With grandparents, cousins and sister in tow, KELLIE FLOYD and her family enjoy a multigenerational holiday in the Northern Territory
The second we walk through the terminal doors at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport, we hear the screams. “They’re here, they’re here!”, our two nephews bellow as they, my sister and parents rush to greet us. The four kids – Xavier, 9, and Tihan, 6, and our two children William, 9, and six-year-old Harriet – are all wearing matching Cousin Crew tees, ordered especially for this trip by their Nanna. Soon we are all strapped in on board our flight to Darwin for a week of family fun.
While not a new thing, multigenerational travel – in which three of more generations of a family travel together – is gaining in popularity, especially post-COVID, with more and more people keen to make up for lost time spent apart during lockdowns. My parents had visited the Northern Territory capital just before the pandemic struck, and quickly recognised it as a destination we would all enjoy. They also saw the Top End as a great place to celebrate a belated milestone birthday for my Dad. We’ve enjoyed many long weekends together closer to home previously, alternating between hiring a large house and individual hotel rooms. In Darwin, we chose self-contained apartments in the same complex to allow for varying bedtime routines, a full kitchen and laundry access, while remaining close enough to enable easy pool play meetups in the afternoon!
Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin
As our plane descends, the kids peer out the plane’s windows, hoping to spot a croc or two. They’re so eager to see these mighty creatures that, after settling into our apartments, we head straight for Crocosaurus Cove on Darwin’s main street. Here we get up close and personal to large salties and other Australian reptiles, all with the comfort of knowing there’s thick glass and safety bars between us and those four-inch teeth! We watch daredevils gingerly squeeze on goggles and step into the Cage of Death to stare directly into a croc’s intimidating gaze.
Crocosaurus Cove is the only place in Australia where you can cage dive with saltwater crocodiles. While the kids all like the idea of joining these adrenaline junkies, us grown-ups are relieved the minimum age for the experience is 15. We do, however, bring our bathers and some of us jump into a smaller pool that shares a glass wall with juvenile crocodiles. The kids and I can now say we’ve swam with crocodiles (well… sort of!)
Darwin Wave Lagoon
Next stop is Darwin Wave Lagoon on the Darwin Waterfront – a manmade attraction which rolls out various patterns beginning with gentle swells, working up to 1.2 metre-high waves, every 20 minutes. Excitement is in the air as all nine of us grab a free boogie board, inflatable beach ring or floating noodle and head into the warm water to catch our first wave. The younger kids give out a high-pitched “yippee!” every time they ride a wave in what turns out to be one of our favourite activities of the trip. And as it’s croc and stringer-free, the most danger you’ll encounter here is forgetting to reapply the sunscreen!
Mindil Beach Night Markets
The Mindil Beach Night Markets are a legendary, with more than 100 stalls selling Indigenous art, jewellery and crafts and aromatic food trucks. But when we first arrive, the kids don’t quite understand the attraction. To them, it’s just like any other market. But as we shuffle our bare feet through the cool sand and over sand dunes the kids sigh in amazement. This beach bears witness to a glorious sunset every evening. The surge of crimson, orange, and lilac have us not wanting to blink. The kids run off their ice-creams, make sandcastles and dance around while we sit on the sand and drink in the moment. We are all completely captivated and don’t want to leave.
Buley Rockhole and Florence Falls in Litchfield National Park
After picking up two hire cars and driving south for 90 minutes, we arrive at Litchfield National Park for the must-do day trip. Our mini-David Attenborough, Harriet, is intrigued by the two-metre-high termite mounds, perfectly aligned north to south for cooler tunnels and conduits. She takes comfort in knowing these mounds are also bushfire refuges for goannas and other small creatures. At the spa-like swimmable pools of Buley Rockhole, our mini-explorer, William, tests his rock-hopping skills. He is also an observant, deep-thinker and happily sits on a rock ledge for a time, quietly taking in his surroundings.
But the highlight of the day is Florence Falls, where the entire family experiences the thrill of swimming under a waterfall together! The falls cascade over a 15-metre ledge and plunge into a swimming hole below, providing the perfect place to cool off. The kids also capture the hundreds of fish swimming underneath us on their GoPro. When their little legs become tired from all the swimming, they wade into the smaller pools to chill out.
Easily accessible Darwin tourist attractions
All the other attractions we planned to visit in Darwin, including the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, the World War II Oil Storage Tunnels and Parliament House, were easily accessible by foot or by a quick bus ride. I’ll admit that before holidaying in Darwin, I’d seen the city merely as a pit stop on the way to Kakadu National Park, Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge or further afield. I could not have been more wrong. Darwin is grand enough to be named a family holiday destination in itself.
Follow Kellie and her family’s adventures on Instagram @together_wewillwander