Much work has taken place to preserve the sacred Indigenous sights and attractions of Darwin and its traditional owners: the Larrakia people.
While some are off-limits to most visitors, the lush tropical capital of the Northern Territory is abundant with beautiful Indigenous sights and attractions which are frequented by locals and tourists throughout the year.
Before stepping into these Indigenous sites, it’s recommended visitors take their time to learn the history and culture of the Larrakia people. Their culture is closely intertwined with the sea as they have an extensive trade history with neighbouring groups such as the Tiwi, Wagait and Wulna. Today, the Larrakia nation has a thriving population of 2,000, and they have deep roots of influence in the ongoing development of the NT’s capital.
As you spend time in and around the Indigenous sights and attractions of Darwin, it is expected you are aware of Larrakia cultural obligations, and for you to respect the land and sea. Here are six spots to experience the culture and traditions of the Larrakia nation.
Perhaps the most famous spot in Darwin, this location has it all: clear water, clean sand and a calming tidal creek that runs through to the end of it. The name ‘Mindil’ is taken from the Larrakia word ‘Min-deel’ meaning sweet nut grass. The site is significant for the Larrakia people, as it was a spot where nearby camps would collect coconuts and other bush tucker from the shoreline. The best time to visit is on a Sunday during the dry season. You’ll step into the wonderful Mindil Beach Sunset markets. Grab some food, sit on the beach and take in the world’s best sunset.
The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT)
Just a short Bush-Stone Curlew’s waddle away from Mindil Beach is MAGNT. A mecca of Northern Australian Indigenous artwork placed on the platform it deserves. Escape from the harsh humidity into the crisp air-conditioning as you get lost in ancient artistic traditions. It’s home to expertly curated exhibitions featuring works of the Larrakia people. At any point of the year, you can walk in and become lost in the beautiful artworks. Check out what’s on at the gallery here.
Old Man Rock at Casuarina Beach
Perhaps the most beautiful seaside location in all of Darwin, Casuarina beach is a special place to visit. At low-tide is the best time to venture here, because this is when the Old Man rock is visible. It’s a long, flat rock which signifies the ancestral spirit Nugalinya that binds all Larrakia people together. Be mindful of Larrakia rules when it comes to the Old Man rock: don’t go too close to it, sit on it or take from it. They believe a disturbance at this site by fishermen may have caused Cyclone Tracy.
Strap on your best walking shoes and wander along this trail in the iconic UNESCO-listed Kakadu National Park. On this walk you’ll come across centuries-old rock art. On the smooth surfaces of the rock you’ll find depictions of animals and stories painted by the local Bininji/Mungguy people.
Litchfield National Park
Only a short drive down the Stuart Highway is this stunning landscape steeped with ancient culture. The traditional owners, the Wangait people, have beautiful stories woven into the sites and attractions. Famous for its breathtaking waterfalls, visitors are allowed to bask in all their glory by going for a swim underneath the rapid, engulfing falls. Wangi, Florence and Tolmer should all be on top of your must-sees, and the best part is that they are croc-free!
Appropriately named, this site is teeming with many varying species of birds such as Magpie geese, ducks, Jabiru, herons, ibis and other waterbirds. There is a charming two kilometre stroll through this scene location. For Aboriginal people, billabongs are an important water source. Especially in the dry season where everywhere else has dried up, this is a location where they cherished and respected.