It’s time to tick off the top end on your bucket list
THE wet season is almost over and the top end of Australia is coming to life.
If you have always desired to visit the top end, then Darwin is a great place to start.
Darwin is a destination that has always been popular and the gateway for the mysterious top end of the Northern Territory.
With the wet season coming to an end, the billabongs are full and wildlife is plentiful, the waterfalls are still running, and fishing is pretty good at this time of year with some fantastic sized "barra" to be caught.
The days are in the low 30s with a little bit of humidity and the nights are pleasant. What more can we ask for?
Being our closest city to Asia, Darwin is a melting pot of multiculturalism, with a diversity of different styles of restaurants, foods stores and clothing stores to try.
Despite being the Northern Territory's largest city, Darwin doesn't have a big city feel. The city has wide, tree-lined streets and the buildings don't try to reach for the sky like in Sydney or Melbourne, giving Darwin a small-town feel.
Darwin and the top end have been long regarded as the last frontier; rugged, untamed and beautiful. The landscapes, the animals, the climate and the isolation are some of the things that make the Darwin and the top end a magical place to holiday.
Arriving in Darwin, you can feel that there is something different about the place.
The airport has a casual open design, different from most capital city airports. The ride from the airport into town, with its palms and bougainvilleas lining the way, helps put you into a mindset that you are about to embark on a adventure.
As far as things to do and see around Darwin, you can take in the Mindel Beach Sunset Markets. The markets operate during the dry season on a Thursday and Sunday nights.
Another must-see in Darwin is the Darwin Museum. The dynamic exhibit about WWII, Cyclone Tracey, local indigenous paintings and artefacts gives you an insight into life in the top end.
For those who like their history, the area is full of sites to see and learn more about WWII. There are the Darwin Tunnels built during the Second World War to store fuel. The tunnels stretch right back under the city and, for a $5 donation, are worth a visit.
When you find yourself in a port city like Darwin, you just have to go down to the harbour and savour the atmosphere.
At Darwin's wharf precinct, you can find fine dining restaurants, alfresco eateries, people trying to catch the many species of fish that swim around the wharf, shopping and live entertainment. The wharf is a great way to finish a hard day of sightseeing, sitting on the deck of one of the restaurants with a cool sea breeze and a magnificent sunset to finish the day.
Outside of Darwin, you have Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks. Both are wonderful but very different.
Kakadu is a three-hour drive from Darwin and has a lot of Aboriginal rock art dating back thousands of years. At Ubirr and Nourlangie rock are magnificent views out over the wetlands into Arnhem Land. The Tourist Information Centre in Kakadu is a great place to start, offering the traveller a great insight into the different seasons of the park. If you have the time, a Yellow Water Cruise is a must. You will see crocodiles, an amazing amount of bird life and photo opportunities are abundant.
Litchfield National Park, on the other hand, is only an hour from Darwin and offers a range of freshwater waterfalls and swimming holes. The best are Wangi, Florence and Tolmi falls and I couldn't think of a better way to cool off from the top end heat than to take a dip under a waterfall. A visit to the Magnetic Termite Mounds is interesting, some of the mounds are taller than a bus.