Two long-time residents reveal where to see an unmatched sunset, find the best laksa in The Territory and discover art that tells a story of the Top End.
The local: Jimmy Shu
Owner of the Hanuman restaurants in Darwin and Alice Springs and host of SBS Food’s Taste of the Territory.
“Rapid Creek Markets on Saturdays and Sundays – it’s my second home. I love the fresh Asian vegetables. There’s also street food that’s usually found in Thailand, China and Vietnam. Every guest I’ve taken there has been overwhelmed by the food. My favourite is a Thai dish: pork hock, slow-cooked. If you don’t mind gelatinous pork skin, it’s to die for.”
“I love my fishing. One of the best experiences is with Matt Holmes of Equinox Fishing Charters. You can catch gold snapper, jewfish, coral trout and red emperor, the Rolls Royce of tropical fish.”
“The Laneway at Parap Shopping Village. Besides great coffee, the service is efficient and it offers lovely breakfasts.”
“Rendezvous Café + Restaurant. I order the seafood laksa topped with lightly cooked prawns. It’s authentic because it’s closer to Singaporean flavours: with dried shrimp in the broth and served with chilli sambal and tofu.”
“Nothing beats Mindil Beach for watching the sun set over the sea. It’s walking distance from the city and during the dry season [from May to October] it comes alive with Thursday and Sunday markets.”
Where to stay: DoubleTree by Hilton Darwin
Overlooking Darwin’s vibrant Esplanade and Bicentennial Park, the DoubleTree by Hilton Darwin is suited to both business and leisure. Make some time for the restaurant’s alfresco terrace overlooking the tropical pool.
The local: Karen Brown
Contemporary art collector and owner of Karen Brown Fine Art Gallery.
“You can find little treasures around the CBD. At Paspaley Pearls in Smith Street there’s high-end local product. There are amazing Indigenous fabrics at Paperbark Woman in Cavenagh Street and quality gifts at Aboriginal Bush Traders (pictured) in Lyons Cottage on the Esplanade. There’s also the iconic Delaneys Country & Western Store on Knuckley Street. It’s a step back in time but also a modern retail experience.”
“I suggest walking around East Point. Pick up a map from Tourism Top End then start at the Ross Smith Memorial in Fannie Bay. Circumnavigate the trail taking in nature, including poinciana trees, wallabies and the harbour. You can go in the morning or at sunset and you can do it on a pushbike. It’s great for families – children love it.”
“Hotel Darwin or The Cavenagh. They both offer simple, fresh food and are open seven days. The Cav has an outdoor area with a pool, good steak and great wine. The Darwin has a daily special and wild-caught barra.”
“I’m a fan of Paul Johnstone Gallery, Outstation Gallery, Northern Centre for Contemporary Art and the collection in the Supreme Court building. The greatest influence on artists’ work in the Territory is the country – the beauty of the landscape and the Indigenous traditional connection to the land.”
“My favourite place is The Trader Bar. It’s grown from the next generation of entrepreneurs bringing the best quality, variety, originality and local flavours. It’s tropical, there’s a garden and it’s well-loved.”
“The Darwin Club in Admiralty House is my pick for the garden, the history, the house. It has a bit of a Raffles feel to it. The food is excellent and it’s opposite the Esplanade so you can walk to it.”
Where to stay: Ramada Zen Quarter Darwin
While the serviced apartments at Ramada Zen Quarter Darwin are fully self-contained (think: kitchens, laundry facilities and large balconies), they’re also the perfect base for getting out and exploring the local food scene. From here, you can take a short stroll to some of the city’s best restaurants, including Hanuman, Lazy Susan’s and Smith Street Social.