Darwin is paradise for kids – it’s always warm, water is usually involved in play time, animals and wildlife are everywhere, and there’s always plenty of fun activities to keep everyone busy.
Whether your kids are little or big, you’ll find plenty do to as a family in Darwin.
Swim, slide and splash
Getting wet is a top family activity in Darwin, and there’s lots of places to do it safely.
The Wave Lagoon at the Darwin Waterfront Precinct is a hit with kids of all ages, with a huge pool to ride the artificial swell on boogie boards and tubes, and shallow water play areas for toddlers as well. The free, patrolled Recreation Lagoon in the same precinct has a sandy beach and safe swimming in salt water.
Head to the recreation parks in the suburbs of Leanyer and Palmerston, where there’s water slides, water play equipment, playgrounds, water play for toddlers and young children, and a skate park. Entry is free.
Meet the crocs
Meeting the Top End’s famous crocodile is high on the list for families.
Head to Crocodylus Park, 15 minutes’ drive from the CBD, to see saltwater and freshwater crocs in their natural habitat. Plan to be there for feeding time. There’s also a wildlife park here with big cats, reptiles, monkeys and Aussie mammals.
In the heart of the city, see crocs up close in aquariums at Crocosaurus Cove. Kids can also watch crocs and turtles being fed and wander through the excellent reptile enclosure. This place is famous for the ‘Cage of Death’ where you can ‘swim’ with a monster croc. It’s not for kids under 15 though. Make sure you get your professional photo of the kids holding a baby croc.
Catch a movie under the stars
At the Deckchair Cinema—a Darwin institution. The whole family will enjoy lying back on a their comfy chairs and watching a family movie during the dry season as the sun sets over the ocean. Hot food and drinks are available. Kids under five are free, and there are family tickets.
Darwin Airboat Tours are open all year round and will quench your adrenaline thirst aboard their custom built V8 airboat. The tour is suitable for ages 4+, takes one hour and cruises along Darwin Harbour where you can spot local wildlife such as birds, stingrays, sharks and even crocodiles.
Hand feed fish at Doctors Gully
Kids love hand-feeding some very friendly fish at Doctors Gully, tucked away a couple of minutes from Darwin’s CBD. At high tide, hundreds of mullet, stingrays, barramundi and plate-shaped moonfish put on a great show floating in and out of the shadows as tourists feed them bread from their hands. Great family fun.
Visit the Museum and Art Gallery of Northern Territory
The Museum and Art Gallery of the NT is a family-friendly space with excellent permanent and rotating exhibits. Wander through the impressive NT flora and fauna exhibit, then see and hear the devastation Cyclone Tracy had on the city in 1974. Kids love meeting ‘Sweetheart’, a stuffed 5.1-metre crocodile who accidentally drowned when he was being removed from the wild for attacking outboard motors in the 1970s. The museum’s Discovery Centre is just for kids, with excellent educational exhibits. Museum entry is free.
Taste the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets
Thursdays and Sundays during the Top End’s dry season (May–October) herald one of Darwin’s biggest drawcards: the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. Take the family and wander around some 60 food stalls that serve dishes from all over the world. Eat on the beach as the sun sinks into the ocean then have a pony ride or watch the circus acts and fire breathers who entertain the kids when the sun sets.
Explore the botanic gardens
The treehouse at Darwin’s George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens is a must-do for kids. Explore the winding paths, stream, tunnels, fountain and tropical orchards before having a bite to eat in the gardens’ beautiful café, once a church.
Take in the Territory Wildlife Park
It’s an action-packed family day out at the Territory Wildlife Park, just under an hour’s drive from Darwin. Meet the animals of the Top End in the cool nocturnal house and aquarium, walk through treetop aviaries and stroll around the lagoon y walk, and sit in for the birds show. All the attractions are linked by shuttle trains. Call in at the adjacent Berry Springs Nature Park for a swim in the springs and a picnic on the lawns on your way back to Darwin.