We've laid out a plan for you to pack in the best bits of Darwin in a day.
First, follow the walkway into the Waterfront Precinct, relax with a cup of coffee and check in online using the precinct’s free wifi. Or take the user-pays shuttle into Darwin city to the Visitor Information Centre and have coffee in the mall. The wifi is free there too.
Get your bearings at the Visitor Information Centre at the top of the Smith St Mall – your cruise day epicentre – and check out any events on that day.
Hail a taxi or hop on the Darwin Explorer hop on, hop off (HOHO) bus service to take in the following must-visit attractions around Darwin city (the HOHO bus takes in 12 stops around the city; you choose where to spend your time).
Start at the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT, a sprawling cultural complex with something to interest everyone: Sweetheart the 5.1-metre crocodile who loved outboard motors, the Cyclone Tracy exhibit with eerie sound booth of actual recordings of the cyclone, an important collection of traditional and contemporary Indigenous art and ever-changing art exhibits.
Refresh and soak in the tropical vibe at the Saltwater Café. Refuel at this beachfront museum café on the deck under the cooling fans for a vista of manicured lawn, tropical flowers and the Timor Sea framed by pandanus.
Head to the Darwin Military Museum and Defence of Darwin Experience, side-by-side attractions five minutes from the museum at East Point, and learn about Darwin’s little-known but significant role in World War II. Wander through an immersive Bombing of Darwin gallery and see iconic objects from that time, read first-hand accounts and see multimedia presentations.
1pm: two options depending on your interests:
Take the HOHO bus or a taxi to Parap, a suburb just north of the city, and explore its three excellent art galleries – Nomad Art, Outstation Gallery and the Northern Centre for Contemporary Art – before a quick café lunch at the Laneway or Toppy’s or a bite at the Parap Bakery (many locals say these are Darwin’s best pies).
Head back towards the ship to Stokes Hill Wharf to the Royal Flying Doctor Service Tourist Facility and Bombing of Darwin Harbour attraction. This new facility tells two iconic Territory stories using cutting-edge technology, including life-sized holograms and virtual reality headsets so you can feel what it was like when Darwin Harbour came under attack.
Take the bus, a taxi or a five-minute walk to the WWII Oil Storage Tunnels, which were built into the cliffs under what is now Darwin city in the early 1940s to protect oil from potential attacks. Read the interesting information displays with photos of Allied wartime activity in the Top End.
Make your way back to the ship via the Waterfront’s Precinct Tavern for a craft beer or cider on tap or a cool ale at Fiddler’s Green Irish pub. Then take the shaded walkway back to the cruise ship terminal to reboard.
Remember: Darwin’s weather is probably hotter and more humid than what you’re used to. It’s important to drink plenty of water, wear a hat and use sunscreen.