DAY 3: Northern Suburbs
A visit to Darwin is not complete without visiting the northern suburbs.
Take a walk along the Nightcliff foreshore. This is where people picnic and chat on sandstone cliffs facing the Arafura Sea. The lovely path from Nightcliff to Rapid Creek is perfect for a stroll, run or bike ride, plus there is a series of outdoor exercise stations. At the end of your walk (or beginning) is the popular Nightcliff Jetty, a renowned spot for fishing under a sunset sky.
Every Sunday, not far from the cliffs, the Nightcliff market offers unique crafts, clothing and possibly a gift for a friend. Many stalls sell recycled goods at bargain prices for the thrifty shopper. From hardware, furniture, clothing, gardening, compact discs, books and collectables, it’s a buffet for all tastes.
Day 4: Tiwi Islands
If you have a little more time, SeaLink is your chauffeur as it runs a ferry to the Tiwi Islands three times a week.
Just 80 kilometres north of Darwin, where the Arafura and Timor seas meet, lie the Tiwi Islands, made up of Melville, Bathurst and nine small, uninhabited islands. These are known as the Islands of Smiles, a place where to be Tiwi is to feel good about yourself, a place with a 50,000-year heritage.
Stay at a beachfront lodge to soak up the views and learn something about the Tiwi culture. Tours are led by cheerful local guides where you can experience cultural Aboriginal ceremonies, spend time with the Tiwi ladies enjoying billy tea and damper and visit the local art galleries. With only 3000 people on the islands, the tropical landscape is largely untouched. Go fishing – you might see dugongs, dolphins and, in the right season, crocodiles or turtles.
Count yourself extremely lucky if you’re there during the Annual Art Sale and Football Grand Final – a unique combination of art and footy, it’s something special and the memory will be with you forever. Many AFL legends such as the Riolis, were born on the Tiwi Islands.
Also, pop into Tiwi Design, one of the oldest art centres in Australia. The centre sells a diverse range of ochre paintings, ironwood carvings, printed fabrics, ceramics, and bronze and glass work. All artwork is produced by Tiwi artists.
Whatever you do during your stay in Darwin, you’ll find yourself experiencing an unusual but enriching feeling – the feeling that being here is being somewhere very different.