On this local stretch of surf you'll find markets and music, beach walks and food-stalls – a place where Aborigine, Asian, Australian and Med-cuisines meet.
Mindil Beach is Darwin's favourite sunset beach. Literally around the corner from the centre of town, its short, sandy strand is perfectly set up for watching the tropical sun slide down into the turquoise Timor Sea. Every evening you'll find a crowd drawn here for sun-down – and also for the weekly beach market that unfolds its wares, as dusk draws in. It's an often eye-opening experience. The Mindil Beach crowd reflects the very diverse culture of this Australian town, which is only a few hundred kilometres from Indonesia, and surrounded by the vast wilderness of the Outback.
And the wild array of foodstuffs on offer gives you a clue to the ingredients of Darwin's melting pot. You'll find plenty of traditional Aussie grub, of course – barbies, spit-roasts, shrimp and chips. And plenty of the even-more-traditional Oz bush food – it could be a lizard, it could be a camel, it could be a crocodile. Then there's the Asian influence – Indonesian satays, Malay laksa, Thai tom yum soup and Chinese noodles. Not forgetting the occasional Greek or Italian dish.
The original Australians come to market too – Aborigines selling traditional handicrafts, decorative paintings and (of course) didgeridoos. Darwin is the Australian city with the biggest Aborigine population. They'll often start up a camp-fire dance as the stars come out, filling Mindil Beach with the deep resonance of their didges, and bringing a very spiritual feel to what was just a market moments before.
The breaking glassy-green waves here may tempt you in for a swim – but be careful. While rare here, giant sea-crocodiles have been known to cruise the surf at Mindil. And between October and May, the rainy season brings in the often deadly box jelly-fish. That's Darwin for you – beautiful, revealing and with the edge of danger you'd expect from living on the wild side of Oz.