The Top End

Whether you are in Darwin for 1 day or here for a longer visit, there are a range of tours, national parks and overnight experience for all ages.

The Top End’s tropical climate allows for a year-round outdoor lifestyle, which locals and visitors are renowned for making the most of. The dry season, from April to September (when southern Australia is freezing through winter), brings warm, sunny days and cool nights.

That sees a packed Top End calendar of outdoor festivals and events, people cruising on the harbour and fishing for barramundi, and waterfront restaurants and outdoor bars brimming with people having a good time. The Top End is also known for its rich wetlands, wild rainforests and cascading waterfalls, which are all on show at nearby Kakadu and Litchfield national parks. Birds congregate in their thousands around the Top End’s wetlands, as do other iconic animals like the saltwater crocodile.

There are plenty of opportunities to encounter crocs—safely—in the Top End: on our Darwin Airboat Tour, at dedicated crocodile parks or on our Overnight Top End Safari Camp.

You can go fishing all-year-round in the Northern Territory. Some species, such as barramundi, can be caught throughout all four fishing seasons. Our Helifishing Adventure can take you to remote, pristine and exclusive fishing locations around the Top End or stay at our Tiwi Island Retreat for an extended expedition.

Our fishing seasons are as followed:

  • Wet Season – January to mid-March
    When monsoonal rains bring the landscape to life.At this time of year, barra are sometimes on the bite in the tidal rivers, even if they are flooded, though hooking a barra can take quite a bit of hunting around before you locate a patch of feeding fish.

    Bluewater fishing is totally dependent on the weather conditions during the wet. However, in between monsoons, conditions can improve and anglers have the opportunity to catch quality fish offshore, especially reef fish such as golden snapper, black jewfish, tricky snapper, cod, coral trout and red emperor.

  • Run off – March to April
    Supposedly the best season for barramundi fishing around the mouths of creeks and on the rivers.

    The barra still up on the plains or in the channels start to move out before water levels get too low, and their exit points into the main river are the creek mouths. The run-off is very popular with locals, who have often been biding their time over the wet to get into some serious barra action. Thousands of interstate anglers also descend on the Top End during the run-off. Depending on the extent of the wet season on different river floodplains, the run-off is usually over by the end of April.

    March and April are great months for bluewater fishing across the Top End. With the strong northerly winds of the wet season finished, and the easterlies of the dry season yet to start, calm seas often prevail.

  • Dry Season – May to September
    Clear blue skies, south-easterly breezes and sensational sunsets mean great bluewater and tidal river fishing.

    Longtail tuna, cobia, queenfish and giant and golden trevally commonly travel side-by-side as they work the bait schools. For the dedicated fisherman, this time of year presents the opportunity to land a host of exciting species.

    Reef fishing for quality table fish also heats up during the dry. Popular species like golden snapper, tricky snapper, black jewfish, coral trout and red emperor are readily caught on both inshore and offshore reefs.

  • Build up – October to December.
    The pre-monsoonal ‘build-up’ can produce the best fishing of all the seasons in the Top End.The barramundi breeding season begins in around October each year, which brings big female breeders and the smaller mature male fish to congregate around river mouths and estuaries to spawn.For the bluewater angler, offshore conditions are generally the calmest of the year between October and December, so it’s often possible to travel longer distances in large trailer boats, targeting the Top End’s abundant sport and reef fish species. These calm, windless conditions are also perfect for fly fishing.

Information provided on this page has been sourced from Northern Territory