Darwin, Australia: An Insider’s Guide to What to See & Do
As I raved about in my last post, Australia is an unbelievable country with countless destinations that need to be seen. Though I spent several years living in Sydney, there are plenty Australian destinations I have yet to visit, including the Northern Territory’s Darwin. So today I’m very excited to talk to a travel blogger and former resident of Darwin, Bailey of Destinationless Travel.
Bailey is a budget traveler who is always on the search for her next adventure. She lived in Darwin for two years before venturing on a trip around the world. Two years later, she’s still traveling and has no intention of stopping any time soon! You can follow along with her adventures on her blog.
Thanks for chatting with me about Darwin, Bailey! What do you love about the city?
Before I came to Australia, I had this image of Crocodile Dundee sorts of people everywhere. I expected to see kangaroos and spiders and crocodiles everywhere. But when I arrived in Sydney, this is not what I saw. However, after a few months of travelling around Australia, I found myself in Darwin, and that is when my Australia stereotypes came to life!
Darwin is a small, friendly city surrounded by the ocean. Crazy sunsets, intense tropical storms, national parks nearby with waterfalls to swim in are just some of the highlights. It is the perfect place to go if you are after an authentic Australian Outback experience!
What’s your all-time favorite spot in Darwin?
My favorite spot in Darwin has to be Mindil Beach, and specifically the Mindil Beach Night Markets. During the dry season, two nights a week Mindil Beach is the place to be! Tons of market stalls are set up that sell food, snacks, and souvenirs. Traditional didgeridoo music is performed, and locals sit on the beach with a glass of wine in hand while watching the sunset.
It is a mix of tourists and locals that go to the Mindil Beach Night Markets, and the vibe is electric and relaxing at the same time.
Sounds amazing! What should travelers know about the local culture or people?
Those Crocodile Dundee sorts of people I mentioned before, well, you will find them around Darwin, and they will likely have some crazy story to tell you about pig hunting or the six meter-long crocodiles they’ve seen while fishing.
There is also a strong aboriginal presence in Darwin. The aboriginal communities were living in the Darwin area long before it turned into a city, and they are still there today. Walking around the streets of Darwin, it is common to see aborigine. Sometimes, they are hanging out in the parks or busking on the corners of busy streets. Learning about the aboriginal culture and history is interesting and an important part of Australia’s history. If you truly want to learn about aboriginal culture, go on a tour out to Kakadu National Park and see some ancient aboriginal artwork on rock walls!
Darwin is also a very transient city full of young people. The majority of the population is under 35 years old! Lots of young people from all over Australia and the world move to Darwin for a couple years before leaving again. Therefore, the people who live Darwin are friendly. Friends are always coming and going so learning how to make friends is a skill most people who live in Darwin have.
Are there any cool historical tidbits or important history that visitors should be aware of?
Darwin actually has a very interesting history. The city was heavily bombed during WWII, survived the huge disaster of Cyclone Tracey in the 70s, and also has a rich aboriginal history.
The museum in Darwin is free to go to and has a ton of information about Darwin’s history!
Sounds like Darwin’s been through a lot! Is there any food that you MUST try when you’re there? Where’s the best place to try it?
You really should try crocodile while you’re in Darwin. It sounds strange, but it is popular at many restaurants, and it is often cooked on a skewer like chicken! Crustaceans on the Wharf is a nice restaurant that offers crocodile as a starter which is a great way to give it a try!
Eek, not sure if I’m brave enough for crocodile, but it definitely sounds interesting! What are the most photo-worthy or Instagrammable spots? Any fantastic lookouts or otherwise photogenic spots?
In Darwin city itself, the most picturesque spots would be the waterfront, Mindil Beach, and the foreshore walkway.
However, for some more great views, you must venture a little ways out of the city and head to Litchfield National Park! There, you will see crazy waterfalls, you can hike up to viewpoints, and there are even these crazy termite mounds that stand taller than a person!
What should visitors know about transportation around Darwin?
I’m not going to lie, the public transport in Darwin is terrible. The best way to see the city is to have access to a vehicle. Darwin is a city made for driving, and there is tons of parking available anywhere you would want to go. Plus, a lot of the best spots are just outside of the city, and you will either need to go on a tour or drive yourself to see them!
Good to know! What are some attractions or things to do in Darwin that you cannot miss?
My favorite thing to do in Darwin is the Jumping Crocodile Cruise! You join a tour from Darwin city and are taken out to the Adelaide River, where you get one a boat and see crocodiles in their natural habitat. The tour guide will feed the crocodiles, and they will actually jump out of the water! Seeing a six meter long crocodile in the wild is a crazy experience!
Deep sea fishing is also very popular in Darwin! Darwin has some of the best fishing in Australia. If you are up for a challenge, try to go Barramundi fishing; it is a very tricky fish to get!
Other than that, there are lots of things to do in Darwin! Some of that I would recommend are going on a sunset harbor cruise, a tour of Litchfield National Park, go to the Parap Markets, go on a tour of Kakadu national park, swim with crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove (in a tank of course), hang out at the wave pool on the waterfront, or visit Berry Springs.