Child's play Darwin for kids
Keeping the kids buoyant and interested on family holidays always presents challenges. If you're heading to Darwin, here are a dozen great ways to entertain them.
There’s so much to enthral junior members of the family in the Top End. From croc encounters and water parks, to secret tunnels and sunset treats – Darwin has kids covered.
Crocs and other critters
Nothing captivates the imagination of little ones quite like an encounter with a crocodile – and the Top End has them in abundance. Play it safe and smile at a crocodile from behind a glass enclosure at Crocosaurus Cove or stare down a "saltie" in the attraction’s famous Cage of Death. Have your fingers and toes tickled hand-feeding the fish at Doctors Gully. For animal encounters of the non-scaly variety, head to the Territory Wildlife Park – about 50 minutes south of the city at Berry Springs – and get up close with dingoes, wallabies and freshwater whiprays.
Under and over
Take the kids on a subterranean adventure as you explore Darwin’s intriguing military history, starting with the World War II tunnels. Hidden 15 metres underground, the tunnels were used to protect fuel and oil supplies from Japanese aerial attack. Relive the bombing raids in a spine-tingling virtual reality experience at the Royal Flying Doctor Service Darwin Tourist Facility, and check out wartime relics at the Darwin Military Museum. When the kids tire of war stories, head to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and meet Sweetheart – the NT’s infamous stuffed croc.
Don’t let Sweetheart put you off swimming in the NT – there are plenty of croc-safe swim spots across Darwin and surrounds. Get set for adrenaline thrills at the Wave Lagoon at Darwin Waterfront or make a splash in the adjacent Recreation Lagoon. There’s plenty of grass and sand to sprawl on, and a stinger net keeps the nasties at bay. To get wet in the wilderness, head to Berry Springs Nature Park. Here you’ll find a series of crystal-clear swimming holes fringed by pandanus in an idyllic bush setting (the pools may close in the wet season due to flooding and croc sightings; check the website for details).
When in the Top End, play like a Territorian. And that means getting wet. There are two wet playgrounds in Darwin: Palmerston Water Park and Leanyer Recreation Park. Both are free and feature water-slides, bucket-loads of water-play equipment, picnic and changing facilities and kiosks. For shaded nature play, head to Bicentennial Park in the city which has a large outdoor playground, gorgeous walking tracks and sweeping harbour views or visit the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, just north of the city. There are various adventure playgrounds for the kids to enjoy, a meandering creek to explore and an on-site cafe for the parents.
Yummy, yummy, yummy
Food is a quintessential part of the Darwin experience. With a melting pot of cultures and cuisines, the city serves up a delectable assortment of dishes. Stokes Hill Wharf in Darwin city is a great place grab a casual bite to eat, feed the fish off the wharf and there's even a kids playground. The best place to sample the city’s culinary offerings is at one of the many markets, where you're guaranteed to find something to satisfy even the fussiest eater. Choose from Mindil Beach Sunset Market, Parap Village Market and Nightcliff Markets.
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