Planning a holiday to the Top End is pretty perfect at any time of year, although those wishing to escape the cold southern winter in Australia will do well to book their trip between May and September. It is at this time that you’ll enjoy the best weather and this is particularly true for those who prefer to be a little more active on their holiday.
Darwin offers the outdoor enthusiast a myriad of fun, enticing and exciting activities, so many in fact that you could step off your plane at the Darwin International Airport and dive straight into its world of adventurous pursuits. What can you do here? Well, the question should be…what can’t you do here?!
Here is just a taster of all that Darwin and the Top End has to offer. Whatever it is you love most to do…you’re bound to find a place to do it here!
Litchfield National Park – for hikers & trekkers
This national park is a bustling collection of fun off-road tracks, hiking trail, sublime waterfalls and refreshing swimming holes; all of which make this one of the most superb wilderness destination in and around Darwin. This amazing natural wonder is only an hour and a half’s drive from the Top End capital. You could either visit on a guided tour or take the option of a self-drive with a rental car (preferably a 4WD) from Darwin Airport. The added convenience and independence will be well worth your while. Pack a picnic basket, sunscreen and a hat and, whatever you do, don’t forget your swimmers!
The 1,500 square kilometre park is full of attractions, most of which are joined by a sealed road so even if you rent an ordinary sedan you will not miss out on the special nooks which make this natural reserve so revered by locals and visitors alike. Some of the falls are easier to access than others, so do keep this in mind if travelling with kids or the elderly. Florence is stunning, for example, due to its double waterfall and monsoon forest setting, yet it’s a pain to swim in due to the unsteady rock surface. Wangi Falls, on the other hand, are a much easier spot to enjoy and offer a few amenities for those who wish to take a longer break.
Howard Springs Nature Park – for families with small kids
The Northern Territory abounds with natural forests, home to fantastic waterfalls and springs, which is just as well considering this part of Australia sees some serious heat almost all year round. If you want some reprieve from the sun, but wish to stay nice and close to Darwin airport, then head to the Howard Springs conservation area, only 30kms out of the city, along its outer southern suburbs. In a city which seems to be expanding at an alarming rate, it’s nice to know that there is a corner of natural paradise which is set to remain wild and undeveloped yet always easily accessible.
The park is open from 8am until 8pm every day of the year and is absolutely ideal as a family destination. If you found Litchfield challenging with kids in tow then you ought to earmark this place for a visit. The natural setting is just as luscious, yet the man-made waterfalls and pools, many of which are kiddie-sized, make it a much easier place to spend an entire day in. A packed-to-the-brim barramundi cove ought to ensure that even the most unskilled fisherman never leave empty handed. Pack some groceries in your rental car and take advantage of the free barbecue facilities available.
Manton Dam – for water sport lovers
Manton Dam is often touted as one of Darwin’s best kept secrets. Only 70km south east of the city, this stunning recreation area is a wonderful escape from the bustle of the city and offers a plethora of fun activities for water sport aficionados. From water skiing to canoeing, windsurfing, swimming and boating, the options here are plenty. Pack a picnic basket and use the barbecues, or simply laze under the shade of the trees along the shore and enjoy a superlative refreshing day out in the Top End.
The reserve is open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays, and a few hours longer on week-ends.
Charles Darwin National Park – for mountain biking lovers
Just a 10 minute out of Darwin is where you’ll find a wilderness area beloved by biking enthusiasts. The Charles Darwin National Park is a hiker’s paradise and a perfect place to stretch your legs on a hot day. It comprises a significant amount of protected woodlands and wetlands and is also revered for Aboriginal cultural importance as well as its historical significance. Aside hiking and picnicking, this is the epitome mountain biking destination in the region, so rent a bike from the town centre of or join the Darwin Off-road Cycling Club for an exhilarating day out.