Steeped in history and perched upon one of the largest natural harbours in Australia, this precinct is the original base of the city of Darwin. Stokes Hill and Fort Hill wharves date back more than a century to a time when clippers and steam ships used to call at Darwin to load exotic cargoes such as crocodile skins, buffalo hides and pearls. Today the port is used for luxury liners and warships, as a venue for outdoor dining, and the home of Darwin’s convention centre and a new Waterfront recreation development.
World War II Oil Storage Tunnels
A set of stairs leads from Survivors Lookout to the Wharf Precinct. At the bottom of the stairs are storage tunnels that were built underground after the above-ground tanks were bombed in early raids on Darwin. One of the five tunnels is open to the public and there are historical displays of the war years. Kitchener Dr; open daily during the dry season.
Indo Pacific Marine
At this wonderful attraction, local coral ecosystems can be viewed without dipping a toe in the water. Find out what lies in Darwin Harbour – from deadly stone fish that can inflict terrible pain and even death, to the beautiful coral that lies hidden in the Top End’s sometimes murky waters. Indo Pacific Marine is one of the few places in the world that has been able to transfer a living ecosystem from the water into a land-based exhibition. Also on show are creatures endemic to the Top End, such as the deadly box jellyfish. Kitchener Dr, near the entrance to Stokes Hill Wharf; open daily.
Stokes Hill Wharf
Once northern Australia’s most important port catering to sailing vessels and steamers, Stokes Hill Wharf is now a berth for international cruise ships and a place for restaurants, bars and shops. Stokes Hill is popular with visitors and locals not only for dining, but also as a place to throw a line over. When the fish are biting, the wharf is one of the best places in Darwin to fish. During the build-up to the wet season, head here to watch one of the city’s magnificent storms as it gathers across the harbour and travels towards Darwin. Often international naval vessels can be found berthed at Stokes Hill, with neighbouring Fort Hill Wharf used for commercial and cargo vessels.
The new Darwin Waterfront development is transforming the Wharf Precinct into a lively recreation and commercial zone, with a waterfront promenade, wave lagoon, apartments, restaurants and boutiques, parklands and picnic areas, and a new cruise ship terminal.