Darwin City Guide
Darwin is the laidback capital of the Northern Territory of Australia. The most densely populated city in the scarcely populated north, Darwin is situated on a peninsula and surrounded by ocean on three sides. Named after the famous scientist Charles Darwin, you will discover this city to be a place where cosmopolitan city meets Australian outback.
Trendy restaurants, cafes and Mindil Beach's popular sunset markets with inexpensive Asian food stalls, are all part of the relaxed lifestyle here. People are easy to talk to and down-to-earth and make Darwin a very easy place to get around.
Located on Darwin's western side, the sunsets in Mindil Beach are serious business. So serious, in fact, that they've even become a shopping experience!
From the end of April through the end of October, the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets offer local crafts - like jewellery and clothing - and even locally-produced foods.
The markets run parallel to the beach and open on Thursdays from 5 PM to 10 PM and on Sundays from 4pm to 9pm. There are also 60 different food stands, so you won't leave hungry!
For something upscale, try Hanuman Restaurant, which specializes in Thai, Indian, and Nonya. They also have an extensive wine list that pairs perfectly with their spicy entrees.
Darwin doesn't produce wine locally like Southern Australia does, but there are plenty of cool places to drink it. One of the best is Lewinsky's. Located on Mitchell Street, Lewinsky's offers fine food and the “Showcase Wine Bar" that offers wines that you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else!
For another unique eating experience, head to the Darwin Sailing Club - where the food has racked up tons of awards. At the club's Waterfront Bistro, you can dine on everything from Tapas, to fresh seafood, to Asian classics.
But nothing tops the experience you'll have at the Cullen Bay Marina. The restaurants there are delicious, unique, and - in some cases - downright unbelievable. One of the most talked-about places in Cullen Bay Marina is Buzz Cafe - where a one-way mirror in the men's room doubles as a urinal!
Darwin is home to some great fishing. There are plenty of companies that will take you out on the water for a day - or rent you a boat to take out, if you're feeling adventurous.
To get the true feel of Darwin, you have to try and catch a Barramundi. They are found in both fresh and saltwater - but they are real fighters, so reeling one in is a major accomplishment! Barramundi taste great, but if you don't hook one, there are always plenty of restaurants that will serve it to you!
And, even if you don't land “the big one", Darwin's wetlands are so scenic that the view alone is worth the trip!
If you and the family want to get close to the fish in a more controlled environment, why not feed them from dry land? Aquascene is located right in the Doctors Gully, meaning that it is home to hundreds of fish just waiting for you to feed them. However, you have to feed them at high tide, so the time will vary every day. While you're there, you can get up close and personal with catfish, bream, mullet, and even the famed Barramundi!
If you are lucky enough to be in Darwin in the middle of August, then you'll get to take part in the 18 day Darwin Festival. The Festival literally takes over the town - with more than a dozen venues around town hosting events and exhibits. Thanks to all of its different art exhibits, the Festival is considered to be the most culturally diverse in the Top End and the Asia Pacific Region!
Also in August is the Aboriginal Art Fair. For three days, you'll get to experience art from the far reaches of Australia. But not only will you get to look at art - you'll also get the opportunity to take classes and workshops yourself! The Fair is held at the Darwin Convention Centre, so you'll get to see all of the art with the Arafura Sea as a backdrop!
Even if you're not in Darwin in August, you can still check out some great art - thanks to The Museum and Art Gallery. Located 4 km outside of Darwin, there are plenty of buses that can get you there. Once you're inside, you'll find indigenous art, modern art, and even unique exhibits - like local wildlife and a special section devoted to Cyclone Tracy, which devastated Darwin back in 1974.
While Australia produces some of the world's most popular wine, beer is incredibly popular in Darwin. In fact, it's so popular that there's even a Beer Can Regatta every July!
Located on Mindil Beach, the Beer Can Regatta tests your creativity. You and your team will have to build a boat made out of beer cans - then race it!
There are also plenty of other activities - both in the water and on shore - that will keep your entire family entertained.
Darwin is also home to one of the most legendary beer bottles - the Darwin Stubby. At 2 litres, the Darwin Stubby is the biggest bottle of beer in all of Australia.
Darwin played host to the biggest air raid on Australian soil during World War II, when the Japanese attacked on February 19, 1942. The Darwin air raid was actually the first of 100 Japanese air raids around Australia. There are guided tours that will show you damage that's still around today - along with interesting commentary and facts about the attack.
The Darwin Military Museum will also give you an inside look at the attack. Located up in East Point, the museum sits where the original command post was located during the war.
In Darwin's Wharf Precinct, you will find the World War II oil storage tunnels. The tunnels were built right in the middle of the city. Today, you can tour them and also look at photographs of the men and women who built them.
Darwin made history again - when it was devastated by Cyclone Tracy on Christmas Eve back in 1974. 35,000 Darwin residents were evacuated before the storm. There are reminders of the cyclone all over the city.
Instead of the four traditional seasons, Darwin has two seasons - a wet season and a dry season. During the wet season, which starts around the end of October, the city will be vulnerable to short, intense rainfall. However, the rain also makes everything bloom and even creates spectacular waterfalls!
During the dry season, which lasts from April through October, there is virtually no rain at all. However, it's also much hotter than during the wet season. Between June and August - the height of the dry season - Darwin will be crawling with tourists.
If crocodiles fascinate you, there are several places to see them. At Crocosaurus Cove, you can even get in the famed “Cage of Death" and swim around with them! You can also get close to them in less-confined quarters - by boarding a boat and taking a tour of the Adelaide River.
Outside the hustle and bustle, you'll find some great natural wonders :
- Kakadu National Park is located 170 km southeast of Darwin. It's so big that it's the size of Slovenia! It's also home to one of the biggest uranium mines in the world.
- Litchfield National Park is about 100 km out of Darwin. It's home to a natural forest and waterfalls that will take your breath away!
- Katherine Gorge is actually a series of 13 gorges located about 350 km southeast of Darwin. Thanks to the 100 km of walking trails, you can get face-to-face with the gorges!