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Image credit: Tourism Northern Territory

Darling Darwin

Northern Territory

Enchanted by its rich history and natural beauty, Lauren McGroder discovers every minute in Darwin is a story waiting to be told.

As I inspect the private balcony of my one-bedroom suite overlooking Darwin I am given the most hospitable welcome to a destination that I have received in a long time. The perfect weather, the locals and the hotel staff combine to create a true sense of warmth from the minute I arrive.

Sky-high suites
The two-bedroom suites at Oaks Elan Darwin are spacious and perfect for families. With a large kitchen and a washing machine and dryer, excuses not to extend your stay in this city will quickly evaporate.
The major incentive to prolong your time in the Top End, however, is its famous sunset. Preparing for dinner, I am reacquainted with the golden light and warm air which was long forgotten during the Sydney winter and, as a first-time visitor to Darwin, I find myself trying to pin-point what makes this particular sunset so special.

Image credit: Tourism Australia

Sunsets and seafood
In the name of research, I board the Charles Darwin sunset dinner cruise operated by Darwin Harbour Cruises. Departing from Stokes Hill Wharf, we can’t seem to help notice how the evening temperature in Darwin is not a degree too warm or too cool. We continue this chatter until the sun begins its descent towards the horizon and the solar sight before us quickly becomes the exclusive topic of conversation.

Image credit: Darwin Harbour Cruise- Tumlaren Sunset

Lessons in history
With Oaks Elan Darwin situated conveniently in the CBD, you cannot miss the opportunity to discover the city’s rich and varied history. Having endured multiple bombings during World War II and three major cyclones (including the devastating Cyclone Tracy of 1975) the evidence of Darwin’s perseverance remains embedded in bricks and foundations across the city.

Hot tip
Visit the wave pool in Darwin’s CBD and hire an inflatable tube for a refreshing dip.


Walk Darwin operates a two-hour walking tour of the city’s major historical sites led by owners and operators John and Nerida Hart. The intimate tour allows for a truly unique insight into a complex history that simply cannot be summarised in a textbook, and there’s even a scavenger hunt for little ones.

Image credit: Walk Darwin

Image credit: Tourism Northern Territory

Crocodile Fact File


1. Crocodiles need to keep their bodies at around 33 degrees in order to digest their food.
2. Some crocodiles go without food for six months at a time.
3. Saltwater crocs have four heart chambers and can lie underwater for up to four hours.
4. A crocodile’s bones have growth rings similar to a tree.
5. Crocodiles have the strongest bite ever measured, with 16,460 newtons of bite force.

National Geographic
Of course there is more to the Northern Territory than what lies within the capital city. An hour south of the CBD, a world of lush lily pads and abundant wildlife flourishes at the Corroboree Billabong. AAT Kings operates half-day tours to the site that include a hotel pick-up and drop-off service, a bonus for parents and kids alike.


Upon arrival, we are immediately enchanted with the water lilies that line the banks and our guide confesses that just a few short months ago, the billabong was flanked by a ‘wall of pink’ when the lotus flowers made a rare appearance. I am left to ponder this mesmerising image, mentally reminding myself to return when such a spectacle occurs again.

While admiring the dance of the lily pads as rippling water disturbed their peace, we spotted it. Over four metres long and lying on the bank was a male saltwater crocodile. Of course, crocodiles are an essential part of the Northern Territory’s identity, however, seeing these creatures in the flesh is something beyond anticipation and an experience the kids will never forget. In the words of our guide, “It’s like one big National Geographic show out here.” For an even closer encounter, head to Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin’s CBD and brave the Cage of Death, Australia’s only crocodile-diving experience.

Litchfield loving
With more enthusiasm than I’ve ever had for ‘the great outdoors’ we continued our outback adventure and headed to Litchfield National Park with AAT Kings on a full day tour. An early rise is easily justified after the first glimpse of a decades-old cathedral termite mound and even more so when the waterfallhopping commenced. Swimming in a spectacularly refreshing natural pool as the plummeting water of Florence and Wangi Falls breaks the surface is an experience that makes you feel truly miniature in the best possible way. If there’s time, an aerial tour of the park with Litchfield Helicopter Flights is both a high-flying adrenaline rush and a brilliant photo opportunity.


Magic at Mindil
While in Darwin, it’s essential that you wander to the Mindil Beach Sunset Market. Our last magical evening was spent counting down to the moment the sun was swallowed by the horizon with hundreds of families that gathered on the sand. Before you take your place on the beach, I’d reccommend wandering past the many food stalls before selecting your pick of wordly cuisine. The scent of satay chicken filled the air and evetually I surrendered to temptation. Boarding the flight back to Sydney, I was content knowing that I did not leave this endearing city empty handed, but with pockets full of souvenirs and a heart full of memories.

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