Whilst there’s no shortage of things to do in Australia’s magnificent Northern Territory, watching the sunset in Darwin and further inland in the Outback is one of the most spectacular ways to spend an evening.
As the sun takes its bow from afternoon to night, an array of pinks, yellows, oranges and purples streak across the sky, illuminating the landscape. The best sunset in Darwin is arguably found in Mindil Beach, where the golden hour hues draw crowds every evening, and the local night markets and beach bars only add to the overall atmosphere. For those who find themselves further afield in places like Alice Springs and Kakadu, the best NT sunsets are found at spots like Ubirr and Simpsons Gap. So have your camera ready and a drink in hand, as we present to you the best sunsets in Darwin and the wider Northern Territory.
1. Yellow Water Billabong (Ngurrungurrudjba)
Photo credit by Addy Mae
A top-notch spot for Barramundi fishing between February and November, these wetlands within Kakadu National Park lie 300km east of Darwin. Dubbed Yellow Water from the algae that bloom on its surface, it hosts a plethora of native flora and fauna. The best time to visit? Sunrise and sunset when the animals are most active, and the sky is alive with colour. Those with an eagle eye are likely to spot mud-crusted crocodiles, wild horses and feral water buffalo, as well as abundant bird life in the moments leading up to the sunset. Board a cruise for the best view of the sunset and true Kakadu knowledge from tour guides, but be sure to book in advance as this is a popular activity, so you don’t miss out.
2. Ubirr Kakadu
Photo credit by Karl Hedin
About 50km from Yellow Water Billabong and 280km east of Darwin, Ubirr is one of Kakadu’s most well-known spots, located in the northeast section of the National Park. Aboriginal artefacts and ancient rock art pull in visitors during the day, viewable along an easy one-hour walking track. Those strange-looking figures carved into the stone? According to the guide, they’re ‘bad people’. Don’t miss the rendering of the now-extinct thylacine (Tasmanian tiger) as you make your way up to the lookout that lays the Nadab floodplain bare before you. A stage, if there ever were one, for the close of day into night, the sunsets here are astonishing. This outlook takes an extra half-hour, but you won’t regret the effort. A soundtrack provided by the Kookaburras is a surprising bonus.
3. Mindil Beach
Photo credit by Recal Media
If you’re in Darwin (Garramilla) and looking for fun things to do at night, Mindil Beach is just the spot. Famous for its Sunset Markets that roll out every Thursday and Sunday from 4pm - 9pm during the May to October dry season, visitors enjoy browsing over 200 stalls, live performances and scrumptious food trucks. Located in pride of place right by the beach and 3km from the city centre, it’s an easy walk from some of the best hotels in Darwin. From your vantage point, simply peer out over the blue waters with a local brew or glass of bubbles to take in a NT sunset you’ll never forget. Another great spot, if you’re looking for bars and restaurants in Darwin, is the Mindil Beach Casino and Resort. Set against the Arafura Sea, on 30 acres of lush tropical vegetation, it’s Darwin’s sunset central.
4. Telegraph Station
Photo Credit by Namrata Shah
The Telegraph Station Historical Reserve is a National Park marking European settlement in 1871 to relay messages via the ‘singing wire’ between Darwin (1500km north) and Adelaide (1535km south). Take a guided tour of the grounds from March - November, or simply wander the grounds at your own pace and follow the informational plaques (entry fee required for Historical District). Have a go on the Morse code machine, and see how well you can get your message across. The grounds are terrifically suited for picnics, with BBQs, shaded seating and comfort facilities, so claim a spot with your rug and your hamper to share some hospitality – you can even BYO. Come sunset, make your way up to Anzac Hill (Untyeyetweleye) just half a kilometre away for 360° views over the MacDonnell Ranges down to Heavitree Gap. Dusk has never been more clear.
5. Simpson’s Gap (Rungutjirpa)
Photo credit by Fidel Fernando
Sitting in one of the gaps that run along the West MacDonnell Ranges, Simpson’s Gap lies only 20 dusty driving minutes from central Alice Springs. Here, craggy rock boulders reach for the powder blue sky: This is a place that represents the Red Centre perfectly in its geology and lore. It’s held sacred by the Arrernte Aboriginal people, who believe it to be the mythic home of their giant goanna ancestors, and where several Dreaming trails and stories cross the wildflower tracks. At sunset, rare Black-footed Rock Wallabies peer out of their daytime hidey-holes just in time for cooler temperatures. The best spot to catch the setting of the sun is at the summit of Cassia Hill, a 1.5km return that provides elevated views. Allow an hour.