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.

Aerial shot of Darwin harbour in Australia.
  • Jetstar Asia
  • 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.

Oysters on a terra cotta plate at Hanuman restaurant in Darwin.
Hanuman is an award-winning restaurant with outposts in Darwin and Alice Springs. Signature dishes include the lemongrass- and chilli-spiked fresh oysters served on a terra cotta plate.

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.

Crowd dancing at the Darwin Festival.
The Darwin Festival is an annual 18-day celebration of music and the arts.

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

Underwater shot of crocodile swimming near the Cage of Death at Crocosaurus Cove.
Each 15-minute Cage of Death session begins with visitors dangling above the water while the crocs are fed by their handlers. The cage is then lowered into the water for an up-close encounter with the massive predators.

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.

Address: 58 Mitchell St, Darwin City NT 0800
Tel: +61 8 8981 7522
Cost: SGD $34 for entry to Crocosaurus Cove. From SGD $159 for a single ticket to the Cage of Death.

2. Feel the rush

Darwin Airboat Tour airboat skidding over water at high speed.
Bring extra clothes along if you want to head out after the tour — it can get a little muddy as the airboat zips across the water at high speed.

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.

Address: Dock 1, Stokes Hill Wharf, Darwin City NT 0800
Tel: +61 8 8983 4017
Cost: SGD $155

READ MORE: 7 things you should know about Uluru, Australia’s most iconic monolith

3. Sail at sunset

Boat drifting across Darwin sea against epic sunset.
During the Sunset Fish & Chips cruise, you might spy a pod of frolicking dolphins, spot birdlife at Sadgroves Creek or disembark to stroll the sandbar at Fannie Bar.

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.

Address: Dock 2, Stokes Hill Wharf, Darwin City NT 0800
Tel: +61 1300 065 022
Cost: From SGD $65

4. Fish with pros

Man in boat fishing at a mangrove swamp in Darwin.
Barra Boat Hire and Fishing Charters offers guided fishing trips out of Dundee beach.

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.

Address: 26 Wagtail Ct, Howard Springs NT 0835
Tel: +61 419 916 638
Cost: From AUD $187 for a half-day charter

5. Relive an epic battle

World War II aeroplane hanging at the Royal Flying Doctor Service Darwin Tourist Facility.
The facility houses full-size replicas of the military crafts involved in the Bombing of Darwin.

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.

Address: 45 Stokes Hill Road, Stokes Hill Wharf, Darwin City NT 0800
Tel: +61 8 8983 5700
Cost: AUD $28 (AUD $22 seniors, AUD $16 kids under 16, AUD $70 families)