It’s no secret that the Northern Territory’s Top End is full of captivating scenery and incredible experiences, from its diverse landscapes and phenomenal sunsets, to opportunities for croc spotting and great fishing. But with its tropical climate, it’s also a place that most people only experience during the drier and milder winter months.
Visiting Darwin during the wet season isn’t what most people would consider the best idea, given the weather and closure of a lot of tourist-y attractions. While it is fair to say that there are seemingly more alluring months to visit, when weather patterns are more desirable and when tourists don’t need to watch for cyclone alerts, flooded roads and heatwaves, what many people don’t realise is there’s actually a ‘wet season’ beauty to be discovered, and some unique off-peak experiences to boot.
The best part is you won’t have to share these experiences with the masses should you choose to visit over the Aussie summer months. Here’s our top five attractions we recommend trying out during Darwin’s wet season.
1. Full Day Adventure Tour
The Full Day Tropical Adventure Tour is a thrilling wet season experience for the whole family to enjoy. Definitely one to add to your Aussie bucket list, the day involves some seriously cool activities. Think scenic helicopter flights over giant termite mounds and wetlands while spotting wild animals, and thrilling air-boat rides that race you down the little Finniss River where you can spot some of the resident salties (maybe even some baby crocs and their nests if you’re lucky).
Home to Darwin’s only man-made croc pool, here you can even take a dip closer to a saltwater crocodile than anywhere else… just don’t go putting your fingers through the cage! The day also includes catering, and the tour guides will have you feeling like you’re hanging with your outback mates as they show you around their property and their unique and terrifying pets!
2. Top End Mud Racing
Another fun family event reserved for the wet season, because that’s when the mud is around!! The race involves two cars – sometimes ridiculous in appearance thanks to bizarre modifications and decorating (think Aussie flags and blow up pool floaties) – which race opposing unsealed tracks containing various obstacles like jumps, dips, mud and water holes.
It puts a spin on a night out at the track, and offers some good old muddy fun in a laidback atmosphere. Be sure to take a towel along as the kids will relish the opportunity to get dirty, racing to the fences to be sprayed by the cars as they hit those muddy patches of track!
3. Big Buoy Water Park
This fun waterpark is down at the Darwin Waterfront Precinct and will honestly get your heart pumping! Not only a great place to beat the heat, but a thrilling obstacle course which will see you rolling, jumping and flying into the lagoon with a massive smile on your face.
You could easily spend a whole day around this area, with the wave pool and lagoon nearby once you’ve finished your time on the Big Buoy course, and there’s plenty of places to grab a bite as well.
4. Daytrip to the waterfalls
There’s no denying the beauty of the nearby waterfalls and swimming holes in Litchfield National Park, but we feel you haven’t seen them in all their glory until you’ve visited in the wet season when the falls are thundering!
Occasionally, after heavy rainfall, the national park may be closed for a day or two – but it is most certainly still open for hikes and swimming at all other times.
5. Darwin Museum, Art Gallery & Discovery Centre
We’ve included this often-overlooked activity on our list because it really did impress us – plus it had such a cruise-y vibe not being packed to the brim with other travellers.
This gallery showcases phenomenal artworks that both the kids and us adults enjoyed. The museum displays war and Cyclone Tracy history (including a room where you can sit and experience the deafening sounds of the cyclone), turtle spotting and there are plenty of educational activities for the kids to do in the Discovery Centre.
Where to stay
We spent most of our time in Darwin at the Darwin Free Spirit Resort’s powered sites (so we could have the luxury of air-conditioning to escape the heat) and were pleasantly surprised at the facilities and pools (yes – plural!!) on site.
Offering accommodation options for every type of traveller, you also won’t want to miss dining at their poolside bar and bistro.. cocktail and a swim anyone??!!
Our Wet Season Tips for the Top End
- Drop into Darwin’s information and tourism centres for great ‘off peak’ deals on activities.
- Pack plenty of water when you head out for the day.
- Make sun safety a priority.
- Stock up on Aeroguard as the tropical climate is also home to the mozzies and midgies.
- Keep an eye on the weather reports to stay informed about potential storms.