A Backpacker’s Guide to Darwin, Australia
Many backpackers reach Darwin to start their Uluru Tours from the iconic capital of Australia’s Northern territory but they stay back a while for its authenticity and rugged charm. Backpackers can find plenty of work in Darwin during the off season and enjoy the company of fellow backpackers. Here is a backpacker’s guide to Darwin.
Getting to Darwin
If you’ve already reached Australia, take a flight from any of the Australian cities. Alternately, you could make Darwin part of your Aussie road trip. Darwin is located right at the top of the Stuart Highway that leads travellers from the north to the south. If you are flying directly from the UK, you can reach Darwin relatively easily with only a single change of flights on the way. But it will still be a long flight.
Where to stay in Darwin
There is plenty of budget type accommodation in Darwin for backpackers. Once yiu get to Darwin head towards Mitchell Street to find an abundance of accommodation specifically designed with backpackers in mind. Darwin YHA – Melaleuca on Mitchell offers dormitory spaces and private rooms. You will love their rooftop bar, the swimming pools (two to be exact) and of course the waterfall spa. The Gecko Lodge is located outside of the city and offers a peaceful stay while both Chilli’s Backpackers and Youth Shack too fall into the budget friendly category. If you have a little extra to spare and crave a little luxury, you can stay at the Palms City Resort and enjoy the private garden bungalow and relax in a hot tub. If you are looking for a hotel in the vicinity of the city centre, choose either the Hilton or Novotel.
What to do in Darwin
For such a small city, Darwin sure offers an array of interesting activities. Here is a look at some of those.
If you’ve ever wondered how it would feel to get close to salt water crocodiles sans danger, Crocosaurus Cove is your answer. You can dive to get closer to the crocs and the alarmingly titled but rather safe ‘cage of death’ is an experience you will not want to miss. They will put you in to a glass cage and lower you into the enclosures where the crocodiles abide. Once you’ve had your fill of these fearsome reptiles, you can visit the aquarium and see their collection of other reptiles.
Sunset tours at the Darwin harbour
Darwin’s harbour is massive and the sun sets are beautiful. You can take in those magical sunsets from various spots on land but cruising across the harbour on a boat is better way to enjoy the scattering of colours. Sunset Fish and Chips is family run business which takes you on a tour of the harbour and lets you savour fresh fish ‘n’ chips. If the weather gods favour you, it is possible to dine on your fish ‘n’ chips sitting on the sandbar, surrounded by colours of the setting sun.
Darwin’s numerous museum recount the region’s long and eventful history. useum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory exhibits indigenous art and specimen from wildlife that roam the Northern Territory and depicts the Cyclone Tracy which wreaked havoc on Christmas Eve in the year 1974. The Royal Flying Doctor Service recreates the bombing of Darwin Harbour using virtual reality.
Swimming in Darwin Harbour is dangerous as local wildlife thrive in these waters. Instead you could swim in the Recreational Lagoon or the man-made Wave Lagoon. The bars, restaurants and hotels along the waterfront provide space to relax and watch various cultural shows.
Getting around in Darwin
You could buy a hop-on-hop-off ticket for the BigBus Darwin bus tour to visit the region’s main attractions. The buses are available throughout the day and lets passengers hop and off on a single ticket. You could listen to the audio tour about Darwin as you ride the bus. Darwin is no a big city. The local bus service is available throughout the week and you can easily get from one place to the other on foot. Bikes too are available for hire from various points across the city.
Tours from Darwin
Darwin is the ideal spot to access some of Australia’s incredible natural wonders. The Kakadu National Park, Katherine Gorge as well as the Litchfield National Park are merely a few hours’ drive away from Darwin. Most people choose to begin their Uluru Tours from Darwin. You could either drive yourself there or join a guided tour headed towards Uluru.
Eating and Drinking in Darwin
Darwin is full of restaurants that offer inexpensive choices of food. If you are a cat lover, cat-themed Alley Cats is the right place for you to grab brunch or lunch consisting of freshly baked goods, milkshakes and smoothies. You could go to carnival themed Lola’s Pergola for a festive meal and a drink. The Mindil Beach Sunset Market puts on a display of delectable street food Thursday and Sunday night in the dry season. At the street food market, you can treat yourself to a range of dishes from across the globe including Chinese, Thai, Sri Lankan, Greek and Portuguese fare. It will cost you between $6 to 12 for a portion and once you’ve got your fill of food, you could head down to the beach to enjoy a picturesque sunset as you savour each dish.
Nightlife in Darwin
You can always grab inexpensive drinks and plenty of entertainment at Darwin’s bars. ‘Monsoons on Mitchell Street’ starts off with a laidback atmosphere and gathers pace as the night unfolds. ‘Trader Bar’ and ‘Hotel Darwin Sports Bar’ both provide backpackers with attractive prices as does ‘Tap on Mitchell’. When you are in the mood for an entire night of entertainment, head towards the nightclubs ‘Discovery’ or Throb and party till wee hours in the morning.