Much of Darwin’s action happens along its revitalised waterfront, which is lined with restaurants, shops, sandy lagoons and parklands. Swim in the lagoon, fish from the wharf, dine alfresco on just-caught seafood and wander past the waterfront mansions. You can also trace the area’s rich history in walking trails and public artworks. Today families, business people and tourists mingle along the waterfront, where the Larrakia Aboriginal people, Indonesian traders and European settlers have all left their mark.
Outdoor recreation is a big part of life along Darwin’s waterfront, a short walk from the city centre. You can swim all year round in the lagoons along Darwin’s waterfront. One offers a beach experience, with different waves to suit everyone from boogie boarders to toddlers. For a calmer swim, visit the recreation lagoon, a huge body of sea water where fish thrive, and you can sail and canoe.
Pedestrian pathways and bike trails weave all along the sea wall, between the contained water of the recreation lagoon and the open harbour. Go walking, cycling or jogging, soaking up the water views and experiencing Darwin’s unique tropical energy. Explore the lush gardens and parklands, wander past the waterfront mansions and browse the shops and alfresco restaurants. In the dining hub of Stokes Hill Wharf you can enjoy Darwin’s balmy weather and extravagant sunsets with a seafood platter. The wharf is also a popular spot for recreational fishermen and the departure point for fishing charters and harbour cruises.
Darwin’s waterfront precinct has a rich, diverse history, starting with the Larrakia Aboriginal owners who for centuries traded with groups from Indonesia. Early Malay and Chinese settlers also made their homes here, forming another important chapter in Darwin’s cultural history. This is where the city’s first European settlers waded ashore, before camping in the ‘gully’ by Fort Hill. The wharf area was also where Japanese air raids first brought World War II to Australia. It is the site of Darwin’s first public gardens and was once home to a railway that ran between Frances Creek and the jetty, with a station near Stokes Hill.
These fascinating stories and events are commemorated in the public art works scattered across the waterfront, in both the buildings and public spaces. You can also trace history wandering through the old World War II Oil Storage Tunnels or following the Traveler’s Walk, a thoroughfare to town when the 1895 Stokes Hill Wharf was being constructed. See the stone embankment dating back to the early 20th century and visit the site where the ambitious South Australian prospector George Woodroffe Goyder set up camp.
Discover Darwin’s waterfront, where this northernmost city’s modern tropical life and layered history meet.