This is Australia’s tropical north, a land alive with history, culture and adventure. Darwin, the Northern Territory's distinctly modern and multicultural capital city is only 4.5 hours away by air from Singapore, the region showcases world-class national parks, wildlife-attracting waterways, relaxing ‘glamping’ sites and rich Aboriginal culture.
Here, you can also uncover an unexpectedly luxurious edge. When people think about the Australian bush, they often imagine ‘roughing it,’ but there’s absolutely no need to get hot and dusty (unless you want to). Take a specialised tour in air-conditioned vehicles, check into a wilderness lodge on the edge of a floodplain, enjoy gourmet meals and fine Australian wines, cool off in infinity pools, and take to the skies on helicopter journey to explore the dramatic landscapes.
In the Top End you’ll also encounter the oldest surviving culture in the world. Aboriginal communities have been here for over 50,000 years, and many tours and experiences are now run by Aboriginal owners. Immerse yourself in the local culture and hear ancient Dreamtime stories that will enrich your Top End experience.
Suggested 5 Days Itinerary
Mindil Beach Sunset Market, DarwinExplore Darwin City & Markets
Take a Darwin Bus hop-on hop-off sightseeing tour to get to know more about the compelling history and attractions of this vibrant tropical city. Explore the aboriginal art and natural history exhibitions at the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and take a walk around the boutiques and galleries in the Smith Street Mall. Head down to the Waterfront Precinct for a swim at the Wave Lagoon or relax at one of the many alfresco eateries.
Darwin’s cuisine draws inspiration from its diverse mix of cultures. Indulge your inner-epicurean at Darwin’s famous foodie markets. Enjoy the tropical night air at Mindil Beach Sunset Markets every Thursday and Sunday evening between April and October. The markets have an array of stalls offering international cuisine, local arts, crafts and entertainment. Sit on the beach and catch one of Darwin’s famous sunsets as you tuck into a plate of fresh locally-caught seafood and tropical juices.
World Heritage-listed Rock Art, Burrungkuy (Nourlangie)Darwin, The Gateway to Nature's Playground
Head out of Darwin to discover UNESCO World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park and Nitmiluk National Park, home to the stunning Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge.
On your journey to the national parks, along the Arnhem Highway, there’s several opportunities to sight wildlife in its natural environment. Stop at the Adelaide River and board a cruise to view elusive and powerful crocodiles launch themselves from their natural habitat to snatch prey, all from the safety of your boat.
Continue to Kakadu National Park and visit Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) a region known for its World Heritage rock art, colourful birdlife and easy-to-access walks and lookouts. Drop by Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre to view informative displays that include artefacts that illustrate the stories that the local traditional Aboriginal owners wish to share with visitors. Stay overnight at Cooinda Lodge, an inviting oasis located at the entrance of the Yellow Water Billabong. Take a cruise at either sunrise or sunset along Kakadu’s most famous wetland; home to rich wildlife including some impressive saltwater crocodiles, magpie geese and eagles, dramatic scenery and ever-changing landscapes.
Yellow Water Cruise, Kakadu National ParkKakadu & Katherine
Head out on an early morning cruise along the remarkable palm-fringed Yellow Water Billabong and be greeted by the warm morning sun. Journey deep into the wetlands and watch the calm waters and shores come to life with saltwater crocodiles, wild horses, buffaloes and a vast range of birdlife including magpie geese, jabirus and whistling kites.
After breakfast, discover one of Kakadu’s most famous spots; Ubirr. Pass several breath-taking Aboriginal rock art galleries before heading up to a stunning lookout over the Nadab floodplains. Gaze out over the floodplain, woodlands and dark ribbons of rainforest, and let the spirit and serenity of Kakadu envelope you!
Leave Kakadu National Park and travel to Nitmiluk National Park via the small town of Pine Creek best known for its colourful gold rush history dating back to the 1870s. Head south to where the outback meets the tropics at Katherine and on to Nitmiluk National Park which boasts the magnificent Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge. Nature comes alive at the Nitmiluk Gorge as you cruise, hike, canoe or fly along the 13-gorge system by helicopter.
Edith Falls, Nitmiluk National ParkKatherine back to Darwin
Travel back to Darwin via the Stuart Highway and take a dip in the paperbark and pandanus-fringed pools of Edith (Leliyn) Falls. The tranquil swimming hole offers a refreshing swim, especially after a scenic bush walk.
Overnight in Darwin and dine alfresco-style at the Waterfront eateries.
Sunset Dinner Cruise, Darwin HarbourLitchfield National Park & Sunset Dinner Cruise
Just 90 minutes from Darwin is Litchfield National Park, nature’s very own water theme park. Self-drive or join a day tour to explore Litchfield National Park’s stunning natural scenery, thundering waterfalls and monsoon rainforests. Plunge into crystal clear waterholes beneath the spring-fed waterfalls of Florence and Wangi, or soak in the gentle three-tiered cascade shaded by rainforest at Buley Rockhole. For a drier option, take the short walk through cypress pines and cycads to the Tolmer Falls viewing platform. Remember to finish your day with a photo opportunity at the gigantic termite mounds!
Return to Darwin for dinner with a view! Soak in breathtaking sunset while you enjoy a sumptuous dinner on-board a Darwin Harbour boat cruise or head down to the Waterfront Precinct to relax at one of the many alfresco eateries. Try one of Darwin’s many cosmopolitan restaurants for dinner with a diverse range of cuisines including Thai, Vietnamese, Italian, Greek and Indian as well as great steaks and fresh seafood.
Events & Festivals
Darwin Lion’s Beer Can Regatta
The annual Darwin Lion’s Beer Can Regatta, taking place on 22nd July, sees boats built of beer cans, plastic soft drink bottles and cartons take to the waters of Mindil Beach. One highlight, an ocean race called the ‘Battle of Mindil’, involves some serious water gun and flour-throwing warfare. Other exciting and silly regatta activities include a Thong (slipper) Throwing Competition, the Beer Can Boat Challenge where boat building and racing abilities are put to the test, and the Best Novelty Hat competition.
Venue: Mindil Beach, Darwin
Date: 22 July 2018
A celebration of arts and culture, the Darwin Festival is the Top End’s landmark event. Across two weeks in August, festival goers will enjoy music, theatrical and concert acts, together with an array of food stalls and pop-up bars. A festival that started nearly half a century ago with a parade nowadays boasts top international acts from the popular to the avant-garde and from the family-friendly to the confronting, performed in a relaxed and friendly environment which is quintessentially Darwin.
Venue: Various location in Darwin
Date: 09 to 26 August 2018
Kakadu Bird Week
Kakadu is a bird lover’s paradise – home to more than a third of Australia’s bird species. Kakadu was voted number 1 bird watching destination in Australia by Australian Geographic.
Join traditional owners, Parks Australia and local birding specialists to celebrate the Top End’s diverse birdlife during Kakadu Bird Week 30 September to 7 October 2018. Take part in an extraordinary bird-filled week of events including free bird activities, expert-guided tours, cruises and more!
Venue: Kakadu National Park
Date: 30 September to 07 October 2018
Enjoy 15%^ off at Darwin Festival from 9 - 26 Aug
^15% discount on Darwin Festival tickets is available to Jetstar passengers arriving in Darwin from 1 August 2018. A valid boarding pass must be presented at Darwin Festival box offices to receive the discount. Some exclusions apply.