Darwin Waterfront, Northern Territory © Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught
Top things to do in Darwin with kids
Spectacular wildlife encounters, swimming pools galore and outdoor adventures abound – Darwin’s not short of authentic activities to keep the kids entertained.
By Amy Fraser
The Northern Territory’s capital city, Darwin, is a warm-weather wonderland, perennially popular with families. It's a city rich in history and bursting with adventure and unique encounters with wonderfully weird and prehistoric animals. Experience Darwin’s top activities for kids.
Meet a modern-day dinosaur
Australia is home to an array of extraordinary animals, with one of the most remarkable being the saltwater crocodile. Feasting your eyes on these seven-metre (23-feet) long dinosaur-like creatures – and the world’s largest reptile – is a must when visiting Darwin. At Crocodylus Park, a 15-minute drive from Darwin, kids can become croc experts at the park’s museum before feeding all sorts of different species, from speedy “freshies” (freshwater crocodiles) to cute baby “salties” (saltwater crocodiles). For a real show, hop aboard a jumping crocodile cruise on the croc-infested lagoon and get ready for an all-mighty splash as they jump for their dinner. For a different perspective, Crocosaurus Cove offers kids the chance to swim safely next to juvenile crocs or get up-close to gigantic saltwater crocs from the indoor viewing area.
Slide, splash and play
Darwin enjoy tropical weather, but it’s not difficult to find a safe spot to cool-off. Head to the Palmerston Water Park for water activities aplenty, from racing water slides to splash play zones and shallow pools for little ones – it’s the perfect place for the whole family to make base for the afternoon. Another popular locale for families is Darwin Waterfront’s Wave Lagoon; bring your boogie boards and enjoy the gentle saltwater waves, croc and stinger-free.
Tune into live beach entertainment over a dinner
Snow cones, laksa, slushies, churros, musical performances, pony rides and fire breathers – dinner time just got a whole lot more exciting. During Australia’s dry season, the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets make for a great Thursday or Sunday evening activity for the family. Kids will love the endless entertainment on offer, while parents can tuck into a delicious assortment of their favourite market picks, all over a spectacular sunset. Al fresco dining just got a little better.
Discover ancient artefacts
It’s not just Darwin’s outdoor adventures that draw kids and families to this tropical city. In the stunning Fannie Bay area lies the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT). Step out of the sun and into its family-friendly exhibits to discover ancient boats imprinted with fascinating tales, learn the unique characteristics of the 220-million-year-old freshwater turtle and stand before some of Australia’s most phenomenal Aboriginal artwork. A favourite exhibit among the kids is ‘Sweetheart’, the museum’s very own preserved 780-kilogram (1,719-pound) crocodile. He’s quite the spectacle.
Catch your own lunch
Darwin’s Harbour and the surrounding Mary River Wetlands boasts some of the best fishing in the world, with barramundi topping the charts as the most popular – and favourite – fish among anglers. Experience the excitement for yourself with Barramundi Adventures, a land-based fishing farm in Berry Springs who offer two-hour to full-day trips, a perfect introduction for kids new to fishing. Spend a day cruising through the wild, spotting wildlife including crocs and jabirus, making memorable memories with the family and best of all, letting the kids catch their own lunch.
Watch a movie next to the ocean
With lush rainforest on one side and Darwin’s picturesque harbour on the other, movie night at Deckchair Cinema is a feast for all the senses. Grab your favourite snacks from the local pop-up stalls, a cosy cushion (or two), and settle in as the movie begins amid the glowing light of sunset. This Film Society venue hosts an array of timeless movies and with films kicking-off at 7:30pm on weekends, it’s a family evening delight. For extra entertainment, look out for cute possums and friendly owls appearing from the rainforest.
Master ancient crafts
It’s not every day you get to learn about ancient traditions on Aboriginal-owned, nature-abundant land. The Aboriginal-owned family business, Pudakul, offers an authentic and enriching day out for families with kids of all ages. Kids will love learning how to throw spears, forage bush tucker and create music through the didgeridoo. They’ll also get a chance to get their hands dirty painting a memento to take home from the Aboriginal art workshop – a souvenir worth savouring.
Wallow in waterholes
Aquamarine waters filled with native fish, surrounded by vivid green rainforest. No trip is complete to Darwin without experiencing the beauty of Berry Springs Nature Park, a 45-minute drive from the city centre. Here you’ll find not just one, but three dazzling waterholes to snorkel, swim and splash. Suitably cooled-off, make use of the area’s picnic lawns, before embarking on a bush walking adventure around the park’s monsoon forest and woodlands. Home to a plethora of native birds, bring your binoculars for an up-close glance of these brilliantly coloured birds.
Walk where the wild things are
There’s something truly magical about watching wildlife roam in their natural habitat. The Territory Wildlife Park Darwin spans over 400 hectares of Darwin’s rural area and offers visitors the chance to watch, and even interact with the Top End’s marvelous wildlife in their natural environment. From the prickly echidna to the carnivorous marsupial, the quoll, and a host of enchanting snakes – your kids will adore seeing these native Australian animals. While you’re there, choose from one of the park’s wildlife encounters and watch your kids feed iconic creatures including wallabies, and rarer wildlife such as the freshwater whiprays.
Play in a tropical treehouse
Under the canopy of the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, you’ll find trickling waterfalls, a dazzling display of tropical plants and the child-friendly treehouse. Take a walk through the gorgeously scented prehistoric plants (which were dinner for the dinosaurs), before stopping off at the treehouse where the kids can play amid nature under the shady trees. Splash in Darwin’s largest fountain, tuck into scrumptious cake at Eva’s café, and for kids aged 12 and up, join a Segway tour to see the gardens from a new perspective on two wheels.