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A Long Weekender's Guide to Darwin for When You Need Warm Weather Again

Spend balmy nights in Australia's Top End grooving to live music on the beach, tucking into fresh seafood and meeting local makers.
By Eleanor Scott
May 01, 2019

A Long Weekender's Guide to Darwin for When You Need Warm Weather Again

Spend balmy nights in Australia's Top End grooving to live music on the beach, tucking into fresh seafood and meeting local makers.
By Eleanor Scott
May 01, 2019

in partnership with

Missing summer already? Well, the dry season has begun in Darwin, signalling plenty of clear blue skies and balmy nights ahead. This makes it one of the best times to experience the city's vibrant nightlife and culture. Whether you're heading north for a short stay or a long sojourn, there are plenty of delicious dining options, outdoor activities and historical sites to explore.

May also sees many revellers land in Darwin for the Northern Territory's biggest festival — the People's Choice BASSINTHEGRASS. Since 2003, BASSINTHEGRASS has been bringing powerhouse Australian lineups to the Top End in a one-day celebration of live music and this year will be no different. With over 20 artists, 12 hours of sonic sound waves and a new beachside location, this year's fiesta promises to be unforgettable.

Whether you're visiting for Australian culture or live music, we've compiled a guide of the best spots for eating, drinking, playing and resting your head during your next trip to Darwin.


Pee Wee's


Grooving all day to a stacked schedule of musical talent is enough to work up anyone's appetite. Luckily, Darwin doesn't disappoint in that department. Start the day off at Alley Cats Patisserie with one of its tender and flakey loaded croissants, complete with melt-in-your-mouth bacon, hollandaise and halloumi. A short walk away in Darwin's Smith Street Mall, Rabbithole will treat you to exceptionally made Campos coffee that's so good it'll trick you into thinking you've been transported to Melbourne's iconic cafe scene.

Further along, amid the art- and graffiti-covered walls of Austin Lane, PM Eat & Drink serves up fresh seafood share plates, featuring Fremantle octopus and fried Northern Territory coral prawns. If you're after something a little different, CHOW!'s steaming bowls of meaty pho and refreshing, fruity KAPOW! drinks never disappoint. Meanwhile, chef Jimmy Shu will take you on a culinary journey through South East Asia at Hanuman, where you can feast on pork rolls, rich garlic dahl and sweet lychee-laced curries. Last, but certainly not least, park yourself at Pee Wee's for a luxe dinner of freshly caught seafood and picturesque waterfront views.


Lola's Pergola


In recent years, Darwin's bar scene has stepped up its game. One of the (relatively) new kids on the block that has really made a splash is The Trader Bar. Serving up espressos by day and cocktails by night, it's your one-stop-shop for a tipple. Six Tanks Brewing Co is another fresh-faced newcomer, slinging stellar handcrafted brews. Don't miss the tasty chicken parmigiana from the kitchen.

If microbreweries aren't your style, get a little fancy and enjoy some impressive waterfront views at the Darwin Sailing Club or slurp some oysters at wharfside Oyster Bar — try the hot and spicy oyster shots for something a little more colourful. Thrillseekers will also get a kick out of the quirky, circus-themed Lola's Pergola, where you can sip on dark beers like Little Creatures' Hotchkiss Six while surrounded by colourful carousel ponies and giant eyeballs. It's a hoot.




This year at BASSINTHEGRASS, the lineup includes Aussie heavy-hitters like Hot Dub Time Machine, Amy Shark, Hilltop Hoods and Meg Mac, so you know it's going to be a good time. It's not just the live acts that'll have you moving and shaking — dance 'til you drop at the silent disco tucked away in the forest bordering Mindil Beach.

When you're not swaying to top-notch tunes, Darwin is the perfect place to admire some of the Top End's amazing art galleries. The first stop on your list should be the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT). Home to a stuffed crocodile called Sweetheart, an infamous sound booth that lets you experience the deafening power of Cyclone Tracy, a rotating roster of incredible Indigenous artworks and one of the best collections of natural history specimens in the world, it's definitely a unique cultural institution not to be missed. While you're at it, visit the Aboriginal Bush Traders retail gallery to see a phenomenal exhibition focusing on the craftsmanship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander jewellers. Afterwards, head to the cafe at Lyons Cottage to chow down on modern versions of Australian bush tucker, like saltbush dukkah paired with the ever-popular smashed avo on toast or damper topped with Kakadu plum jam.

No visit to Darwin would be complete without a stopover at one of the town's famous food markets. Enjoy unbelievably creamy laksa from Mary's at the Parap Markets and the best banana fritters you'll taste outside of Bangkok at the Rapid Creek Markets. Try different (but delicious) meats like crocodile and kangaroo from the Roadkill Cafe at the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets or crepes topped with homemade caramel sauce from Ken's Crepes at the Nightcliff Markets.

After you've sent your taste buds into a tailspin, enjoy some downtime at the East Point Reserve. With 200 hectares of green space and bonus recreation spaces, there's plenty of room for activities – you can even go kayaking on Lake Alexander.


Mindil Beach Resort


Darwin isn't bursting with a bunch of boutique hotel options just yet, but luxury seekers will find the ideal combination of comfort and style at the sprawling Mindil Beach Casino & Resort. Set on Mindil Beach, amid 30 acres of tropical gardens, the lagoon-style pool, swim-up bar and private beach will quickly have you trying to figure out how you can make the hotel your permanent home.

Keeping with the waterfront location, Mantra on the Esplanade is known for its fantastic sunset views of the harbour and the beautiful Bicentennial Park. And for those on a budget, the Adina Apartment Hotel Darwin Waterfront will keep you close to the action without breaking the bank.


To help get you to BASSINTHEGRASS 2019, Northern Territory Major Events has partnered with Virgin Australia to release a bunch of discounted holiday packages. For more information and to book a flight and accommodation package, head this way

Top Image: Mindil Beach Markets.

Published on May 01, 2019 by Eleanor Scott

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