Darwin’s watering holes are oh-so-cool
The balmy, tropical weather is what attracts many visitors to the Top End capital of Darwin. And it is no surprise that cooling off with a swim or a drink is a popular past-time! See our top picks below of the best places to keep your cool when you are in town.
There’s a cracking swell pumping at Darwin’s Wave Lagoon where the roar of the ocean almost drowns out the delighted screams of kids surfing boogie boards. OK, so we don’t actually have surf up here, and you shouldn’t technically swim in our ocean due to our exotic inhabitants, which make the Territory so ruggedly romantic. But there are plenty of options in which to cool down, whether it’s in a man-made pool, natural swimming hole or even a bar or two.
Yes, we love our watering holes up here, and ever since the Wave Lagoon and adjacent swimming lagoon were built at the Darwin Waterfront Precinct, swimming has become part of the vernacular.
For those who like a bit of chop with their morning swim, the Wave Lagoon is the perfect place, with the ocean here resembling Surfers Paradise beach when an onshore northerly sweeps into town. Float in a translucent blue ring like a giant jellyfish, lay on one of the delectable deck chairs, or wander among the silver jabiru art installations perched on the lush lawn.
For a calmer dip, the nearby swimming lagoon with its jumping castle is a divine destination in which to enjoy Darwin’s tropical weather. On a beautiful day you’ll find plenty of lounge lizards of the human variety lazing on the grass.
Litchfield National Park
Aquatic enthusiasts who adore a spot of nature with their swim should head to Litchfield National Park, about 1.5 hours from Darwin.
Litchfield is peppered with a number of nefarious watering holes, and best of all, they are crocodile free as crocs prefer to stay in the low lands.
At Florence Falls, sashay down the 135 steps to the base where the waterfall flows but be aware, it’s a slippery, rocky entry and exit, albeit worth the effort. If a simpler splash is your thing, take the Shady Creek path walk back to the car park and you’ll pass numerous cool creek beds and the chance to enjoy your own private day spa.
Nearby Wangi Falls gushes like a southern socialite and there’s an easy paved 300 metre walk and steps and railings into this expansive lagoon replete with two waterfalls. Others say Robin Falls is the best spot in which to cool down and to escape the crowds.
Howard Springs Reserve
Locals love Howard Springs Reserve, a small freshwater spring about 35km from Darwin, and home to barramundi, turtles and wallabies, and some seriously cool pools. This popular park is home to a waterfall which cascades into eight, 290mm deep rock pools and two large flying foxes and is considered a perfect place at which to picnic.
If swimming serious laps is more your thing, the Nightcliff Pool, on the Nightcliff foreshore, is the ideal place at which to clock up a quick kilometre, or you could just splash about at the aquatic centre here too. Head to the Leanyer Swimming Pool which boasts three different coloured water slides, a big blue bucket tip, a main pool with sloping sandy bottom and shade, and a whole world of fun.
Sandbar Mindil Beach Darwin
But our watering holes are not all about getting wet. For those who wish to wet their whistle, there’s plenty of cool places at which to enjoy a drink. Sandbar at Mindil Beach Casino Resort overlooks the Arafura Sea and it’s the ideal location from which to watch the setting sun while sipping a lychee martini made by one of the resident mixologists. Or, for the ultimate watering hole within a watering hole, check into a lagoon room at Mindil Beach Casino Resort where you can slip straight off your room deck into the large lagoon and swim over to the Terrace Bar – a pool bar featuring all the usual suspects you’d find in the tropics such as a margarita.
The Deck Bar
For those in search of a sizzling Sunday session, The Deck Bar is the place to hang. Considered one of Darwin’s premier outdoor party and dining venues, you won’t have to work hard for a cool brew at this Mitchell Street establishment.
One Mile Brewing Company
But what of local beer? There’s been plenty of debate recently about a truly local ale after NT Draught ceased production after more than 50 years. Thankfully, the southern craft beer culture has arrived in the Northern Territory and there’s some interesting new players here. Established in 2012, One Mile Brewing Company produces five types of beer and you’ll find some of their brews on tap at places like The Deck Bar; Hilton Darwin; Lola’s Pergola; The Precinct and Rorkes.
Yes, we’ve got plenty of watering holes up here. Head to Darwin, it’s our shout.
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