Mitchell Street at night
Okay, at some stage you probably will visit Darwin's main street, as it's lined with travel agents, cafés and bars, but be careful in the wee hours as this nightlife strip is notorious for alcohol-fuelled violence, especially around the clubs at the lower end. It's also not the place to stay if you want a good night's sleep.
Outside on Territory Day
July 1 is Territory Day
, the anniversary of self-government for the NT, and Territorians reserve the right to let off fireworks anywhere and everywhere to celebrate. What follows is a drunken reckless pyrotechnic orgy that is torture for dogs and other pets and results in an inundation of burns incidents at Royal Darwin Hospital. There is an official fireworks show at Mindil Beach
, but even this is usually marred by loutish behaviour. Debate rages about what to do with "cracker night" in 2008 sales were restricted to only occur on July 1, with no crackers sold before or after the big day. But still, it was a noisy, dangerous and unpredictable night. My advice: get earplugs and stay inside.
Anywhere if you want good service
While Darwin is rapidly remaking itself as a modern city, there are some things that lag behind. Service is one of them: it's appalling. Wait staff and shop assistants are "relaxed" at best, and slow, rude and unprofessional at worst. I've been asked to help clear plates off my table by waiters, take the mail to the post office by receptionists and have had to lend tools to tradesmen who turn up at my house without theirs.
Only in Darwin can you find a café with a sign near its front door boasting about its poor service standards. On the flipside, Darwin is still a friendly place: described by one blogger as a cross between "Tombstone Arizona c1850 and a collegiate beach town", you'll find most people here open to strangers and inclined to random acts of helpfulness … as long as it's not in their job description, and the managers of small-scale tour operations, boutique hotels, B&Bs and villas are often sublime hosts with a natural tendency towards old-style hospitality.
Mindil Beach Markets
Crowded and touristy, the Mindil Markets
can feel like sideshow alley at times. The weekend morning markets are a far more relaxed option for shopping and socialising than the Mindil night markets
. As for sunsets, there are awesome views available all along the coastline: try East Point Reserve
(where you'll be joined by a few wallabies), Nightcliff near the pier or Casuarina Coastal Reserve
out near the university.
This man-made lake, one hour's drive from Darwin, has a jetty to jump off and canoes for hire, but is hot and shadeless. There is nowhere to picnic, and the only option for eating is the "wilderness resort" which serves up unimaginative food (like white bread corned-beef sandwiches). The Top End's natural waterholes are far more appealing.
Swimming in unsafe places
Accustomed as humans have become to dominating their world, in the Top End, it’s crocodiles not humans who are at the top of the food chain. While there are waterholes that are cleared and patrolled regularly, the only 100% safe place to swim in the Top End is a swimming pool. Particularly in the Wet Season, when the giant salties are on the move, steer clear of swollen, murky waterways. Ditto the ocean deadly stingers from October to May make the ocean a no-go zone.
Visit the Be Crockwise website
Got any more places to avoid? Have your say using the comments form below.
Next: Near the beaten track