Darwin with Kids – Nature and Wildlife

Litchfield National Park Florence Falls

One of the greatest challenges we face as parents today is creating an active, outdoor lifestyle for our kids. Holidays are a great opportunity to put away the technology and make time to get outside as a family. Darwin and it’s surrounds are full of things to do with kids in the great outdoors.

You can take scenic walks, visit stunning natural waterfalls and swimming holes, meet the crocs at one of the animal parks and discover the varied wildlife and habitats of the region. Here I’ve listed all the best things to do in Darwin with kids relating to Nature and Wildlife.

You can read an overview of Darwin as a family holiday destination here or the top historical and cultural attractions here.

Territory Wildlife Park

Set on 625 hectares of native bushland and located a 40-minute drive south of Darwin city is the Territory Wildlife Park. Featuring three very distinct and fascinating habitats, you should set aside the good part of a day for your visit. More than just a ‘zoo’, the park includes woodland, monsoon vine forest, paperbark and wetlands walks. It houses a nocturnal animal display, aquarium, and goose lagoon. We spotted a freshwater crocodile at the Billabong and watched a demonstration on the birds of the Top End at the Flight Deck.

The park is also home to a large saltwater crocodile at the aquarium. You can catch a shuttle train around the park from each habitat to the next and the café includes a playground outside for young children. We loved our visit to the park with little man and definitely recommend it as one of the regions must do attractions if you’re holidaying with children!

Cost: Adults $32 Children (4 - 16 years) $16
Located near: Berry Springs, Berry Springs Tavern, Tumbling Waters Holiday Park
Open: 9 am – 5 pm every day (except Christmas Day)
Learn more: http://www.territorywildlifepark.com.au

Berry Springs

Berry Springs is a lovely nature park located only a 40-minute drive from Darwin CBD, and is right next door to the Territory Wildlife Park. Cool off here with a swim (weather permitting), and enjoy a BBQ for lunch. The park also has walking tracks and remnants of WWII history. Grab a cold drink or ice cream at the kiosk which is open during the dry season.

Cost: Free
Located Near: Territory Wildlife Park, Berry Springs Tavern,Tumbling Waters Holiday Park
Open: The picnic and BBQ areas are open 8 am – 6.30 pm year round, the pools may be closed at times during the wet season. The kiosk is open from 11am – 5:30 pm daily from April to November.

Indo Pacific Marine

Located at Stokes Hills Wharf, the Indo Pacific Marine attraction exhibits living coral ecosystems of the Darwin region. This display is special – it is one of only three on-land self-supporting living reef exhibitions in the world. It gives all visitors the chance to see rare species up close without causing any damage to the reef environment. Indo Pacific Marine offers day tours and night tours which also includes a seafood dinner.

Cost: From - Adult $27 children (over 3 years) $12
Located Near: Stokes Hills Wharf, Darwin Waterfront
Open: See the website, varies between seasons and day or night tours
Learn More:  http://www.indopacificmarine.com.au/

Litchfield National Park

Litchfield National Park Florence FallsA trip to Darwin isn’t really complete without a visit to the stunning Litchfield National Park. Approximately a 90-minute drive from Darwin City, it is best to put aside a full day to explore the park. Most of the major attractions can be accessed by two-wheel drive car. Check out the huge magnetic termite mounds on your way in, then take a swim at Florence Falls, Buley Rockhole and Wangi Falls (when open).  You can also camp and bushwalk here.

Take a picnic and make a day of it – stop in at the township of Batchelor on the way home to see the Coomalie Cultural Centre or the Batchelor Butterfly and Bird Farm. Or if you want to extend your stay camp at one of the campgrounds or nearby tourist parks.

Note – at the time of writing this post the Northern Territory Government had just announced a $12 million investment into the park with plans to open access to five more waterfalls (and swimming spots), additional 4WD tracks and campgrounds!

Located Near: Batchelor, Darwin River Tavern
Open: year-round although some places may be closed to swimming during parts of the wet season.
Learn More:https://nt.gov.au/leisure/parks-reserves/find-a-park-to-visit/litchfield-national-park 
Cost: Free to visit (or if you prefer there are tour operators that run day tours to the park, so you can sit back and just take it all in).

Crocodylus Park

Crocodylus Park is located in Darwin itself, just 15 minutes from the city. Created by a crocodile biologist the park not only gives visitors the chance to see crocodiles close up but to learn about their biology and ecology. As well as freshwater and saltwater crocodiles visitors can see big cats, monkeys, birds, turtles and snakes on display – all sure to capture the kids’ attention.

Cost: Adults $40 Children (3-5 years) $20
Located Near: Leanyer Water Park, Casuarina Square (shopping centre), Darwin Airport  
Open: 9 am – 5 pm every day (except Christmas Day)
Learn more: crocodyluspark.com.au

Crocosaurus Cove

Located in the heart of the Darwin CBD, Crocosaurus Cove is a great option if you are staying in town and want to see the big crocs without even jumping in your car. The attraction houses crocodiles big and small, reptiles, turtles and an aquarium. What sets Crocosaurus Cove apart is the hands-on experiences. Crocosaurus Cove gives you the opportunity to feed crocs, ‘Swim with the Crocs’ and if you are brave enough, to get up close to a large saltwater croc in the ‘Cage of Death’.

Cost: Adult $35 Children $23 (additional costs apply for some of the up close encounters) 
Located Near: Darwin CBD, Darwin Waterfront, Cullen Bay
Open: 9 am – 6pm everyday (except Christmas Day)
Learn more: http://www.crocosauruscove.com

Aquascene Fish Feeding

Darwin Aquascene Fish FeedingHundreds of wild fish can be viewed on high tide at Doctor’s Gully – only a few minutes drive from the Darwin CBD. Aquascene gives visitors the opportunity to feed and learn about all the fish species that can be seen here. It’s a simple attraction – but a really fun way to learn about the fish of the region. The opening hours are dependent on tide times so we recommend you check the operating hours at the beginning of your holiday so you can fit this must-do activity into your itinerary!

Located near: Darwin CBD, Cullen Bay, Mindil Beach
Cost: Adult $15 Children (3 – 15 years) $10
Open: Most days at high tide (check website)
Learn More: http://aquascene.com.au

Adelaide River Jumping Crocs

This was one of my favourite things to do with visiting family and friends when I lived in Darwin. Tours are located approximately one hours drive from Darwin city, on the Arnhem Highway.  Here there are several tour operators who will take you out on the Adelaide River to see the biggest saltwater crocodiles around! Watch them leap from the water right beside you. Perhaps not suitable for very small children (and some boats won’t take children under 4 years of age). I would suggest checking with operators beforehand as some boats are multilevel and fully enclosed.

Located near: Humpty Doo Tavern, Kakadu is a further 90 minute drive on the Arnhem Highway (so this attraction is a good stop off if you're on your way).  
Open: Most tours are open all year round and run one-hour cruises approximately four times a day, but some operators do close during the dry season.
Learn More: There are several tour operators with boats of various sizes and tour times, Google “Adelaide River Jumping Crocs” to find one that suits you.
Cost: from $40 per adult, $20 per child (varies per operator)

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