Best of Darwin
|A Darwin sunset1|
THE BEST MARKETS TO BROWSE
As the sun sets over the Arafura Sea, visitors to the Mindil Beach Market can watch the spectacular scene unfold while they nibble away on spicy Thai, flavourful Greek and exotic African plates. The markets, which are open from late April to the end of October on Thursdays and Sundays, house over 260 food and craft stalls. Vendors' products range from international foods to freshwater pearl jewellery to authentic didgeridoos. A popular way to soak up the atmosphere of the markets is to set up a lawn chair under the palm trees near the beach and relax over a few drinks, dishes and desserts.
|Jumping croc action on the Adelaide River Queen2|
There are hundreds of saltwater crocodiles lurking beneath the Adelaide River's murky surface waiting for a feed as the Adelaide River Queen smoothly cruises above. However, the boat's guide is well aware of the crocodiles' presence and even has a nickname for each croc in the area. Since 1985, the Adelaide River Queen has offered visitors not only the chance to see crocodiles in their natural environment but also the opportunity to watch them jump several feet into the air. Throughout the hour-long boat ride, the guide frequently dangles chunks of meat overboard and waits as eager crocodiles anywhere from 2 m (6.6 ft) to 5 m (16.4 ft) in length shoot straight up out of the water to snatch the treat.
THE BEST PEEK INTO DARWIN'S PAST
On Christmas Day 1974, the population of Darwin woke up to a city left in ruins after Cyclone Tracy devastated the area. The storm claimed over 70 lives and destroyed the majority of the city's infrastructure. At the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, guests can learn more about the storm that forever changed the city of Darwin. Highlights within the Cyclone Tracy exhibit include pre and post storm photographs of Darwin and an audio booth where visitors can hear the sounds of a cyclone. The museum also houses a large selection of indigenous art, a natural history exhibition, a maritime gallery and a 5.1-m (16.7 ft) stuffed crocodile named “Sweetheart.”
|Dusk at Stokes Hill Wharf3|
Operated by the Darwin Film Society, the Deckchair Cinema has traded carpet for soft green grass, air conditioning for the natural sea breeze and a roof for a night sky full of stars. Situated near the harbour, the Deckchair Cinema provides locals a chance to watch new, classic and foreign films from the comfort of a deckchair in a serene outdoor setting. Guests who arrive early can set a blanket on the lawn and unwind over a picnic and various drinks from the cinema's kiosk before the show starts. Since the theatre's venue is weather dependent, the Deckchair Cinema is only open during Darwin's dry season (April to November).
THE BEST SEAFRONT DINING
Stokes Hill Wharf located in the Darwin Wharf Precinct has always been a busy fishing spot, but over the past few years it has also become a city favourite for its casual oceanfront dining. Stokes Hill Wharf features several take-out restaurants with a wide selection of Australian and Asian plates to choose from. As the city's skyline illuminates, diners can sit down with their meals and watch sailboats glide around the harbour and large cruise ships and pearling boats set out into the sunset. At times, the view below can be just as colourful as the sky. Tropical fish, like large Moon Fish and Queenfish, frequently appear in the water near the wharf in hope of diners throwing them some food. To sit at a table next to the water and watch the fish, visitors should arrive at the wharf at least one hour before sunset.
|A resident dingo at Territory Wildlife Park4|
At Crocodylus Park visitors can first tour the park's museum, which traces the origin of crocodilians, then step outside and see for themselves how the species has evolved. The park is home to an array of saltwater crocodiles, freshwater crocodiles and American alligators. The crocodiles in residence range from tiny two-year-olds to gigantic 70-year-olds. The daily schedule at the park includes several crocodile feeding tours for visitors to attend. The tour concludes with the guide bringing out a baby crocodile for guests to hold and snap pictures with. Although crocodiles are the main attraction at the park, the establishment also has a collection of monkeys, lizards, turtles, lions, tigers and marsupials.
THE BEST PLACE TO GET TO KNOW THE LOCALS
Although many crocodiles live in the Darwin area there are several other species, most less frightening, that inhabit the Top End as well. Visitors can see these critters at the Territory Wildlife Park, which is about a 45-minute drive south of the city. Apart from housing creatures like dingoes, fruit bats, wallaroos and venomous Taipan snakes, the park also shares with visitors a selection of Northern Territory ecosystems. Guests can explore a series of walking paths that weave through different habitats, such as the wetlands and the monsoon forest, as they visit the park's fascinating residents.
|Yellow Water Billabong in Kakadu National Park5|
Vibrant water holes, stunning views of the surrounding bushland and a glimpse into Aboriginal culture are just a few of the attractions that draw visitors from around the world into Kakadu National Park each year. Although this World Heritage-listed site is located almost 300 km (186.4 mi) southeast of Darwin, there are several tour companies in the city that offer a one-day taste of the almost 20,000-sq-km (7,722 sq mi) park. A typical day tour itinerary will probably include stops at either Nourlangie and Nanguluwur Art Sites or Ubirr Art Site to view ancient Aboriginal rock paintings and a cruise down the Yellow Water Billabong to spot a few of the park's 271 species of birds and 1,600 types of plants. Since Kakadu is so large, a great way to experience many of the park's attractions in a short amount of time is from the seat of a small plane or helicopter. Kakadu Air's schedule consists of frequent half hour and hour-long scenic rides over such postcard-worthy sites as Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls.
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PHOTOS COURTESY OF:
- Chloe Jones; Sunset; Darwin, NT, Australia
- Chloe Jones; A jumping crocodile takes meat from the Adelaide River Queen; Darwin, NT, Australia
- Chloe Jones; Stokes Hill Wharf; Darwin, NT, Australia
- Chloe Jones; A dingo at Territory Wildlife Park; Darwin, NT, Australia
- Chloe Jones; Yellow Water Billabong, Kakadu National Park; Jabiru, NT, Australia