School holidays in Darwin are filled with once in a lifetime experiences. This unique city is in Australia’s top end and offers both wildlife and nature that is second to none. While it is easy to worry about where to start you needn’t to, as we have come up with the best December/January summer school holiday activities for you.
Darwin and surrounds boasts a unique environment and culture which families can embrace in their school holiday fun. From crocodile cruises to incredible waterparks, you will be sure that we have captured all the best things to do in school holidays in Darwin.
Short on school holiday ideas? Don’t worry, kids school holiday activities don’t have to be a chore. We have included some easy and fun December/January summer school holiday activities for you to do at home. But with so much on offer, we are pretty sure that school holiday activities in Darwin will leave you wishing you had booked a longer holiday in the top end.
We have compiled the complete guide to the best school holiday activities in Darwin over the December/January summer school holidays to help make your life so much easier!
State schools finish on Thursday 16 December 2021 and return to class on Monday 31 December 2022.
Summer school holidays in the Northern Territory are Friday 17 December 2021to Sunday 30 January 2022.
Please note that term dates for some urban and remote schools in the Northern Territory differ.
Fun things to do for the Darwin school holidays
We have broken our list of Darwin school holiday activities into sections to help you:
As with everything at the moment, please check with the venue directly (either by their website or social media pages) to ensure they are open during the times you wish to attend. You should also check their current policy around advanced bookings, entry requirements/timings and social distancing rules.
10 fun free school holiday activities
We all know it is great to have a heap of free activities up your sleeve for when the kids are bored. These December/January summer holidays we have found the best free kid friendly things to do in Darwin.
Recreation Lagoon (Darwin Waterfront Precinct)
Bring the kids and cool off at this waterfront lagoon. Darwin’s only saltwater beach lagoon is a man-made lagoon beside the harbour and is constantly refreshed with sea water. Lifeguards are on duty so you can relax, knowing the kids are being watched. Bring lunch and sit in the shade and enjoy relaxing on Darwin’s waterfront.
Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory
While this museum has some great exhibits (like the cyclone Tracey and crocodile exhibits), the crowing jewel is the discovery centre. The discovery centre is just for kids! This fun creative space encourages their curiosity by involving them in arts and crafts activities, books and exhibits. There are always a range of workshops happening so make sure you check out what’s on before you go.
Mindil Beach Sunset Markets
If you really want to experience Darwin, head to the Mindil Beach markets. This is Darwin’s largest market and is set alongside Mindil Beach and is just the perfect location for sunset. This vibrant and colourful market always has great food, music and entertainment so be sure to head down while you are in town. Operates Thursday and Sunday nights.
George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens
This lush botanic garden is a sanctuary just north of Darwin. Not only does it have some impressive plants and a great visitors centre, but it is a wonderful place for kids. Kids can race boats, roll down hills or just play in the impressive playground. The playground is heaven for kids, feature a maze, sandcastle fort, climbing frame, a jungle gym and much more. Don’t forget to bring the bikes and scooters as well. Family events happen throughout the year so check what’s on before you go.
Lake Alexander is a man-made lake that is part of Darwin’s East Point Reserve. Bring a picnic or barbeque lunch (free barbeque facilities) and spend a day swimming and letting the kids run around. There are paths for bike riding as well as a playground and ample space for cricket or frisbee. There is also a mangrove boardwalk nearby for those who are after something a little different.
Berry Springs Nature Park
Imagine beautiful swimming holes surrounded by nature and you have Berry Springs. This is a great day trip from Darwin and has shaded picnic and barbeque areas, so make sure you bring lunch. Enjoy a refreshing swim in one of the natural pools and bring along a snorkel to see what you can see underwater. Bushwalking is also a great option for those that don’t want to swim. Families tip: It is located near Territory Wildlife Park so why not combine the two.
If you are looking for a great outdoor space with sea views, then look no further than Bicentennial Park. The park is perched on the cliffs and overlooks the ocean and has ample space for the kids to run around in. There is a playground and plenty of paths to ride scooters or bikes. Bring a picnic and sit in the shade and spend a lazy afternoon.
Palmerston Water Park
This water park is the ultimate in free fun as it features a 6 lane racing water slide. Better still, the slide is 14m high and records your speed when you get to the bottom so you can time yourself. Add to that a two interactive splash pads (for different age groups) with water cannons, a water curtain, buckets and a shallow wading pool and it will be hard to drag the kids away!
Leanyer Recreational Park
Leanyer Recreational Park is a great location for a family day out and somewhere we know the kids will love. The pool and water play has 3 large slides and is beside a shaded playground and grassed area that is great for a picnic or barbeque. There is also kiosk on site if you prefer to grab a snack or drink. Managed by the YMCA, this is a one of the great Darwin family attractions.
Fanny Bay Gaol
A working prison for almost 100 years, this is now an notable tourist attraction in Darwin. Wander through and take a look at the old kitchen, shower block and take in the exhibits. When it was in operation, the prison was divided into different prisoner sections and later on a watch tower was added. A fascinating look into a different side of Darwin’s history.
10 fun cheap school holiday activities
School holidays can be affordable, if you know where to look – and we do! Check out our top 10 picks of cheap Darwin family attractions.
Darwin has a rich military history which is captured in this important museum. Did you know that the Northern Territory was bombed over 70 times in 1942 and 1943? Learn the history of what happened then take a walk through the lush garden to see the military vehicles and artillery pieces on display. Stop off for a coffee in the air conditioned café afterwards.
When you can’t swim in the ocean, Wave Lagoon is the next best thing. Simulated waves let you experience really being in the surf. Hire a boogie board and ride the waves or simply just enjoy the feeling of the different wave cycles it can produce. It is easy to spend a day here (honestly, the kids won’t want to leave!) so bring lunch or grab something at the kiosk and go get wet!
Feed the fish at Doctors Gully
Experience the sensation of handfeeding fish at Doctors Gully. At high tide these fish come in search of food then go back out to sea with the outgoing tide. You can see catfish, barramundi and mullet, and if you are really lucky you might even see rays, parrot and diamond fish. Make sure you check the feeding times before you go. Families tip: Fish feeding is just down the road from Bicentennial Park so it is a great idea to combine the two.
Enjoy some indoor school holiday fun at Zone 3. Kids can enjoy 2 hours of unlimited laser tag to wear them out while you relax. The staff at Zone 3 are all about making sure everyone has a great experience, so you know the kids will have a great time. There are also some fun arcade games to try.
Big Buoy Water Park
This floating waterpark on Darwin’s waterfront will get your adrenalin pumping! Kids can bounce their way to a great afternoon of fun on an inflatable obstacle course located in the safe swimming area on the harbour. If jumping isn’t your thing, why not have a go at stand up paddle boarding. These colourful inflatable cushions standout on the waterfront so you can’t miss it.
Darwin Hop On Hop Off Bus
What could be more fun for kids than riding around on a bright red double decker bus! The Hop On Hop Off Bus is a great way for families to really see Darwin at their own pace. The one day ticket allows you to see some of Darwin’s key spots in your own time, getting on and off as you wish. Explore the waterfront, botanic gardens and Mindil Beach as well as attractions like the Crocosaurus Cove and Doctor’s Gully feeding.
Go ice skating
When you think of Darwin, you don’t automatically think of ice skating, however it is a great way to beat the heat. The Darwin Ice Skating Centre offers a world class rink where you can have a go at skating or even sign up for a lesson. There is a kiosk onsite where you can grab a coffee or snack while the kids skate. Make sure you rug up as it is quite literally, the coolest place in town!
Go tenpin bowling
Get rolling these holidays at Kingpin Tenpin Bowling! Challenge the family to a game at one of the 22 lanes or simply enjoy the arcade games on offer. You can also play laser tag, table tennis or have a game of pool. There is a restaurant onsite with a range of meals from snacks to burgers.
WW2 Oil Storage Tunnels Tour
Kids will love this unique underground experience. Located beneath the cliffs of Darwin are tunnels that were an important part of the Darwin war effort. Tour the tunnels that were built to house oil (but actually never did!) and learn about the history behind them. Tunnels are over 170m long and 4m wide and will be sure to fascinate the kids.
Play mini golf
Get out for a morning of mini golf at Gardens Park Golf Links. This 18 hole mini golf course is located beside a lake and is filled with palm trees for a truly tropical golf experience. Fully lit in the evening, a game of mini golf is perfect day or night.
10 BIG days out in Darwin these school holidays
Make some lasting memories these summer holidays with our BIG days out. We have found the top attractions in Darwin which we know you will love.
Kakadu National Park
This world heritage listed national park is one of the best things to do near Darwin. Kakadu is the largest national park in Australia and has been home to Aboriginal people for tens of thousands of years. Start by visiting one of the two visitor centres before planning your day. There are boat tours, cultural tours, walking tracks and so much more. With stunning landscape and wildlife, Kakadu is a must see destination while in Darwin.
Nitmiluk National Park and Katherine Gorge
South of Darwin is a set of gorges carved from sandstone, the most famous being Katherine Gorge. These gorges offer a wonderful array of hikes, boat trips and include swimming holes like Edith Falls, Sweetwater and Butterfly Gorge. Spend a day hiking and taking in the scenery and hearing the stories of the Aboriginal people. Walking through the gorges you can see Aboriginal rock paintings which are thousands of years old. A truly wonderful experience.
Litchfield National Park
Litchfield National Park is an easy day trip from Darwin and is well worth the drive. Bring your swimmers and enjoy a dip in one of the many swimming holes in the park. Enjoy a hike through some beautiful scenery and see why this is where the locals come to cool off. Bring lunch and enjoy a picnic to enjoy at a picnic spot.
Give the kids an experience they won’t forget these holidays and let them get up close to a crocodile! Crocosaurus Cove is located in the heart of Darwin and offers a number of crocodile experiences (including the cage of death!) to really get your heart racing. For something a little tamer, kids can enjoy a reptile show and then have a turn at holding an animal afterwards. During the school holidays the Crocosaurus Cove runs Junior Reptile Ranger Programs, so be sure to get in quick.
Darwin City Half Day Tour
Experience the best of Darwin’s sites in the comfort of an air-conditioned coach. During this half day tour you can listen to the stories of the city and learn about the history of Darwin. Discover city sites like the Botanic Gardens, art gallery, museum and Stokes Hill Wharf. This tour is an excellent option for families looking to beat the heat and explore the city in comfort.
Darwin Royal Flying Doctor Service Darwin Tourist Facility
A visit to this facility will teach the history of this incredible service and its founder, John Flynn. Started in May 1928 this services has helped thousands by giving isolated people access to doctors and medical facilities. Kids can get close to and learn about the planes and as well as watch a hologram show with a life sized John Flynn.
Darwin Airboat Tour
This unique experience is something we know the kids will love. This custom built V8 Airboat takes you across the harbour and to cruise through the mangroves. Keep an eye out for sharks, crocodiles and birds as you enjoy an hour on the boat. Before the end, the driver will do some airboat fast laps and spin you and glide you across the water – the kids will love it!
Jumping Crocs Cruise
Witness incredible saltwater crocodiles in their natural environment of the Adelaide River. This cruise lets you learn about the crocodiles and how they live and their value to the eco system. Boats allow you to be undercover (to avoid the sun) and to be safe at all times. Crocodiles are treated with respect and often known by name to the informative guides. A unique Darwin experience.
Territory Wildlife Park
Spend a day getting to know the animals of the Northern Territory in their natural habitat. Enjoy exhibits like the woodland wallaby walk, the nocturnal house and the aquarium which houses a 4m crocodile. Kids can enjoy an animal encounter and feed a pelican or river ray, or hold a bird of prey. The park puts on some great school holiday activities so make sure you check them out before you go.
Pudakul Aboriginal Cultural Tours
See Darwin and surrounds and hear the stories of the Aboriginal people. Pudakul is 100% Aboriginal owned and operated and they offer an original popular Aboriginal culture and nature based engagement experience. The Aboriginal Cultural Tour is a 2 hour experience that gives you a chance to learn and understand the local customs and traditions of the aboriginal people of the region. Other tours include a wetlands discovery tour, jumping croc tour and aboriginal rock art tour.
5 things to do at home these school holidays
Staying at in doesn’t have to be boring. Make some time and memories at home these school holidays.
Make an A-Z scrapbook
Using magazines see if you can find a picture of something that begins with each letter of the alphabet. To make it more difficult, try to choose a theme ‘animals’ or ‘places’ beginning with every letter of the alphabet. If you get stuck you could draw some of the things in.
Have a living room disco
Crank the music and get dancing! Pick your favourite tunes and dance around the living room. Close the curtains for a darker, more ‘disco’ atmosphere.
Listen to audio books
There is nothing better than curling up with a good book, so we know the kids will be enthralled by a good audio book. Why not pull the mattresses off the beds and make a cosy corner to listen in.
Write a letter to a friend
Get out the paper and pens (no devices, that’s cheating!) and handwrite a letter. If the kids are too little, draw a picture instead. Then next time you are out, get them to post it in a postbox.
Do chalk drawing
Take out the coloured chalk and get drawing on the driveway. This is also a great way to meet your neighbours and for the kids to make new friends.
Theatres with kids shows on in Darwin these school holidays
If you are looking for something a little different, take a look at these venues who all offer family friendly shows and programs over the school holidays.
Sit under the stars and watch the sunset over the harbour as you enjoy a movie. This unique cinema shows a range of favourite family movies so be sure to check it out these holidays.
The Darwin Entertainment Centre
Darwin’s main concert and theatre venue offers a wonderful experience for families wanting to see a show, listen to music or see other live performances. Located in the heart of the city it is a great option for a cultural experience.
Treat the kids to a movie these holidays. Watch the latest family movie in air-conditioned comfort, and maybe even enjoy an ice-cream! A definite hit with kid.
Darwin kids holiday ideas
If you’re looking for more things to do in the Northern Territory, click here.
Soooo…. what do you think? Plenty of Darwin days out ideas here to keep you and the kids entertained for the whole school holidays? These Darwin holiday ideas are updated every term, so remember to bookmark this page.
Let us know if we missed your favourite or if you would like us to add your venue or event!