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darwin city

Right up at the top of this giant Island lies the city of Darwin, the tropical, tumultuous capital of the Northern Territory. Barely 200,00 people living there, it hardly constitutes a city in global terms, but in these remote parts, is a real point of civilisation in an otherwise wild and barren landscape. As such, Darwin attracts an amazing array of people – from travellers passing through, to some alternative off-gridders – and has a ton of fascinating and different stuff to do. Feeling like a separate country compared to Australia’s East Coast, this steamy city is a must see for anyone venturing into the Outback and looking to see a more diverse side to Australia. See the best of Darwin with our top 10 experiences to have while you’re there.

1. Swim with Crocs

Enter the Cage of Death at the Crocosaurus Cove in the centre of Darwin and put your nerves to the test! As giant crocs swim past you, you quickly realise it’s just a piece of glass separating you from some of the largest saltwater examples in captivity! With talks, displays and lots more, this is the place to learn about one of the world’s deadliest predators in their stomping ground of the Northern Territory.

2. Watch a Film Under Stars

The Deckchair Cinema in Darwin is seriously one of the best things you can do in this tropical capital. Enjoy a great film any night of the week (during dry season), as you recline under the stars on old-school deckchairs with the ocean almost lapping at your feet!

3. Camp under the Stars in Kakadu

The largest Australian National Park, Kakadu is an absolute must see for anyone visiting Darwin. A few hours drive from the capital, you really need at least a few days to explore all this huge park has to offer. From swimming in watering holes and viewing beautiful wildlife, to snapping incredible sunsets and glimpsing original examples of aboriginal rock art dating back thousands of years, Kakadu really is the big daddy when it comes to exploring the Northern Territory.

4. Jumps Waves at the Lagoon

In the wonderfully new and refurbished Darwin Waterfront sits the Wave Lagoon –the perfect way to cool down when you can’t get into the croc-infested ocean! Loads of fun, you can grab a board to ride the waves or just relax on the beach at its edge. Just don’t forget the sunscreen!

5. Snap Sunset from Mindil Markets

Darwin’s most famous Friday night markets are a delight for the senses as well as the taste buds. Sample cuisine from around the world, pick up some fantastic handcrafted souvenirs and enjoy the displays by street performers, spoken word artists and spectacular circus folk. When you’re done, make sure you wander down to the neighbouring beach for a photo of the incredible red sun as it dips below the watery horizon for another day.

6. Swim under a Waterfall at Litchfield National Park

No trip to Darwin is complete without checking out some of the wild and wonderful landscape around and there’s no better day trip out of the city than to the nearby Litchfield National Park. This is a gem of an adventure with free access and tons of cool stuff to see, including some enormous termite mounds and some beautiful views. When you’re done, make sure you cool off under some of the beautiful waterfalls here – Florence Falls is my favourite – and depending on the season you might be able to swim right underneath them and feel the water thundery down overhead.

7. Discover the Defence of Darwin Experience

The fascinating exhibition of the Defence of Darwin depicts the city’s vital role during World War II. Built to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the bombing of Darwin, this wonderfully interactive attraction, brings to life this fascinating period in the Territory’s history in the most captivating and engaging of ways.

8. Cruise Mary River Wetlands

Just outside Darwin, the Mary River Wetlands is a nature lover’s paradise and taking a boat tour here will allow you to get up close and personal with some of the incredible wildlife that frequents this year round ‘billabong’ or permanent watering hole. From saltwater crocs, to other marine and a huge diversity of birds, this is the best place to see for yourself how the diverse seasons of this tropical area play a huge role in the life of the flora and fauna here.

9. East Thai at Parap Markets

On a Saturday, there really is only one place to be in Darwin and that’s the Parap markets. Located in a suburb just north of the city, this wonderful food and crafts market really captures the diverse and tropical nature of Darwin. With a large south-eastern Asian diaspora, much of the food at Parap Markets brilliantly reminds visitors how close they are to the neighbouring continent and means the delicious, genuine Thai or Indonesian cuisine on offer here is certainly the order of the day!

10. Party on Mitchell Street

There’s nothing like the tropical heat of Darwin to get everyone thirsty and ready for a beer and packed with bars, clubs and restaurants, Darwin’s main street is a good place to have some fun any night of the week! With most of the city’s accommodation situated on or near Mitchell Street, it’s also easy to enjoy a few drinks here and not have to worry too much about how you’re getting home!

So make sure you get the best out of your trip to Darwin with our top 10 best experiences to have while you’re there. Have you visited this great place? What was your favourite thing to do there?

Stephanie Parker / Big World Small Pockets

Stephanie Parker is a travel addict and creator of Big World Small Pockets. Originally from Jersey, Channel Islands, but currently based in Australia, she backpacks the world on a shoestring collecting tips, advice and stories, to share with a smile.

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