After soaking up the spoils of Darwin’s inner-city it’s time to hit the road to lands less travelled and experience the stunning countryside of this Top End marvel. If lush monsoon rainforests, cascading waterfalls, sparkling waterholes, wildlife spotting and some of the world's oldest human artwork get you amped, then you are in for a treat on the adventure of a lifetime through the great outdoors. Explore Australia’s backyard the right way with this list of the best day trips from Darwin.
One of the best day trips in the Top End of town is the 90-minute drive south to the otherworldly Litchfield National Park. Cascading waterfalls and emerald-green swimming holes dominate proceedings, a stunning contrast to the dry sandstone plateau enveloped by the lush monsoonal forests. Fall in love with mother nature on a hike through the verdant rainforests, with various walking trails linking up with all the park’s major attractions. Explore the pristine surrounds of the Wangi Falls and the crystal-clear waters of Buley Rockhole, or the mysterious sandstone pillars of the Lost City and the vast ‘graveyard’ of towering magnetic termite mounds. Access to the park is free with BBQ facilities and a picnic area on-site to whip up a tasty lunch. Best visited during the drier months (May to October), the park is susceptible to flash floods and crocodiles during the wet season.
Kakadu National Park, a 1 hour and 40-minute drive southeast of Darwin, is one of the country’s largest and most historic national parks, sitting right on the doorstep of the Northern Territory’s Top End. A highly sacred and spiritual place, a treasure trove of natural beauty awaits those lucky enough to venture through its doors. From the majestic arching waterfalls of the Jim Jim Falls to a croc spotting cruise along the Yellow Water wetlands, a peaceful stroll through lush monsoonal rainforests or a tour of the 20,000-year-old aboriginal rock art sites dotted throughout the park. Less accessible than Litchfield, you will require a 4WD with high clearance and a snorkel to reach the park’s more remote wonders. A rich and colourful history shrouded in mystery, depictions of the land and its creation are well documented through the artistic illustrations of the ancient Aboriginal rock art drawings. The park has one of the highest concentrations of well-preserved rock art sites in the world, drawing international acclaim as one of the longest historical records of any class of humans on earth.
Lying 40 minutes southeast of Darwin is one of the region’s most beloved nature reserves – Berry Springs. A fantastic place to unwind and escape the searing heat, cool off with a dip in one of the park’s 3 gorgeous natural pools. Set amongst the lush tropical forestry, shade from fringing trees offers a welcoming relief from the blazing sun. Sparkling turquoise waters add to the lure of this tropical Top End marvel where photos just don’t quite do it justice. A large shady picnic area featuring BBQ facilities and beautifully manicured lawns provides the ideal setting for a picnic lunch. After your food settles, set off on foot and explore the park’s various walk trails, winding through monsoon rainforests and verdant woodlands. Pay a visit to the nearby Territory Wildlife Park for an interactive experience with some of the Top End’s most unique animals including a free flight bird show, walkthrough aviaries, daily walks, special close encounters, and a large nocturnal exhibit. A sanctuary for native wildlife, keep your eyes peeled for many colourful birds, fish, reptiles, wallabies and more in this truly magical tropical oasis.
Rise and shine for the adventure of a lifetime with an unforgettable day trip to the Tiwi Islands. An 11-island archipelago 80 kilometres north of Darwin, the region comprises two main islands – Melville and Bathurst. A highly revered place, 90% of the island’s inhabitants are of Aboriginal descent, continuing to etch out their own path on lands settled by their ancestors over 40,000 years ago. Known as the ‘Island of Smiles’, visitors are welcomed with open arms, with Tiwi locals some of the friendliest in the country and quite content in sharing their culture with visitors. Art, fishing, and football headline a stellar lineup at this stunning tropical island paradise with traditional artwork highly sought after by collectors all over the world. Anglers travel far and wide to cast a line, with the islands a prime-time location for landing monster sporting fish including barramundi, golden snapper, black jewfish, giant trevally, Spanish mackerel, and a truckload more. Back on land, a melange of lush monsoon rainforests, gorgeous coastal landscapes, deserted beaches, mangrove wetlands, and secluded island waterfalls are highlights of these pristine lands – unharmed, unspoiled, unbelievable. The mad dash across the pond will take approximately 2.5 hours with SeaLink NT by ferry to Bathurst Island or a 20-minute flight with Fly Tiwi with a permit required on entry for independent travellers travelling outside of an organised tour.
To enjoy the best of Darwin's day trips, hire a car from Darwin Airport today.