Darwin: So Hot Right Now

I have been wanting to go to Darwin for ages and started planning a trip up there earlier this year until I realised how much it was going to cost. Hint: a LOT. In fact, it was going to cost more for return flights to Darwin, car hire and 1 x night of accommodation than a week in Vanuatu.

Young people doing young people things in Darwin. Awwww.

Crestfallen, I returned to daydreaming about Darwin until I received some information about a deal that makes it almost affordable. The Hot Right Now deal is just under $400 for three nights, breakfast daily and two tours. Not bad at all if you score some sale airfares (Jetstar has return sale fares for about $400 out of Sydney at the moment).

Lonely Planet recently voted Darwin as one of the hottest cities in the world to visit so I decided to find out what the locals get up to. Here’s what they said (with thanks to Stef Mallaci for asking them):

Darwin Waterfront – Darwin’s newest hang-out is the Waterfront precinct, in the heart of the city. The wave pool and swimming lagoon are surrounded by chilled-out cafés, bars, shops and restaurants. For a stroll, a drink and a choice of places to eat, the Waterfront makes a relaxed alternative to buzzing Mitchell St.

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets (Thursday and Sunday nights) – Between May and October, you can enjoy the tropical night air at Darwin’s Mindil Beach Sunset Markets every Thursday and Sunday evening. The unique combination of great food and an electric atmosphere make a visit a must.

Parap Village Markets (Saturdays year round) – Located close to the central city of Darwin in Parap, these markets will tantalise your senses with a mixture of Asian cuisine and the aroma of freshly ground coffee. Loved by locals and visitors alike, the markets are open from 8am to 2pm every Saturday.

Deckchair Outdoor Cinema (nightly from 18 April) – It’s been a Darwin tradition since the 1920s but now the secret’s out. Every evening from April to November, locals gather by the shores of Darwin Harbour to lounge in deckchairs and watch flicks under the stars.

Museum and Art Gallery of the NT – The NT’s premier cultural institution, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), features the region’s art, history, culture and nature – and come face-to-face with 5 metre long stuffed saltwater croc ‘Sweetheart’.

Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park
Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park

Hanuman Restaurant
One of the locals’ favourites, Hanuman offers a mixture of Thai, Indian and Nonya cuisine in a relaxed yet sophisticated environment. Grab a table on the deck and marvel at the craftsmanship of the wooden displays on show. The Trumpet Mushrooms can’t be missed.

Art galleries
Darwin and its surrounds boasts some of Australia’s top Aboriginal art galleries, which feature sculptures, weavings, prints and paintings. Traditional and contemporary artists are on show and make the perfect souvenir.

Smith Street Mall – Darwin’s major shopping precinct, Smith Street Mall features shops that carry an assortment of goods including Aboriginal art and artefacts interspersed with outdoor eateries, five arcades and a galleria.

Feathers Sanctuary – A sublime retreat for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers, Feathers has beautifully designed timber-and-iron cottages with semi-open-air bathrooms and luxurious interiors. The lush gardens have a private aviary breeding some rare birds, and a waterhole – a setting that belies its proximity to the city.

Mitchell Street – The pumping nocturnal scene round the clock at Mitchell Street’s pubs and bars makes this strip a hot-ticket backpacker destination.

Have you been to Darwin? What did you do while you were there? Should I go?

5 comments on “Darwin: So Hot Right Now

  1. I made a brief (unscheduled) fuel stop in Darwin on a flight to Bali. Admittedly I only saw it from the air, but I was surprised at how small Darwin seemed.

  2. Another friend is in Darwin right now, and I asked her for some tips. The first thing she said is that it’s so expensive – then that accommodation is booked solid by the military or miners!! Hmm… I think I’ll look south-west to Broome to use up some of those frequent flyer points… and wait til the fella and I can organise that long-wished-for motorbike trip from Sydney to Darwin…

  3. I love Darwin but I’d recommend Broome too – just got back from there. The weekend markets are fantastic, the outdoor cinema has more retro style than Darwin’s (including 1920s projectors in the lobby) and Cable Beach is 22km of beachy splendour – and the swimming is divine. And the colours! All that red earth, white sand, turquoise sea and big blue sky. If you don’t believe me, check out http://www.aquabumps.com.au/ today. I think Broome is my new favourite place 🙂

  4. I met a ‘tops’ Aussie chick travelling in Europe who lives and surfs in Darwin!
    (…here you have to be more worried about salt water crocs than sharks)

  5. I’ve just been to Darwin. I can’t get over all the total rubbish that you read online about the place – it’s ridiculous. It is a lovely smallish-sized city that’s very multi-cultural and growing. With regards to the weather – on my trip (August) I found it to be amazing! I can only liken it to the temperatures of Honolulu. Why everyone goes on about it being so ‘hot’ is beyond me. Sure, it probably gets really hot over summer but the alternative is freezing cold weather right? I thought there was plenty to do – I don’t know why some people say it’s boring. You’re not isolated like Perth. There are lots of things to do outside of Darwin and for a very reasonable price you can take a quick trip to Bali, Singapore, etc. If you’re craving nightlife there’s Mitchell Street. It’s not Sydney, it’s not Melbourne, it’s Darwin – it’s unique and its great.

    I can’t think of anything nicer than sitting in a cafe on the decks at Cullen Bay or at one of the many other places around Darwin and looking out across a pristine sky and turquoise blue waters.

    The only downside I found was the cost of accommodation which is expensive! We stayed at the Mantra on the Esplanade and it was excellent – I would highly recommend the place.

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