Darwin, a short break at Australia's Top End.

22 August 2015

"Darwin," MLP says. "Why don't we go to Darwin … and Kakadu … and Litchfield? What do you think?" He'd been away for work for a very long time and this was to celebrate his return. I'd been thinking somewhere closer, like the Southern Highlands, but the idea of warmth, maybe even heat, and the opportunity to swim made the decision easy. So, within a week, we are there. Darwin. The Top End. The Northern Territory. Crocodile country.

Reality TV, Northern Territory Cops, suggests a beer-swilling, outback-outlaw culture with severe heat and humidity to drive even the best troppo, yet, despite this media headline showcased on every street corner on the day of our arrival,

that is not what we find.

It is Festival time and the city is alive with art, entertainment, food and song. Culture in the Top End. Who would have thought!

Number One, my brother's first born, a six weeks Darwin resident, greets us at dinner in Festival Park with, "I love this place! I never want to leave." (She hasn't experienced her first Wet yet.) The Wet (season) is long, hot, humid and extremely wet … apparently … and the build up to The Wet is even worse … apparently … waiting for the storms to come and provide relief from the stifling humidity and temperatures.

We, however, are here in prime time. The Dry. Pleasantly hot, but not humid. Not a cardigan, jumper, coat in sight, nor a storm cloud. Perfect.

We walk the city. Australia's smallest. Its new waterfront development

with wave pool and one sole swimmer (much busier later in the day),

and Convention Centre.

Yes, we swim, not in the wave pool, but in the croc and stinger free enclosure. Always good to be croc and stinger free … an added advantage in the Top End.

I wish I could have found these in my size to swim in,

or had someone small to buy them for. Sooo cute.

Over the walkway and into town, we find heritage buildings lucky enough to have survived the Japanese bombing raids (19 February, 1942) and Tracy (Cyclone Tracy: Darwin's Christmas Eve present 1974)

or to have the surviving parts subsumed into a new structure.

High rise

versus colonial style Parliament House.

  and its magnificent views.

The ubiquitous bougainvillea of the tropics,

and a monsoon forest walk

lead us to the shoreline

a spot that reveals the remnants of what was once the Governor's swimming pool, or so we are told by a local spending his afternoon lazily watching the seas.

A lunch break selfie in MLP's new sunnies.

Later, we head to Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, a Darwin institution.

There is food from around the globe.

Slappers … arch support thongs (flip-flops, if you will)

sold out of the coolest vintage VW Kombi.

All sorts of market wares.

Crocodile souvenirs.

The cutest kids-wear.

Cowboy boots for Top End cowboys and girls.

The crowds grow exponentially as sunset draws nearer, so get there early.

We don't do the sunset that night, but, when we return from Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks, we venture to Darwin's best kept secret … Darwin Sailing Club on Fannie Bay … to see the Top End's spectacular red sunset. The Sailing Club, perched on the edge of Fannie Bay, provides a perfect farewell for us from Darwin.


After the sun is gone, a short wait and this happens. Amazingly beautiful.

And finally, our last dinner.

I'm impressed.
Darwin is a city worth exploring
and it provided our gateway to Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks,
but for them you will have to wait till next week.

Have you been to Darwin?

Seen the sunset?

Discovered its history?

Were you impressed?

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