Taste of the Top End

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, Darwin, NT. © Tourism NT

Taste of the Top End

Taste Asian flavours in a tropical setting at Darwin’s Mindil Beach Sunset Market between May and October.

The coconut palms are swaying in the sunset, and the smell of sizzling satay and spicy noodles is in the air. Welcome to Darwin's Mindil Beach Sunset Market – where you can sample flavours of the Asia-Pacific and local art and craft and in a balmy, tropical setting.

Held every Thursday in the dry season months between May and October, this vibrant market is something of a Darwin institution. The locals start arriving at dusk, armed with tables, chairs, rugs and kids and settle on the beach or the grass to watch the sun sink in a blaze of colour and the stars to appear.

Like Darwin, these markets are melting pot of cuisines and cultures. People from more than 50 nationalities live in Darwin and more than 30 exotic national flavours – including Aboriginal, Islander, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese and European – are showcased in the tasty food stalls at Mindil Beach.

Darwin is closer to Indonesia than Sydney and you can sample tasty, traditional Indonesian treats like peanut sauce satays, gado-gado and noodle dishes. Or take your tastebuds to Thailand with a bowl of fiery tom yum soup or a green chicken curry. With the smell of lemongrass wafting on the warm breeze, it’s tempting to meander over to Vietnam (or at least the stall) for some delicate, fragrant rice paper rolls. Slurp up a fragrant Malay laksa, try a Halal beef satay or go wild on local bush tucker. Crocodile, buffalo and barramundi are just some of the fresh, delicate specialties of the Northern Territory. If you’re in the mood for something more traditional, there’s spit roasts, burgers and fish and chips. Afterwards sweeten your palate with something from the smorgasbord of tropical fruit, juices and desserts. Indulge in French crepes, sticky rice cakes or taro custard in makeshift bamboo plates.

Once you’re appetite is satisfied, the markets have stalls of art and craft with a local flavor to explore. Shop for bush art, hand-made clothes, puppets and pottery. For a memento of your visit, take away a didgeridoo, Aboriginal artwork or a wallet or wristband made from local crocodile skin. Peer into your future with a tarot card reader or learn how to crack a whip with an expert. Listen to bush poetry or get kneaded by a Thai masseuse. Entertainment ranging from cabaret singers to contemporary Aboriginal rock bands completes Mindil’s eclectic, action-packed evening.

But a deck chair and head down early to stake a space. Mindil Beach is the place to taste Darwin’s multicultural flavours, spectacular sunsets and balmy, barefoot freedom. 

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