Australia’s northernmost capital city, Darwin, has a lot to offer – even if you’re only there for a short amount of time. From war history to natural wonders and with a few gastronomic delights thrown in for good measure, Darwin is great for a weekend escape (and only 4 hours from Brisbane!). We recommend visiting during the dry season, which is May to September. The weather is the most pleasant and most national parks and other natural attractions are open.
If you arrived from Brisbane on the red-eye (very common as Darwin Airport has no curfew), you probably landed around 12.30am and are feeling a little bleary-eyed this morning. No fear, head to the Parap Markets for breakfast. The Parap Markets are a Saturday morning institution for locals and tourists. We recommend a laksa from Mary’s Laksa (look for the place with the longest line), a crepe from Ken’s Crepes or a freshly squeezed juice from one of the many vendors. Have a look through the local handicrafts and pick up a few croc skin souvenirs if they strike your fancy.
For those interested in Darwin’s rich history, we recommend a trip to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Enjoy some beautiful indigenous art, learn about the impact of Cyclone Tracey and a bit about the Bombing of Darwin. If you’d like more war history, you can head to the East Arm War Museum as well, to see more of Darwin’s role in World War II. Alternatively, if museums aren’t your thing, you can head out to the Territory Wildlife Park and see some of the amazing wildlife that the Northern Territory has to offer.
Head down to the Darwin Waterfront for a stroll and something to eat. For those interested in the war history, there’s a brief memorial about the bombing of Darwin Harbour at Stokes Hill Wharf, with plenty of dining options and a lovely view over the bay. Alternatively, head to the main waterfront area just off the wharf for a range of dining options. After dinner, stop for an ice cream or head to the Precinct for a drink and enjoy some live music.
Get up bright and early this morning for your drive down to Litchfield. Litchfield National Park is a comfortable 90-minute drive from Darwin CBD and home to some excellent walking tracks and swimming holes. Visit Florence Falls for a nature walk and a cool swim afterwards, stop by Buley Rockhole for a slightly warmer dip in one of the many rockpools and drive through the small township of Batchelor that borders the national park.
Another Darwin institution – Mindil Beach Markets. Your food options are plentiful and varied, so you’ll have a hard time choosing. We recommend a Greek yiros or one of the many, delicious South-East Asian cuisines. The shopping here is also fantastic and has a broader range than the Parap Markets. After your browsing, sit on the sand and watch the sunset over Mindil Beach.
Time to head back to your hotel and get packed up to head home.