Need help with Darwin and Port Hedlund

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#1
Upstate South Carolina
1,030 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
We will visiting these two ports next February when the Solstice stops. We are not into an entire day of crocs. Posts on Cc have discouraged folks from going to Litchfield due to distance. We probably would not be doing any swimming. Our interests are history, animals, and local culture. Suggestions of what to see in Darwin and possible tour companies. I have done some searching with not getting desired results. I would like some recommendations from anyone who has taken tours here. Or is a car rental a better option?

I can' t seem to find much in Port Hedlund. I did see a tour of the iron plant. Is that worthwhile? Just need some suggestions from those who have done tours here .

All help will be appreciated. Thanks.
Pearl
#2
Arlington, Virginia
2,409 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
I have been to Darwin twice and based on your stated interests, here are some places I would recommend that you see:

1. Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory--excellent museum with art and history of the area. Free admission.

2. Australian Aviation Heritage Center--if your interest in history extends to aviation.

3. Aquascene--hand-feed the fish. It's a lot of fun! (Open times are based on the tides. You can check times online before you go.)

4. Fannie Bay Gaol--Operated from 1883 to 1979. A good look at convict history in Australia for almost 100 years. Free admission.

5. Territory Wildlife Park and Berry Springs Park--These places (adjacent to each other) are about a 45 minute drive from Darwin. There are a lot of native animals here and an aquarium of sea animals as well. Berry Springs Park has natural pools and picnic areas. (The pools are great for swimming, but they are likely to be closed for swimming in February).

You'll want to base your choices on the amount of time you have in port and your tolerance for heat and humidity because there will be an abundance of that in February. If your time is limited and the heat/humidity are oppressive, you might want to just do Aquascene (it's in water) and the Museum (it's air-conditioned.) I know there is a bus that goes to the museum and I imagine there is a bus that goes to or near Aquascene. Then you would not need to rely on a tour or rent a car.
#3
Melbourne, Australia
1,150 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Great suggestions for Darwin GradUT, particularly for someone with the OP's interests.

As to Port Hedland, there is a reason you can't find much. It has a population around 13,000 so Solstice will increase it by 20% the day it is in port. I'd make it a day for a quick wander in town. While the Pilbara is beautiful, at least to me, there is just not the infrastructure to cope with those numbers so I can't see how you'll really be able to find a guide to enjoy it. If the ship is doing tours that may be your best bet.
#4
Orewa , Auckland , N.Z.
18,537 Posts
Joined Jun 2001
Originally posted by turtlemichael
If the ship is doing tours that may be your best bet.
If the ship does offer tours in Port Headland ...book early. They will sell out really fast .
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#5
Melbn, 'Straya
1,985 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
GradUTs Darwin suggestions are good but be aware that its not a bustling metropolis . You can pick up some good aboriginal art for a much lower price than elsewhere. I'm glad OP isn't planning on any swimming as the saltwater crocs make it a very bad idea. I am a bit baffled by the Port Headland stop as it really doesn't have anything to offer. Maybe they are trying to develop their tourist industry so it's chicken and egg.
#6
perth australia
1,525 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Pearl64
Here is a link for you - but Port hedland hasn't much to offer - the heat will be excessive - around 38 - 40 Centrigrade plus......interesting why cruise ships are going there - it is an industrial area ...... red dust.don't wear white http://www.porthedland.wa.gov.au/
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#7
Dallas
276 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
Originally posted by Pearl64
We will visiting these two ports next February when the Solstice stops. We are not into an entire day of crocs. Posts on Cc have discouraged folks from going to Litchfield due to distance. We probably would not be doing any swimming. Our interests are history, animals, and local culture. Suggestions of what to see in Darwin and possible tour companies. I have done some searching with not getting desired results. I would like some recommendations from anyone who has taken tours here. Or is a car rental a better option?

I can' t seem to find much in Port Hedlund. I did see a tour of the iron plant. Is that worthwhile? Just need some suggestions from those who have done tours here .

All help will be appreciated. Thanks.
Pearl
We were in Darwin on a Regent cruise (2010 World Cruise) and it has several WWII museums. I enjoyed visiting the Australian Aviation Heritage Center which has many war planes inside including a B-52 that had flown over Viet Nam. Another tour was to the Territory Wildlife Park. Know nothing about the other port. We are returning to Darwin Jan '13 on another Regent cruise and plan to go see my B-52 again.
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#8
Toronto
1,465 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
We went to the museum noted sbove. A taxi was around $15 each way. We spent about 2.5 hours there. Our ship had tours that included the museum but that only gave people around 45 minutes. We took the taxi back to the downtown area after the museum and it was an easy walk back to the ship from there.
#9
nsw, Australia
2,991 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
There is a HOHO bus in Darwin (tourtub.com.au), that will take you to lots of interesting places. They will now fit in with cruise ship times, and also will drop you back at the wharf. Agree with MMDownunder re the Museum, and popping across the road for a cheap but great lunch at the Sailing Club. Used to eat there often.
#10
nsw, Australia
2,991 Posts
Joined Apr 2008
Just adding a bit more re Darwin. It will be very hot and humid there, with possible rain esp around the 4pm mark for some reason, or if there is a low brewing then it can rain for days. Darwin is small, but I wouldn't say walkable re sights, esp with the heat. Driving there is easy, very easy, little traffic compared to cities. There are a few tour companies situated down Mitchell St for onthespot tours, if you wish to chance that idea, also hire cars (hire cars are further up towards the entertainment centre and theatres). A few tours do the jumping crocs, that will only take a morning of your time. This is a fab tour, plus you will get a glimpse of our outback. Sundays are pretty dead in the city itself re shops. Also Darwin is big on pearls...no pun intended Pearl, but they do a lot of pearl diving in the vicinity. Can even buy pearls at the markets! Whatever you see/do, you will love Darwin.
Jen
#11
Upstate South Carolina
1,030 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Thank you all for your responses. Yes, I know it will be the rainy season. We will just have to deal with it. Perhaps, we can just think of the mountains of snow that are back home. That should put us in the correct mindset! As much as I would like to go to Litchfield, I think given our time restraints that that option is probably not possible.

Feel free to offer more suggestions.

Pearl