Situated on the edge of a harbour larger than the more well-known Sydney Harbour, Darwin is a small, yet cosmopolitan city. There are only two seasons in Darwin – wet and dry. The dry season (May to October) is the perfect time to visit with temperatures that vary between 21oC and 32oC, but it’s usually sunny and 31oC every day.
The wet season (November to April), brings the rain and with it some splendid summer storm viewing. The grass is greener then, the waterfalls are full and splendid, but it’s wet. Really wet.
There are a number of activities on offer in and around Darwin. Crocosaurus Cove is located in the heart of the Darwin tourist precinct. Here you can hold a baby crocodile or if you are more adventurous, you could try the “Cage of Death”. You are dropped into a crocodile enclosure in a see-through cage while handlers feed the crocs, ensuring a face-to-face encounter with a prehistoric beast.
For an activity that’s a little less intense, visit the Darwin Waterfront Precinct. This precinct features a wave lagoon and recreation lagoon and parklands, as well as picnic areas with public art dotted around. It’s fun for the whole family.
The Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory features Indigenous art and maritime archaeology from the local region.
At Aquascene you can feed hundreds of friendly wild fish by hand. This natural phenomenon has occurred for the past 60+ years and it’s possible to observe the fish species Mullet, Bream, Batfish, Barramundi, Rays, Mangrove Jack, Parrot and Diamond Fish.
The Mindil Beach Sunset Markets run from April to October and on offer is food, arts, crafts and entertainment, all in a tropical beach sunset setting. The Deck Chair Cinema is an outdoor cinema that starts at 7pm, seven nights a week in the dry season. You will find it just near the esplanade. If you happen to be in Darwin in September, check out the Darwin International Film Festival.
There are a number of national parks surrounding Darwin, each with its own unique elements of landscape, fauna and flora. Whether inland or coastal, they are packed with beautiful natural features. Visit the Parks and Wildlife Commission for an overview of the parks closest to Darwin.
The Ghan Overland Journey: this train travels from Darwin to Adelaide. Legend has it the old Ghan was once stranded for two weeks in one spot and the engine driver had to shoot wild goats to feed his passengers. This train trip extends for 2,979kms, takes 54 hours and passes through the extensive russet desert landscapes to the tropical splendour of Darwin. Often found on the list of the greatest rail trips on the planet, this is definitely something to consider.
Darwin is also the gateway to the famous Kakadu National Park. You may also wish to head south to Alice Springs and on to Uluru, formerly known as Ayers Rock, with the surrounding Kata Tjuta National Park and nearby Kings Canyon.
Local national parks are the Casurina Coastal reserve, Charles Darwin National park, Holmes Jungle Nature Park, Knuckney Lagoons Conservation reserve and Leanyer Recreation Park.