WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE
Coach tours, four-wheel drive excursions and walking safaris are the modes most often associated with exploring Australia’s rugged Top End. But it’s a spot best seen from the water and local operators offer everything from sightseeing cruises that survey Darwin’s historic waterfront to day trips navigating the waterways a couple of hundred kilometres from the Northern Territory capital. FRONT AND CENTRE: The Sea Darwin team offers a onehour Australia Frontline Cruise from Stokes Hill Wharf — the first landmark targeted when the Japanese bombed in 1942 — that visits significant World War II sites, including the final resting place of the USS Peary and the flying-boat base at Doctor’s Gully. More: seadarwin.com. SUNSET SOIREE: Charles Darwin, a catamaran considered to be the Top End’s most stable tourist vessel, sets sail from Stokes Hill Wharf late every afternoon for a dinner cruise that takes passengers to the Timor Sea beyond Darwin Harbour in time to see the sky show off its fiery sunset finery. More: darwinharbourcruises.com.au. PARK OF PLENTY: A full-day outing with Darwin Day Tours allows passengers to venture inside the boundary of Kakadu National Park to discover indigenous rock art, learn more about the original residents, and cruise Yellow Water Billabong, home to more than 250 bird species as well as a legion of crocodiles. More: darwindaytours.com.au. TURTLE ENCOUNTERS: June-August marks the breeding season for Top End turtles; Sea Darwin operates a Turtle Tracks cruise that ventures into Bynoe Harbour in time to spy the sunset before guides liaise with on-site researchers to find females laying eggs and hatchlings scrambling to the water. More: seadarwin.com. LONG DAY’S JOURNEY: Darwin Day Tours has a full-day Katherine Gorge trip with a cruise through a canyon, where steep rock walls rise 70m, plus a visit to the Adelaide River War Cemetery and a dip at Edith Falls. More: darwindaytours.com.au.