As soon as I got off the plane my skin felt alive. The heat tingled and the warm air gently blew in my hair. Less than 5 hours ago I was sitting in 11 degree rain, and now I was smack bang in the height of 29 degree summer weather.
Welcome to Darwin’s Dry Season.
I had been looking forward to touring the Top End for a long time. Partly because I had always wanted to explore that area of Australia and also because my body was craving some heat and sunshine. Well, now I would have 9 days of doing just that and I planned on making the most of it.
Darwin only has 2 seasons. The wet and the dry. And, after speaking to locals, they’ll tell you how humid and sticky it gets in Darwin during the wet season, but in the same breath they also tell you it’s their favourite time of year. The environment changes so much during that time and with the constant tropical rain, everything looks lush, green and alive. While I heard all this, I made a mental note to myself to return during the wet season to experience it for myself.
But for now I was content with the heat, the dry breeze and days of constant sunshine.
Before our early start the next morning, we had some free time in the afternoon, which we filled with chatting to the rest of our travel partners for the next few days and downing a few cold beers. Could life get any better?
Well, yes it could….we were heading to the famous Mindil Beach Markets later that night. I’m a sucker for markets and I always find myself heading home with a tummy full of yummy market food and a trinket or two. Plus, these markets are right on Mindil Beach, perfect viewing to watch the sun set over the water
As we hopped off the bus at the outer edge of the markets my senses went into overdrive. There was so much to look at, smell, hear and taste, I didn’t know where to start! Thankfully, Northern Territory Tourism had set up our own private area where we could be served a few wines and get ourselves together before heading out to explore the markets.
My first plan of attack was to walk up and down the main aisle of markets to try and decide what I should have for dinner. These markets are famous for their wide selection of multicultural cuisine and I now had the difficult decision of deciding between Sri Lanken, Thai, Greek, Chinese or even some home-grown meals like Sweet Chilli Crocodile or fresh Barramundi. I had to sample more than just one dish!
Eventually I settled on Indian (with a side of sticky chilli prawn skewers) and add to that later some dumplings and then a delicious coffee cake! What?! I couldn’t not try as much as I could physically fit in my stomach. (I just felt glad I wore a dress with an elastic waistband to help manage my growing tummy!)
Some time later we were ushered to get down to the beach where there were already a throng of people waiting and taking photos of the pinky red sun, before it dipped behind the ocean. I walked along the beach with Megan from OnMyWayRTW and we both decided we liked Darwin very much and that it reminded us a lot of somewhere in Asia. Even the beach had a similar feel to it like those down in Southern India (just minus the cows along the beach and the rubbish littering the shores).
It’s hard to explain, but Darwin doesn’t feel like the East Coast of Australia. And nor should it. It feels remote and exotic-hence I guess why it is called the Top End….you really do feel like you are away from everything. Yes, Darwin is a capital city, but it doesn’t have the same hustle and bustle like so many others.
I don’t know if I was high on Holiday Euphoria but I was loving my afternoon in Darwin already.
After endless shots of the sun setting over Mindil Beach I headed back into the busy markets to see what stalls were selling. It was your typical market fare with the inclusion for the tourists of didgeridoos and crocodile paraphernalia etc. Plus, it was probably the one time I have walked away from the markets empty handed. I guess only because I couldn’t bring myself to buy bags for $20 when I had seen the exact ones in Thailand for about $4!
Mindil Beach Markets are most certainly catering for tourists (and are definitely worth an evening out) but it seemed locals headed down to the beach too. There were so many who grabbed a spot on the grass with a picnic rug, picked up some market food and chilled out with friends on a balmy night.
Mindil Beach Sunset Markets were the perfect way to spend my first evening in Darwin and the start of my Top End Adventure.
What do you love about going to markets?
Mindil Beach Sunset Markets operate on Thursday and Sunday during the dry season.