Wagait Beach is a Darwin local’s secret, a secluded quiet beach community minutes from the Darwin CBD and a favourite weekender retreat.
With some Darwin’s finest tropical beaches, visitors can spend hours beachcombing for shells, picnicking or simply dozing in the shade of a Casuarina tree. Swim the dog on the sandy cove of Golden Sands (all beaches are dog friendly), or maybe jog the gorgeous 2km sweep of Wagait Beach itself.
Beyond is secluded Inmaluk Beach, Harney’s Beach and another 10km of pristine coastline to explore, to the restricted site of historic Charles Point Lighthouse. The Monsoonal vine forests behind the shoreline is Kenbi freehold land, and there is access to beaches by sand or via two permitted vehicle tracks from Charles Point Road. Certain sections of beaches and creeks are Sacred Sites with no access for visitors, please obey all signs and information on maps.
Arriving by Ferry, you’ll see Mandorah Jetty is a popular Fishing destination. The jetty extends into deep harbour water and is known for everything from Barra to Shark. At Wagait Beach you can fish from the beach where, due to the offshore reef, even a tasty coral trout is not unknown. There are several small cliffs for rock fishing at high tide, and small freshwater creeks along the coastline are also popular fishing sites, but be Croc Wise – on average, three crocs a year are relocated from these freshwater creeks.
Walking along the beach, you may be lucky enough to spot the occasional dolphin, dugong or even seasonal manta rays. During the dry, turtles come ashore at night to lay eggs. Parks NT do an annual turtle hatchling release here, check their website to register attendance.
Just walking around is a bird watcher’s treat, with flocks of diverse forest parrots, wetland birds and numerous marine birds flying over the waves.
At night you may hear the howl of the area’s many pure bred dingoes, and in the morning see a croc sunbathing on beach rocks. Wagait Beach is authentic Australian Coastal Bush!
Along the coastline are remains and evidence of the location’s World War II strategic importance. There’s a gun tower and placements at the beach access from Wagait Tower Road with story boards, and more ruins of gun placements on the beach walk east from Wagait to the Jetty.
In the forest with signed access from Charles Point Road are the remains of the Milady, and American bomber which crashed in 1945, with signage telling the story of the ill-fated plane and her crew. There’s also the widely strewn remains of a crashed Japanese ‘Betty Bomber’ which didn’t make it home from the infamous Bombing of Darwin.
Dining & entertainment
The Cox Country Club at the heart of Wagait is open Thursday to Sunday for meals and beverages, with occasional weekend live music featuring Territory musicians. It’s also the home of MUFF, the raucous Mandorah Ukulele Folk Music Festival held annually the last weekend of June, which attracts up to a thousand Uke fans from around the country. The one breakfast spot in Wagait Beach is the garden terrace behind the shop.
Places to stay
There is a range of bookable holiday homes, from vintage Territory style elevated tropical houses to luxurious beachfront villas with swimming pools and spas. During the Ukulele Festival, free camping is permitted on the grounds of the Country Club.
How to get there
Quickest is a 15-minute ferry operated by Sealink NT from Cullen Bay to Mandorah Jetty. Otherwise you’ll need your own transport. Wagait Beach is a comfortable 20-minute ride on a sealed bicycle path from the jetty.
From Thursday to Sunday, there’s a free bus ride from the Jetty for visitors to Cox Country Club (phone 0459 053 522 for details). By road from Darwin, it is an easy 90-minute drive down the Stuart Highway, and then along the picturesque Peninsula Way tourist route.