Words by: Sue Moffitt
This month’s blog celebrates the wet season. This is my favourite time of the year and I am forever raving on about how wonderful the rain is. I giggle whenever I hear croaking frogs and I take every opportunity to go out and play in the rain.
It’s a time when wild tropical storms and the occasional monsoon trough brings loads of water and a delicious coolness (today it’s 24 degrees!!). The parched and burnt landscape, left by the dry season, is transformed into lush green bushland while soft flowing rivers become torrents of rushing water. Waterfalls overflow and crash over escarpments; wetlands resemble seas of water.
The idea is to embrace the rain. Walk, go swimming or watch the storms as they roll in across the water. Or head out of town to swim in the rock pools and plunge pools of Florence Falls and Buley Rockhole, both in Litchfield National Park. More about that later!
(the sentences in italics are extracts from my book – Darwin for all Seasons)
A weekend in Darwin in the Wet
There are a few events that occur during the wet season so take the opportunity, and time your visit around February and March.
February 19th is the time to remember and commemorate the Bombing of Darwin when Darwin was bombed by the Japanese in 1942. If you are here on the day, spend a few hours at the commemorative service held at the Cenotaph on the Esplanade. It’s a fascinating and moving experience. It also includes a re-enactment of the day.
Back to the weekend away:
Check into your accommodation at the Darwin Waterfront and head off to Stokes Hill Wharf. You can walk or there is a free shuttle. Visit the The RFDS Darwin Tourist Facility (closes at 4pm) “Dress up with goggles and head phones to experience first-hand the bombs crashing into the wharf, the ships and the sea. Sailors and wharfies are shot down as they flee. Aircraft are blown sky high. Phew”. Stay on for supper and watch the storms rolling in across the harbour. The wharf is an eclectic mix of fabulous food stalls from Indian to fish and chips.
I love East Point. It has a lot to offer including some of the best views of the harbour and the city. Enjoy a picnic (there are some undercover areas) and walk around the point past the Equestrian Centre and the Defence of Darwin Experience. “The museum cleverly recreates the shock, the panic and the fear that would have accompanied the bombing of Darwin air raid. You’ll find an amazing interactive show where sirens whir, bombs explode and gun fire blasts around the room”.
It must be time for a swim now (this time of the year is our tropical summer and it can be very hot and sticky). Head back to the Darwin Waterfront and the Wave Pool to ride the waves, re-programmed every 15 minutes to keep you on your toes. Or laze around in the waters of the lagoon.
There are loads of restaurants around the Waterfront precinct. Wander around and see what takes your fancy.
If you are staying at the Vibe or Adina apartments enjoy a leisurely breakfast in their restaurant. It has lovely views across the wave pool and the parkland. The WWII Oil Storage Tunnels are just a short walk past the restaurants and onto Kitchener Drive. It’s self-guided.
Sunday is set aside for Flix in the Wet and the Travelling Film Festival. It is the wet season’s programme for the Deckchair Cinema, running a range of interesting and often first release movies. The event runs from the end of January to March. There are usually two movies at around 3pm and 5pm. From the Entertainment Centre you can either “party” in one of the bars or restaurants in Mitchell Street or book a table at Hanuman for a feast of beautiful Asian food.
Photo credit - Hanuman Thai Restaurant
Stay for a little longer and check out some of the out-of-town national parks. Here are the attractions that are ONLY available in the wet season.
- Litchfield National Park during the wet season is a magnificent water experience. Water rages and roars over the escarpments and plummets to water holes deep in the forest. Narrow clefts in the gorge walls hurl the water in furious cascades down the side of the escarpments and water bounces off the rocks in clouds of steam. Stay at Litchfield Tourist Park in one of their cabins or for a special treat book into Hideaway Litchfield which is very close to Wangi Falls. Or take a tour with Ethical Adventures for a personalised and fascinating insight into the history and culture of the parks.
Note that the Finnis River bridge is now complete so you can complete a circular itinerary through Berry Springs, Litchfield National Park and Batchelor.
- Explore Kakadu National Park and, if the road to Ubirr is flooded, you can cruise through the paperbark forests of Magela Creek. This is a very special treat and will be available to book from the end of February 2021.
- If you are at Katherine Gorge in the peak of the Wet you might be very lucky and have the option of a power boat cruise. This only runs when the water levels are very high and the power boat can skim over the top of the rocks in between the gorges. Check with Nitmiluk Tours.
- Helicopter and light airplane flights are available all year round but it is extra special in the Wet. Fly low over the escarpments of Arnhem Land and see Jim Jim Falls appear through clouds of mist and steam. Check out Kakadu Air or North Australian Helicopters (you can fly in the helicopter with the doors off!!).
All about Sue
Sue is absolutely passionate about living in Darwin. She says "It is the best place I have ever lived". She has published three guide books with her new book “Darwin for all Seasons” just being published. Sue has a background in travel and tourism, owning her own tour guiding company in Sydney and in her books she captures a really intimate view of Darwin and the Top End with her own personal tips and local haunts.