Image credit: Tourism 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.