10 Incredible Darwin Weekend Getaway Destinations
- By Ken Teo at Ausinet – 30 September 2020 – Australian Institute of Electrotechnology
Crocodiles aplenty, harsh climates, bushes, magnificently beautiful nature – Do these thoughts spring to your mind when you think of Australia? If it is a yes, then Darwin is definitely the most “Australian” part of the country. Being the capital of the Northern Territory, Darwin is where most people normally begin their explorations of this area.
There are plenty of attractions within a few hours drive of Darwin, many of which can be visited in a single day tour. All you need is just packing up some road trip essentials and start driving to visit these amazing spots:
#1 - Kakadu National Park
Encompassing almost 20 thousand square km, Kakadu National Park is the largest national park in Australia and renowned for its protection of a spectacular ecosystem and an important concentration of ancient rock art. In 1984, it gained World Heritage Listing for both its ecological and cultural heritage.
Kakadu can reach high temperatures so the best time to visit is just after the end of the wet season. This time of year, the temperatures are bearable and the waterfalls are in full flow. There are also lots of campsites, both paid and free around Kakadu.
#2 - Litchfield National Park
Kakadu’s little sister, Litchfield can be completed as a day trip from Darwin because it is only an hour south of Darwin. It is also free to enter and explore. Litchfield has many waterfalls and some great crocodile-free swimming spots. There are also the dramatic Lost City and lots of four-wheel drive tracks.
Besides, you can have several excellent short walks within the park, such as the Wangi Falls Walk (1.6 km) which takes you to a viewing platform above the waterfall. If you have much time, tackle the Tabletop Track, a 39 km circuit walk. Register for all walks at the Batchelor Parks and Wildlife office.
#3 - Katherine
As one of the major towns in the Territory, there are plenty things to do in Katherine itself. Visit the School of the Air to discover how children in remote communities are educated, check out the fascinating Aboriginal art galleries and laze around in the Katherine Hot Springs, situated a short drive out of town.
A day can easily be spent just enjoying the town of Katherine and the unique culture that comes from hanging out on the edge of the Australian outback. Katherine is also 30 minutes from Nitmiluk National Park which is home to the well-known Jatbula Trail, a challenging 4 to 6 day, 58 km bushwalk.
#4 - Berry Springs
Berry Springs is a great place for a swim and picnic. There is a thermal waterfall, spring-fed pools ringed with paperbarks and pandanus palms, and bird watching trails. After a day spent discovering the Monsoon Rainforest and Woodlands Walk, you can dive in the pool and relax in shady solitude.
Under shady trees, there is a pleasant grass ground with barbecues. You can bring your family or friends to have a nice picnic here. Other facilities available include restrooms, changing sheds, showers and amenities for the disabled.
#5 - Howard Springs
The nearest natural crocodile-free swimming hole to Darwin is at the Howard Springs Nature Park, about 35 km southeast of Darwin. You can take a pleasant dip into the forest surrounded swimming hole.
There are picnic areas with barbecues and wandering wallabies, a separate toddlers’ pool and a 1.8 km walking track around the springs that is good for bird-watching. Howard Springs is home to long-necked turtles, catfish and barramundi. Spend a day in Howard Springs to enjoy a quiet and picturesque rural area on the outskirts of Darwin.
#6 - Umbrawarra Gorge
The tranquil Umbrawarra Gorge Nature Park features some Aboriginal rock-art sites, small sandy beaches and safe swimming in the rock pools. There is a marked walking track (2 km return) that leads from the car park to swimming holes in the gorge, and you can swim and rock-hop the rest of its 5 km length.
The distinct red cliffs of this isolated gorge have long been admired by climbers. If you are planning on climbing or abseiling, permits must be obtained from the Batchelor or Palmerston Parks and Wildlife Service offices before you arrive at Umbrawarra.
#7 - Tiwi Islands
The Tiwi Islands, which consist of Bathurst and Melville islands, cannot be reached by road, but rather by a short flight or ferry ride across the Timor Sea from Darwin. Bathurst Island was the first place in Australia to be attacked by the Japanese during WWII. During the war, the people of the Tiwi Islands played a significant role by capturing fallen Japanese bomber pilots, rescuing allied pilots and guiding allied vessels through dangerous waters.
The Tiwi people are happy to share their lively culture with travellers. You can check out the island’s dense rainforest and pristine coastline. You might even be lucky enough to spot flatback turtles nesting on the sandy beaches.
#8 - Manton Dam
A day trip to the Manton Dam recreation area is a pleasant escape from Darwin bustle. Built in 1942 as the city’s first source of reliable water, the dam is now a haven for a huge variety of wildlife and a popular spot for water lovers.
There is a low-speed boating area to explore the far reaches of the dam. It is often a hive of activity on weekends, where locals head to for thrills on jet skis, water skis and wakeboards. You should not swim in Manton Dam, however it is a good fishing spot, especially for saratoga and barramundi.
#9 - Charles Darwin National Park
Charles Darwin National Park is a small gem close to the centre of Darwin (4 km). It incorporates areas of natural significance and has a wealth of cultural history. The park protects part of the Port Darwin wetland where 36 out of the Territory 51 mangrove species live in this convoluted system of inlets, islands and bays. The park also hosts significant Aboriginal cultural sites and interesting wartime artefacts.
Anyone can wander around the park, or ride on a network of cycling paths through the tropical woodland. It is definitely a perfect gateway from the busy city.
#10 - Adelaide River
The small town is full of interesting history. You can pay a visit to the site of the largest and only war cemetery on Australian land where 495 people are buried, all of whom died during Japanese bombing raids in 1942.
Adelaide River is a prolific crocodile country and one of the best ways to see the exclusive reptile in its natural habitat is by going on an Adelaide River Queen tour. The town also comes alive during the month of June when the annual race meeting, Adelaide River Show, Rodeo, Campdraft and Gymkhana are held at the showgrounds.