The Top End's Top 10Adventure, wildlife and culture
Sitting at the tip of Australia’s Northern Territory, the Top End presents as an extraordinary holiday destination that is sure to please all sorts of holidaymakers. Characterized by a laidback, tropical lifestyle, fascinating Aboriginal heritage, world-class fishing and fun-filled festivals, the Top End delivers year round. With so many unique adventures on offer and countless natural wonders to discover, find our Top 10 tips for a Top End visit below:
1. Visit Crocosaurus Cove
A must-do for first time visitors to the Top End, the iconic Crocosaurus Cove is the best way to spot a massive saltwater croc and other local reptiles right in the heart of Darwin. Whether you’re daring enough to meet the ‘salties’ face to face in the Cage of Death – Australia’s only crocodile dive – or prefer to watch the expert handlers in action from the safety of a viewing deck, rest assured, you’re in for a ‘croc-perience’ like no other.
2. Relax at Mindil Beach Sunset Market
A firm favourite amongst locals and Top End regulars, the Mindil Beach Sunset Market is the ultimate family-friendly, after-dark attraction, displaying Darwin’s multicultural melting pot at its best. Running every Thursday and Sunday from April to October, BYO esky and picnic blanket, marvel at the mouth-watering smorgasbord of culinary delights on offer, wander through the arts, crafts, fashion and homewares market stalls, then head for the sand and watch the sun dip into the sea.
3. Explore National Parks
Some of Australia’s most breathtaking natural landscapes are located in the Top End, an easy two-hour drive from Darwin, and well worth a visit. Kakadu National Park, renowned as Australia’s largest, and Litchfield National Park both offer a spectacular setting to hike, cool down in rock pools, view thundering waterfalls, bird watch, fish and discover ancient rock art paintings that tell a fascinating tale of its traditional land owners.
4. Spot a Croc in the wild
For a seriously wild adventure, the Top End offers a variety of guided wildlife cruises that journey across the Adelaide River and Mary River wetlands, mangroves and billabongs, and gives viewers the chance to spot one of these ancient reptiles as they bask in the sun, swim and even jump out of the water to catch bait.
5. Experience Aboriginal Culture
The Northern Territory is home to a captivating Indigenous culture that dates back over 40,000 years and a trip to the Top End is not complete without a nod to the traditional landowners. This can be experienced a myriad of ways, such as visiting one of the various Indigenous culture centres and art galleries, or signing up to a bush tucker tour under the guidance of a local. Kakadu National Park is home to some incredible Aboriginal art and a guided tour is a must.
6. Celebrate at the Darwin Festival
Each year in August, the highly anticipated Darwin Festival draws a crowd of thousands of eager festivalgoers who time their travels to the Top End to coincide with the 18-day spectacle. A kaleidoscope of culture, food, live music, theatre, dance and arts, the celebrations strike a chord with visitors of all ages, particularly families, so be sure to add this event to your travel itinerary.
7. Shop 'til you drop
For those seeking some retail therapy, Darwin’s shopping offer is diverse and exciting, from the centrally located Smith Street Mall and its unique collection of hand-crafted jewellery, Aboriginal art and souvenirs, to the NT’s largest shopping centre, Casuarina Square, perfect for the serious shopper and home to over 190 retailers and speciality stores, and a seven-screen cinema.
8. Cruise Darwin Harbour
See the sights of Darwin from a different vantage point – aboard a luxury catamaran on a Darwin harbour cruise. By day, enjoy a scrumptious seafood lunch and watch a bevy of marine life frolic in their natural habitat, and by night, kick back with a sundowner as you witness an iconic Darwin sunset. A number of cruises operate daily.
9. Throw in a line
The Top End is renowned for its top-notch fishing, so during your travels, throw a line in one of Darwin’s many fishing hot spots and try your luck at catching exotic, sport and reef fish species, from barramundi to giant trevally, black jewfish, coral trout and countless others.
10. Chill out at the Waterfront Precinct
Cool down at Darwin’s Waterfront Precinct, an idyllic swimming, sunbathing, picnicking and dining destination that fringes Darwin Harbour. With two safe, stinger and crocodile-free swimming lagoons to choose from, including the Wave Lagoon and Recreation Lagoon, plus myriad restaurants and cafes, and lush parklands, it’s the perfect place to escape the heat and chill out with family and friends.