Our tropical capital Darwin is a great place to visit with the entire family, and there is something for every age group. Of course, no visit to the “Top End” of Australia is complete without exploring oriconic features, such as Kakadu National Park, Litchfield National Park and Nitmiluk National Park. However, while in Darwin, it is easy to spend two to three days in our transient, multi-cultural city that will entertain everyone. In this post we have put together a few things to do with the children (shhh, we are giving away some local secrets here.)
The Darwin Waterfront development is a great addition to Darwin’s tropical lifestyle, and it’s easy to spend a few hours or even a day here with the children. With a free swimming lagoon, a wave pool (small cover fee), a huge lawn area and a great playground, its all here for the kids and adults alike. You won’t go hungry either, with many restaurants, cafes and of course delicious ice creams to choose from. Whether you prefer to be active or relax in the sun, the waterfront has got you covered. Keep an eye out for the many family friendly events held here, particularly during the dry season (May – Sept). The waterfront also hosts free movie nights on multiple dates throughout the dry. For more information and dates please visit: https://www.waterfront.nt.gov.au/
Apart from the famous Mindil Beach sunset markets which expectedly can get a little crowded in the dry, particularly during school holiday periods, Darwin has a number of local weekend markets well worth a visit. Closest to the CBD, try Parap markets on a Saturday morning, or Nightcliff markets on a Sunday morning. Even the pickiest little mouth will find something here, and while Darwin’s markets are typically dominated by many delicious Asian flavours, there are also baked goods and crepes on offer. It’s a great way to introduce the little ones to some Asian cuisine by picking small serves to share from the many food stalls, and if spicy Laksa is frowned upon, perhaps yummy spring rolls, dumplings or Asian home-made sweets will do the trick. The markets are also a great opportunity to pick up some unique locally produced gift items or top up your tropical summer wardrobe.
Royal Flying Doctors & Bombing of Darwin exhibition- Stokes Hill Wharf
This fantastic, relatively new interactive experience combines two aspects- the bombing of Darwin, in particular of the Stokes Hill Wharf during World War II in 1942; and the history and amazing work of the Royal Flying Doctor Service that commenced its operations in the Northern Territory in 1939. The facility is operated by the RFDS and opened in 2016 with all profits generated directly assisting the ongoing operations of the Royal Flying Doctor service. This modern facility brings history to life with a number of holograms, an amazing state of the art virtual reality experience of the bombing of Darwin in 1942, two 20 minute hologram documentaries in the museum’s own theatre room, and a number of impressive real scale aeroplane displays. There is even a real, only recently retired RFDS aeroplane on display. The exhibition is open year round, and a great way to learn and experience some of our Top End history- it is easy to spend three hours or more here with everything that is on show. The RFDS exhibition offers discounted family and child rates, and can be reached from the CBD either on foot or via Darwin’s free waterfront shuttle service or hop on hop off bus service. And while you are here, why not combine your visit to the RFDS exhibition with a delicious budget friendly meal from one of the food stalls at the Stokes Hill Wharf? Here you can dine seaside with great harbour views while choosing from a selection of fresh seafood and authentic Asian cuisine. This is a great day out for the entire family! https://www.rfdsdarwin.com.au/
East Point Reserve
East Point Reserve is a recreational reserve approx 5-10 mins from Darwin CBD by bus or taxi. It can be explored on foot or by push bike and boasts some of the finest coastal scenery around Darwin. A loop walking track leads all the way around the reserve along the coast line revealing its colourful sandstone cliffs. There are many picnic tables, barbecue facilities, two playgrounds and exercise equipment. Even better, you can safely swim while picnicking at Lake Alexander. East Point Reserve is rich in military history and home to the vast and informative Darwin Military Museum, which might be interesting for families with older children. So why not pack a picnic and enjoy the many free facilities while in Darwin?
Darwin Museum and Art Gallery
Another great spot to spend a few hours with the family is the Darwin Museum and Art Gallery. Depending on the age of your children, they might not like to spend too much time at the Art Gallery, however, the museum is very family friendly. It covers a vast range of topics from early colonial to more recent history and events, including many colourful and interactive displays and models. The museum is home to the preserved body of the legendary saltwater crocodile “sweetheart”, over 5 metres in length and living weight of 780 kg. Sweetheart was captured in 1979 after a series of attacks on the Daley River and the body was donated to the museum for taxidermy. You will need to visit the Sweetheart display to understand he name. Another very interesting section of the museums permanent exhibition is a collection of pictures and audio recordings produced during and after “Cyclone Tracy” which destroyed much of Darwin on Christmas Day 1974. In addition to its permanent exhibition, the museum hosts travelling exhibitions and a kids club: https://www.magnt.net.au/
Nightcliff Foreshore & “Kite Corner”
This is a favourite local spot in Darwin and deservedly so. The Nightcliff foreshore is a great place to go for a walk or bike ride along the shared coastal path, or enjoy sunset at the local jetty. You will also find an Olympic size swimming pool here, right on the ocean waterfront- making for great views. Next to the pool, you can relax and enjoy a coffee, snack or meal at “the Foreshore restaurant and café”, again a great place for a stunning tropical sunset. The “kite corner” on the foreshore has become the local hot spot for various food trucks, for example, every Wednesday night from 5-8.30 pm, you can savour one of the famous “Ken’s Crepes” here. This will definitely please the entire family!
As you can see, there is plenty to do in and around Darwin, and these are only some of the many options! Darwin is slowly transitioning into a modern city; new cafes and restaurants open frequently, and more and more new facilities support our relaxed outdoor lifestyle. With perfect weather from April to September, it is easy to entertain the entire family while staying active and healthy throughout your holiday. If you are interested in visiting the nearby National Parks on an organised tour, please check out https://www.charternorth.com.au/kakadu-tours/