STAY ANOTHER DAY IDEAS
If you’re there Monday night, come to the Deckchair cinema for dinner and an outdoor movie. Financial Counselling Australia is having a special screening of 'The Australian Dream,' the movie about Adam Goodes. It’s a very Darwin thing to do… hang out on a balmy, warm night and meet up with others from the conference. There will also be food trucks, serving a variety of snacks and refreshments.
FCA’S CHEAP AND EASY THINGS TO DO
Wave Lagoon waterpark
Wave Lagoon waterpark is on Darwin’s waterfront. It has a wave pool and a small beach, with absolutely no jellyfish, sharks or crocs. There’s a variety of bars and cafes nearby.
WWII oil storage tunnels
Darwin's WWII underground oil tunnels have information boards to read up on how the storage was put underground to prevent bombing. A small cash entry fee applies and there is no eftpos available.
Fannie Bay Gaol
Fannie Bay Gaol is a historic jail that opened in 1883. It overlooks the beach and is just a short drive out of town. Entry is by gold coin donation. Allow about an hour to tour the jail and check the opening hours as it’s not open every day.
Darwin Botanical Gardens
Here you’ll find free, tropical beauty with a nice café.
Entry into Parliament House is free and it’s easy to do a self-guided tour. Free guided tours run on particular days. The building is grand, with modern architecture and picturesque sea views. The library has an informative museum, including short historical films. You can also wander into Parliament, which sits 31 days of the year.
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
Enjoy permanent exhibition highlights such as Cyclone Tracy, Natural History and Sweetheart, a famous croc. If you have never experienced a cyclone, this is the place to do so, in the museum’s room that replicates the sound of a cyclone in darkness. The gallery is also well-known for its Indigenous art and the Saltwater café, which overlooks the sea. Allow a few hours because there’s plenty to see. Entry to the museum and gallery is free.
Darwin Aviation Heritage Centre
You’ll be in your element here if you like B52 bombers and other historic planes. For $16 entry, you can see lots of war time stories and planes. You’ll need two hours to cover the museum if you’re an aviation buff. It’s easy to travel by bus from Mitchell street, as the bus stop is right out the front.
Royal Flying Doctor Darwin Tourist Facility
This is a great place to learn about Darwin’s history, particularly the bombing of Darwin in 1942. We didn’t visit, but it has good online reviews. Further information available here.
Darwin’s spectacular beach sunset
Here’s a link to five places to watch the famous Darwin sunsets. It’s easy and relaxing to grab fish and chips or an ice-cream and watch the natural show.
The Mindil Beach Sunset Market from Thursday to Sunday is a great option, or you can join other conference delegates to watch the sunset on Thursday 21st.
Crocodile cruises on the Adelaide River
There are many different cruises operating on the Adelaide River, most of which offer close encounters with the Northern Territory’s most famous celebrities – the crocodiles. The Darwin Jumping Crocodiles cruise can pick you up from the city of Darwin and drop you off after the cruise.
Tourism NT/Shaana McNaught
You can catch the ferry from Cullen Bay to Bathurst, which is also called by its Indigenous name, Wurrumiyanga. The ferry leaves at 8am on Thursday and Friday, or at 1.30pm on Sunday. A return trip costs $120.
On the island, you can take in the scenery and visit the Art Centre. You may want to go with a tour group like Tiwi by Design, which operates on Thursday and Friday 8am to 5.45 pm. The tours cost $349, including the ferry and a screen-printing experience.
You might be hosted by Kevin, who sometimes works for the local financial counselling agency. He’s great fun.
Hint: watch the movie Top End Wedding before you go!
Litchfield National Park
Litchfield National Park is 1.5 hours from Darwin. This is the best waterfall and rock hole destination, if you’ve got a spare day (or even more). The area is famous for its stunning landscapes, swimming holes and iconic termite mounds. Numerous waterfalls from natural springs cascade into pristine rock holes, surrounded by monsoonal forests and pandanus.
Image courtesy Paul Walker
STAY 2 OR 3 DAYS IN KATHERINE
Things to do in at Nitmilukit
From behind the visitors centre, walk to the lookout at sunset (free) and feel good about all those steps, particularly after all that sitting in the car.
- Book a Katherine Gorge experience. We did the 7am two hour dawn tour, but there are multiple options depending on your budget and sense of adventure. You can even swim in part of the gorge or canoe. Canoeing season begins after Parks and Wildlife have done their croc safety survey. Apparently freshie, i.e. freshwater crocs, are shy and timid and have narrow snouts, but stay away fro the broad nosed salties.
- Get a group of people together and book a cultural experience.
- Relaxed dinner at the poolside cafe. Bring your bathers.
Accomodation at Nitmiluk
- Chalets - compact one $242 or two bedroom units $305, air-conditioned with small kitchenette
- Permanent tents—not air-conditioned
To get a 10% discount off the website rates, ring Trish on 08 8971 9700, and ask for the Financial Counselling Australia conference deal (16-18 May) or (22-23rd May) and other dates if available.
See the Nitmiluk website for all the details.
Image courtesy Paul Walker
Tourism NT/Evelien Langeveld
STAY 2 OR 3 DAYS IN KAKADU
Drive to Kakadu
It’s a three-hour drive to Kakadu from Darwin. You don’t need a four-wheel drive on the main roads, meaning you could easily hire a car for the trip.
Keep in mind that some of the tracks are very bumpy, so if you don’t have a four-wheel drive you need to check with the rangers where you can go. This changes daily, according to recent rain.
There’s plenty to do without a four-wheel drive for an overnight trip, but if there has been significant rainfall and you’re staying for more than one night, then a four-wheel drive will provide you with more options.
The scenic plane trips are a great option for visitors without four-wheel drives. It costs $250 for an hour. Seeing the vastness of the Kakadu floodplains and waterfalls is unforgettable.
Cooinda Lodge is on the Yellow Water Billabong, Kakadu’s most famous wetland. The location is very special and provides you with the opportunity to learn about local birds, wildlife, food sources. You can also meet the local crocs (nothing is staged and there are no performing animals).
Boat trips into the wetlands
One of the highlights of Cooinda are the boat trips into the nearby wetlands. If you purchase a sunset boat trip online, you can also buy a 50% discounted dawn cruise. This includes breakfast afterwards in the hotel restaurant.
Cooinda Conference rates
Lodge rooms with an ensuite are $200 night—max 4 people with a queen, single and rollaway.
Outback glamping tents are $170 night - 2 adults (Queen) and 2 children (bunk beds that are not suitable for adults)
To book online, use the code ‘FCA’ for the weekend before/after the conference
Any other time, call reservations, and say you’d like the special ‘Financial Counselling Australia conference rate’ for accommodation and river cruises. They will honour these rates for the whole of May, while they have room vacancies. Call 08 8979 1500, press 1 for reservations.
Yellow River Cruise rates
6.45am - $84 (includes buffet breakfast)
4.40pm - $78
Book both cruises and get 50% off the second cruise.
- See Kakadu Tourism
- See the NT Government’s website, which has lots of information and trip ideas for Kakadu. Note that there's crocodiles wherever there's water, so be careful.