Your trip to Australia's Top End will likely include a visit to some of the famous national parks such as Kakadu, Litchfield and Katherine Gorge, a trip to the Territory Wildlife Park, exploring some of the many museums, galleries and memorials and an Aboriginal Cultural Tour. But your list 'to do' list should not end there. In a city known for its climate, culture, colours and character, make the most of your Darwinian adventure by adding some of these to your itinerary.
Cheaper than a dingo's breakfast (i.e. Free!)
Make no mistake, Darwin is always hot! Pack your family picnic and chill out while taking in ocean views at the shady Nightcliff Foreshore. Wander or cycle past the sandy beach, swimming pool and jetty and use the free electric barbeque facilities to prepare lunch which you can eat while relaxing in the gentle sea breeze.
Held on Thursdays, it costs nothing to stroll through Darwin's Mindil Beach Sunset Market, and the chance to chat with stallholders and browse through their handicrafts is a great opportunity to find out about the city's culture first-hand but prepare to be tempted by the array of affordable cuisine available. Later, join the locals beachside to enjoy watching the sun go down whilst being entertained by musicians and street performers.
To find out about some of Northern Territory's motoring history, head to the 1934 QANTAS hangar which is now occupied by the Motor Vehicle Enthusiast Club and holds an impressive collection of vintage cars, motorbikes and machinery.
Cheaper than a movie ticket!
And since there's so much to do in Darwin, why would you want to sit inside a cinema anyway? Surfing perhaps isn't the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Darwin, but you can get pretty close to it at Darwin Wave Pool, a 4000 square metre lagoon situated right on the waterfront. While surf boards are not allowed, a limited number of boogie boards and water tubes are available and included in the entry fee. Take the scenic route from Darwin Mall to get there and take advantage of the opportunities for spectacular lookouts along the way.
Here fishy, fishy, fishy…
Take the children, or take a trip back to your own childhood, to Aquascene Fish Feeding Sanctuary in Doctor's Gully, where you can spend the morning or afternoon standing in the water feeding the local marine life. You will be surprised by the sheer volume and size of milkfish, bream and catfish that will approach you. Check the website for feeding times.
You could add popcorn, candy and a drink to the cost of that hypothetical movie ticket or, for about the same price, you could spend an evening at one of the best places in the Northern Territory would have to be at the Darwin Ski Club. With stunning Fannie Bay as a backdrop, a trip to this licenced waterside venue offers a relaxing evening, with friendly staff and an extensive bistro menu at an affordable price.
But if you really are keen on going to the movies while you're in Darwin, do it in style. For a unique outdoor cinema experience during the dry season, head to Darwin's Deckchair Cinema which offers nightly movies under the stars in folding wood and canvas arm chairs, from old classics to new favourites.
Make it memorable…
Spend the money you saved on your accommodation on an activity in Darwin that you will remember for years to come.
It's been said that you should never smile at a crocodile, but at Crocosaurus Cove you could find yourself doing just that. In Australia's only crocodile dive experience, you'll want to keep on the good side of these deadly predators as you are lowered into a crocodile pen in the dubiously named Cage of Death! But if just the thought of getting face to face with the toothy residents gives you nightmares, try a Jumping Crocodile Cruise for a less terrifying alternative.
For a different type of adrenalin rush, how about a blood-pumping ride in the front seat of a powerful V8 supercar? Head to V8RACE in Hidden Valley Raceway, just ten kilometres outside Darwin and strap yourself in for an exhilarating trip at speeds of up to 200kms per hour.
Beyond the city limits…
See as much as you can of the Top End by hiring a car while you're there and embarking on day or overnight trip from Darwin. Known as the Red Centre, Alice Springs is the most famous outback town in Australia. Your Darwin holiday may already include a side-trip to Uluru but why not do it in serene style by booking a hot air balloon tour of over the area? Take in the view from on high as you peacefully float across the colourful outback panorama.
Or head 80km north of Darwin to where the Arafura Sea joins the Timor Sea, the Tiwi Islands. Known as the 'Island of Smiles', this area is made up of the Melville and Bathurst islands, and is largely inhabited by indigenous Australians, many of which are more than willing to chat to you about their culture, traditional customs and modern day way of life. You can tour the rainforest and waterfalls, explore the local arts and crafts or enjoy a day of fishing while there.
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