Darwin's best features – its sunsets, Asian-inspired food and relaxed atmosphere – meet in tropical harmony at Mindil Beach Sunset Market.
By Jennifer Pinkerton
Running between May and October, the Top End's "dry" or low humidity season, Mindil Beach Sunset Markets take place on Thursday and Sunday evenings on parkland next to the ocean.
This is Darwin's biggest, boldest and most energetic market. You can picnic at film screenings or live music performances, stroll along the beach and catch one of the city's pink sorbet sunsets, and sample flavours from neighbouring Asian nations at one of Mindil's many food stalls. The market is also a great spot to browse for local craft, art and souvenirs.
Mindil got its start in the mid 1980s when six locals decided to replicate an Asian-style night market. What began with just few stalls in the town centre has since grown into a fiesta-style mega market. More than 300 stalls now operate under palm trees by the beach.
- Watch the sun slide into the horizon
- Sip a fresh tropical juice from a juice bar
- Browse the craft and indigenous art stalls
Top things to do at Mindil Beach Sunset Market
Catch a live music act
Mindil has three main performance spaces: two on either end of the market and one in the mid section beside a pathway leading to the beach. With your takeaway food or drink, take a seat and soak up the market's mix of world, tribal and folk music. The central performance space also regularly hosts street performers and fire twirlers. Music tends to kick off just before sunset.
Settle in for sunset
Watching the sun disappear into the ocean is a rite of passage for visitors to Darwin. The city has a reputation for its neon pink and orange evening skies, and Mindil provides an ideal vantage point for taking in this spectacle. With your camera at the ready, take a seat in the sand and watch the light show unfold.
Lay about with a laksa
Indonesian, Thai, Malaysian, Nepalese, Indian, Sri Lankan and Japanese food all feature strongly in Darwin's food scene, as many of Mindil’s food stalls attest. One of the most popular dishes is laksa (AUD$7.50). With Malaysian roots, the aromatic, creamy coconut and curry flavoured soup is served with tofu or meat, as well as coriander, pumpkin, broccoli, bamboo shoots and shallots.
Savour a tropical juice
Darwinians cool down at the markets with a large, icy juice in hand. At Mindil there are about half a dozen juice bars to choose from, all of which offer medium (AUD$5.50) and large (AUD$6.50) cups with any combination of fruits. Popular mixes include coconut and mango, pineapple and mango, and anything else plus mango! Crushed lime juice is another local favourite.
Browse the craft and Aboriginal art stalls
Mindil's art, craft and jewellery stalls are hugely diverse – and a little bit quirky, too. If you're looking for a shark or crocodile jawbone, Mindil has you covered. As well as novelty items, you'll find a cornucopia of artisan Northern Territory wares. Look for tribal-style jewellery from local brand Embella; a print capturing Kakadu National Park or Darwin's beaches by photographer Louise Denton; and Readback Aboriginal Art's indigenous art canvases produced in Central Australia and the Top End.
How to get there
Mindil Beach is a six minute drive or a 30 minute walk from the city centre. From Daly Street in the centre of Darwin, turn onto Gardens Road until you reach Chin Quan Road. At the end of this is Mindil Beach Reserve.