Explore Darwin’s compact city centre on foot and discover a few hidden treasures you wouldn’t see from the road.
Along the Esplanade
You could easily spend a few hours strolling along Darwin’s lush, shady Esplanade perched on the cliffs of Darwin Harbour, a few minutes’ walk from the cruise terminal. Catch the sea breeze with a book on the lawns of Bicentennial Park then follow the WWII walking trail stretching along the seafront. Signage tells the stories of Darwin’s military history and war heroes. Hand-painted tiles along the walk also commemorate ‘200 remarkable Territorians’ – pioneers, publicans and pastoralists who shaped the Territory. Stop by the cenotaph that commemorates Australians' service to the war effort.
This precinct houses Darwin’s distinctive Parliament House and Supreme Court buildings. Grab a bite in the cafe that opens onto a lawn with a fountain and an excellent view of the harbour. Check out the grand hall’s art and photographic exhibitions. The NT Library is also here. Wander across the road to see charming Government House – a gabled, colonial-style building built in 1879 and now the home of the NT Administrator.
Plan for high tide and take the easy walk to the end of the Esplanade for one of Darwin’s best-known attractions – fish feeding at Doctor’s Gully. For 60 years, hundreds of fish – milkfish, barramundi, bream and mullet – have congregated there to be hand fed in the shallows.
Brown's Mart and town hall ruins
On your left after the sky walk into Darwin city is Browns Mart, a porcellanite stone building that now houses a thriving art precinct and theatre. The stone kerbing and milkwood trees out the front were part of the original 1880s settlement and are heritage listed. Wander across the road to the town hall ruins, all that remains of the city’s original town hall, constructed in local stone in 1882. The building withstood the bombing of Darwin in 1942 but was destroyed by Cyclone Tracy in 1974.
Chinese Temple and Museum
Chinese people played a major part in Darwin’s settlement. In 1888, the Chinese population was 6122 – outnumbering Europeans. The Chinese worked in the goldfields and later helped build the railway line from Darwin (originally called ‘Palmerston’) to Pine Creek. Visit the Chinese Temple and Museum on Woods Street for an excellent insight. The first temple on this site was built in 1887. Damage from three cyclones and the bombing of Darwin saw the current temple rebuilt in 1977. The temple’s stone lions were handcrafted in China, and the sacred Bodhi tree is believed a direct descendant of the tree Buddha gained enlightenment under.
Grab a few things before you go
Need another charger, fresh magazines or some pain killers? Supermarkets, pharmacies, newsagents, bottle shops and souvenir outlets are all within a few minutes’ walk of each other in Darwin city. After your walk, stop by the Mitchell Centre on Mitchell Street or wander back through the city’s Smith Street Mall before making for the ship.
You can also explore Darwin with a local. Contact Walk Darwin about a guided walking tour: www.walkdarwin.com.au