But if you’re planning on going into Exile in Darwin, there are a few things you need to know. First, the weather. Timing is everything with Darwin. Don’t think four seasons, think two - the wet and the dry. Most people visit during the dry season (April - October). If you decide to visit in the wet season (November - March) be prepared for rain (lots of it) and a place where most attractions are shut down.
Second, getting there is not all that simple or cheap. Just getting into your car and driving is not really the answer as it’s a very long, dry and dusty journey. Personally, if I was heading to Darwin, I would arrive in style by train. After all, what’s a better way of starting your exile than standing on the steps of a train The Ghan and waving the world goodbye.
Check into the SkyCity Darwin Hotel at Mindi Beach. Only minutes from the Central Business District, you can exile yourself here for days on end, venturing out to the casino, the beach, and the city only as you desire.
Darwin is a true ethnic melting pot and no better example of this exists than the Mindi Beach Sunset Market just opposite the hotel. Held every Thursday and Sunday evening during the dry season, it is just the place to Exhale all your worries and cares away. It’s quite a sight, watching the locals, armed with chairs, tables, drink, and kids, arrive and settle under the coconut palms.
Make your way there and discover what the locals already know - for pure joy, nothing can beat watching the sunset in Darwin. Follow your nose and wander through a maze of food stalls emitting fabulous aromas.
If you miss the market at Mindi Beach (or decide that markets are your thing), other markets can be found in the suburbs and outskirts of Darwin.: Friday evening (Palmerston Market), Saturday morning (Parap Village Market), and Sunday morning (Nightcliff Market and the Rapid Creek Market). If you head out for the Nightcliff Market, make sure you take your swimsuit and stop at the Nightcliff Aquatic Center (corner of Nightcliff and Causarian Roads), a great outdoor pool right next to the ocean. Perched on a cliff and overlooking Darwin Harbor, this unpopulated pool features shade awnings and a lush tropical garden with amazing views.
The Deckchair cinema shows art films nightly (April to Nov) outside on Darwin Harbour, with the stars and passing ships as backdrop. In such a relaxed environment it is easy to kick of your shoes, grab a glass of wine and Exhale.
Explore Darwin by tour tub bus. You can hop on and off this open-sided minbus as it passes by all major attractions, including SkyCity Casino (and hotel). Stops worth making include the Museum & Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (ph 8999 8211) for its aboriginal art collection, and Aquascene phone 8981 7837, at Doctor’s Gully at high tide. This is when hundreds of fish show up looking for a free feed. Get your feet wet and give it a go.
Express yourself through a new hobby. How about baramundi fishing? Check out the one day fishing safaris offered by Anglers Choice and Darwin’s Barra Base to see what this involves. If you find you have the knack for this, sign up for the Reel Women Barramundi Classic held every April.
There are plenty of walking trails and bike paths for your exorcise fitness. Hire a bike and ride out to the George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens Stop in at the Information center and find out about guided walks by park rangers or pick up the Aboriginal Plant Use trails brochure and head out on your own.
Writer bio Liz Lewis is a New Zealand-based freelance writer specializing in travel, health and lifestyle issues. Check out her website at http://www.lizlewis.co.nz and blog http://travelcafekiwi.blogspot.com