. This important Australian museum has been opened since 1990 and is an integral part of Darwin travel.
Darwin oil storage tunnels
In the height of World War II Australians built oil storage tunnels under the cliffs of the city near the Darwin Wharf Precinct, after Japanese air-raids destroyed 7 oil tanks that had been sitting above ground. Though they were never used thanks to a declaration of peace, visiting still offers interesting insight into life during those times.
Top 5 Museums And Galleries in Darwin
The NT’s capital is home to many important museums, many of which tell the story of Australia’s involvement in World War II. Make a special effort to visit the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, where contemporary and indigenous works show important sides of the city. Put these high on your list of what to do in Darwin.
When a naughty treat and fresh Australian fruits collide, you know you are onto a good thing. Layers of meringue and whipped cream make for a textured dessert delight, topped with numerous berries, passionfruit and occasionally kiwifruit. Not surprisingly the best pav in the area is served at the Darwin Surf Life Saving Club.
Best eaten at De La Plage, Darribah Road, Darwin Surf Life Saving Club, Darwin, Northern Territory 0801
From mussels to mackerel, oysters to ocean trout, seafood doesn’t get much better than the offering of Darwin Fish Market. Boasting only fresh Australian sea critters with a salty, straight-out-of-the-ocean taste, try their highlight of huge prawns eaten fresh on Fishermans Wharf.
Best eaten at Darwin Fish Market, Francis Bay Drive, Fishermans Wharf, Darwin, Northern Territory 0800
Traditionally this may be an Italian dish, but parmigiana has well and truly established itself as an Australian favourite. Settle yourself in at Byron's iconic beachfront pub for a slab of chicken lathered in a tomato sauce and topped with grilled cheese. Hot tip: The Aussies have abbreviated its name, look out for the word "parma" or "parmy" on pub menus.
Best eaten at Tim’s Surf & Turf Restaurant, 10 Litchfield St, Darwin, Northern Territory 0800
The meat pie, a baked pastry snack stuffed with minced meat, has become an icon of Australia despite its history dating back as far as the Neolithic Period of 9500 BC. The Aussie pie usually enjoyed with a layer of tomato sauce during an Aussie sports match. When visiting Darwin it should be sampled at Tommos Pies, a traditional pastry shop about 10-minutes out of the city.
Best eaten at Tommos Pies, 1/3 Howell St, Berrimah NT 0828
One of very few food items that Australians can call their very own, the yeast extract food spread of Vegemite is an acquired taste that makes many foreigners squirm. Found in just about every supermarket across the country, it should be spread lightly over buttered toast for the perfect Vegemite introduction.
Best eaten at DIY at a local supermarket
Food in Darwin
Meat pies, chicken parmas and big Aussie prawns run high on the list of the best foods found in Darwin. Try many authentic dishes and obscure local meats after tucking into an essential breakfast of Vegemite on toast. You’ll need the fuel for long days of adventure under the outback sun.