I realise that the title of this post makes it sound like I've been maimed/eaten in Darwin. Fear not, readers, I'm still alive and kickin'. Perhaps I should've titled this post 'Bites Around Darwin'... but I'm still seeing crocodiles, I don't know about you. I guess I'm trying to justify the cover photo of this post - a couple of mad people in Crocosaurus Cove's cheerily named "Cage of Death". I tried to fool you into believing I'd lost a limb, but gave myself away in the first sentence, didn't I? I feel I should really tell you what this post is about before this whole thing gets too long winded (fear it already has, never mind).
Food. Food! I've been busy biting around Darwin. In restaurants and the like, not just gnashing at the locals. I wanted to try and compile a food hotspots in Darwin article, but as I was only in town for a short period of time I didn't manage to eat in all the places I wanted to, but not for lack of trying! Before heading out to pick up my knife and fork I did lots of research, trying to ensure my time and money would not be wasted. I hit a few duff spots, but Darwin has come up with some real foodie gems, that I just can't wait to share with you.
1. Parap Market
Up and running every Saturday 8am - 2pm, this Asian influenced market is full of food, music and colours. I grabbed the free airport shuttle, that transforms to the Parap shuttle from my hotel early Saturday morning and nipped down to the Parap Village shopping precinct.
Parap is exactly what a market should be. Full of people and local produce. I like to watch everything and wonder where people have come from and are going to. Is this where they shop every week? What are they going to make with the groceries they're buying? I try and imagine a situation for them all.
Stalls of fresh fruit and vegetables are perused by locals and tourists alike.
That's our morning sorted. Let's talk a sit down meal.
2. The Ducks Nuts.
The restaurant itself describes it as 'synonymous with the bees knees but slightly more naughty'.
I took a seat under the terrace outside and relaxed in Darwin's winter heat (that's 33c...!)
The service was a little slow but it kind of added to the chilled atmosphere. I ordered myself a Lemongrass Mojito, bursting with limes and mint and all in a tall, frosty glass.
Naughty, but ever so nice.
I'd been to a couple of restaurants prior to The Ducks Nuts and was disappointed to see that a few of the seafood options had been imported. As Darwin is right on the sea, I was expecting my fish fresh. Happily, it was a different story at Ducks.
I ordered the Barramundi wrap with Cajun fries. The barra is marinated in pesto and served with lime aioli and crisp, fresh salad.
Chips verdict: Good, solid chip. Chunky cut with plenty of seasoning.
And the wrap? Delightful! Tender fish with crunchy salad in a warm and charred wrap. Beautiful food. If I were cooking, I probably would've squeezed over a little extra lime, but I'm a little zingy in the kitchen.
I'd definitely recommend. I was hoping to go to Hanuman, as I'd heard it described as the "best restaurant in Darwin". Unfortunately I didn't get to eat there, but if you're ever in the area and check it out please let me know and make me jealous!
Now lets talk dessert shall we? Of course I didn't forget about it.
3. Cold Rock
I stopped on one of Darwin's main streets, Mitchell Street for something sweet. I'd been thinking about ice cream for quite some time and Cold Rock is one of those shops you walk past without thinking and then slowly back track and press your face up against the window.
I was sucked in. I was in trouble.
I'm talking Ferrero Rocher ice cream with extras of mars bar and maltesers. The good people at Cold Rock mash it all up for you, and pile it high in a cup and dunk in a spoon.
The spoon slowed me down...
Cold Rock is LLK approved, no doubt about it. $7 for heaven in a cup. Bargain.
Now I've had to go out and buy larger clothing, I have a little nitty gritty for you. Here are a couple of Darwin disclaimers for you, if you ever plan to visit:
- In my experience, the taxi service in Darwin is unreliable. Granted I was visiting at a very busy time of year, but I still believe reliable transport is very important, especially at night. Travel in a group and avoid walking around at night alone. Even in a group I would still advise a taxi. Try and plan your evening in busy areas, somewhere where has a known and busy taxi rink. Be safe!
- Once you have seen the national parks and natural sites that surround Darwin, the city will seem a little touristy. Whilst Darwin makes a great base for exploring the area, the top end is certainly about the outback and not the city. For example, whilst Crocosaurus Cove's collection of reptiles is very impressive and they make wildlife entirely accessible to families, if you're looking for the real deal you're going to have to go further afield and see crocodiles in the wild. For me, the thrill of observing these impressive creatures in their natural habitat was more exciting than the 'Cage of Death'. But this might just be me - nature nut through and through.
- Check and double check opening times, prices and all information that your trips around Darwin will depend on. I was advised to eat at Hanuman restaurant on the last day of my travels, Sunday. I walked along to find Hanuman with the shutters closed and stools on top of tables. Sign read: lunch time: Monday - Friday. As I already had a few other spots I wanted to eat, this situation was easily remedied and not the end of the world, but just make sure to double check your plans.
Besides these points I had a lovely stay in Darwin at Darwin Central Hotel. The rooms were very comfortable and the food was good too. I can vouch for the breakfast and the room service. I would recommend a day to three stay in Darwin, anymore than that you might find yourself itching to get back into the wild.
Darwin story over. Because I like you, I'm going to leave you with this pretty seductive image.