October 17, 2016

Free things to do in Darwin

A trip to Darwin doesn’t have to break the bank - there are lots of free attractions and things to do! We’re sharing our top picks below.

1.     Markets

There are so many fantastic markets in Darwin that showcase local produce, indigenous arts and crafts, live music, and delicious food. It’s a great way to mix with the locals and doesn’t have to cost you a cent unless you want to grab some lunch or dinner – even then, the food is cheap and tasty compared to dining in a restaurant. Our favourite’s include the popular Mindil Beach Sunset Markets (Thursday 5pm-10pm and Sunday 4pm-9pm, late April to late October), Parap Village Markets (Saturday 8am-2pm), and Rapid Creek Market (Sunday 6am-1pm). Want more info? Check out our blog about the best Darwin markets here.

2.     George Brown Botanic Gardens

Before it gets too hot, spend a morning wandering through the George Brown Botanic Gardens. Over 130 years old, the gardens have survived cyclones, bushfires and World War II, and contain 450 species of native and tropical plants. Walk through mangroves, woodlands and dunes, and check out the rainforest gully, which has its own waterfall and ponds. If you do fancy a quick coffee, visit Eva’s Café near the entrance to the gardens, housed in a heritage-listed former Wesleyan Church - there are plenty of freshly baked treats available for less than a fiver. 

3.     Darwin Waterfront

Down by Stoke’s Hill Wharf is Darwin’s waterfront precinct, a hub for locals and visitors alike. Take a dip at Recreation Lagoon, a safe swimming spot that has a sandy beach perfect for building castles or sunbaking. There’s cycle paths and walkways throughout the whole park area for you to enjoy. Being such a local hotspot means there’s always free activities happening – tai chi classes, films under the stars, or if you’re visiting during school holidays, kids’ activities like origami making workshops and archery lessons. The whole precinct is surrounded by cafes, bars and restaurants, so if you do feel like grabbing lunch or dinner, you can easily find a place to suit your budget. Otherwise, take advantage of the shady palm trees and pack your own picnic.  

4.     Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory

Looking for your dose of culture? Check out the wonderful collection at the Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory (MAGNT). It’s been carefully curated to include the best of both Australian and international travelling exhibits, as well as a permanent collection of art, natural history and science specimens. The museum is devoted to expanding its large collection Indigenous art, and is home to the much-loved Cyclone Tracy exhibit, telling local stories of that fateful night. Best of all, it’s totally free!   

5.     Beaches and waterways

A day by the water is always a good idea. There are plenty of spots to choose from, like local favourite Casuarina Beach. A long stretch of sand makes it perfect for a stroll, and it’s a great spot to watch the sun set. Swimming is fine too, but check the signs – box jellyfish and stingers will make an appearance during the wet season. Nightcliff Foreshore is another popular spot to walk or cycle – there’s 7kms of activity along the pathway, from parks, BBQ and picnic areas, exercise stations, historical World War II sites and the lovely Nightcliff Jetty. You’ve got the beach in front and the mangroves behind, and if you’re hungry, visit Jettty & the Fish – a fish and chip food truck that’s both cheap and delicious. One of the safest spots to swim in Darwin is manmade Lake Alexander – totally free from any stinging sea-life all year round. There’s plenty of shady spots for a picnic, and you’re right next door to Fannie Bay, another pretty beach that offers white sand for miles and beautiful sunset views.