Following on with my recap of the past couple of months, here is PART TWO where we explore Darwin. If you are only just discovering this post, you can catch up with PART ONE here where we explored Lake Argyle and Mataranka 🙂
Four hours north of Mataranka, straight up the Stuart Highway, you will run smack bang into Darwin! From very early on in the trip, Lachie became fascinated with the idea of Darwin, and was (still is today!!!) fixated on living there. So, driving into the city, the excitement in the car was at fever pitch! We spent seven nights there at the Discovery Holiday Park, which was pretty close to the city. Whilst it wasn’t too bad, it was pretty touristy, and being high season, fairly expensive – much like the rest of Darwin!
While we were there though, we were pretty keen to tick off a few boxes, and explore the city. To us, Darwin was more like a big regional town, perhaps similar in size to Geelong. In that respect, it was nice and easy to navigate, and overall, not too big. It had some pretty nice looking beaches, but as with most of the water in the Territory, you couldn’t swim in them, due to crocs.
Jumping Croc Cruise
The Adelaide River is just a short drive out of Darwin, and is famous for its crocodiles, and Croc Cruises. We chose to do the Queen Adelaide Jumping Croc Cruise, which was a bit of fun. In all honesty, I felt that it was probably a bit ‘touristy’, and not really as informative as other cruises we’ve done, but nonetheless, the kids had fun!
To make up for the fact that you can’t swim in the beaches, Darwin has a Wave Lagoon in the heart of the city in the Waterfront precinct. This was a winner with the kids, (adults too!), as was the free water park at Palmerston!
Darwins Military Past
Darwins’ history is very fascinating, and something that I’m afraid to say, we didn’t actually know a lot about. We knew that it was bombed during World War II, but not much more. It was really important to us that we learn more about it, so we took a Military Tour of Darwin. We drove around in an old troop carrier, looking at all of the historical places of interest. We then ended up at the Darwin Military Museum, which I found to be extremely interesting. It really helped to hit home just how close the Second World War came to Australia.
Inside the Museum, they have a theatre that plays a movie simulating the initial bombing raids on the morning of 19th February, 1942. It is so surreal, and shows just how terrifying it must have been. The Museum is interactive and powerful, and showcases a huge selection of Wartime memorabilia, as well as tributes to our fallen. I can highly recommend this as an absolute MUST DO when in Darwin.
The other major occurrence in Darwins’ history is that of Cyclone Tracy. The Art Gallery and Museum has an exhibition paying tribute to the survivors of the Cyclone, that hit Christmas Eve, 24th December, 1974. Considering that 75% of all the buildings in Darwin were destroyed, it is remarkable to see the city today!
There is one very special day on the calendar for all Territorians, and we were lucky enough to be in the city when it occurred! Territory Day is the 1st July each year, and a celebration of the day that they became a recognised Territory of Australia. It is also the one day that the general public can purchase and let off fireworks. My goodness, it is definitely something to experience!
The hype leading up to the day is massive, as is the total amount of money spent! we chose to spend the night driving around the city, soaking it all in, and it was pretty crazy! There were literally fireworks going off every minute between dusk and 11pm. People would congregate at parklands, street corners, at house parties, basically anywhere, and let them fly!! We saw numerous random scrub fires just burning away, all over the city! It really was one of those ‘Only in the Territory’ type experiences!
Another must-see for Darwin is the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Market. The market is held every Sunday and Thursday during the dry season, and is very popular with locals and tourists alike. There’s heaps to see and do, with street performers and plenty of market stalls. Just make sure you go hungry, because there are HEAPS of food stalls, giving a great selection of cuisines! The major drawcard, though, is the sunset. Just as the sun was going down, everyone descended on the beach, jostling their way to get a great shot of the brilliant sunset. As you can see, it was pretty stunning!
Footy in the Top End
Anyone who knows our boys, knows they LOVE their footy!! Being in the top part of the country, they were definitely missing their live footy action! Luckily, while we were in Darwin, the AFL came to us! It was only the Dockers & Demons, but they didn’t mind! For the night, we were honorary Demons fans!
Although we had a heap of fun, after a week, we were (I was anyway) happy to move on, and get out of the city. It seems that the universe had a different idea for us however….. On our way out of town, we had a minor bingle at the lights. Thankfully, no one was injured, and we were able to continue driving down to Kakadu. About a hundred kms down the road, we stopped and set up camp for a few days, and realised that we’d suffered a little more damage than we initially thought.
We ended up making the call to head back to Darwin to have it looked at. Luckily we did, because as it turned out, we actually needed to replace the bullbar and front tyre. Because Darwin, even though it’s a capital, is still pretty remote, we had to wait for the bullbar to be shipped up from Adelaide. This meant that we were back for another ten days!
The upside of that, however, was that we had the chance to spend a few days with my sister, and our future brother-in-law (maybe one day….hopefully!!) , who were visiting Darwin for a wedding 🙂 We had a heap of fun with them, spending the day at Leanyer Recreation Park (an AWESOME free water park), and another down at the Waterfront Wave Lagoon.
It was awesome for the kids (and us!) to catch up with some relo’s, which also made the week go a whole lot faster… too fast in the end, it would’ve been nice to spend some more time with them!
Continue reading our recap with PART THREE where we make our way back down south through Kakadu and across to the Queensland border!
– KR 🙂