Darwin Travel Guide is part of the TPOL Down Under Trip Report.
TPOL’s Guns & Butter Travel Guide is the best way to see as much as you can in as little time as possible. Here’s how it works – A trip is composed of two factors: Labor And Lazy. The opportunity cost (what is given up) for relaxing and being Lazy is gained by being adventurous in the form of Labor and vice versa. The guide includes inefficient activities i.e., tourist traps that should be avoided and aspirational activities that are worth doing but may be impossible to see given the constraints of time and resources.
That question is applicable for foreigners and Australians alike. If you haven’t been to the Outback, I suggest going and I would start with Darwin and surrounding areas. Just beware of the crocs!
Spend the points and fly Qantas business. If you have a good crew, you’ll show up with plenty of wine courage to take on any size croc.
What I Missed
Alice Springs & Uluru: Note that this is a Darwin Travel Guide, not a comprehensive Northern Territories travel guide. I did zero research before going to Australia (see HKG! AUS! NZ! Booking a Last Minute Trip Down Under), which also did not include consulting a map. So until I was at the Qantas Club in Sydney, I didn’t learn that Darwin to Alice Springs/Uluru was a 30 hour treacherous drive or 6 hour indirect flight. My goal of visiting Ayers Rock would not come true unless I turned my itinerary upside down. This oversight is worse than a foreigner flying into Phoenix and discovering that the Grand Canyon (another wonder I have yet to see thanks to Vegas) was not an Uber ride a way.
Rainy Season: TPOL does not check the immediate weather when he travels. What is worse than planning a trip to Tahiti (see Do You Believe in Miracles? Emirates Showers, Dreamliner Suites, Tahiti Triumph!) and seeing that the forecast calls for rain every day? The only good that comes from that is being pleasantly surprised when it was sunny instead. While I don’t check the 10 day forecast, I do take note of when it is rainy season versus dry season. I knew that going to Darwin in January was the wet season, but I also read that more crocs would come out to play as a result. That was correct. At the same time, much of Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park were closed in anticipation of heavy downpours and potential flooding.
Katherine: Katherine is a town that is a three hour drive from Darwin. It is known for outdoor activities and most famously Nitmiluk National Park (Katherine Gorge).
What to Skip
Pho: Did you read that Darwin has the Worst Pho in the World?
The city of Darwin: Darwin is a proper city. Walk around, sample beer (see What to Do in Darwin Besides Croc Hunt), but the longer you are in the city, the less you are in the outback.
Scenic Flight in Kakadu National Park: As I wrote, most of Kakadu was closed due to rain. The two main attractions were the Yellow River Cruise and a scenic flight. Like Victoria Falls, I skipped the scenic flight because I am not an eagle who loves to soar high above mother nature. I want to be on the ground in the middle of it.
What to Do
At this point, you’re probably saying that this trip was a disaster and my lack of planning is to blame. You would be mistaken. My reason for visiting Darwin was to see crocodiles and see them I did.
Croc Jumping: This is a bit touristy but worth doing. It is the appetizer for your croc exploration. It is also a necessary safety warning that crocs kill people who get in their way.
Yellow River Cruise Kakadu: The authentic way to see crocs in the wild is to take a sunset cruise down the Yellow River in Kakadu.
Mercure Kakadu Crocodile Hotel: The name says it all. Love crocs? Stay at the croc hotel. Just be sure to have Accor status. Otherwise, you’ll be staying in the tail like I did.
Quote Mic Dundee: Crocodile Dundee I and II were filmed in Kakadu National Park. Along the way, stop at Corroboree Park Tavern, the real life version of the Walkabout Creek Hotel.
Crocosaurus Cove: THE CAGE OF DEATH!: Above, I said spending too much time in the city of Darwin is a mistake. But, while you are there, you must go diving with the crocs in the Cage of Death. The pictures are worth every Australian cent.
Risk Your Life: Go to Litchfield National Park and wade in the plunge pools. If you’re brave/stupid enough like I was to swim in Wangi Falls during the rainy season and live to tell about it, you are a righteous dude.
I came, I saw, I ran away from Darwin without any croc incidents. Will you?