As a relatively small metropolitan area, Darwin boasts a population of around 110,000 regular inhabitants, but the resident’s makeup is quite unique. With over 50 different cultures working and living in this city, Darwin’s laidback and casual atmosphere make it a popular tourist destination.
Darwin features several alluring attractions, including a harbor that is actually larger than Sydney’s and a variety of activities for the cultured and nature loving members of your group. Here are ten attractions to consider exploring on your first of much future Darwin holidays.
George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens
Conveniently located adjacent to Darwin’s city centre, you’ll find the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. This 42-hectare garden features flora native to Australia and the surrounding islands, all of which are immaculately displayed along well-kept pathways. Wander through the coastal foredunes, open woodlands and monsoon forests before making your way to the Wesleyan Church, which was completely restored and relocated to the gardens. The George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily and admission is completely free.
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
Generally considered the Northern Territories’ premiere destination for cultural enrichment, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory is an unassuming building tucked inside a beautiful tropical garden. For the more culturally-minded of the group, the museum is divided into five permanent galleries that boast what is arguably Australia’s most comprehensive collection of Aboriginal and Southeast Asian art and artifacts, along with an impressive array of archaeological treasures. Your kids will enjoy sneaking a peek at “Sweetheart,” an 18-foot crocodile that was responsible for a number of attacks on humans during the 1970s, who is now preserved and on display.
Mindil Beach Sunset Markets
There’s something to be said for supporting the local economy when visiting a top tourist destination, so don’t hesitate to purchase a few wares from the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. Every April to October on Thursday and Sunday nights, merchants from across the area set up stalls that feature a variety of ethnic cuisines, arts, crafts and even live entertainment. Once you’ve emptied your wallet, grab a blanket, hit the beach and marvel at the beautiful tropical sunset.
If you’re looking for cheap entertainment that will satisfy your entire family, head to the Waterfront Precinct and enjoy an Australian-produced film under the stars. During the dry season, many locals head to the Deckchair Cinema to enjoy a well-known or family-friendly film. You can either bring along your own snacks, or purchase a cold drink and local delicacy from any number of food vendors.
Territory Wildlife Park
Take a short, 45-minute car ride south of Darwin to visit the Territory Wildlife Park, which highlights the sundry ecosystems found throughout the area. Included in the price of admission, which is a little steep, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the parks three main attractions: the wetlands, monsoon vine forest and woodlands. Of note in the park is the air conditioned aquarium, which boasts 24 unique exhibits and several hundred species of underwater wildlife.
USS Peary Memorial
Darwin is the only Australian capital city to come under heavy fire during any world war. On February 19, 1942, Japanese bombers began a string of attacks on the city, the last of which occurred on November 12 of the same year. Amongst the casualties was the USS Peary, which was sunk during the initial Japanese attack on the city. The salvaged wreck of the USS Peary is open to visitors year-round and a testament to the bravery of the men who lost their lives aboard the vessel. Special tribute is paid to Lt. Robert Buel, a U.S. Air Force pilot who also died during a bombing raid over the city.
For being a relatively small capital city, Darwin also features a wide variety of hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. When planning your next trip to Darwin, be aware that the majority of hotels are quite reasonably priced, and located in or around many of the aforementioned tourist attractions. Darwin is a relatively safe town: as such, your biggest threats are sunburn and dehydration. No matter what time of the year, it’s important to stay out of the sun as much as possible, use sunscreen any time you’re outdoors and remain hydrated.
About the Author: Lucy Davids is a guest blogger and frequent traveler to the Darwin area.