Make Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, your launch pad to the terrific Top End. Expect plenty of tropical sunshine, the best of Australia’s national parks, fascinating Indigenous culture, and a wealth of history. And the odd croc, of course!
In fact, where better to start your Darwin adventure than face to face with one of these prehistoric beasts? Enjoy a close encounter with the crocodiles at Crocosaurus Cove, or in the wild on a jaw dropping Jumping Crocodile Cruise on the Adelaide River.
Head to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory to see stunning works of Indigenous art. Learn about Darwin’s WWII history and the bombing of Darwin at the Darwin Military Museum. Visit the Darwin Waterfront Precinct to peruse shops, cafes and restaurants and to watch the extraordinary sunsets over Darwin Harbour.
For a rich immersion in unparalleled landscapes, explore the Litchfield National Park, the Tiwi Islands and, of course, UNESCO’s World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. The latter is Australia’s largest land-based National Park. It is packed with stunning rocky ridges, lush flood plains, tranquil billabongs and croc-filled estuaries, as well as some of the best-preserved examples of ancient Indigenous rock art in the country.
Kakadu is indeed home to some of the world’s oldest traces of culture and community, with Aboriginal rock paintings dating back to up to 20,000 years.
Start by cooling off with a leisurely dip in the freshwater waterholes of Berry Springs Nature Park, around 40 minutes from the Darwin city centre. Then, head to the Territory Wildlife Park. Set within 400 hectares of natural bushland, the park showcases native wildlife up close in natural habitat displays. Kids will even come face to prehistoric face with a fearsome 4-metre saltwater crocodile at the Aquarium. You can also surround yourselves with barramundi in the walk-through tunnel.
Get even more hands-on than that on a fishy encounter at Darwin City’s Aquascene. Here, littlies can wade in the water as well as feed a variety of wild fish.
hen, take your tots to Crazy Acres Mango Farm & Café to run around and slurp up some mango-flavoured treats. Situated on a family run mango farm, The Café is famous for its homemade ice cream.
In Darwin and Kakadu, there are six different seasons, based on Aboriginal knowledge of changes in the weather, which plants are flowering and what food is abundant. It is hot during the daytime all year around with a daily average of 32 degrees Celsius in December, the hottest month.
The dry season from April to October is the best time for travel to Darwin. The weather is beautiful and the skies are blue. The tropical summer (or wet season) runs from November to March, bringing regular downpours, high humidity, spectacular flooding and electrifying afternoon storms. On the plus side, the wet season brings the landscape and waterfalls to spectacular, lush green life. It is also the cheapest time to visit Darwin. Hotels can be half the price at this time of year and there are hardly any crowds, so it’s an ideal time to visit if you’re are on a tighter budget.
The food scene in Darwin is thriving. With incredible fresh produce and influences from a variety of cuisines, there’s no shortage of excellent restaurants, al fresco cafes, markets and food festivals.
From fresh Italian pasta and authentic Thai to fresh seafood and native delights including kangaroo, buffalo and crocodile, you’ll be spoiled for choice. There’s a great selection of eateries at Stokes Hill Wharf and the Darwin Waterfront Precinct – which is a great place to enjoy a bite to eat as you watch one of Darwin’s epic sunsets.
Darwin’s open-air food markets are a dining must for foodie families. At Mindil Beach markets, dine on a selection of tasty treats from a large selection of food trucks and stalls along with street performers to entertain the kids. Try chomping on sme crocodile if you’re game! And be sure to head to Parap Village Market on Saturday mornings for a bowl of its legendry laksa. The selection of yummy treats and cool crafts available rivals that of Mindil, but the setting is completely different.
Located metres from the water, The Precinct is one of Darwin’s hottest places to eat. The wide-ranging menu features plenty of seafood, meats and vegetarian options, with small and big plates available – so there’s something to suit everyone and every appetite. The menu changes seasonally, so whatever you order, you can be sure it’s fresh and usually sourced from a local provider. For parents who are into craft beers, The Precinct has 46 taps to choose from. The all-weather outdoor deck is The Precinct’s newest addition, offering diners a lovely al-fresco space to enjoy their food along with Wave Lagoon views.
Take a dip in the pristine waters at Berry Springs Nature Park, around a 40 minute drive from the city. Meander the Mindil Markets to enjoy free street performances including circus acts and musicians that are sure to entertain the kids. And it doesn’t cost a cent to enjoy one of Darwin’s epic sunsets; Mindil Beach, Cullen Bay and East Point Reserve are the top spots for the best views. Cullen Bay is only 10 or 15 minutes’ walk from the centre of town, with plenty of space to set up a picnic. And don’t forget that entry to the NT Museum and Art Gallery is totally free!
April – Territory Taste Festival
Enjoy two days of cooking demonstrations and master classes combined with family-focused entertainment and activities on the Darwin Waterfront.
June – Darwin Triple Crown V8 Supercars
Rev up and for the Darwin round of the V8 Supercar Championship.
July – Darwin Lions Beer Can Regatta
Watch on as inventive Territorians build and race boats from recycled cans and milk cartons.
August – The Darwin Festival
An 18-day celebration of music, theatre, visual art, dance, cabaret and more.
From sport and science to music and art, check out our list of family-friendly attractions around Australia based on your interests.
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Crocodiles, swimming holes, mango ice cream and markets. We asked the locals with they would do with 48 hours in Darwin with kids.
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