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Need suggestions on what to see and where to stay in the Darwin area

Need suggestions on what to see and where to stay in the Darwin area

Old Mar 5th, 2009, 09:06 AM
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Need suggestions on what to see and where to stay in the Darwin area

Greetings everyone,
My wife and I are planning a 3 week/4 city trip to Australia in late July/early August 2010. We are planning on starting our vacation by flying into Darwin then continuing on to Ayers Rock, Cairnes, and finish up in Sydney.
We expect to stay in the Darwin area 4 maybe 5 days and I'm looking for suggestions and what to see and where to stay. We are both in our 50's and in ok shape. We love the outdoors/nature and photography. My wife has dreamed of seeing Australia since she was a little girl and we are going as a second honeymoon (25th anniversary) so I want this vacation to be everything she has ever wanted.
So what I'm looking for is a 4 or 5 day itinerary for the Darwin area. After I finish with Darwin, I'll be back onling asking for suggestions for the other 3 places. I greatly appreciate the help.
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Old Mar 5th, 2009, 01:04 PM
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This is doubtless an odd first suggestion, but it's the only one I have specific to Darwin itself -- the WWII graveyard! We were only in Darwin because it was the starting point for our road trip to the Bungle Bungles and the Gibb River Road -- and you certainly don't have time for that! -- but we stopped at the cemetery while touring about our first afternoon. It came as a shock to realize that the war was right on the Australian shore, and it was humbling to read the simple inscriptions. There are lots and lots of gaps in my knowledge of history, and this was yet another one of them.

So, it's not likely to have anything to do with why you're keen to see Oz -- it's wasn't for me either -- but if you drive by, stop.
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Old Mar 5th, 2009, 04:07 PM
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Though Darwin itself is a great gateway to Australia and the Top end, the prominent features on most peoples' minds are Kakadu National Park and Crocodiles.
There are places you can see them in captivity and then a few places for in the wild in Kakadu and on way there.
Litchfield Park is also not to be forgotten.

I went last year in July and did a five day camping style trip through Kakadu, much of it offroad getting to a few places that the less time cushier trips don't but a three day tour would still allow you to see plenty and a five day one that includes Katherine and Litchfield NP would be OK too.

The thing you'll have to appreciate is that there is quite some travelling involved and a larger style airconditioned 4WD with individual front facing seats will be far more comfortable than being on side facing troop carrier style bench seats being bounced around on some serious off roading, so in picking a tour and there a heap of them, I'd suggest you enquire as to type of vehicle.

The longer off the beaten track style of tour I did is as the name implies kind of taking you bush a bit, with some hectic hoofing along but you also find that at the more visited Twin and Jim Jim falls there is ample rockhopping to test agility if not aerobic capacity though if you have a trip that includes hiking to the top of Twin Fs or Nourlangie Rock you'll be well tested.

All the camping style tours of the cheaper limited budget style will likely have you erecting your own igloo style tent, very easy and expectation that you pitch in and help with meal preparation/clean-up etc.
If that doesn't sound like your idea of holiday fun - it is the Australian bush afterall - go for a dearer tour that includes staying in already established camp accommodation or motel style units.

I was actually disappointed in the ammount of wildlife to be seen, there being more around where I live other than the Crocs, so do not have huge expectations on that - an African Safari it is not!
http://www.kakadudreams.com.au/ will give you an idea of typical basic camping tours and you'll get an idea of what's available having a look here: http://www.northernterritory.visitor....com.au/tours/

If you fly or train it from Darwin to Alice Springs and have tested yourself on a camping style tour, the best way out to Uluru [the rock] and surrounds is also doing a camping style tour - www.waywardbus.com.au as an example and you may even want to consider looking for a Darwin via Kakadu/Katherine and on to Alice and Uluru combined trip - a few companies doing that sort of trek.
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Old Mar 6th, 2009, 01:36 AM
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What an excellent choice! To start in Darwin, I mean. And I assume your question relates to the whole area and not just the city itself.

Just wanted to second the idea of taking a camping tour if you are up for it. Ditto in the Centre. So many people think they have to self-drive but IMHO it really is better to have someone show you what you will probably miss otherwise as a first time visitor when all the flora and fauna is new and strange. And it's wonderful to step out of your tent into the early dawn instead of waking up in a hotel room that could be anywhere.

If you think two camping tours might be one too many I would choose to do Kakadu that way. If you're not too keen on the more energetic hiking aspects, don't worry - you should always be able to stay put and wait for the group to return (on the promise that you don't go wandering off by yourselves!!).

Have a wonderful trip.
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Old Mar 6th, 2009, 09:10 AM
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Bushranger,
Thanks for the Northern Territory Tours link.
-Vic
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Old Mar 6th, 2009, 03:00 PM
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My fiancee and I really enjoyed Litchfield National Park and a jumping croc cruise on the Adelaide River on the way to Darwin. We had rented a car, but there are many tours. We had gotten an early start and did both on the same day. We were worried that the jumping croc cruise would be touristy, and it was, but having a 4 meter croc jump out of the water only a few feet away from us pretty intense. It was actually one of the highlights of our time in Darwin.

We also did a sunset harbor cruise which was nice. There are a lot of options, some including dinner. I think we went out on the Tulamarain or something like that.
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Old Mar 6th, 2009, 08:21 PM
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have a meal on the Darwin wharf -food is ok to yuk but the sunset is fab!!!!
Go to Mindil market which has fab foo, fab sunsets and great atmosphere.
walk the board walk over the mangrove swamps.
Do a cat tour of the harbour.
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Old Mar 9th, 2009, 08:58 AM
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Thank you everyone for your suggestions. I would not have any problem with camping out a couple of nights but my wife's idea of "roughing it" is not calling room service. I could probably convince her to do it if it was only for a couple of nights and she would get much more out of the trip. Bushranger, thanks for the links but the Kakadu dreams site starts off with "Are you young, Are you fit" which my wife and I are not young and not really fit so I don't think we would fit in that group very well. The northern territories site had a lot of great info. I'm debating on whether to book everything myself, fixing my own itinerary or sign up for one of the AAT tours. Has anybody ever used them? What was your experience like? I want to have my itinerary completed and nearly everything booked within the next 6 months so I still have some work to do. I would greatly appreciate any and all suggestions on what to do and see in the Darwin area.

Thanks
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Old Mar 9th, 2009, 10:41 AM
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We've been all over Australia and I'd have to say that the Top End of the Northern Territory is one of my favorite destinations. Here are some ideas for things to see and do in and around Darwin based on your statement that you are "not really fit".
Darwin: 1) Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory--Excellent, free museum highlighting the history, flora and fauna of the NT. The Aboriginal art in the gallery is superb and the cafe is an excellent choice for lunch. If you want to eat lunch there, I'd suggest stopping by the cafe and making a booking before you go through the museum. 2) Mindil Beach Sunset Market--This is held on Thursday nights so I'd try to arrange your schedule to be in Darwin that evening. I understand there is a smaller version on Sunday, but I don't have any personal knowledge of that one. There's lots of food stalls with great food, good street entertainment (juggling, magic, etc.) and plenty of stalls with neat stuff for sale. 3) Aquascene--You can hand-feed fish here and it's a lot of fun. As evidenced by me and lots of other adults, it's not just a place for kids! 4) Australian Aviation Heritage Center--If you have any interest in aviation, this is a MUST. 5) Botanical Gardens--great if you enjoy plants, etc. 6) Fannie Bay Gaol--This jail was used from 1883 to 1979 and we found the self-tour fascinating.

Outside of Darwin--1) Territory Wildlife Park and Berry Springs. These two are located right next to each other outside of Darwin, so they make a good day-trip combo. Go early to the wildlife park to see the animals at their most active. There's a free tram that will take you around the park if you like. Berry Springs is a great place for a picnic and/or a swim in the natural pools. 2) Litchfield National Park--This is a great day trip where you can swim in natural pools, have a picnic, take some short walks and see the magnetic termite mounds (as well as some huge cathedral termite mounds). You would probably enjoy Wangi Falls pool best. It's got a large grassy area for picnicking and a kiosk that sell food. It's easy to get into the pool here and you can either take it easy and stand around in the water or be a bit more adventurous and swim over to the falls. There's a colony of flying foxes here and they are cool to see.

Katherine--If you have time to go outside of Darwin for a couple of days, Katherine is a great choice. Most people go to Katherine Gorge and you would probably enjoy one of the cruises through the gorge. You can also go to Edith Falls National Park for swimming in another good natural pool and/or a picnic on the grassy area. There's some upper pools here too, but the hike up to them is pretty strenuous. You might enjoy a soak in the Katherine Hot Springs (but I don't know much about them as we never stopped there). If you enjoy cave tours, go to the Cutta Cutta cave outside of town. There's a bit of walking involved to the cave and inside it, but nothing too strenuous. Finally, our favorite thing in Katherine was the Crocodile Night Adventure where you can ride in a boat spotlighting crocs on the banks and enjoy a delicious BBQ dinner under the stars (where you will see so much of the southern sky because there's no lights around!) If you do this tour, book in advance as it does sell out.
We have been to NT twice and toured around on our own each time. It's easy to do should you decide not to go with a tour company.
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