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vaanathy & lewis — Minted

vaanathy

and

lewis

vaanathy's guide to darwin

Welcome to my long list of things to do in Darwin

Everyone knows I love my hometown, and these are a few places that I absolutely adore. I took Lewis to heaps of these places on his first trip to Darwin to meet my parents, and I hope you fall in love with Darwin as much as he did!

I'm so grateful for those of you that are travelling from far away to be with us for our wedding, and I hope you'll be able to sample just a bit of what makes Darwin one of my favourite places to be.

Lots of love,

Vaanathy

Places to Eat



SWEET BREW & CO

Located just a five minute drive from the CBD, Sweetbrew has great coffee and great pastries. A great brunch option to nurse your post-wedding hangover. 


DE LA PLAGE

A hidden gem in the depths of Darwin's suburbia, this is a relaxed cafe run out of the local surf lifesaving club, right on Casuarina Beach. Drink a coffee on the beach and pat the cute dogs.



SAILING CLUB

The Sailing Club on Gilruth Avenue has chilled out vibes and amazing views. A great dinner option, but also a great lunch spot after a trip to the museum next door.



STOKES HILL WHARF

If 'casual dining' needed a hyper specific reference point, Stokes Hill Wharf would be it. Grab a buzzer from any of the eateries, grab a seat outside, and chuck some chips down to the fish (a nearly universal Darwin childhood experience). Parking can be a struggle, so if you can't find a spot you can park at the Waterfront, about a 15 minute walk away.



RENDEZVOUS CAFE

A personal favourite of mine, this place does impeccable Malaysian food, with a particularly exceptional laksa. It's a huge call to make in Darwin, but I think it just might be Darwin's best laksa. Note of warning - this is a particular favourite of Darwin public servants so it can get pretty busy at lunch!



HANUMAN RESTAURANT

Hanuman a very special restaurant for our family - the location of many birthday, graduation, Eisteddfod celebrations and engagement dinners over the years. The food is positively exquisite, fusing Nonya, Thai, Indian and Malaysian flavours - with produce sourced from local Darwin markets.



MOORISH CAFE

Deliciousness abounds - and where I had my 18th birthday! A truly Territory take on Spanish and North African cuisine using local ingredients. A great place to head for lunch too - their $30 lunch special complete with a glass of sangria is top notch value.



MINDIL BEACH SUNSET MARKETS

Could you even say you went to Darwin without coming here? The Mindil Markets are on at Mindil Beach every Thursday and Sunday in the dry season. Super casual affair, grab a takeaway, sit on the beach, sip a (BYO) beer, and watch the sunset.



PARAP MARKETS

An almost mandatory event in the Darwin weekly calendar, Parap Markets has great food, craft, and veggies. On every Saturday morning, but beware the long line that leads up to Mary's.

Places to Drink



CHARLIE'S OF DARWIN

For the gin lovers out there, Charlie's of Darwin distils their own gin right on site, using uniquely Territory botanicals, like native lemongrass, Kakadu plum and water lilies, as well as a pretty special salty plum gin for a true Darwin experience. Phenomenal cocktails on a beautiful outdoor terrace makes this one of my favourite bars!



BABYLON BAR

Located in a bit of a seedy arcade, Babylon Bar is Melbourne small bar culture with a Territory twist. A super relaxed and chilled vibe, but with excellent cocktails and super weird decor - definitely not to be missed!



STONE HOUSE

For those that are perhaps a tad more refined than others, Stone House is a great small wine bar, with a monthly rotating wine list to keep you guessing. The building itself used to be an opium den back in the 1880s, with a relaxed wine garden out the back.



DECK BAR

If classic pub vibes are more your style, Deck Bar does good food and good beer, including local beer from One Mile Brewery. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, with happy hour on every day from 4pm. A great place to overhear local political gossip!



HANKY PANKY LOUNGE

A moody, dimly-lit bar echoing a New York-style speakeasy, this is a go to place for ritzy cocktails. A very long martini list, as well as beer and wine.



BAR KOKOMO

For those in more of a holiday mood, Bar Kokomo is Darwin's first rum bar with Caribbean-inspired cocktails, South American bites and a highly extensive rum list.



HUMPTY DOO HOTEL

About a 30 minute drive from Darwin CBD, the Humpty Doo Hotel is one of Darwin's continually licensed premises. Full of colourful Territory characters, this place is a pretty special slice of a classic outback pub.

Places to See



CASUARINA COASTAL RESERVE

This is an absolutely stunning walk, and super easy to do (I'm looking at you, Coogee to Bondi). The entire walk takes about 45 minutes, starting at Dripstone Cliffs at Casuarina Beach, via the mouth of Rapid Creek, and all the way to Nightcliff Beach. If you time it right, I would highly recommend walking the extra 10 minutes to the Nightcliff Jetty to watch the sun set over the ocean.



MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY OF THE NORTHERN TERRITORY

The museum has some amazing collections, and stunning Indigenous art from across the Northern Territory. It's also an refreshingly cold place to escape the Darwin heat for a few hours. The Cyclone Tracy exhibit (complete with scary sound booth with recording taken from the day) is a must.



DECKCHAIR CINEMA

A super unique, independent cinema under the stars! It's in an unforgettable location, nestled in tropical rainforest overlooking Darwin Harbour. A super relaxed atmosphere, with films showing every night of the dry season, with food and drinks from local caterers - it doesn't get more Darwin than sinking into a deckchair with a curry during the sunset.



FISH FEEDING AT DOCTOR'S GULLY

Fish feeding is a great all ages experience in the city, and you're able to get up close and personal right in the water. I was obsessed with this place as a kid, but looking back I think more bread went into my mouth than the fish.



JUMPING CROCODILE CRUISES

If you want to see a croc up close, this is the way to do it, located about an hour's drive away at Adelaide River. Unfortunately the best (and original) crocodile cruise shut their doors in October 2023, but there are loads of other tours that operate.



TERRITORY WILDLIFE PARK

If you'd prefer more of a cursory glance at a crocodile (as opposed to being able to count their scales), head to the Territory Wildlife Park, about a 40 minute drive from Darwin. The Park is a great day trip from Darwin, with a huge range of Top End wildlife and habitats to see, including wallabies, long neck turtles, jabirus and snakes.



MARY RIVER NATIONAL PARK

If you'd like to do a full day out near Adelaide River, there's even more to see at Mary River National Park. There are stunning walks and scenery, or book into the Aboriginal Ecological Experience Tour to learn about the local history and culture of the Wulwulam and Limilngan peoples. Combine it with a pit stop at the Window on the Wetlands Visitor Centre (one of my favourite places to go as a kid), and a jumping crocodile cruise. You'll also need a park pass from NT Parks to visit.



KAKADU NATIONAL PARK

If you're planning a few more days in Darwin, you can't miss the opportunity to visit Kakadu National Park. About a four hour drive from Darwin, Kakadu is a UNESCO World Heritage listed park with bush walking, swimming, and 20,000 year old Aboriginal art galleries. Don't miss out on the Aboriginal art at Ubirr and Nourlangie, the Yellow Water Billabong cruise for the wildlife, and swimming at Maguk. Jim Jim Falls, Motor Car Falls and Twin Falls are also great swimming spots - but note reaching these requires a 4WD. You'll need a park pass from Parks Australia.



Places to Swim

Contrary to popular belief, there are heaps of places you can swim in Darwin that aren't someone's backyard pool. The dry season means that many of places that you can't swim in normally are safe to swim - but as always, pay attention to the signs, and only swim in places that are clearly marked as safe.



MINDIL BEACH, NIGHTCLIFF BEACH & CASUARINA BEACH

Yes you can swim in the ocean in Darwin.... if only from the months of May to October. Mindil Beach is patrolled seven days a week, Nightcliff Beach is patrolled on Sundays, and Casuarina Beach is patrolled on Saturday and Sunday. As you would normally, observe the flags and follow the directions of lifeguards.



DARWIN WATERFRONT LAGOON AND WAVE POOL

If you're looking for something closer to the CBD, the Darwin Waterfront has a free saltwater lagoon, protected by a sea wall so no creepy crawlies will get you. If you're missing the surf, a wave pool is located next door.



BERRY SPRINGS

Located just 40 minutes away from Darwin, Berry Springs was developed as a recreational facility for troops stationed in Darwin during WWII. Super family friendly, with shallow pools for small children as well as larger, deeper pools. Located right next to Territory Wildlife Park for a great family day trip.



LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK

Litchfield is a stunning place to visit, with walks and swimming spots to your heart's content. Florence Falls, Buley Rockhole, Cascades and Wangi Falls are all amazing spots to swim. Words can't do it justice! Note if you are a visitor to the NT you'll need to get a park pass from NT Parks. Litchfield is about an hour's drive away from Darwin, and make sure to pop into Rum Jungle Tavern in Batchelor on your way back.

Further information

If this list wasn't comprehensive enough for you, check out the Tourism Top End website for even more!