Darwin Native and TV Host Megan Waters on Exactly What to Do and See in the NT

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NAIDOC Week celebrates and recognised the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It’s an opportunity for all Australians to learn about First Nations cultures and histories. The POPSUGAR team is sharing stories to help educate, honour and guide in our continued to push for change, so be sure to find all our pieces here. Val Morgan Digital acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

I was born and raised on Larrakia Country, spending most of my childhood running wild and free in the bush. My family’s property is situated approx. 30-40mins down the Stuart Highway from the Darwin CBD. We have a billabong behind our fence line and a gigantic mahogany tree in the backyard that was my playground growing up.

I cherish my earlier memories, always outside doing some sort of adventure-filled activity. Whether it was camping, swimming in waterfalls, fishing off Nightcliff Jetty, wakeboarding at Manton Dam or taking a boat out for a spin around Darwin Harbour, nothing was ever dull.

When I think of home, I have fond memories of spending quality time with my Grandpa. One of my favourite past times was picking him up to go cruising along the Nightcliff Jetty, or if he was feeling up for it, I’d occasionally take him down to East Point to check out the remains of the WWII wreckage.

My Gramps was part of the Stolen Generation and was taken from around the Tennent Creek region at roughly the age of four. There was nothing I loved more than spending time listening to his stories. Sadly, my family and I lost my dear Grandpa earlier this year. When I travel home now, one of the things I like to do is visit the Darwin Military Museum, where you can hear my Grandpa tell of his experiences from when the bombings of Darwin took place.

Returning home and being back on Country for me is grounding, soul-nourishing and uplifting. Darwin is a little slice of paradise, a tropical oasis, where the weather is always warm and the drinks are always cold. Of all the places I’ve visited around the world, nothing quite compares to the Top End in the dry season.

Weekends spent in Darwin for me consist of sipping on freshly squeezed watermelon juices and slurping down a Mary’s Laksa for lunch from the Parap Markets. Once I’m fuelled, it’s usually a case of loading up the car and heading down to Litchfield to spend the day waterfall chasing and sun baking at spots like Buley Rockhole, Florence Falls or Wangi Falls. Another swimming spot I frequent is beautiful Berry Springs, where pool noodles are the only essential items you really need.

Once a year in Darwin, the streets come alive as part of the Darwin Street Art Festival, where artists are invited to paint murals all around the CBD. Strolling around the city, with an ice cream in hand and admiring all the incredible artworks is one of my fave activities.

There really is nothing quite like the colours of the Territory, from burnt oranges to browns, to dusty pinks skies and hues of deep greens and blues. The best ways to experience its colours? Catch a sunset at the Mindil Beach Markets or a sunrise on the Yellow Waters cruise at Kakadu.

Recently, I stayed overnight at Cooinda Lodge in Kakadu in one of their eco tents, which was amazing and one of my most memorable Outback experiences to date. Kakadu is a truly magical place. I don’t know if that’s due to the lack of phone reception or whether it’s to do with the vastness of the land and ancient rock formations. Ubirr and Nourlangie are incredible places to visit, to recalibrate and reconnect, and then there is Maguk, which is my all-time, number one swimming destination.

Aboriginal culture is woven into the Territory lifestyle and there are so many ways to learn and explore, whether it’s engaging with a locally guided tour, exploring some of the incredible galleries or simply heading down the Stuart Highway to disconnect in order to reconnect.

I feel so grateful that I have this warm, welcoming and wonderous place that I get to call my home, and so I encourage you to visit.

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