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Top five myths about Darwin in the wet season

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About Kathleen

Having it all and enjoying every minute of it .... mostly

Photographer, traveller, adventurer.

You are never too old to go on an adventure.


Have you thought about Darwin as a summer holiday destination? Don't be put off by the thought of all that rain.

I know Santa never made it into Darwin back in 1975, but that’s no reason for you not to consider it a suitable destination for your summer holidays. If you haven’t been to the Top End in wet season, you don’t know what you’re missing.

I know a lot of people are put off by the thought of all the rain and the possibility of cyclones. That suits me – it means it’s much quieter while I’m there - but wet season really is worth seeing. There’s a reason they also call it the ‘green’ season. Tropical flowers come into their own in the wet.

Robertson Falls in Kakadu National Park.

Robertson Falls in Kakadu National Park.

Like what you're reading? Check out another of Kathleen's epic posts: The outback's not all toughness and danger

The scenery is amazing, there are very few tourists, and costs are much lower in the wet season. So why wouldn’t you go?

Here are the top 5 myths about wet season

It rains all the time

Rather than constant rain, what you’re more likely to get is lovely sunny days, with afternoon/evening storms. January is the wettest month, so storms can be phenomenal – cyclones even. But all that rain also means that plants flourish, waterfalls are spectacular, and animals and birds abound. It is truly beautiful.

It is extremely hot

There is only about 2 degrees Celcius difference between the coolest months (June/July – about 30.5C), and January, which has an average maximum of 32.6C. January’s minimum is about 25C, compared to 20C in June/July.

What does increase is the humidity. There is very little rainfall in the dry season, and little or no humidity. January is the wettest month, with over 400mm of rain on average. And when it’s not raining, it’s humid.

The hottest time in Darwin is October/November during the build up, but that’s still only 33-34C.

The roads are all closed

Many of the roads in the NT are asphalt and remain open all year long. You can still get to Kakadu, Katherine, Litchfield National Park, Alice Springs. Even Uluru is tar all the way. If you’re crossing creeks you do need to be careful – don’t cross when the water is up, particularly if it’s fast flowing. And don’t cross at all unless you have a vehicle designed to do it. Lots of fast-flowing water can sweep your car away.

All the parks are closed

It’s true there are places you can’t get to because of the amount of water, but sometimes that makes it even better. The water itself is worth seeing.

The waterfalls are spectacular in the wet.

The waterfalls are spectacular in the wet. Pics: Kathleen Swinbourne

Doc and I visited Kakadu one February. We camped (in a campervan, not a tent, we’re not completely stupid) at Cooinda and had the place almost to ourselves. We went for a swim, and watched an amazing lightning show in the distance with absolutely nobody else around. The next day we went on a Yellow Waters cruise, which was unbelievable. Then we watched the sunset over the floodplain of Ubirr.

You can’t walk up to the waterfalls, but I highly recommend taking a scenic flight to see the amount of water everywhere. What was a trickle over the falls when we visited in the dry, was a rush in the wet and you only get the full impact from the air.

When we were at Katherine, I thought our van was going to be washed away in the night rain. The gorge came up 3m overnight. Believe me - that’s a lot of water! But we still had an amazing tour, got to swim at one of the waterholes and then sat outside at the café for lunch.

You can’t swim in the ocean or waterholes because of crocodiles

Yeah, well, nah …. yeah. That’s true. But it applies during the dry season as well. Beware of crocodiles all year round!

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