The Thirsty Travellers had never been to Darwin before, so it was exciting to get a brief chance to explore the city following our Kimberley cruise on the Reef Prince.
Our hotel was just a block from Mitchell Street, which was going off like a frog in a sock, with loud music pouring from various crowded pubs.
After spending 10 days in the serene wilderness, we felt like sitting somewhere a little more peaceful and remembered one of our fellow passengers saying he wanted to visit a cool Korean bar called The Loading Bay.
The Loading Bay is attached to one of Darwin’s hottest restaurants, Little Miss Korea. It has an industrial-chic vibe and serves Korean snacks and excellent cocktails.
We Googled it and discovered it was only a block or two away, so we headed there for a few cocktails, including a Spicy Mango Margarita with Tequila Reposada, mango puree, chilli powder, black pepper, passionfruit juice and lime juice; and a Blackberry with Four Pillars Bloody Shiraz Gin, mixed berries, Chambord, lime juice and lemonade. As for our first meal on dry land, we devoured a plate of dumplings and a prawn bibimbap. Yum!
The rest of our Darwin foodie adventure included stunning sunset drinks at Darwin Sailing Club, sipping Aperol Spritzes to match the sky and dining on grilled scallops and barramundi stir-fry. We’re accustomed to watching sunrises on the east coast, so it was a thrill to see the golden orb set instead.
The club a must-visit location if you’re in Darwin, with casual tables arranged over the grass with the most incredible view of Fannie Bay, which was named after famed opera singer Fanny Carandini.
On Saturday morning we explored Parap Markets, with a caffeine stop at stylish cafe Laneway (above) in Vickers Street. The breakfast menu looked incredible, but we were eager to try a bowl of the famed Mary’s Laksa at the markets, which was crowned the Northern Territory’s best laksa at the Darwin International Laksa Festival last year. The queue for her stall invariably snakes through the markets, but it’s worth the wait – we loved Mary’s flavourful laksa, which she’s been serving to happy customers for more than 20 years.
As for the Darwin International Laksa Festival, it’s held every November and celebrates the city’s tropical lifestyle, multicultural community and love of laksa. The locals are very inventive with their laksa creations, ranging from traditional soups to laksa pizzas, chicken schnitties, ice cream, jaffles and crepes.
We missed the laksa festival, but were lucky enough to be in town for the annual GleNTi Festival in Raintree Park, organised by the Greek Orthodox Community of Northern Australia. We head there after the markets for some honey puffs with a side of lively Greek dancing and music. It was fascinating to wander the food stalls and see all the meat slowly rotating on long skewers for hungry Darwin dwellers’ lunches – it looked like very steamy work for the chefs!
There are so many more places we’d have loved to visit in Darwin, including Mindil Beach Sunset Markets and Hot Tamale bar, but we ran out of time and have vowed to book a return visit soon, if COVID-19 border restrictions allow.
The Loading Bay, Austin Lane, Darwin. Darwin Sailing Club, 5 Atkins Drive, Fannie Bay, Darwin. Laneway Coffee, 4/1 Vickers St, Parap, Darwin.