Home » Discovering Darwin: A guide to Australia’s northern gem

Discovering Darwin: A guide to Australia’s northern gem

Photo by Vladimir Haltakov on Unsplash

Australia is a corner of the globe most travelers never reach. The few globetrotters who make it down under rarely leave the locales of Melbourne, Sydney, and Perth, and if they do, it’s for a trek through the bush. But there’s so much more to see in Australia, specifically in the Northern Territory. Darwin is one of the most fascinating cities to visit. 

Like other cities, Darwin is highly diverse and incredibly approachable. The people are friendly, as in they give Midwesterners a run for their money. The “local first” scene in Darwin has supported a burgeoning arts and cultural landscape that makes a visit here hard to imitate. Combine that with a fascinating World War II history and some seriously wonderful beaches, and you got yourself a solid trip. Oh, and there’s crocodiles. Lots of crocodiles.

As you venture around the city, your day will be much more pleasant if you’re not carrying too much. Consider dropping off any unneeded beach gear, bags, or sporting equipment at a Darwin luggage storage facility and pick your things up whenever you’re ready.

Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Darwin:  

Check out the world’s most formidable reptiles at Crocosaurus Cove 

Photo by Simon Watkinson on Unsplash

If you’re traveling to Darwin with the kids, or you just so happen to love nature and wildlife, then you’ll be delighted to hear that the city’s most popular attraction is a nature preserve and theme park called “Crocosaurus Cove.” Sure, it sounds like a television show for children, but you’ll see some truly impressive crocodiles here and even some gnarly feeding demonstrations. You can even get lowered into a pool of crocs in the “Cage of Death” to see these fearsome reptiles up close. There are other aquarium features where you can admire a diverse array of turtles, stingrays, barramundi, and other marine wildlife. 

Stroll through the George Brown Botanic Gardens 

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a lot of green going on in Darwin, and one of its most popular attractions is the expansive George Brown Botanic Gardens. With well over 100 acres, you can fill up a whole day exploring its various themed gardens featuring coastal plants like mangroves and groves of palm trees. You can walk or even cycle your way through the whole complex in a few hours, but you can also take your time to learn detailed histories of each plant species if Botany is your thing. 

Make sure to explore Darwin’s diverse food scene 

Photo by Adrian Dorobantu

Australia is incredibly diverse, and Darwin’s restaurant and culinary landscape highlight the vibrant Asian communities that have made this city a foodie destination. Known as “Australia’s gateway to Asia” for its proximity to countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, Darwin’s street food scene and restaurants are teeming with a diverse range of flavors. For the best Vietnamese bites, head to Parap Market for steamy bowls of pho and crispy spring rolls. There are also amazing Korean food stands here, with “K.F.C.” (Korean Fried Chicken) being especially popular. Mindil Beach Sunset Market is another hotspot for everything from Sri Lankan to Portuguese food. 

Enjoy Darwin’s waterfront at Bicentennial Park 

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Australians really value their public land. Both the largest and smallest metropolitan areas tend to reserve their key natural areas for parks and recreation. Darwin’s wonderful waterfront features the magnificent Bicentennial Park and Lameroo Beach. Centered around a sheltered cove that was used as a makeshift spa in the 1920s for saltwater baths, the waterfront area has long been considered a place for community and recreation. 

The park is lined with tropical trees and paths, so you know where you should head for a mid-vacation workout. There are also a few monuments honoring the native Larrakia people, along with Australian veterans of World War II. There’s also an esplanade commemorating local settlers and preservationists. All in all, you could do worse than strolling through Bicentennial, and the city’s cultural districts are nearby.

Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory 

Australia has a vibrant creative landscape. Even though its most famous output seems to be centered around music, the arts are central to Australian culture, especially in Darwin. The best place in the city to admire local art is this gallery and museum located right in the city center. 

Everything here is based around local artists, so you’ll find a wide variety of artistic mediums and themes. There’s a nice mix of contemporary works alongside classical paintings and sculptures. What really sets this museum apart is its fantastic collection of Aboriginal artwork, especially pieces from the Northern Territory and Tiwi Islands. 

Check out “ Australia’s Pearl Harbour”

The Defence of Darwin Experience tells the fascinating tale of the city’s role in World War II. Being the northernmost major Australian city, Darwin was a frequent target of bombing raids by the Japanese. While it never came to pass, the invasion was a constant threat in the first half of the war, and the frequent bombings led to the unfortunate nickname of “Australia’s Pearl Harbour.”

The story of perseverance that Darwin and its residents showed is nonetheless inspiring. The Darwin Military Museum is one of the key attractions in the city and one of the most fascinating corners of WWII history that’s well worth exploring. Through multimedia exhibits, retired military equipment, and hundreds of artifacts, you’ll learn how the Australian military played a key role in resisting the Japanese and staving off disaster for the Allies. 

Take a short day trip to Charles Darwin National Park 

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

Australians are famously outdoorsy, and it absolutely makes sense, given the immense wildlife and natural beauty that surrounds them. Darwin is no different. In fact, the city enjoys unparalleled access to nature preserves and national parks. The best one to hit during your trip is Charles Darwin National Park. The wetlands surrounding Darwin’s city center are filled with wonderful wildlife, with the birdwatch being some of the best in Australia, along with amazing paths snaking their way through the bogs and rivers. You can opt for a leisurely hike (very little elevation change) or even rent a mountain bike to cover more ground. 

Conclusion

If you’re doing your trip to Darwin right, you’ll be on the move a lot. As in, all day. If you’re planning on trying to fit everything in, you’ll want to get some sightseeing or outdoor activities in on travel days. Traveling to the hotel just to drop the bags off can take up a ton of time, so dropping your bags off with a luggage storage service like Bounce is the best way to have it all.

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