Get off the beaten tourist path and explore the adventure, wildlife and aboriginal culture that awaits you in and around Darwin and the Top End.
1. Kakadu National Park
The World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, covers over 7,722 square miles and is a place of contrasting landscapes and diverse habitats. Cruise the Yellow Water wetlands to spot birdlife in the lotus lilies and saltwater crocodiles in the water. View indigenous rock art that provides a fascinating record of Aboriginal life over thousands of years. Visit the stunning Jim Jim and Twin Falls and watch the water cascade down the cliff face to a deep plunge pool.
2. Tiwi Islands
Take a trip across the water from Darwin to the beautiful Tiwi Islands, famous for the traditional lifestyle, art and love of Australian Football. Comprising of two islands, Bathurst and Melville, tourism is restricted, and access is only by an organized tour from Darwin. Being fairly isolated from mainland development, the Tiwi Islands has retained their culture and several unique features. The locals Tiwi people are friendly and extremely hospitable to guests who make their way to the island. Unique Tiwi Island arts and crafts, woven bangles, painted shells, wood carvings and pottery are highly regarded around the world.
3. Get up close with Crocodiles
Get close to nature’s most fearsome creatures, the crocodile, at Crocosaurus Cove. Feed some of the world’s biggest saltwater crocodiles, take a selfie with a baby croc or be lowered into the water with the prehistoric reptiles in the “Cage of Death”. See barramundi, sawfish, archer fish and whiprays in the freshwater aquarium and be sure not to miss the Turtle Enclosure and Reptile House.
4. Arnhem Land
Escape to one of Australia’s last true wilderness areas, Arnhem Land. Covering over 13,127 square miles, the Yolngu people have occupied the region for over 60,000 years. Retaining strong cultural and spiritual links, the region is rich in Aboriginal culture and authentic indigenous experiences.
The scenery of Arnhem Land is beautiful and diverse, with rugged coastlines, remote islands, rivers teeming with fish, lush rainforests, towering escarpments and savannah woodlands. Wildlife is abundant throughout Arnhem Land, including many saltwater crocodiles.
5. Litchfield National Park
Only two-hours’ drive from Darwin, Litchfield National Park has lush woodlands, spectacular waterfalls, cooling plunge pools and tall termite mounds. Visitors can swim beneath the tumbling twin torrents of Florence Falls, then, take a one-mile hike on the Florence Creek Walk, and be rewarded with the Buley Rockhole, a series of natural spas and whirlpools fringed by tranquil bushland. Wangi Falls is Litchfield’s largest and most accessible waterfall where you can swim in the plunge pool or walk the viewing platform to the waterfall’s base.
The tombstone-like termite mounds, built by million-strong armies of tiny termites, are built on a north-south axis to protect the interiors from the intense sun. Marvel at how them mounds are designed as well as the sheer size of some of them from the nearby boardwalk just past the entrance to the Park.
Off the beaten track, you can 4WD to the weathered sandstone domes of The Lost City or the historic Blythe Homestead Ruins, also the site on an old tin and copper mine.
6. Darwin’s Military History
Step back in time to the dark days of World War II and get an understanding of Darwin’s important role in the conflict. Students of military history will enjoy the interactive, multimedia Defence of Darwin Experience, which includes a multi-sensory theatre depicting the bombing of Darwin in February 1942. Darwin has nine World War II military heritage sites to explore.
7. Mindil Beach Markets at Sunset
Every Sunday and Thursday night (last Thursday in April through to the last Thursday in October), crowds gather on the shore of the Arafura Sue to browse hundreds of stalls, enjoy the buskers and dine on a range of exotic cuisines. Food is the main attraction − Thai, Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese and Malaysian to Brazilian, Greek, Portuguese and more. Pick-up colorful arts and crafts, handmade jewelry, natural remedies, artistic creations and unique fashion statements.
8. Deckchair Cinema
Located on the edge of Darwin Harbour, the Deckchair Cinema is a unique outdoor experience. Watch the sunset over the sea and enjoy the tropical garden setting with a meal and drink before the movie starts. Running nightly mid-April – mid-November, the cinema screens movies that include family favorites to Australian and foreign films. The onsite licensed kiosk sells wine, beer, soda and snacks and hot food is also available.
9. Territory Wild Park
The Territory Wildlife Park is located 45-minutes south of Darwin and is the place to see local wildlife. Walk through the aviary, nocturnal house, goose lagoon, aquarium, billabong and monsoon forest walk. Join the Woodland Walk Wallaby Muster or stop in and have Breakfast with the Pelicans.
10. Mary River Wetlands
The Corroboree Billabong is part of the Mary River Wetlands, home to the largest concentration of saltwater crocodiles in the world. View these prehistoric creatures in their natural environment swimming around the billabong and relaxing on the banks on a 2.5 hour scheduled cruise. Birdlife is also prevalent with a huge variety of species such as Jabiru, Ibis, Brolga, Egret, Kite, Sea Eagle, Magpie Geese, and many others.
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.