Darwin is capital of the Northern Territory and gateway to Kakadu National Park, Australia’s largest. It’s known as a laid-back blend of frontier outpost and modern city. At its heart is the Smith Street pedestrian mall, notable for shops selling Aboriginal art and crafts, South Sea pearls, opals and diamonds. The liveliest part of the waterfront is reachable from the Central Business District via the Esplanade or an elevated walkway. Enjoy Darwin beaches, their balm weather and eclectic food and culture at outdoor festivals, waterfront restaurants, tropical parklands and art precincts. Get a taste of Darwin at Mindil Beach Markets, sail Darwin Harbor and trace the region’s dramatic history at museums. Darwin is gateway to Litchfield National Park, the Tiwi Islands, Kakadu and Arnhem Land as well as cross-continent journeys like the Ghan, Explorers Highway and Savannah Way. Darwin Beaches are beautiful, some of which are right in the city. Sadly, most visitors are completely unaware of what we have to offer.
Except for the very high spring tides, this beach is a wide expanse of white sand, a great place to walk the dog, go for a run or just enjoy the evening breeze and setting sun. It’s easy to find, simply drive along to the end of Trower Rd. A section is set aside as a free beach and there are trails that allow Blo-Karting along the sand if you have a permit and stay in the designated area. At high tide the water washes half way up these sandstone cliffs. Just remember that box jellyfish are present in these seas almost all year round, however June, July and August are considered safe for swimming. The occasional crocodile is spotted here too, so be watchful. Crocodile traps are set to remove them from the area, but there is always the chance one could be in the area. The Darwin Surf Lifesaving Club is located just behind the beach, next to a picnic area with lots of green grass and shady trees. The picnic area has BBQ plates and play equipment for the kids, drinking fountains and showers to wash off the sand from the beach. A bike track follows the coast from Nightcliff, over Rapid Creek and past the university to the cliff tops at Casuarina overlooking the beach.
Casuarina Free Beach
Casuarina Free Beach is between the main beach area and Sandy Creek where clothes are optional. It is quite easy to walk along the beach and never realize you have just walked into a Free Beach area. Depending on the tides, the beach can be several hundred meters wide and there are no markers on the beach itself, as they simply would not survive the tides. The easiest way to find the Free Beach is to drive along the back of the beach and keep walking from the last car park. The nudist area begins about 200m past this point, which also has showers and toilets located just off the car park. Sandy Creek separates Casuarina Beach and Lee Point Beach. If you walk until you reach Sandy Creek, you have walked through the Free Beach. Sandy Creek can be crossed at a low tide, but remember when the tide comes in you might get cut off on the way back. There is also a bike track into the area, beginning at the Darwin Hospital and crossing Sandy Creek and the mangroves behind the beach to emerge at the back of the beach. This bike track also runs along the back of the beach for about 2.5k to the Lee Point Beach and picnic area.
Darwin City Beach
The Darwin City Beach is free to visit, safe, and only a five minute walk from the Smith Street Mall via the new walkway and glass lifts.Green grass, plenty of shade and safe swimming in a protected sandy beach area makes an attractive and relaxing area. A kiosk provides ice cream, drinks and snacks for swimmers and sun bathers or others just enjoying a walk. The area is controlled by the Darwin Waterfront Corporation and no glass, private BBQ’s or alcohol is permitted. There is a reasonable amount of parking in nearby streets, or the multi-level car park in Kitchener Drive provides two hours free parking and more for a few dollars.
Fannie Bay Beach
Fannie Bay Beach is part of the East Point Reserve with BBQ facilities, playgrounds and white sands next to the man-made Lake Alexander. Although not a very large beach area, it is close to the city and usually has a 30-50m wide strip of white sand, except on the very high spring tides. To find the beach, simply follow the road past the Casino and Botanic Gardens along the coast to Fannie Bay. A wide grassy strip between the beach and the bike track is well provided with play equipment, garden tables and under-cover BBQ hotplates. It is a popular place for family outings, birthday parties and groups enjoying an outdoor get together. And the bike track, which continues on around East Point is always an attraction for runners and cyclists. There is plenty to do nearby too, with Lake Alexander only a stones throw inland behind the beach. The lake water is safe for swimming even during the Box jellyfish season, and is partitioned to allow kayaks and small boats in a separate area.
Mindil Beach is a beach located near the Darwin’s central business district. Mindil Beach holds the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets, which runs during the Dry season (from May until October) of every year. These markets are popular with both the locals and tourists alike and can attract thousands of people. The Mindil Beach Markets are held every Thursday and Sunday evening and one of Darwin’s biggest tourist attractions. Few people realize that there is an excellent beach behind the markets. Unlike the markets, the beach is there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Swimming is almost perfect during the dry season — a water temperature that most visitors find ideal.
On the northern side of Bullocky Point is Vesteys Beach, a gently curving 2.2 km long beach. It is home to the Darwin power boat, trailer boat and sailing clubs, and has numerous boats moored off the northern half of the beach, and two large boat ramps crossing the beach. The beach has a 100 m wide moderately steep high tide section, then 400 m wide tidal flats. At one end of the beach is the Darwin Ski Club and the NT Museum (well worth a visit at any time). At the other are the Darwin Sailing Club and Darwin Trailer Boat Club. All three welcome visitors and all three offer a great place to have a meal while watching the sun set over Darwin Harbor. Between the Ski Club and the clubs at the other end is Vesteys Lake Park. Vesteys Beach is even larger than Mindil.
A long footpath along the foreshore of Nightcliff is used for walking and cycling, particularly in the evenings after work. This is one of the most popular places for local people go to for a walk in the late afternoon or early morning. At low tide, it is also a popular spot for picnics on the rocks. At high tide, those rocks are submerged. Along the footpath there is Nightcliff Jetty, Nightcliff Beach and Nightcliff Swimming Pool. On Sundays, the Nightcliff Markets occur from 6am to 2pm. The stalls at the markets are mainly food and drinks but there is also craft and massage stalls. A live music band usually plays music on the stage in the middle of the markets.