"8 Days in Darwin" Darwin by SurfaceTravel
Darwin Travel Guide: 685 reviews and 2,049 photos
I couldn't find the camera when I was packing so there are no photos of this trip.
The sole purpose of this trip was to add a leg onto my project of Surface Travel, where I'm attempting to go all around the world using surface travel only, no airplanes. I'm doing it in separate legs, such that I can join all the segments up on a map later on, eventually connecting them to make at least a circuit around the world. I've done Butterworth, Malaysia to Hanoi, Vietnam; and I've done London, the UK to Hanoi. This trip I was hoping to do Darwin, Australia to Kupang, Timor, Indonesia. I was going to get a ride on a yacht in the annual rally to Bali, but I failed (see tip).
Darwin is a pleasant clean city that was over-run with backpackers, at least when I was there. This was my first time to Australia, so I cannot compare it with other places there. Coming from London, my first impression of the place was that it was exactly like any-town, North America - wide straight well-marked roads, straight planned city blocks, and commercial strip malls. The centre, from a tourist/backpacker point of view, is dominated by Mitchell Street, parallel with and one block in from The Esplanade along the waterfront. This is where it is wall-to-wall bars, restaurants, and backpacker places which double as lodging and travel agencies. I stayed in the Holiday Inn, Esplanade (see tip), between the waterfront and Mitchell Street.
Darwin is party central in the evenings, especially on the weekends. For such a small place it seems to be very wild. Backpackers by the thousands flock from bar to bar along Mitchell Street and the bars blare their music out into the street through open front walls. There is a lot of live music to choose from. I was there on my own, however, a middle-aged family man among all these 19-year-olds, so I merely walked by all the partying twice a night between the hotel and the Internet café where I managed to do some work.
There are many beautiful beaches all around, but you couldn't swim in them because some animal or another would eat you, kill you, or otherwise harm you: jellyfish, crocodiles, whatever. The big thing to do from Darwin is to go out in organised off-road tours of the Outback for two days to a week and visit Litchfield or Kakadu National Parks, which are supposed to be spectacular. I couldn't do this, however, as my job there was to look for a ride on a yacht.
I was in Darwin for eight days, which was about five days too many by myself and three days too many if the whole family was there. I did rent a 150cc motor-scooter for the duration, which was good, as the yacht clubs and many of the local tourist attractions were a few miles out of the centre of town. Darwin's main claims to fame are bad things that happened to it: getting bombed by the Japanese in WWII and getting hit by Cyclone Tracy in 1974. Aside from yacht-searching, I visited the following sites (see associated tips):
- The Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (NT) at Fannie Bay - NT aboriginal art, a section on Cyclone Tracy, a section about the local wildlife, and an amazing huge area full of ancient and current Polynesian boats, large and small.
- The Fannie Bay Gaol Museum which operated from 1883 until 1979. The last hangings there were in 1952. It reminded me a lot of that 1965 Sean Connery movie, The Hill.
- East Point Reserve, a large park on a peninsula with large beaches, cycling paths, and a WWII wartime gun placement.
- The Wharf District for lunch and the WWII Oil Storage Tunnels, where there is also a collection of local WWII photographs on display.
- The Australian Aviation Heritage Centre where the main attraction is the gigantic Boeing B-52 G Stratofortress that fills the huge hangar, its wings high above all the other aircraft that fill up the place, among them the wreck of a shot-down Japanese Zero
- Charles Darwin National Park, 48 square kilometres or 11,861 acres in size and has another WWII exhibit in a period bunker
- Lee Point at the "top" of the Darwin area and nearby Buffalo Creek Boat Ramp where there are many signs posted about crocodiles eating people as they launch their boats
I also went to the Mindel Beach Sunset Market twice. It is held on Thursday and Sunday evenings. This is on the way out to the Darwin Sailing Club and is a great place to view the sunset. There are stalls there offering hot and cold food from all around the world; arts, crafts, and souvenirs such as didgeridoos; and many of the musicians from the pubs are there performing, busking and selling their CDs. There was one interesting drummer and didgeridoo player band playing rock music.
The rest of the time was spent searching for yachts to Indonesia.
- In a nutshell:8 Days there; 4 days too many
When I was there in July, the markets were held on Thursday and Sunday evenings. There are stalls there offering hot and... more travel advice
It is well worth the drive out to see this aircraft museum. It is a large hangar dominated by the gigantic Boeing B-52 G... more travel advice
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