Darwin makes a great expedition base, it has great city life, outdoor markets and access to island trips. And if you through the Northern Territory was all ochre-hued and dry, think again
DURATION: 1 week
BEST FOR: City life, outdoor markets, island trips
ROUTE: Darwin • Tiwi Islands • Litchfield National Park
WHY DO IT: Kick back in the tropical capital that has a rich indigenous culture and lush national parks on its doorstep
Darwin is remarkable, and not just because of its isolated tropical location (the nearest major city is over 1, 000 miles away). Twice it’s come back from the brink – first when it was pummelled by air raids during the Second World War, then again when Cyclone Tracy halfobliterated the townscape over Christmas 1974. Today’s Darwin, with its bar-lined main drag, palm-tree vibe and regenerated waterfront, is a spirited, impressive city.
Don’t miss the twice-weekly Mindil Beach Sunset Market, where the winterfree city’s multiculturalism comes to the fore. Asian food stalls are a speciality, and the beach itself is a fabulous sunset-watching spot. The market takes place on Thursdays and Sundays between May and October. Elsewhere in town, visit the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory for its near-peerless Aboriginal art collection. And join a harbour cruise to enjoy seafood and wine with a view – the local barramundi is rightly famed.
Traditional Indigenous Dance, Darwin Festival (Tourism NT)
Darwin’s surrounding area is ripe with potential for plenty of short trips. Catch the 2.5-hour ferry across to the Tiwi Islands, home to an Aboriginal group, and you’ll encounter somewhere as bound up in cultural traditions as it is passionate about Aussie Rules football (the Tiwi Bombers play home games from October to February). It’s a great place to try your hand at fishing, too.
Back on the mainland, green Litchfield National Park sits a short drive south of Darwin. Loved by locals, it’s renowned for its many waterfall-fed swimming holes and bush-walking options. Take a dip at Wangi Falls, then climb up through the rainforest to take in the view from the lookout platform. You thought the Northern Territory was all ochre-hued and dry? Think again