Experience the Top End’s famous wildlife, landscapes and Aboriginal culture on one of the many walking and hiking trails both in Darwin and within two hours of the city.
Unlike most capital cities, Darwin and its surrounds are packed with walking trails – from easy beach rambles to the famous 39 kilometre Tabletop Track in Litchfield National Park. Take a guided walking tour of the city, join an Aboriginal guide for a cultural bushwalk or wander through a national park at your own pace.
Darwin city walks
Explore Darwin’s compact city centre on foot and discover hidden treasures you wouldn’t see from the road.
Stroll along Darwin’s shady Esplanade on the cliffs of Darwin Harbour, then follow the WWII walking trail along the seafront. Signage tells the stories of Darwin’s military history and war heroes.
Fish feeding at Doctor’s Gully
Take the easy walk from the end of the Esplanade to one of Darwin’s best-known attractions: fish feeding at Aquascene Doctor’s Gully. For 60 years, milkfish, barramundi, bream and mullet in their hundreds have congregated there to be hand fed.
Heritage and culture at the Darwin Waterfront Precinct
The heritage and cultural trail around the Darwin Waterfront Precinct takes in some of Darwin’s most significant historical sites: the site of the first European settlement, WWII oil storage tunnels, the city’s first road, the wharf area that was heavily bombed in WWII, the Navy’s 1928 Pump House and a significant local Aboriginal site. A trail map will help guide you along the sites.
Other great Darwin walks
A few minutes out of the city, take the walking path through rainforest out to East Point and spot local wallabies. Charles Darwin National Park, 4km south east of Darwin, has some excellent walking trails that visit WWII bunkers.
Guided Darwin walking tours
Get a local’s perspective on Darwin’s history, people and sights on a guided walk with Walk Darwin. It runs short, themed guided walking tours around the city and its botanic gardens.
The two-hour heritage walk takes in the buildings still standing after both the Bombing of Darwin and Cyclone Tracy ravaged the city, such as the old court house and police station, Browns Mart theatre and the Palmerston Town Hall ruins.
Tabletop Track, Litchfield National Park
The Tabletop Track is this area’s signature bushwalk. It’s in Litchfield National Park, a 1.5 hour drive from Darwin city. At 39 kilometres, the track takes three to five days and is best suited to fit and experienced walkers who can carry their own gear and supplies.
The track weaves through the landscapes this region is renowned for: woodlands full of birds and wildlife, monsoon rainforest, rocky cliffs, fields of termite mounds, and waterfalls and swimming holes. You’ll likely see wallabies, bandicoots, northern quolls and flying foxes.
You can walk it all, or just a section
The Tabletop Track is a circuit split into three sections. Many visitors walk a section as a day trip rather than taking on the whole track.
The first section is from Wangi Falls to Walker Creek – about seven hours and 18.5km of up-and-down trails through woodland and creek crossings. The campsite is a well-earned reward for a long day’s hike with waterfalls and a swimming hole.
Section two heads towards Florence Falls, a five-hour, 12km walk past sandstone formations and palm trees. More waterfalls and clear plunge pools await at day’s end.
The third section completes the loop: an eight-hour hike back towards Wangi Falls through paperbark trees and rugged rocky landscapes.
Other Litchfield walks
Not quite up to taking on the Tabletop Track? Don’t worry – there are several shorter, well-signed walks through Litchfield National Park.
The 1km walk from Florence Falls along Shady Creek is an alternative to the main track to the plunge pool. It has 160 stairs. You’ll walk through monsoon forest and open woodland.
The 1.6km return walk from the Tolmer Falls lookout takes a pleasant alternative route back to the car through typical Top End sandstone country and along Tolmer Creek.
At Greenant Creek, take the shady walk that follows the creek upstream, climbs steeply up to Tjaetaba Falls lookout then up to a tiny pool above the falls where you can swim. It’s 2.7km return and has some steep sections.
Walks in the Mary River region
Nature lovers and bird watchers should try the walks in the Mary River National Park, an hour south east of Darwin. Trails pass through monsoon forest and alongside billabongs, with boardwalks and viewing platforms to see the famous birdlife and crocodiles. There are several bird hides for serious twitchers.
Other short walks in the park include a trail through the lowland woodland savannah of Brian Creek Monsoon Forest and the walk to the Couzens Lookout.
Tiwi Islands walks
Join a ferry tour to visit the Tiwi Islands, 100km north of Darwin, for an authentic cultural walking tour. A local Tiwi guide will show you their community, including a traditional welcome ceremony and morning tea, the museum, the historic mission precinct and the art centre, where you’ll create your own art piece to take home.
Be prepared – Darwin walking checklist
- Darwin is hot and humid and can have heavy rainfall during the Wet season (October - April)
- check the weather forecast before you walk
- carry and drink plenty of water
- wear a hat and use sunscreen
- avoid too much walking in the middle of the day when it’s hottest
- on longer walks, take a first aid kit, map and compass
- if you plan on an overnight trek, tell someone about your plans
- take ‘no swimming’ signs seriously – saltwater crocodiles are common in the area
- watch out for snakes.