WHEN YOU AND THE TRIBE HAVE LIMITED TIME TO DISCOVER WHAT AUSTRALIA’S TROPICAL CAPITAL CITY HAS TO OFFER FAMILIES, TICK OFF THIS DARWIN HIT LIST
Prioritise the creatures that make this place an eye-popping prehistoric adventure for all. You don’t have to go far to find crocs in Darwin — they co-exist in the heart of the city at Crocosaurus Cove. You will see some of the largest saltwater crocodiles in Australia here, but not only that, you can swim with them. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted (young children or crocophobe mums) but incredible to watch as a Perspex vessel, which looks like a giant tumbler complete with “Honey I shrunk the kids” humans inside, is lowered into a tank where massive crocs are being fed. It sounds scary (and I am sure it is for those immersed) but for kids this is a visual feast of daring adventure. With vantage points above and below the water, just try to tear them away.
ICE CREAM IS ALWAYS A GOOD IDEA
For something a little less heart palpitating — and a good bribe post-croc — cool off with the best ice cream in town at Johnn Johnn’s. Located in Knuckey Street and with 48 mouth-watering homemade ice cream and gelato flavours to choose from, Johnn Johnn’s is a partnership by locals, ironically, both called John. Johnn Johnn was a childhood nickname bestowed upon one of them — Johnn Koenig — and it’s the nostalgia of childlike exuberance that’s built this place into an institution. Hundreds of people line up for an ice cream fix at all times of the day and night. It’s worth the wait though as everyone will find a favourite. For me, the combo of taro and coconut was sublime. It’s the most popular with locals. And for my daughter Tiah, a scoop of blueberry muffin topped with a dollop of mango sorbet hit the spot nicely. Just say “yes please”.
SINK INTO A SUNSET
Sunsets are legendary in the Top End and there is no better place to enjoy watching the molten ball — often red in colour in these parts — sink into the Arafura Sea. With the kids playing nearby, a cold rose or beer in hand and a platter full of fresh local seafood to devour, it does not get much better than the Darwin Sailing Club. It’s also the perfect place for an afternoon of sun and socialising with other families, with large grassed areas for the kids to play and a beach out front on which they can frolic. The menu is reasonably priced (even for seafood).
You’ve got to be quick to bag a prized front row seat, but this is one awesome colour party you will not want to miss. GO CHASING WATERFALLS
Get up early — this is a day you will want to last — largely because you will want to fit in as many waterfalls as possible in this stunning part of the Northern Territory. Litchfield National Park is an easy 120km
drive from the city and, while a 4WD would be a bonus, it is not a necessity to get a pretty sweet taste of life in Litchfield. Pack your swimmers as there are so many areas to enjoy wild swimming in refreshing natural waterways. Our first stop was Florence Falls where we could have easily basked all day. Crystalline waters tumble down into a deep pool filled with curious fish and plenty of semi-submerged rocks to pause when you need to rest. This is also paradise for inflatables, so pack your own to join the blissfully bobbing brigade. Eager to see more, we ventured on to Wangi Falls and could easily have stayed here all day too. With a cafe serving a reasonably priced lunch menu and some beautiful short bush walks to tackle, we expended our energy and then cooled off in the large lagoon underneath the spectacular falls. The highlight was scrambling up the slippery rocks to find a natural spa pool etched into the rockface. As a family sitting together just soaking up some serenity was rare enough, but to be tucked behind a veil of misting water while it gently tickled our skin and soothed our souls, well, it possibly doesn’t get much better than that. Travel writer and photographer Narelle Bouveng explores with her family in tow, including daughter Tiah. She was a guest of Oaks Hotels & Resorts. See more of their adventures at alittleatlarge.com or on Instagram. For more information on visiting Darwin go to northernterritory.com