Located to the north of Darwin’s CBD, Mindil Beach lies on the edge of Fannie Bay and is famed for its sunset market. The market is hugely popular with both locals and tourists to wine, dine and shop as the Northern Territory sunset puts on an incredible show.
The name “Mindil” translates from the Larrakia indigenous word meaning “sweet nut grass”, and its clear water and tidal creek have long been a popular place to camp and swim. Larrakia people used to collect coconuts and bush foods on its shoreline, and military personnel often came to relax here during World War II. But it is the Mindil Beach Sunset Market that has skyrocketed this coastal strip to fame, and it is now Darwin’s most-visited tourist attraction. It consists of around 60 different foods stands, ranging from Thai to Indian, Brazilian and Greek food, together with around 130 local handicraft stalls set up along the palm-backed beach reserve. Unique fashion stands alongside handmade jewellery and paintings, while local bands and buskers provide entertainment throughout the evening. Visitors can have a relaxing massage as the sun slowly sets or bring a picnic rug to soak up the quintessential laid-back atmosphere of Darwin. Mindil Beach also hosts the annual Darwin Beer Can Regatta, with boats made from empty beer cans having their seaworthiness tested during the event. The regatta includes live music, a thong-throwing contest, and the “Henley-on-Mindil” competition where participants run their beer can man-made boats around like Flintstones cars.
Public bus services connect Mindil Beach with Darwin and its suburbs beyond, with a stop adjacent to the reserve on Gilruth Avenue. But it’s well within walking distance from Darwin’s CBD, together with Skycity Darwin and the Cullen Bay Marina.
The name “Mindil” originally referred to a swamp which was located in the Central Business District of Darwin and was later applied to the adjacent beach. In the mid-1980s, a group of entrepreneurs wanted to bring the atmosphere of Asia’s night markets to Darwin, with the first stalls set up in the Darwin Mall in 1987, before moving to their current location at the Mindil Beach Reserve.