Not sure about you, but we turned an envious shade of green watching Simon Reeve journey around Australia for his recent documentary. So, inspired by his adventures, we thought we’d check out the sights of Darwin – the picturesque harbour city you’ll never want to leave. Nestled on Australia’s northern tip, it boasts a tropical climate, rich wartime history and a picturesque waterfront – head out of the city and you can channel your inner Mick Dundee with a trip to one of the Northern Territory’s rolling national parks. Now we’ve got you interested, take a look through a few of the must-see sights of this delightful Top End city…
Steeped in history from its two-year aerial battle with Japan during the Second World War, Darwin is a hotspot for military enthusiasts. Begin your tour of the city’s relics at East Point with Darwin’s Military Museum where you can pore over vehicles, firearms, uniforms and paintings before joining the amazing Defence of Darwin Experience for an interactive look at the city’s role in WWI.
When you’re done, head over to the Second World War oil storage tunnels, built to protect supplies during the bombing, before checking out the military bunkers hidden within Charles Darwin National Park. If aviation is your thing, head 45km south of Darwin to the Strauss Airstrip, an important landing site for American, British and Australian pilots involved in combat, before paying a visit to the Australian Aviation Heritage Museum, housing everything from WWII Spitfires to the B52 Bomber.
MINDIL BEACH MARKETS
On the look-out for some dinner at the end of a long day’s sightseeing? If it’s a Sunday or Thursday, look no further than Mindil Beach Markets. The cluster of bustling food stalls located by the water’s edge offer ravenous tourists a range of cuisines, from spicy Indian curries to jumbo Italian pizzas, all washed down with a cold beer on the beach as you watch one of Darwin’s glorious sunsets.
If you’re keen for a celebrity spot during your stay in Darwin, make sure to get a photo with Burt – but don’t get too close. Burt resides in his own pool in the city’s Crocosaurus Cove, a comfortable retirement home for the 80-year-old croc after a career in the movies, starring alongside Paul Hogan and Linda Kozlowski in Crocodile Dundee. While you’re there make sure to catch one of the centre’s daily feeding shows, and if you’re feeling really brave, unleash your inner daredevil with a swim amongst the crocs in the Cage of Death.
THE OLD TOWN HALL
On Smith Street, next to the city’s Civic Square, stands the remains of the old town hall. Erected in 1883, the building withstood the Japanese WWII bombings, only to succumb to the gusts of Cyclone Tracy in 1974. Nowadays its picturesque ruins serve as an outdoor theatre and music venue – try to catch an evening event for an intimate, atmospheric experience.
DARWIN WATERFRONT PRECINCT
If you fancy a relaxing day by the waterfront, pack your towel and swimsuit and head along the Sky Bridge to Stokes Hill Wharf. The newly developed waterfront complex features a wave machine, churning up the crystal blue waters for some family fun, or if you’re after a relaxing bathe, opt for the Recreation Lagoon for a swim with the fishes and natural ecosystems of the Darwin shoreline. Grab some food at one of the many restaurants located on the waterfront, before spending an evening in front of a film at the outdoor Deck Chair Cinema.
Call yourself an angler? Whether you’re into serious fishing or just fancy a day on the water, head to the region’s inland billabongs or onto the pristine ocean waters for some first-class tropical marine life. Pick from a wide choice of fishing day tours, popular with both tourists and locals, for a chance to sport with local delicacy the barramundi, plus Spanish mackerel, mud crabs – and if you’re lucky (or not…), maybe even a croc.
KAKADU NATIONAL PARK
Who thinks of Crocodile Dundee without being instantly reminded of the lush landscapes and exotic outback Down Under? The 1986 worldwide smash hit brought Australia to a global audience – and made a star of comedian Paul Hogan as he won the heart of journalist Sue Charlton, not to mention millions of female cinema-goers. Drive 170km south-east of Darwin and experience their stunning outdoor locations for yourself at Kakadu National Park, starting off with a dip at Gunlom Falls’ natural infinity pool before trekking over the dramatic escarpment at Ubirr, surrounded by 15,000 years of Aboriginal artwork. And don’t worry, you needn’t get too comfortable with any of the reptilian cast members on your trip – just don’t go wading through any of the park’s many rivers and creeks without checking their safety first.
LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK
If Kakadu’s a bit too far afield, why not tour the sites of Litchfield instead? For a refreshing dip, journey through the national park’s numerous waterfalls, from popular Wangi to spectacular Florence, before stopping off for a glance across the dramatic gorge overlooked by Tolmer. And if wildlife is your thing, look out for fields of magnetic termite mounds as you drive across the park – a major attraction in Litchfield, these insect palaces stand up to two metres tall and align themselves north-south to avoid the sun’s heat. Pretty clever, huh?