Five fabulous things to do in the NT capital, including a harbour cruise to gather and graze as the sun sets.
WORDS Katrina Lobley
DARWIN HARBOUR SUNSET CRUISE
Australia’s Top End is famed for its vivid red sunsets – a result of outback earth scattered through the atmosphere – and one of the best ways to experience this magical time of day is with a Darwin Harbour sunset cruise. From aboard the Charles Darwin, a tri-level catamaran, you can embrace the Northern Territory’s super-relaxed vibe as you take in the salt-laden balmy breezes and paint-palette sky, keeping watch for the mythical green flash that’s sometimes evident as the sun goes down.
But before the day ends, there’s much to see and do. Darwin might be Australia’s smallest capital city, with a population of around 140,000, but it has a big personality. Here are some of the most fascinating places to explore.
MARKETS AND MORE
It’s a ritual for locals and visitors alike to hit the Mindil Beach Sunset Market (Thursday and Sunday 4pm–9pm, April to October) and Parap Village Markets (Saturday 8am–2pm, year-round). At both places, it’s almost de rigueur to slurp a bowl of spicy laksa. In town, one of the most intriguing shopping spots you can explore is the Air Raid Arcade running between Cavenagh Street and Austin Lane.
ADMIRE THE MURALS
Dozens of extraordinary murals have transformed the city since the Darwin Street Art Festival kicked off in 2017. One of the newest works (by artist Jesse Bell) celebrates the famous 1975 moment – captured by Indigenous photographer Mervyn Bishop – that Prime Minister Gough Whitlam poured red soil into activist Vincent Lingiari’s cupped hand. See it on the corner of Bennett and Cavenagh streets, and tour Austin, West and Shadforth lanes in the city centre, too.
DELVE INTO HISTORY
The Darwin Military Museum, located near East Point Reserve (another great sunset-watching spot), tells the story of the 1942 Bombing of Darwin – a surprise aircraft manoeuvre that’s known as the largest single attack ever mounted by a foreign power on Australia. Another of the city’s history-shaping events was 1974’s tragic Cyclone Tracy – find out more inside the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory on Fannie Bay.
Darwin’s newish Waterfront Precinct, a short walk from the city centre, features family-friendly recreation and wave lagoons, and is partially encircled by eateries. Take a seat at Wharf One Food & Wine, Hot Tamale or Oyster Bar Darwin. You can also stroll around the precinct to reach Stokes Hill Wharf (the spot where your evening cruise departs from). The wharf is home to more restaurants and the RFDS Darwin Tourist Facility – an attraction that combines the story of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in the Territory and the 1942 bombing of Darwin. For a distant view of Darwin combined with excellent fare, head to long-time favourite Pee Wee’s at the Point at East Point Nature Reserve.
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