Sunsetsin the Northern Territory
If there’s one thing the Territory is famous for, it’s our sunsets. With thousands of kilometres of coastline, there’s an endless supply of spots to sit and watch the sun slip away.
The Northern Territory is home to some of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. As the sun begins to descend on the horizon, the sky takes on a stunning array of warm oranges, pinks, and purples, casting a mesmerizing glow over the land. With its wide open spaces and uninterrupted views, the Territory provides the perfect vantage point to appreciate the full glory of this natural wonder.
The unique flora and red soil of the outback only serve to enhance the already stunning panorama. Whether you are in Darwin, Alice Springs, or any other location in the Territory, the sunsets are a must-see attraction that will leave you speechless.
The best sunsets in Darwin
As a city right near the water, there are lots of great vantage points to take in the Top End sunset.
It’s pretty hard to go past the Esplanade on the edge of the city for great sunset views. Check out Bicentennial Park, the Cenotaph or the USS Peary Memorial. Find a shady spot and watch the sun disappear behind the horizon. The Esplanade is well lit with plentiful car parking, picnic tables and grassed areas, so it’s a safe and easy spot to chill out at the end of the day. There’s even an amazing playground for the kids!
Cullen Beach is one of those family favourite spots that delivers good old fashioned beach life right on the city’s doorstep. Get the famous fish and chips and enjoy it on the grassed beachside area or take in the sunset from the sand. Either way, you’ve had dinner and a show.
For a special occasion, book in a pop-up picnic by the team at Picnic at Cullen Bay.
Ask anyone who’s been to Darwin what their must-do activity is and they’ll tell you about the Mindil Beach sunset market. Held on Thursday and Sunday evenings between April and October each year, the Mindil Beach markets is the best spot to enjoy the sunset with a crowd. Wander through the stalls, grab a bite to eat and then watch the setting sun from the beach.
When the markets aren’t on, the beach is still accessible for sunset walks or picnics. While you’re there, pop by the Mindil Beach Casino and Resort that’s right next door. There’s an infinity pool and bar waiting just for you.
Fannie Bay boasts a long stretch of coastline where you can find a cold beer, some live music and a beachside seat for the sunset. Darwin Trailer Boat Club, Darwin Sailing Club and Darwin Ski Club all offer oceanside seating. Enjoy the night with a meals alongside live entertainment, activities for kids and easy access to the beach.
If you’d rather enjoy the sunset with fewer people, further along Fannie Bay is the East Point Reserve. East Point is a great family spot with playgrounds, outdoor fitness equipment, BBQs, picnic tables and great walking tracks. Perfect for keeping everyone occupied until the main show starts. For a fancy view of the sunset, book into Pee Wee’s at the Point, and experience fine dining in an unrivalled location.
The Nightcliff Foreshore is another family-friendly spot to let the kids play out their energy and then relax in front of the sunset. Food vans serve dinner most nights across all different cuisines, or you can bring your own and enjoy a picnic or BBQ. A post-sunset walk under the lights of the Nightcliff Jetty would be perfect once you’ve finished eating.
Casuarina Coastal Reserve
The Casuarina Coastal Reserve is a huge wildlife and recreation area on the outskirts of the city. It boasts of beautiful beach areas and stunning sandstone cliffs that can be enjoyed by both you and the beloved family dog. Make yourself comfortable on the grassed area in front of the Casuarina Surf Life Saving Club, or wander along and find your own secluded spot to watch the sun go down.
Sunsets around the Top End
It’s not just in the city and suburbs of Darwin that you can spot a brilliant sunset. Head further afield and get a glimpse of the end of the day from a different perspective.
Why stick to land when you can get out on the water? One of the best ways to see the spectacular Darwin sunset is on a sunset cruise. Cape Adieu Harbour Cruises and Darwin Harbour Cruises offer sunset cruises that give you a front-row seat to the action but also a unique look back to the city. Enjoy drinks and nibbles onboard, disembark and enjoy the afterglow at one of the restaurants or eateries at Stokes Hill Wharf and Darwin Waterfront.
Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Darwin City, or a 90-minute drive, Wagait Beach is known for its fishing, camping and incredible sunsets. With a brilliant view back to the Darwin CBD, Wagait Beach offers a quick getaway from the hustle and bustle.
Head to the Cox Country Club for a refreshing drink. Follow it up with a short walk to one of the nearby beaches for your own sunset party.
A real gem an hour away from Darwin, Gunn Point offers some of the best beach camping and fishing you can get this close to the city. Spend the day exploring the beach, setting up camp just back from the cliff’s edge and then put your feet up as the sun goes down. There are no facilities at Gunn Point so put your devices down and enjoy the serenity.
As the northernmost point of Arnhem Land, Nhulunbuy is spoilt for choice when it comes to sunset viewing spots. Garanhan (Macassan Beach, Banambarrna (Rainbow Cliffs), Wirrwawuy (Cape Wirrawoi), and Galuru (East Woody Beach) are all great locations for a beach walk and a sunset. You will need a permit from the Northern Land Council to access these beaches.
To share the sunset with a slightly bigger crowd, head to the Gove Country Golf Club, Gove Peninsula Surf Lifesaving Club or the Gove Boat Club. All offer a great atmosphere and stunning sunset views.
If you’re headed to the Tiwi Islands for more than a day, the Tiwi Island Retreat is the place to be for a ripper sunset. The refreshing swimming pool right by the beach is a safe spot for a dip. Picnic tables are also available to watch the day turn to night. Get there by ferry, plane or helicopter but make sure you get your permit from the Northern Land Council before travelling.
Sunsets down the track
You might think that a sunset is best enjoyed from a beach but don’t worry; the desert can showcase spectacular sunsets too.
The jewel of Katherine, Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge) is 300km south of Darwin and is brimming with things to do. Spend the day exploring the gorge, admiring the rock art and checking out the local wildlife. Jump on a sunset dinner cruise through the gorge that includes a three-course candlelight dinner made with fresh local produce. It’s a serene end to the day where you can sit back and watch the gorge walls change colour in the dwindling daylight.
For a more active view of the sunset, the Baruwei Loop trail and lookout will give you one of the best views in the park. Only bettered by a scenic flight near dusk.
The world-famous and heritage listed Kakadu National Park is one of the Northern Territory’s most well-known attractions. There’s an activity for every person, whether you’re looking for adventure, a challenging hike or just want to sit back and take it all in.
For the best sunset views, Ubirr – also known for its rock art galleries – is a bit of a hike and not for the faint hearted. About an hour walk from the car park, and with a moderately steep walk to the lookout, Ubirr is well worth the effort.
For those looking for a more leisurely paced evening, a Yellow Water Cruise at sunset is a must. The Yellow Water billabong is full of native flora and fauna. Taking the cruise gets you up close and personal with all of it – even the crocodiles.
It doesn’t get much more remote than the Barkly region and its capital, Tennant Creek. If you’re in town, head up to the Bill Allen Lookout just past Battery Hill. You’ll get a 360° view of the town and the stunning country surrounding it with plaques to help you spot key landmarks. This spot is especially enjoyable at sunrise and sunset.
Lake Mary Ann is an oasis in the desert. A man-made lake where you can swim, canoe and kayak. Lake Mary Ann is also an ideal location for a sunset picnic. Just a few minutes out of town and a short walk or cycle from most accommodation, this is an accessible and enjoyable way to end your day.
An hour south of Tennant Creek is Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles and the smaller Kunjarra/The Pebbles sacred site nearby. The gravity-defying granite formations are intriguing on their own but when you add in a stunning outback sunset, they take on a whole new look.
The best sunsets in Central Australia
Just like the rest of the Territory, Central Australia has some pretty special spots where you can enjoy the sunset. But remember, the winter desert gets cold, so make sure you rug up before heading out.
Giving a 360° view of the town and the surrounding country, Anzac Hill is an incredible place to watch the sun set. Park towards the top of the hill in the dedicated carpark for ramp or stair access to the top. If you’re feeling energetic, park at the bottom and walk up the rugged track to find your viewing spot. It won’t disappoint.
A short drive out of Alice Springs are the Ilparpa claypans. Nestled at the base of the Tjoritja West MacDonnell Ranges, the claypans are either a dry expanse of red dirt or a vibrant swamp. They’re home to a variety of birdlife, frogs and dozens of species of fish and crustaceans who lay dormant until the rain. Bring a camp chair and find a shady spot to watch the sun drift behind the ranges.
For a truly unique adventure, the Sunset to Sunrise experience at Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre is a must. Make your way to the sanctuary for a sunset dinner and then take advantage of the guides’ incredible cultural knowledge and astronomy equipment to watch the sky transition from day to night. Spend the night in your swag and awake to an unrivalled sunrise.
Tjoritja West MacDonnell Ranges
Closer to town, you’ll spot the Tjoritja West MacDonnell Ranges. This impressive and culturally significant formation offers some amazing camping, hiking, swimming and wildlife spotting locations. The ranges block most of the popular spots are from sunset so getting up high at the Mt Sonder Lookout – near Redbank Gorge – is your best bet. Drive straight to the top, enjoy the sunset and head back down to your camp.
A 4.5 hour drive from Alice Springs, the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park is an international icon. It’s home to spectacular country and the most enviable sunsets in the world.
At Uluru, there are both sunset and sunrise viewing areas located around the rock to give you the best possible views. Claim your spot, get comfortable, and watch the rock change colours before your eyes. If you’d prefer a guided tour, there are numerous options on offer. Some of which include a motorcycle tours, day tours with drinks and nibbles, or a sunset BBQ.
Kata-Tjuta, a 30km drive from Uluru, is also a great spot for sunset. The large rock domes look other worldly as the light dims. Jump on a motorcycle tour and enjoy sunset from Walpa Gorge or do a half day tour and top it off with time to reflect in the last light of the day.
Kings Canyon/Watarrka National Park
While you’re visiting Kings Canyon, make sure you find time to sit and enjoy the sunset. It’s illegal to camp in the national park but Kings Canyon Resort and Kings Creek Campground are both great options to set up camp and enjoy the sunset.
The resort offers a sunset viewing platform where you can watch the sun settle behind the sandstone formations of Carmichael’s Crag and the George Gill Range. A pop-up bar is available nearby for drinks and snacks with bean bags and chairs at hand for hire.
If you’d prefer a fancier option, the Under A Desert Moon dining experience at Kings Canyon Resort will let you enjoy the last bursts of sunset with other travellers. Limited to 16 guests and offering a six-course set menu paired with Australian wines, it’s best to book early so you don’t miss out.
We want you to enjoy the Northern Territory and everything it has to offer. Here are some helpful tips to keep you safe.
Checking out the sunset is fun but travelling by road at night can be dangerous. Dusk is a time of high activity for animals like kangaroos, cattle, camels, horses and prey birds so please drive carefully.
Mosquitoes & midges
Dusk is also a high activity time for mosquitoes and midges. Use insect repellent to protect yourself from becoming dinner.
The desert gets cold in the Autumn and Winter months from April to September. If you’re in Central Australia or the Barkly, make sure you have warm clothes before heading out to watch the sunset. The temperature can drop rapidly and often drops below zero degrees Celsius.