Darwin Travel Guide
Introduction to Darwin
While Darwin is a small city of 110,000 people, it is the only urban centre of consequence in the Northern Territory. With the nearest major city or town being almost 1,500 kilometres away by road, it is an oasis for residents for many of the things we take for granted in a modern society.
This place is more than just an opportunity for travellers to rest, relax, and restock provisions on a trip around Australia – you can also learn about this nation’s Pearl Harbour and enjoy the natural surroundings of the Top End from the comfort of a modern centre.
Cultural Attractions in Darwin
Darwin may be a modern city, but for thousands of kilometres in every direction, there is nothing but sparsely inhabited outback. As a result, this centre has played host to a vitally important Royal Flying Doctors Service base, which has saved countless lives in the Northern Territory over numerous generations.
Learn more about their past history by visiting the RFDS Darwin Tourist Facility. It makes full use of the latest technology (e.g. they use virtual reality headsets for some interactive displays) to put you in the shoes of their staff during some of their most memorable calls, and on the day when Darwin was bombed by Japan. There is also a vintage RFDS plane on the museum grounds, so don’t miss the chance to climb aboard and take a look.
Get up to speed on the history of the Darwin area at the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. You’ll get to learn about the day when Japan brought the Second World War to Australia’s doorstep, the time when Cyclone Tracy laid waste to this city, and about various aspects of this area’s natural history.
On the latter point, you’ll love checking out Sweetheart, this institution’s stuffed crocodile, as it will be the closest you’ll ever get to one of nature’s most efficient predators without becoming lunch.
If you are a big-time war buff, the Defence of Darwin Experience is an attraction which should be front and centre on your Darwin travel itinerary. Open since 2012, it chronicles this city’s role in the defence of Australia from 1932 through to the end of the Second World War.
This museum focuses most intently on February 19th, 1942 – the day of Australia’s Pearl Harbour; the personal stories you’ll read here will move you immensely. Combined with the other exhibits you’ll find, this section alone will make your visit worth it.
Other Attractions in Darwin
You can best enjoy Darwin’s waterfront by heading down to Mindil Beach. While it is unsafe to swim here due to an unacceptable level of danger from poisonous jellyfish and saltwater crocodiles, it is still a great place to soak up the sun, go for a walk/run, and to watch the sunset.
In addition to watching the sun sink into the horizon, be sure to not miss the market as well. With plenty of food stalls from around the world (though, there is plenty of representation from SE Asia) and vendors selling local goods, it is a great way to connect with the community in Darwin.
Bummed that you can’t go in the water at Mindil Beach? Thankfully, the Wave Lagoon was built to give visitors and members of the community a place to cool off and hang out on a beautiful day in Darwin.
A 4,000 square foot chlorinated saltwater pool equipped with a wave machine, it aims to recreate an ocean atmosphere without putting its swimmers at risk from the jellies and crocs which inhabit the sea off the coast of this city.
Not satisfied with having to go to a man-made pool to relax on a beautiful day in Darwin? Head inland to Berry Springs Nature Park. Located a short distance from the city, there are multiple natural springs suitable for swimming, with the top one fed by a small waterfall.
The water is crystal clear here, so take a snorkel and a mask, as there are fish in these pools you’ll be able to see. Don’t forget to bring food and fixings from town, as there are BBQ facilities here that will allow you to have an amazing day in the bush of the Northern Territory.