Catch one of Darwin's famous sunsets as you dine on fresh seafood and soak up the city's tropical waterfront lifestyle.
By Jennifer Ennion
Asian-infused market stalls, a plethora of waterfront restaurants and a chilled-out vibe make Darwin's waterfront a great spot to spend a day or three. Swim in crystal clear lagoons and cycle through manicured parklands; see an alfresco movie and listen to bush poetry. A holiday in Darwin is an alluring blend of cultures and cuisines with something for all types of travellers.
- A sunset picnic at Mindil Beach Market
- Enjoying a sundowner at a seaside restaurant
- Swimming in the wave pool at the Waterfront Precinct
How to get there
The capital of the Northern Territory, Darwin, is a harbour city on the Timor Sea. Its waterfront has several accessible locales including the upmarket suburb of Cullen Bay, Mindil Beach (home to local institution the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets) and Darwin's Waterfront Precinct, a sophisticated dining and entertainment complex with a man-made lagoon and wave pool.
Top things to do around Darwin's waterfront
Visit Mindil Beach Sunset Market
Dine on spicy Thai green curry or pick up a bowl of satay noodles at long-time Darwin icon Mindil Beach Sunset Market, found less than three kilometres (two miles) from the city centre. The Asia-Pacific's influence on the city is unmistakable here, where food stalls showcase more than 30 exotic culinary styles, including Aboriginal, Islander, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese and European flavours. It's a great reflection of the multiculturalism of Darwin, the home of more than 50 nationalities, and a wonderful place to enjoy northern Australia's balmy weather. The market is held from 5pm every Thursday between May and October. There is also a Sunday market held at the site which is somewhat smaller.
Dine beside the sea
When it comes to dining with a view, you're spoilt for choice along Darwin's waterfront suburbs. Have a sundowner at Darwin Sailing Club before taking a seat in the club's Waterfront Bistro. Mingle with Darwin's cool crowd at Lola's Pergola, a circus-themed gastropub on the water at Cullen Bay. There are plenty of dishes to pick from on the "American diner food with a Darwin twist" menu. Finally, visit La Beach Restaurant for a takeaway container of locally-caught, freshly cooked seafood. You can also enjoy a seafood meal at one of the eateries on the historic Stokes Hill Wharf, a popular spot for recreational fishermen and the departure point for fishing charters and harbour cruises.
Cool down at the Waterfront Precinct
When it gets hot in Darwin, head straight to the Waterfront Precinct, a five minute walk from the city centre. With a man-made lagoon for children, a popular wave pool and a saltwater beach, there is something for everyone. If you are seeking peace and quiet, find a spot on the shady lawn or wander the pretty parklands. If you'd prefer to step up the action, try flyboarding (balancing on a board with a jetpack underneath it), or scale one of the floating jumping castles. The Waterfront Precinct also has a great range of restaurants, including Wharf One Food & Wine and The Oyster Bar. Come night-time, treat yourself to an alfresco movie at Deckchair Cinema. It screens films seven nights a week during the dry season and is right on the water.
Outdoor recreation is a big part of life along Darwin's waterfront. Stroll along the foreshore of Cullen Bay for beautiful sunsets and nearby restaurants. Cyclists will love the 70 kilometres (43 miles) of council cycle paths across the city. Spinway NT has bikes for hire at multiple hotels, as well as stands on Kitchener Drive, on the waterfront, and at the Visitor Information Centre. For an adventure of the salty kind, board a SeaLink ferry from Cullen Bay's wharf to the Tiwi Islands, about 2½ hours away. Visiting the Islands, known for their beautiful wood carvings and bright textiles, for a day trip is a great way to spend time in the outdoors while also experiencing local culture.
Stay at a waterfront casino hotel
Set among tropical beachside gardens, with a private white-sand beach, two pools and 24-hour entertainment, Mindil Beach Casino & Resort is one of the city's premier accommodation choices. The five-star boutique hotel is within walking distance to major attractions including Mindil Beach Sunset Market. But you won't want to leave, with the hotel housing five restaurants, seven bars, a casino, lagoon day spa and a sauna.
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