Hurray! We were on our way to Australia once again. The first time, we went to Tasmania and Sydney, which was an awesome experience for us. This time, we were going to somewhere even more wild and isolated. Guess what? It’s the Northern Territory (NT). And the first destination for most people when they arrive NT will be Darwin. So in this post, I’m going to show you the Best Free Things To Do In Darwin!
Before I go into the trip, it’ll be nice for you to know a little bit about NT, so that you will get to know a little about its culture and when is the best time to go.
The Northern Territory has two distinctive climate zones – dry and wet season. During the dry season (May to September) nearly every day is warm and sunny, while the wet season (October to April) is associated with tropical cyclones and monsoon rains. The majority of rainfall occurs between December and March when thunderstorms are common. Warning! Even though you may enjoy rain and water, don’t go there during the wet season, as there is frequent flooding. Roads are sealed during the wet season, so you probably will end up not being able to anywhere.
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As at September last year, the Territory had a population of 244,500. Wait a second, just 244,500?! Yes, no kidding. The number of the Territory’s population represents 1% of the total population of Australia. And it is far smaller than the tiny country Singapore where I am living in, which has over 5.5 million. Man, no wonder my country is super crowded, and I feel so isolated when I was in NT. With some background knowledge, now let’s move onto our journey!
Best Free Things To Do In Darwin?
The capital and largest city of NT is Darwin. It’s a very relaxing and slow city, so slow that a city girl like me found it really hard to adapt to. Nevertheless, you can still managed to pack your day with some awesome activities, starting with the Museum and Art Gallery.
Best Free Things To Do In Darwin – The Museum and Art Gallery
The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) is the Top End’s premier cultural and artistic organisation. Set in a scenic location overlooking the Arafura Sea in Darwin, the MAGNT is home to internationally renowned artistic, cultural and scientific collections and research programs.
The museum displays a variety of art collections. It also has a special collection of aboriginal art, which is very unique and thought-provoking. If you love to understand more about aboriginal culture, you should definitely take your time to appreciate the gallery.
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If you are not a fan of art but are curious about wildlife and different kinds of species, you can visit another section of the museum. The section offers very interactive and interesting display, allowing you to learn about the creatures in a fun and easy-to-understand way.
I particularly found the crocodile called “Sweetheart” the most memorable. Don’t be confused by the sweet name. Sweetheart is actually a large male Saltwater (Estuarine) Crocodile. It is also a legendary part of recent Northern Territory history.
A little bit about Sweetheart
In the 1970s, Sweetheart gained notoriety for attacking dinghies at a popular Darwin fishing spot. Safety concerns were raised and the Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory decided to capture Sweetheart and relocate him to a local crocodile farm. On the 19th of July 1979, Sweetheart was caught in a trap and anaesthetised, but in the attempt to haul his considerable bulk ashore, the animal became entangled with a sunken log and drowned. The body was presented to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. If you want to find out more about Sweetheart, you can check out here.
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Best Free Things To Do In Darwin – Bicentennial Park
After taking good look at the museum, you can take a stroll along the Bicentennial Park, which locates right at the city centre. If you have the time, you can walk all the way to the waterfront which looks over Darwin Harbour. The park is home to monuments dedicated to those who died during the Bombing of Darwin.
Best Free Things To Do In Darwin – Darwin Waterfront
Much of Darwin’s action happens along its revitalised waterfront, which is lined with restaurants, shops, sandy lagoons and parklands. You can also check out the Darwin Convention Centre which is the iconic landmark of the harbour city.
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Best Free Things To Do In Darwin – Mindil Beach
Be sure to check out Mindil Beach and catch a nice sunset. On every Thursday and Sunday evening, as the sun dips into the sea, many locals descend on Mindil Beach to have a great time at the Sunset Market. Food is the main attraction − Thai, Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese and Malaysian to Brazilian, Greek, Portuguese and more. Colourful arts and crafts vendors peddle their wares – handmade jewellery, natural remedies, artistic creations and unique fashion statements. Be sure to check out the market when you happen to be around the area and enjoy yourself!
Where to eat?
We went to Laneway Specialty Coffee for lunch. The café was beautifully and artistically decorated, and the food was pretty good. The staffs were warm and friendly too. It’s perfect spot if you want to enjoy nice coffee and chill.
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Where to stay?
Surrounded by tropical gardens, with swimming pools and a waterfall at its centre, Travelodge Mirambeena Resort offers a tropical oasis in the heart of Darwin city centre. The room is comfortable and clean, and the staffs are very friendly. What’s more, the rooms are usually under $75, making it a great option for travellers who want to enjoy luxurious facilities such as swimming pool with a smart budget.
This modern boutique hotel is located in the heart of Darwin city centre. It offers beautifully appointed rooms, plus a restaurant, café, 24-hour room service and an outdoor plunge pool. Darwin Central Hotel is within easy walking distance to cinemas, theatres, nightclubs, restaurants and shopping. The Esplanade, on Darwin’s waterfront, is only 200 m away.
Offering a swimming pool, a bar and an award-winning restaurant. It’s a great budget hotel offering good facilities and comfortable rooms. The bar offers a wide choice of craft beer, while The Cav restaurant serves local and international cuisine. The Cav features a BBQ night on Mondays, a Mexican night on Tuesdays, 2 for 1 steak night on Thursdays and wine tasting on Fridays.
If you prefer living in a local’s house, check out what Marine has to offer. It’s a very affordable private room with great location, close to the famous Mindle Beach Markets, Casino, Museum and plenty of great clubs and eateries. If you haven’t signed up for Airbnb, you can sign up here, which will give you $35 off when you book your first stay. What’s more, I can also get $35 travel credit. Win-win for you and me.
Best Free Things To Do In Darwin – Itinerary at a glance:
- The Museum and Art Gallery (Free admission)
Monday to Friday: 9:00am – 5:00pm
Weekends and Public Holidays: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day and Good Friday
- Bicentennial Park
- Darwin Waterfront
- Mindil Beach
- Sunset Market (every Thursday and Sunday evening)