One of the most modern cities in the country, Darwin in Australia’s Top End has been almost entirely rebuilt four times since its inception in 1869. Tropical cyclones and war have brought this city to its knees on more than one occasion, with the city refusing to yield and sign its fate.
Fast forward to today and Darwin is one of the hottest tourist destinations in Australia, with thousands flocking to the croc capital of Australia to sample its laid-back Aussie lifestyle and breath-taking scenery. With only 48 hours on the clock, you will be hard-pressed to fit everything in. So, to help weather the storm we have put together a 48-hour itinerary featuring the absolute best Darwin has to offer.
Beat the heat with an early morning stroll through the heart of Darwin
Rise and shine with an early morning stroll on a guided heritage walking tour through the heart of Darwin. A dark and sinister past encapsulates the history of this beautiful coastal city, having been rebuilt almost four times due to deadly air bombings and rampant cyclones. Explore some of the old 19th-century stone cottages that remain around Smith Street before unearthing the widespread destruction caused by Cyclone Tracy and the World War II bombings. The Two-hour walking tour takes guests past some of Darwin’s most prestigious architecture including Government House (1870), Old Darwin Courthouse (1884), Police Station (1884), the ruins of the Old Palmerston Town Hall and a whole host of other gems. This is a great way to get acquainted and gather your bearings for an action-packed 48 hours in the territory’s capital.
Cool off with a Swim at Darwin’s Vibrant Waterfront Precinct
After wrapping up your walk it’s time to cool off with an invigorating swim at Darwin’s vibrant waterfront precinct. A safe place to swim away from the nasty stingers and crocodiles, here you can bathe in the tranquil waters of this popular artificial beach. A great place the entire family can enjoy, the kids will have a ball tackling the swell of Darwin’s Wave Lagoon, an Instagram story in the making and a great place to create lasting memories.
After a relaxing swim, it’s time for lunch, where Darwin’s spectacular cosmopolitan culinary scene awaits with an array of tantalising cuisine from all around the world bordering the precinct’s lush parklands. Soak up the sunshine with a hearty lunch and at the Precinct Tavern or tuck into some contemporary Australian classics at Snapper Rocks. There’s ice cream for the kids from Trampoline Gelato or delicious frozen shakes and thirst-quenching smoothies from Thirsty Zac.
Snag a Bargain Down at the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets
Running twice a week during the drier months (April – October), the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets is the talk of the town, attracting thousands of locals and tourists from all over the city. Not your standard Australian beach thanks to the pesky box jellyfish and deadly saltwater crocodiles that inhabit these waters, the beachfront is instead transformed into a sea of colourful stalls and ostentatious food trucks. The markets encompass over 300 stalls, offering everything under the sun from tasty treats to handcrafted souvenirs. Grab yourself a bite to eat and head down to the beach for front seats to the extraordinary Top End sunset.
Meet some of the Top Ends Most Formidable Predators with a Visit to Crocosaurus Cove
Start your morning with a spine-tingling visit to one of Darwin’s top inner-city attractions at Crocosaurus Cove. Here, you can get up close and personal with some of Darwin’s most famous apex predators with resident saltwater crocs Baru and Wendell on hand to greet you. Situated in the heart of the city, the cove boasts the world’s largest exhibition of Australian reptiles with various opportunities to pat and hold some of the less formidable critters. The park features a VIP feeding tour, the chance to hold a baby croc, a reptile house, and the show-stopping Cage of Death (the chance to be safely lowered into the den of a saltwater crocodile).
Uncover Darwin’s Tumultuous History at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
After a wild and wacky morning feeding the crocs, head down Mitchell Street towards the mall to uncover a wealth of cosy bars, pubs, and quaint cafes. Drop by the Mellow across from Crocosaurus for authentic Thai cuisine, Shenanigans Irish pub for a pint of Guinness and traditional pub classics or pop into Rays Patisserie and Cafe on Smith Street for some of that sweet sweet sugary goodness.
After fuelling up with something tasty it’s time to delve further into the history books of this wonderous city with a visit to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Uncover the chilling stories surrounding Cyclone Tracy, stunning Aboriginal art displays, the legendary 5.1-metre long gigantic stuffed saltwater crocodile ‘Sweetheart’ and a whole host of other captivating exhibits. From there, head 10 minutes up the coast along East Point Road in your rental car to Darwin’s Military Museum, adjacent to East Point Reserve. A dramatic insight into Darwin’s harrowing military history & World War II defence awaits, with various rare artefacts, photographs, and footage on display to help bring these eerie stories to life.
Cue the Deck Chairs – It’s Show Time!
As the sun starts to set on a whirlwind 48 hours, you could be forgiven for chasing a few creature comforts to help navigate the night. Cue Darwin’s Deckchair Cinema, an open-air theatre with (drumroll please) – deck chairs. Load up the popcorn and arm the snacks as you’re in for a treat at this picturesque waterfront cinema. Arrive early to catch the blazing sun setting over the ocean, the perfect prelude to the movie. Operating 7 nights a week from April to November, Darwin’s Deckchair Cinema is a fantastic way to cap off your Darwin adventures under the stars while still enjoying some of the finer things in life.