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Summer in the Top End 7 day itinerary

Summer in the Top End means the waterfalls are thundering, nature is at its greenest, the wildlife is abundant, the sunsets are filled with shades of violet and the skies come to life with epic lightning shows.

Check out this 7 day itinerary covering things to see and do around Darwin, Litchfield National Park and Kakadu National Park over the Tropical Summer – November to April.

Day 1

Become a city explorer

Start your day with your morning coffee and breakfast at one of the many popular cafés in Darwin City. Explore the vibrant streets of Darwin and get lost in the magnificent street art. As part of the annual Darwin Street Art Festival, murals have been painted by renowned local and interstate artists and some you can interact with by downloading the app.

Immerse yourself in art

Today you’ll immerse yourself in the local Aboriginal art scene. The art galleries around Darwin are the perfect place to get acquainted with Aboriginal art and artists from around the region. Enjoy a stroll around Darwin’s CBD to respected galleries like Mbantua Fine Art Gallery and Mason Gallery. Or head to Parap for the Northern Centre for Contemporary Art to discover a wider range of Northern Territory art.

Relax poolside for the afternoon

Enjoy an afternoon by the lagoon pool at Mindil Beach Casino Resort. Look out across the Arafura Sea while you sip on a cocktail from the pool’s own ‘swim up’ bar. This is resort-style relaxation at its best.

Sunset beer at the Darwin Ski Club

The Darwin Ski Club is the perfect place to end your first day in Darwin. Grab an ice-cold beverage, order some snacks or something heartier from the bistro, and watch the sun set over Fannie Bay. Cool off in the Ski Club’s own pool with ocean views. The moody skies of the Tropical Summer season may even put on a show for you.

Day 2

Breakfast with a view

Begin your morning with breakfast and a view at Darwin Waterfront. From high-end restaurants to more casual cafés and bars, there’s something for everyone.

Wartime history experience

Head to Stokes Hill Wharf and the Bombing of Darwin Harbour exhibit at the RFDS Tourist Facility. The virtual reality movie and life-sized holograms help bring the dramatic events to life.

Cool down and chill out

Pack your bathers for a swim at the Wave and Recreation Lagoons. Paddle, swim or play in these manmade lagoons with waves up to 1.7 metres generated at regular intervals. Both areas are safe for swimming and protected from stingers. You’re also a hop, skip and jump away from some of Darwin’s best restaurants, so take your pick for lunch at the Waterfront.

Go face-to-face with a croc

After lunch, make your way to Crocosaurus Cove in the heart of Darwin on Mitchell Street. Here you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the largest reptile on the planet, the saltwater crocodile, and learn about fish and reptile species at the aquarium.

There’s a twice-daily crocodile and fish-feeding show that’s not to be missed. If you’re feeling brave, climb into the Cage of Death for a face-to-face encounter with one of the largest saltwater crocodiles in captivity. It’s the ultimate adrenaline rush!

Another dinner, another sunset

If you’re travelling between 1 April – 10 December, spend your evening on the Charles Darwin Sunset Dinner Cruise. Watch the sky light up in technicolour as you sip champagne and feast the night away on the water.

If you’re travelling outside these dates, head to Pee Wee’s at the Point for some fine dining watching the sun set over the Darwin Harbour and Arafura Sea. This is one of the best places in Darwin to check out the beach, sunset and city lights.

Day 3

Kakadu in a day – via air

Wake early in preparation for a full day exploring Kakadu via the ‘Kakadu in a Day’ helicopter tour with Kakadu Air.

Depart at 8:30am and begin your journey flying over Adelaide River, Mary River National Park, Kakadu’s winding South and East Alligator Rivers, coastal mangroves holding back massive floodplains to reveal the Arnhem Land Plateau as well as the grand views of mighty Jim Jim and Twin waterfalls.

Before lunch, relax on a 90 minute Yellow Water Billabong cruise through Kakadu’s wetlands. Take in the luscious flora, wildlife and changing landscapes. You’re bound to spot a croc or five!

Enjoy lunch in the heart of Kakadu at Cooinda Lodge before an afternoon spent at the Warradjan Aboriginal Cultural Centre, which is developed by the Aboriginal traditional owners of Kakadu. Discover stories of their personal histories, artefacts and imagery. There’s also a gift shop on site offering traditional didgeridoos, local artwork and much more.

Arrive back in Darwin and head to your hotel for some R&R before unwinding over a beverage and dinner at The Precinct.

Day 4

Melbourne style coffee… in Parap

Enjoy some of the best coffee in the Territory with breakfast at Laneway Specialty Coffee in Parap. This café gives Melbourne a run for its money.

On Saturday mornings make sure you check out Darwin’s renowned Parap Markets. Follow your nose through the markets’ multicultural food stalls and shop for fashion, flowers, art, crafts and more. If you’re there for lunch then don’t pass on the famous ‘Mary’s Laksa’.

Wander through the exhibitions at MAGNT

Give yourself plenty of time to peruse at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, which offers a fascinating and broad overview of the region’s Aboriginal art and history. The museum and art gallery, set in a scenic location overlooking the Arafura Sea, is home to a collection of over 1.2 million natural history specimens and over 30,000 items of art and material culture.

Take in the beauty of the botanic gardens

Just a couple of kilometres from MAGNT, take a walk through the shady George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens, or better yet hop on a Segway tour to experience the incredible flora of Northern Australia from a new perspective. Wander through monsoon forests, coastal dunes, mangroves and open woodlands before relaxing with lunch at Eva’s Botanic Gardens Café.

Sample the best of local produce

Settle in at Wharf One to dine on delicious local produce that has been impeccably prepared and delivered to your waterside table. Whether you fancy some cured Northern Territory barramundi or a mouth-wateringly tender Wagyu rump, feast up – you’ve got an amazing few days ahead of you.

Day 5

Time for a bush tucker brekkie

Situated in the historic Lyons Cottage, Aboriginal Bush Traders is a bush food café that uses native Australian products and bush tucker in their menu. Serving a variety of cakes, teas, dampers, jams, sandwiches and salads; you’ll be able to fill your belly ready for the day ahead.

Aboriginal Bush Traders also have a retail store with Local Aboriginal art and craft, unique gifts and home wares. They provide avenues for Aboriginal people wanting to engage in economic activities in a sustainable way, and are 100% not-for-profit.

Swim under a waterfall in Litchfield National Park

Drive 120km south-east of Darwin along sealed roads and plunge into the waterholes at Litchfield National Park – nature’s very own water theme park. Bushwalk a rainforest trail, frog kick under a cascading waterfall and marvel at the massive termite mounds that stand up to six metres in height.

Historical harbour views

Head towards the Esplanade where you’ll find Bicentennial Park perched on the cliffs of Darwin Harbour. Visit the Cenotaph, Darwin’s first war memorial commemorating Australians who lost their lives in WWI, and the Aboriginal men and women whose bush skills assisted the Army during WWII.

Take a stroll under the tropical trees along The Esplanade to Parliament House. Mitchell Street is close by here where there are many dinner options to choose from.

Day 6

Hook a Top End barramundi

Just ask the local fishing enthusiasts: nothing compares to hooking a metre-plus barramundi in the Top End. Anglers are abuzz with the Million Dollar Fish competition. There’s 100 barramundi tagged with a $10,000 prize tag and seven* worth $1 million to be caught by one lucky fisho in Territory waters. Book a Top End fishing charter – it’s a chance to hook your fortune and enjoy a day on the water at the same time. At the very least, you may catch dinner.

*Once the first Million Dollar Fish is caught, the remaining seven become $10,000 in value.

Picnic like a local

Pack your picnic rug and chairs and get yourself down to the Nightcliff Foreshore, a popular spot with locals. If you were lucky enough to snag a barra, find a free BBQ and cook your own dinner as you watch the sun set.

If you weren’t so lucky on the water, there’s usually a selection of pop-up food vans scattered along the foreshore area from the Nightcliff Jetty down the Rapid Creek. Take your pick from pizza, tacos, pad Thai, spuds and even crepes and Greek donuts for dessert.

Day 7

Go wild at the Territory Wildlife Park

Discover the local wildlife at the nearby Territory Wildlife Park where you can view the renowned ‘birds of prey’ show or hand-feed the whip rays and barramundi in the Oolloo Sandbar. Wander through treetop aviaries, around a natural lagoon and through the aquarium to see animals, including the resident saltwater crocodile.

A send-off with style

Cap off your week in Darwin at one of the bars and pubs on the city’s main entertainment strip, Mitchell Street. Choose from traditional pubs with beer gardens, popular live music venues, terrace bars with street-side dining, casual backpacker joints, swanky cocktail bars and night clubs.

Looking for more things to see and do in the Top End? Check out these itineraries.

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