As you might know, Darwin had an unfortunate past. The city was bombed and completely destroyed during the last World War. In the early ’70s, Darwin was hit again by cyclone Tracey. One thing that always remained though is the city’s lively markets. Today we visit Darwin’s biggest and busiest one, the Sunset Market at Mindil Beach.

Mindil Beach Darwin – The Backpack Journal

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We learned from our Airbnb host Olga that today is the first Sunday of the market’s season. During the dry season, the Sunset Market at Mindil Beach takes place twice a week. It’s held on Thursdays and Sundays during sunset.

It’s a short drive from our Airbnb at Cooper Street to Darwin’s Mindil Beach. We leave our car in a huge parking area right next to the market. A man welcomes us at the entrance. We thought he would be the parking attendant, but he works for charity. The parking is free.

Sunset at Darwin's Mindil Beach
Sunset at Darwin’s Mindil Beach

When we get out of the car, we decide to check out the sunset at the beach first before we get lost in the bustling Market. It’s only a short walk from the parking area. Before we can walk up the dunes to enter the beach we cross a line of huge coconut palm trees. While passing one of these palm trees, a young green coconut drops with a loud thump right next to a baby in a buggy on the ground. OMG! Did you know that worldwide 150 people die annually from falling coconuts? Luckily, nobody got hurt today. We also learned that Mindil in Mindil Beach’s name comes from the Larakian word “min-deel”, meaning sweet nut grass. It all makes sense now.

Did you know that worldwide 150 people die annually from falling coconuts?

When we reach the dunes, we are overwhelmed by the bright red and orange sky while the sun slowly melts into the sea. A glittering golden carpet appears to have rolled out over the calm rippling water.

A sailboat passes the sunset near Darwin's Mindil Beach.

A sailboat passes the sunset near Darwin’s Mindil Beach.

It is quite busy on the beach. Besides watching the sunset, many people eat their fresh meals from the Sunset Market. In the background, you can hear the sound of the pleasant chatter and calming waves while birds are singing their last songs before they call it a day. “Crocodile” screams a little boy on the beach! Suddenly, the beautiful and peaceful dream is interrupted. “Mom, dad, it’s a baby crocodile!” shouts a little girl. Lots of people start gathering on the waterfront. Everybody wants to see the crocodile and so do we. The crowd forms a semicircle on the edge of the water at a safe distance. Adult saltwater crocodiles have the strongest bite of all predators and their teeth can grow up to 9 cm long! The two children don’t seem scared. The little boy steps bravely towards the crocodile to take some pictures with his smartphone while his sister follows him close. With such a cool picture you can certainly show off, if you survive, of course… Fortunately, the baby crocodile is no danger. The young croc swims peacefully past the crowd. It seems that he came all the way to the beach out of curiosity. While we are watching him, he is watching us.

saltwater crocodiles have the strongest bite of all preditors and their teeth can grow up to 9 cm long

Brave kids are trying to capture the baby crocodile from as little as 3 meters distance.
Brave kids are trying to capture the baby crocodile from as little as 3 meters distance.

As we walk further on the beach, we stumble upon some mysterious sand creations. Tiny sand balls are laid out artistically in a circle on the beach. In the middle of each creation is a hole. It appears that these artistic bubbles are laid out by crabs, the sand-bubblers. The Sand-bubblers are small crabs that feed by filtering beach sand through their mouthparts during low tide. While they are doing this, they leave small balls of sand behind. When the water returns, the crab hides in a small hole in the ground. The bubblers’ sand creations are fascinating to behold.

Tiny sand balls are laid out artistically in a circle on the beach.

Sand balls ceated by Sand-Bubblers at Darwin's Mindil Beach
Sand balls ceated by Sand-Bubblers at Darwin’s Mindil Beach

A bit further on the beach we see a group of fire dancers practicing. They show nothing that we didnt’t see before, but the way they play with fire on the rythm of the mysterious music feels cool!

A fire dancer performing on Darwin's Mindil Beach
A fire dancer performing on Darwin’s Mindil Beach

We start to feel hungry and decide to grab a bite on the market. Darwin’s Sunset Market appears to be a lively and cozy market, bustling from energy. The many market vendors offer food from all over the World, their specialty seems to be Asian cuisine. The gorgeous and spicy smell of curry makes our mouth water, so we decide to go with Thai. We order fried noodles with chicken curry and some extra fried chicken balls. Nothing special, but it’s guaranteed to be delicious. And yes it was!

The many market vendors offer food from all over the World

After dinner, we find out that the Sunset Market is not all about food. Many vendors sell jewelry and art, especially Aboriginal art. There is live music and we stumble upon some fascinating activities. You can take selfies with your favorite animals like parrots or scary ones like snakes. And if you eventually got scared from the snake, a Thai massage will bring you back to life. Yes, right here on Darwin’s Sunset Market! Last but not least, there is a cowboy that can learn you how to use the whip and make it clap as loud as possible. Hooray!

People enjoying a relaxing massage on Darwin's Sunset Market
People enjoying a relaxing massage on Darwin’s Sunset Market

We are more interested in art, especially the Aboriginal art. There are some truly beautiful pieces on sale. The last vendor we visit sells didgeridoo’s, a sacred Aboriginal instrument. Didgeridoo’s look like extremely big flutes. They are beautifully painted and decorated. It’s difficult to describe its sound. When somebody plays the didgeridoo, it almost sounds like the Earth itself is playing. It has a deep and mysterious vibrating tone. Did you know that one can even produce animal sounds with the didgeridoo? The market vendor shows his best didgeridoo skills. However, for the real animal sounds, we have to listen to an Aboriginal:

Did you know that one can produce animal sounds with the didgeridoo?

How To Imitate Animal Sounds On The Didgeridoo
A market vendor demonstrates the mysterious Earth like sound of a didgeridoo
Beautifully decorated didgeridoos on sale at Darwin’s Sunset Market

It would be awesome to buy one of these beautiful instruments. Unfortunately, we can’t carry it the whole year with us, so we can save the didgeridoo shopping for another day…