One of the first things that come to mind when thinking about Darwin is crocodiles! In northern Australia, the population of saltwater crocodiles exceeds 80,000 but even with that large number, it’s not like they roam the streets! Still, if you want to see them, there are plenty of opportunities and in some cases, you can even interact with them. Darwin is also home to other fun activities that you may not have experienced anywhere else. Definitely do not forget to pack a swimsuit
Can you imagine swimming in crocodile-infested waters? Well, when you’re looking for things to do in Darwin, it’s surprisingly easy to find yourself in the midst of these prehistoric creatures and it’s something you really want to avoid … unless you can do it safely. At Crocosaurus Cove, you can interact with these amphibious predators right up close.
Be submerged in the ‘Cage of Death’ where a crocodile that’s the length of a minibus will swim around you, probably wondering if you’re lunch! The perspex tank will keep you physically protected but your mind may make you think you’re in grave danger. If the idea of being under water with crocodiles is too much to cope with, then you can stand on the Fishing for Crocs platform and feed them with food dangled on fishing lines, or have your photo taken while holding a cute, small saltwater crocodile.
For a photo opportunity like no other, you’d have to undertake a jumping crocodile cruise. From the safety of a 9-metre or 18-metre boat, you’ll journey down the Adelaide River keeping your eyes wide open for croc sightings. The operators boast that they see “the biggest crocs” and many of the reviews on TripAdvisor are written by people who were astonished at the size of the animals they saw. The cruise is a unique opportunity to see these spectacular creatures in the wild.
Not only will you see them alongside the boat but they may even jump out of the water to catch the chunks of meat that the tour operators dangle from rods. Make a day of it and take your own lunch. The boat trip is just one hour and departs four times a day. You can make yourself tea and coffee on board and they also sell cold drinks. If the crocs are exciting, wait until you see the pythons! You can even have a photo taken while handling one, if you dare.
If all the excitement of getting up close and personal with crocodiles has made you want to get wet more safely, then check out the thrilling Wave Lagoon at the Darwin Waterfront development. The wave lagoon offers a welcome retreat from the harsh heat and humidity of the city and allows visitors to swim and relax without the worry of crocs, jelly fish and other marine nasties. Clean and safe for all ages, the lagoon is patrolled by life guards whenever open.
For a small entry fee, you can access the lagoon and an abundance of lounges and umbrellas and also use the boogie boards, pool noodles and other water toys. Bodysurf the waves just like you were in the ocean, without getting sand in your swimsuit. There is also the Recreation Lagoon which contains water that is pumped from the sea and filtered mechanically. Marine stingers enter the lagoon because of the mesh screens, and it has its own sandy beach for lazing around on under the glorious Darwin sun.
Fishing is an activity that surprises those who haven’t really done it before. It can be thrilling to feel the pull of the fish on the line and to reel it in, and in Darwin, the fish can be really big! It doesn’t matter if you’ve never been fishing before or if you’re an experienced angler; with a tour operator leading the way, you’ll visit well known fishing spots where you’re guaranteed to catch a big one.
The great thing is, once you catch it, the staff will clean it, gut it and gill it then if you like, they can also freeze it so you can take it back to your accommodation and cook it. Or, they can pack the fish in an airline-approved freight box if you’re flying back interstate or to your home country. The tours include morning or afternoon tea, drinks, all equipment and your boat ride. Choose from a half day or full day tour and everything will be taken care of for you. You won’t even have to bait the hooks.
Billed as “Darwin’s premier outdoor cinema”, Deckchair Cinema is a novel way to catch a movie, sitting outdoors, under the stars. It’s open 7 nights a week from late April to late November every year and shows films that could mostly be categorised as ‘eclectic’. They may be international or indie films and the occasional blockbuster shows there as well. The venue is poised on the edge of Darwin Harbour so you can literally watch the sun set over the ocean and begin your experience with a meal and a drink in a lush tropical garden setting. Purchase alcohol, soft drinks and snacks or bring your own food and have a picnic (but BYO alcohol is not permitted).
Wherever you come from, you’ll find intriguing and exciting things to do in Darwin. Aside from the activities mentioned above, there are national parks to visit, farmers’ markets to enjoy, history museums and art galleries and so much more.
The wet season extends from November to April and during that period, the weather is quite humid and hot. But there is no need to pack any cold weather clothes, no matter what time of year you go! Pack lightly and look forward to exploring Australia’s northernmost major city.