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6 Outdoor Dining Experiences Full of Flavor and Aboriginal Culture in Australia’s Northern Territory

Sponsored by Tourism NT

Jun 9, 2021

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Sunset at Uluru

Sunset at Uluru

From dinner under the stars to a bush safari, discovering the Northern Territory’s food scene means dining alfresco and expanding your horizons.

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Cuisine in the Northern Territory is about much more than just grabbing a meal. It's an opportunity to satisfy your hunger for adventure and culture in one of the country’s most beautiful and ethnically diverse regions, including ancient Aboriginal influences. Here, nature and history come alive through what you eat—and where you eat it. The wide-open spaces of the Northern Territory, from its vast red deserts and dramatic gorges to its pristine beaches and tropical forests, offer a variety of distinct experiences en plein air that reflect its rich, layered heritage.

In the coastal capital of Darwin in the NT’s Top End, you’ll find a fishing paradise next to a scenic harbor that offers dinner cruises, waterfront restaurants, stunning sunset views and more. Set on the northern tip of the continent, the city also serves as Asia’s gateway to Australia, which is visible in the diverse culture of the Territory’s capital city. Home to vibrant restaurants and open-air markets that feature cuisines from the 50-plus nationalities that make up the Northern Territory's population, a chicken laksa or fish curry is never too hard to find.

Further south in the NT’s Red Centre, Aboriginal experts share the 65,000-year history of Aboriginal food culture during bush tucker tours (“tucker” is slang for a casual Australian meal) and cookouts. At Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, you can stargaze and feast on BBQ with unparalleled views of the sacred landmark.

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Whether you’re a food aficionado or simply love to eat, read on to salivate over our picks of six delicious outdoor offerings that should put the Northern Territory on every traveler’s list of culinary dream trips.

1. Mindil Beach Sunset Market, Darwin

Mindil Beach Markets

Popular with locals and tourists alike, Mindil Beach Sunset Market provides a taste of Darwin’s diverse dining scene on Thursday and Sunday evenings from late April through October. With more than 60 different food stalls, you can sample a wide variety of treats that represent Darwin’s multicultural heritage, such as laksa from Malaysia, grilled lamb over gado gado from Indonesia, roti from India, and loukoumades from Greece. Once you grab your stash, head over to the market’s namesake beach for a picnic or book a spot at the VIP lounge for a front row seat to one of the Northern Territory’s most spectacular sunsets.

2. Sounds of Silence, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Sounds of Silence

There’s alfresco dining and then there’s Sounds of Silence, a once-in-a-lifetime experience set on a dunetop with uninterrupted views of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. After the sun sets—steeping Uluru in glowing red light—you’ll spend four magical hours dining underneath the stars. Kick off dinner with cocktails, canapes, and a didgeridoo performance before enjoying a generous buffet of lamb, kangaroo, fish, and more.

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When you’re satisfied, cozy up with a cup of coffee or glass of Australian wine and listen to the resident astronomer decode the radiant night sky. Thanks to the lack of light pollution, you’ll be able to see the Southern Cross, Milky Way, signs of the zodiac, and even other planets and galaxies that Aboriginal astronomers have studied and told stories about for centuries.

3. Pee Wee’s at the Point, Darwin

Pee Wee’s at the Point

Nestled among nearly four acres of tropical palms on Darwin’s East Point Reserve, Pee Wee’s at the Point represents some of the best of the city’s waterfront dining. Boasting ocean breezes, fresh seafood, and an award-winning list of Australian wines, dine on the patio and take in the magnificent views across Fannie Bay. The menu showcases regional produce and ingredients with an international twist, including chargrilled squid with pea wasabi puree, shitake mushroom bao buns, and coconut, kaffir lime, and lemongrass goldband snapper. If you’re craving more fish, check out Oyster Bar Darwin and Wharf One Food and Wine directly on Darwin Harbor.

4. Animal Tracks Safari, Kakadu National Park

Kakadu National Park

When it comes to experiencing bush tucker, it doesn’t get more immersive than Animal Tracks Safari. Led by a traditional bush Aboriginal expert, this full-day, hands-on tour will teach you how to “read the bush.” Spend the afternoon gathering seasonal delicacies like turtles, native tubers, grubs, yams, corms, and snakes. Later, you’ll feast on the fruits of your labor at a sunset campfire alongside other Top End favorites like magpie geese, buffalo, damper, and billy tea. Guests leave with a deeper understanding of the natural and cultural values of the people who call Kakadu, Australia’s largest National Park, their home.

5. Nitmiluk Gorge Sunset Dinner Tour, Nitmiluk National Park

Nabilil Dreaming Sunset Dinner Cruise

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Nitmiluk National Park can be explored by canoe, on foot, by boat or by helicopter. But perhaps the most relaxing way to take in its breathtaking cliffs and sparkling water is by unwinding on a sunset cruise. Weave through two of Nitmiluk’s 13 maze-like gorges and watch the sandstone slowly change color with a glass of champagne in hand. The tour includes a three-course candlelit dinner made with Territorian ingredients like grilled wild barramundi and filet mignon. During dinner, learn about the history and stories of the Jawoyn, an Aboriginal people who are the longtime custodians of Nitmiluk National Park.

6. Gourmet Bush BBQ and Star Show, Alice Springs

Just outside the cultural center of Alice Springs you’ll find Earth Sanctuary World Nature Centre, a family-run leader in ecotourism that specializes in astronomy tours under the outback’s blanket of stars. After a colorful sunset over the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges—an expansive, ancient landscape that serves as an important refuge for the outback’s plants and wildlife—enjoy a home-cooked, three-course BBQ meal featuring locally-sourced ribeye steaks, herb and mustard sausages, and fire-cooked damper. Then, join your hosts for a glass of refreshing Quandong beer as you learn to spot stars, constellations, and planets like Jupiter and Saturn, and have a relaxed chat around the fire about local ecology and the southern skies.

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