Darwin has plenty of drawcards itself but for a truly memorable Northern Territory wilderness experience, you really should do some of the incredible day-trips which are within easy reach of this laid-back tropical coastal city.
Even if you’ve only got a limited amount of time, day trips from Darwin allow you to experience all the rugged beauty, fascinating wildlife, history, culture and extraordinary natural phenomena of the NT’s top-end. Here are our faves that will have you gasping in disbelief and definitely wanting MORE!
This beautiful wilderness area is located an easy hour’s drive from Darwin and is known for its spectacular waterfalls and crystal clear natural swimming pools, monsoonal rainforests, weird and wonderful rock formations, magnetic termite mounds, sculpted cliffs, towering sandstone pillars of the Lost City and historic sites. There are also plenty of bush trails and boardwalks showcasing the natural beauty and abundant fauna and flora of this 1500km2 park.
Although Kakadu covers an area that is larger than the entire country of Slovenia, you can still get a taste of all that this amazing 20 000km2 park has to offer during a day trip from Darwin. If you’re travelling by road, you can reach this UNESCO World Heritage Site in around two hours from Darwin and it’s possible to visit some of its famed attractions in one action-packed day! Marvel at ancient Aboriginal rock art at Nourlangie and Ubirr, cruise down Yellow Waters and look for crocs, walk through canyons and forests, driver over rugged escarpments, be amazed by flocks of migratory birds on the wetlands or take a helicopter trip for an incredible bird’s eye view.
Mary River Region
If you travel about 100kms east from Darwin, you’ll find the Mary River wetlands which aren’t just home to the world’s largest concentration of saltwater crocs, they’re also a great spot for bushwalking (with trails to suit all fitness levels) and wildlife spotting in the vast waterlily-rimmed billabongs. One of the most popular activities here is a Jumping Crocodile Cruise in the Corroboree Billabong where giant reptiles leap from the water to grab the dangling buffalo meat - just remember to keep your hands to yourself!
And if birds are your thing, don’t miss the Fogg Dam wetland area which you’ll find en route from Darwin to Mary River. It’s home to over 30 different species of our feathered friends including egrets, jabirus, kingfishers, brolga, kites, whistling ducks, magpie geese, sea eagles and black cockatoos. You can also visit the Windows on the Wetlands on the way, a panoramic look-out point perched on the crest of Beatrice Hill, one of the highest points on the Adelaide River floodplain as well as enjoy the interactive exhibits at the visitor centre.
For the ultimate in Top End action and excitement, a half-day trip from Darwin to Sweets Lagoon and the surrounding floodplains with Outback Floatplane Adventures is a must. They offer a scintillating combination of a scenic floatplane experience, a relaxing billabong cruise and a heart-pumping airboat ride - all in the one outing. And in addition to the scenic aerial views and the dramatic glory of Sweets Lagoon, you’ll get up close and personal with some of the biggest crocs in the NT too (completely safely of course!). And if you’re really lucky, your chopper will be piloted by TV star, animal expert and owner of Outback Floatplane Adventures, Matt Wright.
If you’re after an authentic Aboriginal cultural experience, you should visit the Tiwi Islands, situated a mere 80kms north of Darwin. The ‘Island of Smiles’ is an easy day trip from Darwin and offers the perfect blend of nature and culture. Learn about traditional art and burial rituals, experience totem dances and a smoking ceremony and enjoy a spot of fishing or a relaxing stroll in the stunning surroundings.
With its wild and wonderful attractions within easy reach, Darwin is the perfect launching pad for experiencing all the action, adventure, excitement, amazement and of course, awe-inspiring beauty of Australia’s remote northern territory. But with so much to choose from for your Top-End itinerary and so many awesome discovery trips from Darwin on offer, it can be a challenge knowing where to start!
Choosing a reputable tour operator is key. The Northern Territory is spectacular and has so much to offer, but there are some important things to consider including the timing of your visit, safety and sensitivity to local culture and customs. An experienced operator with extensive local knowledge is your best bet, plus they’ll know where to find the hidden treasures and secret spots.
For more information or to book your day trip from Darwin with the most experienced local tour operator, Outback Floatplane Adventures. They offer a range of action-packed half-day and full-day tours from Darwin as well as an exclusive overnight adventure which showcases the very best of the Northern Territory.