Adventure | Beach | Family | Food and Wine 15 January 2018

The Top End’s Top 10 Things To Do

Characterized by a laid back tropical lifestyle, fascinating Aboriginal heritage, world-class fishing and fun-filled festivals, the Top End is a brilliant destination year round. Sitting at the tip of Australia’s Northern Territory, the Top End offers an extraordinary holiday that is sure to please all sorts of holidaymakers.  

With so many unique adventures on offer and countless natural wonders to discover, read our top 10 tips for a Top End visit.

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-xperience’ like no other.

Swimming with Crocodiles in the Crocosaurus Cove at Darwin Northern Territory Virgin Australia

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 that displays 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.

Market Hopping at Mindil Markets in Darwin Northern Territory Australia

3. Explore spectacular 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.

Breathtaking natural landscapes of Kakadu National Park on a sunset

4. Spot a mega croc in the wild

For a seriously wild adventure, the Top End offers a variety of guided wildlife cruises (such as Lord Safaris or Jumping Crocodile 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.

Crocodile attraction at Lords Kakadu and Arnhemland Safaris

5. Experience Aboriginal culture

The Northern Territory is home to a captivating Indigenous culture that dates back over 40,000 years. Any trip to the Top End is not complete without a nod to the traditional landowners. You can experience it in a myriad of ways, such as visiting one of the various Indigenous culture centres and art galleries like Songlines, or signing up to a bush tucker tour under the guidance of a local, or tour Kakadu National Park and get to see its incredible Aboriginal art.

6. Zip around wetlands with an airboat

It’s unlikely you’ve explored by airboat before. Originally designed for Florida’s Everglades, in the Top End you’ll skim across surfaces at speed, exploring the Mary River floodplain or Corroboree Billabong. Zip past carpets of lotus lilies and keep an eye out for magically birdlife – and those infamous crocs. Try Darwin Airboat Tours or Wildlands wetland safari cruises for an adventure you’ll never forget. 

Zipping around the wetlands by Darwin's Airboat tour

Airboat Tour around the lotus lilies by Kakadu national Park

7. Cruise Darwin Harbour at sunset

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. 

Before or after, chill out at Darwin’s Waterfront Precinct, an idyllic swimming, sunbathing, picnicking and dining destination that fringes Darwin Harbour. There are two safe, stinger and crocodile-free swimming lagoons to choose from, plus loads of restaurants and cafes, and lush parklands.

Enjoying drinks at Darwin Waterfront Northern Territory Australia

8. Throw in a line

The Top End is renowned for its top-notch fishing. While on vacation make time to throw a line in one of Darwin’s many fishing hot spots, from lush billabongs to huge tidal rivers, mangrove-lined estuaries and even islands or the pristine coastline. Try your luck at catching exotic, sport and reef fish species, from barramundi to giant trevally, black jewfish, coral trout and countless others. Hire a boat, join a fully-guided fishing safari, or simply throw a line from the shore. Don’t forget the Million Dollar Fish competition! 

Fishermen with their Barramundi catch at Darwin Northern Territory

9. Step back in time with wartime history

During World War II Darwin was the target of more than 64 air raids, and today you can tour sites that relate to when Australia was seriously threatened by the Japanese bombings. Explore underground oil tunnels, gun emplacements, explosive storage areas and more with a guided tour through the Darwin Military Museum and the Defence of Darwin Experience, which includes interactive footage and interviews. Or have cutting edge virtual reality transport you to wartime Darwin with the multi-million-dollar Bombing of Darwin Harbour and Royal Flying Doctor Service Experience

10. Celebrate at the Darwin Festival

Each year in August, the highly anticipated Darwin Festival draws a crowd of thousands of eager festival goers 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.