The Great Australian Road Trip: Visiting Darwin
Australians are renowned the world over as being great travellers. We are intrepid adventurers, visiting exotic destinations to explore, discover and soak in the local flavours. It is surprising to find then, that many Australians have never made the pilgrimage to a town which represents the true essence of everything Australian - Darwin.
Perched on the edge of the Timor Sea, blessed with the pulsating heat of the tropics and surrounded by sublime National Parks, Darwin offers visitors a peek into a colourful cultural heritage combined with panoramic vistas and magnificent waterfalls.
Serviced apartments in Darwin are very affordable, particularly when compared to other major capital cities, and they form the perfect base from which to begin your adventures. Whilst there are numerous backpacker hostels around town they are general noisy, often dirty, unsuitable for families or mature travellers, and are only marginally cheaper.
Transport around Darwin is limited but the hop on hop off bus will take you to see all the main attractions around town such as:
● The Botanical Gardens
● Mindi Beach Sunset Markets
● Crocosaurus Cove
● The Military Museum
On-board audio commentary will also provide some useful background information and knowledge about the local area and inhabitants.
The main attractions of Darwin for many sightseers, lay on the outskirts of town and beyond. Kakadu National Park, brought to worldwide attention through films such as Crocodile Dundee, is 171 kms south east of Darwin. Nearly half the size of Switzerland, Kakadu is a vast hinterland which can be viewed from land or air; with charter flights available everyday.
This heritage listed natural wonderland is filled with historic significance and exquisite landforms including:
● Indigenous rock art
● Over 280 bird species
● Over 10,000 insect species
● Arnhem Land plateau
● Vertical cliffs of Jim Jim Falls
Aside from Kakadu there are many other beautiful National Parks and reserves within driving range. Litchfield National Park is renowned for its spectacular waterfalls which cascade into crystal clear plunge pools. Located only 120 kms south-east of Darwin, you can have a day of swimming and sunbathing and be back in Darwin in time for dinner.
When to travel
The tropics have two distinct seasons - wet and dry. Each season has both its attractions and drawbacks. During the dry months (roughly between May to October) the weather is more temperate, with lower humidity, averaging around 32C during the day; with cooler nights.
During the dry season many waterways become isolated making them safer to swim in without the risk of crocodile attack. The Northern Territory Government stress that it is never 100% safe to swim in bodies of water around Darwin. The best way to stay safe is to join a regulated tour, heed your guides instructions, and observe official posted warning signs.
The stunning waterfalls of Litchfield park such as Florence Falls, are generally considered safe to swim in during the dry season but depending on the amount of rain, may be greatly diminished.
Once the wet season begins the waterfalls come to life in more ways than one! Elsey National Park and Howard Springs Nature Park are considered safe swimming options, unless there has been extreme flooding.
Qantas offers daily flights to Darwin from major capital cities. If you prefer a more scenic route, The Ghan offers an unforgettable train journey between Adelaide and Darwin and provides wonderful facilities including upmarket restaurants and lounges. The trip takes approximately 54 hours over 4 days and offers a unique view of the Australian outback from the comfort of a luxury cabin.
However you choose to get there, Darwin should be at the top of every travellers ‘must-see’ list. It offers a glimpse into the diminishing world of the true Australian outback and its people. If you are tired of traffic, noise and hustle - head north my friend...