Darwin is hot, (even in Winter and Spring) and you cannot swim at the beaches due to crocodiles and in September stinger season in full swing. There might be signs up saying that stinger season starts on 1stSeptember, but I have never known wildlife to do as is predicted. For this reason, I tend to like the idea of staying safe, and well away from the water.
The solution to this problem has not only been met by the city of Darwin, but smashed it out of the park with free water parks, a man-made beach in town and a wave pool. What more could you ask for, seriously the water parks are awesome.
Leanyer Water Park (9am to 6pm)
This is a water park that will blow your mind – and it is free. We arrived at 9am and left at 4pm and the only time we saw the kids was when it was time to eat. We had to chase them off the slides to get in the car. The park has three huge waterslides – one involves being enclosed, totally darkness and double tubes. Oh yeah it was awesome, I think my voice was still hoarse days later from the screams of fun.
There is a great lagoon style swimming pool, an awesome little water park that that has buckets drops and small slides and water raining down the entire time. The little kids love this one, as did our big kids. There is a skate park within the prescient, a huge grass area as well as picnic tables, BBQ’s and a café. The coffee lover in this family was happy to extend our time there, as they had their afternoon coffee fix on site.
Full amenities, including showers, means that you don’t need to leave this location until the kids are tired and ready for bed, or like us, had a date with a sunset and some markets with the worn out kids!
Palmerston Water Park (Open: 9am -6pm)
This park is geared towards the younger kids, with little bit to hold the interest of the older kids for short time. There is a set of super slides, where the kids carry a mat up to then race each other down. The mats are supplied and there is a lifeguard on duty to ensure everyone stays safe.
The park also boasts two kiddies pools, with a toddler waterslide in the centre of one, stepping stones and fine spray water features for the kids to play in. Great for the little ones to splash about in and enjoy a good cooling down.
The park has several picnic tables, BBQ’s and large grass areas to set and relax in while the kids play, and full amenities – even hot showers. They have made it a place to enjoy a day out, and it is totally, 100% free.
Prior to attending, just check the park timetable on their website, as there are days when the slides don’t open and one day a week when the park is closed for cleaning and maintenance. Also, outside of school holidays, the slides open at 2pm and run until 6pm.
Our first weekend in Darwin, and we spent the Saturday at City Beach with our great friends from The Adventures of Robinson Crew-so. Splash Fest was on, which meant lots of free activities for the kids, so of course we had to check it all out.
There is lots of grass, lots of shade and a lovely protected, safe swimming sandy beach. There is a kiosk onsite that sells everything from ice creams to drinks and snack, but we were ahoy with our packed picnic. The only rules are no BBQ’s, no glass and no alcohol. There are also several restaurants surrounding the areas, making it very cosmopolitan.
There are life savers in duty at the park during the hours of 9am to 6pm, but as we all know, nothing beats keeping an eye out on our little ones.
Parking is plentiful nearby, and we easily found parking on the streets, and at a couple of dollars an hours, it makes for a cheap day out.
The Wave Pool
The wave pool operates from 10am until 6pm , and is a must to visit. They do have a large number of ring floats and boogie boards on hand, so there is no need to juggle those as well as the picnic, because this is another place that you can spend all day, or a few hours cooling down and having fun.
At $18 entry for a family – which includes two adults and up to three children – and being able to come and go throughout the day, the value cannot be argued. The waves last for about 20 minutes, with a good break between sets for a rest from jumping waves, trying to body surf them and diving under them. To say that we were entertained for hours is an understatement.
Howard Springs Nature Park
This is a gem of a place, and a bit of a locals well kept secret, so don’t tell any one we are telling you about it.This is a park that is designed for you to explore, picnic, play, barra spot, croc spot and swim – in the man-made wading pool of course (It’s not like they want you to swim with crocs), and of course we did all these things.
There is a flying fox, a kids’ agility type play area as well as the swimming area with a water hole. Spotting big fat barramundi in the river and feeding them was a high light – pity fishing is prohibited because gee those buggers were big. It is defiantly a place that the locals use, as there were numerous birthday parties there on the day we visited. Actually, I think we were the only tourists there!