Darwin, the main city in the Northern Territory, is often overlooked as a tourist destination, but there are plenty of reasons to add this to your must-visit list when visiting Australia. In Darwin, you can get up close with Australian wildlife and explore the Aussie outback.
The Northern Territory is loaded with great outdoor activities such as Darwin Crocodile Park (Crocosaurus Cove) and Kakadu National Park, which is one of Australia’s most beautiful areas. At Kakadu National Park you’ll find stunning beaches, plenty of wildlife, and historical experiences!
There is definitely more than meets the eye here!
1) Go exploring at Kakadu National Park!
Kakadu National Park is Australia’s largest national park and is on the World Heritage list for its rich wildlife and cultural importance. It is home to prehistoric Aboriginal art, which can be viewed while you’re here.
Kakadu National Park is a massive area and you will need to allocate a few days to thoroughly explore it, but while you are here you can enjoy the natural beauty of the Australian Outback! You do need to buy a park pass, and the easiest way to do this is online at the Australian National Parks website or from a list of places located in Darwin City.
Getting here can be arranged by tour guides from Darwin City, or you can arrive on your own – although this needs to be thoroughly planned – it is the Australian Outback! There is an excellent tool on the Australian National Parks website that will help you plan your trip here, as you do need to bare in mind the season you are going. For example in summer the temperatures can soar above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) quite easily and suddenly!
The easiest way to explore the park is by a boat cruise, offered by a few local operators including Kakadu Tourism.
2) Feed Crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove
Crocodiles live in the wild in the Northern Territory, but if you’re not a fan of seeing one in the wild, you can head to Crocosaurus Cove, Darwin’s crocodile park.
Located in the city centre, Crocosaurus Cove is where you can learn more about the large saltwater crocodiles. It’s a perfect way to have a great experience up close with this fearsome Aussie predator. As well as crocodiles, there is a range of other reptiles and marine life to see.
At Crocosaurus Cove, there are four main options to choose from. You can walk around the park at your own pace, if you’re brave enough, you can swim with crocodiles, or you can feed them by hand, or, finally, you can even hold a baby croc! These last three options are, of course, at an additional fee. Adult prices start from 35 AUD (26 USD) and it costs around 55 AUD (41 USD) to feed them yourself.
3) Check out the Mindil Beach Sunset Market, but don't go swimming!
Mindil Beach, one of the main beaches in Darwin, has beautiful sunrises and sunsets. It’s a great spot to have a picnic, shop, sunbathe, or relax. You won’t want to swim here though, as, yes, you may just run into a saltwater crocodile! There are several barbecue and picnic areas along the beach and being right by the city centre, there are plenty of places to stop and grab something to eat or drink.
There is a popular night market known as Mindil Beach Sunset Market here that offers a range of entertainment and food. Don’t be surprised to see crocodile, emu, and kangaroo kebabs among other things to eat! To me, crocodile tastes like chicken, but don’t just take my word for it, try some for yourself! This market is a must do when visiting Darwin. It runs every Friday night during Darwin’s dry season (May-October) from 4 pm til 9 pm. It is recommended to take cash with you as some stalls do not accept credit cards.
4) Walk through the Northern Territory's history at Fannie Bay Gaol
There are plenty of heritage sites around Darwin, but the Fannie Bay Gaol is worth visiting. A gaol is simply a historic term for a jail or prison. This is a good way to see a historic prison, including the cells, and learn about the about some of the rich history of Darwin.
Admission is free, and Fannie Bay Gaol is open from 10 am daily. It won’t take you long to check out this attraction, so it is recommended if you are short on time or have a gap in your day. Getting here is really easy and is located just ten minutes drive east from Darwin’s city centre.
As well as the museum, Fannie Bay is a beautiful beach with sandstone cliffs, walkways, and picnic areas.
5) Go shopping at the largest mall in Darwin
Shopping in Darwin is a great way to spend the day. Casuarina Square is the largest mall in the Northern Territory and has plenty to see and do! Parking here is free, but it is also easily accessed by bus or taxi from the city centre.
There are 165 specialty shops, including the Australian owned Kmart, which is a must visit when shopping in Australia! Here you can find anything and everything from homeware to clothing for bargain prices!
You can allocate a whole day to shopping at Casuarina Square, where you can also grab a delicious chicken pita bread meal from Nando’s or check out the many cafes located throughout the shopping complex!
Make memories in Darwin and the Northern Territory
Darwin and the surrounding Northern Territory have plenty to offer to travelers! Don’t cross it off your list when visiting Australia because of the distance; it is well worth checking out!
The best thing about Darwin is that it isn’t overrun with tourists and is a little quieter than other main cities! Here you get to experience real Australian heat and the famous Aussie outback! The natural landscape is stunning and is rich in Aboriginal culture and European heritage. For a true Aussie experience, head to Darwin in the Northern Territory!
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