5 experiences that prove Darwin is an adventurer’s paradise
Tear across the wetlands on a high-speed airboat, get face to face with a croc and more in the Northern Territory’s capital city.
- October 2019
Melbourne and Sydney get all the attention but Darwin is proving to be the underdog to root for. Once a sleepy frontier town, it has evolved into a modern, multicultural city with its relaxed charm still intact.
The tropical getaway is where locals are obsessed with laksa as they are with avocado toast, and restaurants like Thai-Indian hotspot Hanuman and modern seafood kitchen PM Eat & Drink are not considered progressive — they’re commonplace.
And contrary to popular belief, Darwin is not scorching hot (temperatures seldom rise above 32°C), which means people are out and about the city all year round.
From annual music festivals to weekly food and craft markets, Darwin has a buzzing cultural scene. But it’s also an adventurer’s paradise. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or just looking to get up close with nature, here are some of the best ways to experience the wild side of the Northern Territory’s capital.
1. Eyeball a croc at the Cage of Death
The Cage of Death at Crocosaurus Cove is a spine-tingling underwater encounter with the world’s largest reptile, the saltwater crocodile. Those brave enough can come face to face with giant crocs as they swim, feed and thrash about — all from the safety of a glass cage. If that’s not enough, the VIP tour gives you the chance to nurse a baby croc and even feed some of the larger ones.
2. Feel the rush
Fans of National Geographic series Outback Wrangler can have their own fast-paced, heart-pumping adventure by climbing aboard a custom-built V8 airboat with the show’s star, Matt Wright, on the Darwin Airboat Tour. You’ll hit the water at Stokes Hill Wharf for a lightning-fast lap of the harbour before skidding across mudflats on a 45-minute ride towards local mangroves. It’s an exhilarating experience and a unique way to spot local wildlife.
3. Sail at sunset
The tropical sunsets in the Northern Territory capital are the stuff of legend. A Sunset Fish & Chips cruise is one of the more unforgettable ways to experience the city’s brilliant and dramatic skies. Set out at twilight from Stokes Hill Wharf on a 90-minute cruise with Sea Darwin. The leisurely sail takes in Darwin Harbour before dropping anchor at pretty Cullen Bay for a delicious dinner of wild-caught fish and chips to be enjoyed on board.
4. Fish with pros
Sean Cremin has spent years fishing Darwin’s waters. “It’s uncharted land here,” he says. “You can chuck in [a fishing line] at the harbour — but I like to fish out of places like Mary River at Shady Camp [a two-hour drive from Darwin].” With kilometres of water to explore, locals happily share tips with visitors as there’s plenty of fish for everyone. Book a guided fishing trip with Barra Boat Hire and Fishing Charters — they’ll pick you up from your doorstep, supply all gear and give you tips on how to fish like an expert angler.
5. Relive an epic battle
You don’t have to be a history buff to appreciate Darwin’s wartime past. At the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Darwin Tourist Facility on Stokes Hill Wharf, don virtual reality goggles and go back to 1942 and the bombing of Darwin Harbour — the show’s sounds and special effects will have you ducking and diving as if you were there. Pair your visit with a tour of the nearby World War II oil storage tunnels to extend your wartime experience.