Australia's only tropical capital, Darwin has plenty to offer the traveller. This youthful and vibrant city still has a small-town feel and a laconic, relaxed vibe that fits easily with the climate. Boats sail around the harbour, chairs and tables spill out of streetside restaurants and bars, museums reveal the city’s absorbing past, and galleries showcase the region’s rich Indigenous art. The city's cosmopolitan mix is typified by the wonderful Asian markets held throughout the dry season.
Nature is well and truly part of Darwin’s backyard – the famous national parks of Kakadu and Litchfield are only a few hours’ drive away and the unique Tiwi Islands just a boat ride away.
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If the tourists won't go out to see the crocs, then bring the crocs to the tourists. Right in the middle of Mitchell St, Crocosaurus Cove is as close as you'll ever want to get to these amazing creatures. Six of the largest crocs in captivity can be seen in state-of-the-art aquariums and pools. You can be lowered right into a pool with them in the transparent Cage of Death (one/two people $120/160). If that's too scary, there's another pool where you can swim with a clear tank wall separating you from some mildly less menacing baby crocs. Other aquariums feature barramundi, turtles and stingrays, plus there's an enormous reptile house (allegedly the largest variety of reptiles on display in the country).
At Doctors Gully every day, Aquascene runs a remarkable fish-feeding frenzy. Visitors, young and old, wade into the water and hand-feed hordes of mullet, catfish, batfish and big milkfish.
George Brown Botanic Gardens
Named after the gardens' curator from 1971 to 1990, these 42-hectare gardens showcase plants from the Top End and around the world − monsoon vine forest, the mangroves and coastal plants habitat, baobabs and a magnificent collection of native and exotic palms and cycads.Many of the plants here were traditionally used by the local Aboriginal people, and self-guiding Aboriginal plant-use trails have been set up − pick up a brochure at the gardens' information centre near the Geranium St entry. You'll also find birdwatching brochures and garden maps here too.The gardens are an easy 2km bicycle ride out from the centre of town along Gilruth Ave and Gardens Rd, or there's another entrance off Geranium St, which runs off the Stuart Hwy in Stuart Park. Alternatively, bus 7 from the city stops near the Stuart Hwy/Geranium St corner.
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