Everyone needs a chilled weekend getaway, right?  Within a cooee from Darwin there are so many unique accommodation options for an easy weekend away that perhaps aren't on your radar, because they're the kind of holiday houses that you can only find out about via the Darwin grapevine!  

Does a weekend retreat at a totally chilled and funky beachfront house, or perhaps a divine award winning "Troppo Architect" designed house sound enticing to you?  These are some of the unique little gems that we love around Darwin for a weekend getaway, or that our friends rave about! 

By Libby Larsen xo

PS. Take a look at my at my article "5 Kid Friendly Camping Spots Darwin Locals Love" for camping inspiration. 


Arnhem Eco Escape

The ultimate tropical Top End eco home

I'm totally in love. This solar powered eco-abode is the house of my dreams and the vision of some awe inspiring Territorians. It abuts the spectacular Nitmuluk National Park near Katherine which is about 3.5 hours down the track from Darwin. There's a magnificent elevated viewing platform, a cool circular private plunge pool, an incredible outdoor sheltered bathroom - and the location and views are simply sublime.  Take a sneak peek at the Insta feed @arnhemecoescape.

Hideaway Litchfield  

These new luxurious and uber stylish cabins are creating a buzz amongst Darwin locals.  Set in savannah bushland not too far from the magestic Wangi Falls in Litchfield National Park - there's nothing quite like them!  Ditch the Darwin day trip, stay the night and experience Litchfield when the crowds have gone - my favourite time.

Rozak House

For connoisseurs of design and tropical architecture.

Hands down, Rozak House is one the most unique holiday houses near Darwin - perfect for a weekend retreat. Perched on a hill overlooking Lake Bennett, around an hour or so from Darwin, this award winning Troppo Architect designed holiday house is the perfect way to experience sustainable living and all that is truly wonderful about the Top End's awe-inspiring landscapes. Troppo Architects' philosophy is - “a shelter to be able to better interact with the surroundings” and Rozak House totally nails it. Check it out on Airbnb.

Credit: Airbnb site

Makill Beach House

Chilling out at a Troppo Beach shack

About 1.5 hours down the track from Darwin at Dundee Beach, Makill House is one of our favourite weekend escapes in the Dry Season. This beach house accommodation oozes that troppo beach shack vibe I love.  Sure, it’s seen better days and is in need of lots of maintenance. But, the water views are stunning and you have a front row seat for sunset every night! There is lots of space and lawn around the holiday house so we BYO soccer balls and frisbees and bikes.  There's also great little plunge pool - perfect for cooling off. 

Artsy Airbnb in Katherine

Colourful, fun, quirky and eclectic

You'll find Maggie's homey abode in Katherine, a Top End town about 3.5 hours south of Darwin. I'm totally envious of her awesome sense of style and aesthetic. Her home is charming, arty and a funky kind of place with colourful whimsical touches.  Maggie's place is one of a kind - fabulous for that weekend away from Darwin, and a great base to explore the many wonders that Katherine. Love lots!

Photo Credit: Airbnb site

Rakhi Retreat

For nature lovers

Located in Humpty Doo, in the Darwin rural area, Rakhi Retreat is a tranquil little holiday home surrounded by bushland, which backs onto a paperbark wetland forest. There's even a little bird hide. It's perfect for nature lovers and those in need of a peaceful weekend away from Darwin. The owners, Rod & Bhavini, have painstakingly renovated the house over the years, with lots of passion, and plenty of hard work, and it shows.

 Photo Credit: Rakhi Retreat

"The Block" Dundee Forest 

Aussie Bush Shack 

Shhh! The Block is local secret.  Set on a huge bushland block inland from Dundee Beach about 1.5 hours from Darwin this no frills and rustic holiday house has a tropical Aussie 'bush shack' feel - perfect for a weekend getaway from Darwin. There's a fun outdoor shower and I'm impressed with the way that they have creatively used dongas (aka shipping containers) in the design of the holiday house. There's heaps of space for kids to explore and a campfire pit for roasting marshmallows at night under the stars. 

*This holiday accommodation is highly recommendation by a trusted Darwin family. 

Photo Credit: The Block Facebook Page

Lake Bennett Cabins

Canoeing, fishing and some lake swimming

Lake Bennett is the place to sit back, swim, fish, bush walk or go for a kayak, and its super close to Darwin. There are a number of privately owned accommodation options at Lake Bennett that you can rent that are right on the lake. Some holiday cabins have a floating pontoon straight from the verandah which is pretty cool.  Being less than an hour away from Darwin it's a really easy getaway. Darwinites aren't too keen to spill the beans on their favourite cabin, but here are some options - 

Lake Bennett Bungalows (they rent out a number of the bungalows)

Lake Bennett Cabin 50

Haven on the Lake - Bungalow 5

How's the Serenity Lakeside Bungalow

The Lily Pad - Bungalow 31

Foreshore Bungalow at Lake Bennett

Lake Bennett Bungalow 35

The Lake House

Blue Haven on the Lake

Wildman Wilderness Lodge

Top End Safari boutique luxury

This place screams "Top End Safari Boutique Luxury".  OK, so there are no elephants or zebras here, but you'll no doubt have lots of cute little wallabies grazing around your upmarket glamping tent or designer cabin of an evening. My advice - save your pennies for that special weekend away from Darwin. It's only a 2.5 hours drive east of Darwin by car, but feels really remote. Or you could opt for their helicopter transfer from Darwin if your budget allows! The landscape is stunning, the restaurant is fancy pants and the infinity pool is totally instagrammable. Dream away!

 Photo Credit: Widman Wilderness Lodge

Bush Verandah House

A designer pad that graces magazine pages

Over the years I've poured over photos of this stylish Troppo Architect designed house in design and architecture magazines. So, I was pretty excited when I found out that you can rent this minimal carbon footprint pad via Airbnb! YAY.  There's so much to love - breezy louvres, high ceilings, beautiful timbers, sweeping outdoor decks and open plan living spaces. Although it's basically in the outer suburbs of Darwin - you'll feel like you are out bush. Imagine having a dip in the divine little pool and relaxing with an afternoon gin and tonic on the floating style deck that extends out into the bushland. Pretty good weekend escape huh!

Photo Credit: Airbnb Site

Mount Bundy Station

Heaps to keep kids occupied

You'll find cute free ranging miniature ponies, wandering peacocks, guinea fowl and much more at Mount Bundy. In the mornings and early evenings wallabies graze, and being a working property there are cows, horses and a much loved friendly bull called Nigel. This relaxed and friendly spot is perfect for families and is just over an hour down the track from Darwin. Owners Sue and Scott and their lovely staff are really accommodating and always happy to help. There's a range of accommodation options to suit everyone from camping to the old station managers house, and the refreshing pool is a hit with kids. I love the rustic Cheeky Bull Bar and their wood fire pizzas.

Wagait Beach Bush Retreat 

Arrive by boat

You can catch the ferry from Darwin to get to this lovely little weekend escape. This is a really nice tropical corrugated iron holiday house with a semi-open living area situated on a spacious peaceful bush block. It’s tastefully decked out and decorated accommodation. Chances are you will meet the resident Blue Winged Kookaburra that is a regular visitor and some other native critters. Oh, and the beach isn’t too far far away.  

Photo Credit: Wagait Beach Bush Retreat Accommodation Facebook Page

The Butterfly Farm and Petting Zoo

Wacky, wonderful and kiddy heaven

Located in Batchelor, close to Litchfield National Park, just over an hours drive from Darwin everything about this place is wonderfully unconventional. There are rambling paths for kids to explore, a butterfly enclosure, a pet snake, some feisty goats and pigs, lots of cute bunnies of all sizes to pat and cuddle, and an odd array of teddy bears that sit on couches around the joint. The walls of the cabins are adorned with zany art, and Chris, the owner is larger than life and a huge hit with our kids. There is a great kid-friendly pool with a shallow section and a waterfall (which is just as exciting at Wangi Falls if you ask my kids). My advice - embrace this welcoming and slightly wacky weekend getaway.

Photo Credit for Butterfly Image: The Butterfly Farm Facebook Page

Bali House

A bit of Bali right in Darwin

This award winning tropical villa the "Bali House" is smack bang in Darwin on the marina at Cullen Bay - the perfect staycation! I love heading to Bali for a weekend getaway from Darwin, but, who needs those hideous red eye flights to Bali when this divine villa is just a hop, skip and a jump away? Ok, so it's no budget option, but its big, so I guess you could go with a group of friends or another family and make a weekend of it?

 Credit: More than a Room

Tumbling Waters 

Easy family weekend getaway 

Not far from Darwin, Tumbling Waters ticks so many boxes for families for an easy weekend away. They do outdoor movies, wildlife talks and freshwater croc feeding and heaps more. There's a decent pool which is always a winner with kids. It's close to Berry Springs Nature Park and the Territory Wildlife Park too. The grounds are large and leafy. You can camp or stay in one of the family friendly cabins (of varying sizes) and there is restaurant. Being fabulous and close to Darwin it's really popular in the Dry Season, so book this accommodation well in advance if you want the cabins. 

*Their activity program is seasonal and certain activities only run on particular days, so check when you book.

Photo Credits: Tumbling Waters Holiday Accommodation Darwin Facebook Page

Mary River Wilderness Retreat

Boat cruising, swimming and buggy riding in the bush

I love the fact that when you stay at Mary River Wilderness Retreat you can hire a boat to explore the river. The retreat has some decent cabins, a restaurant and a couple of pools. If you ask my boys what they love about this place they'll tell you its taking the golf buggies for a spin. We like the cabins around the pool, but if you have little ones - take care as there are no pool fences.

 Credit: Mary River Wilderness Retreat website

Escarpment Escape

Amazing views from the spa

Stephen and Sharni get rave reviews for their Airbnb house that is nestled into a rocky outcrop just outside Katherine, 3.5 hours from Darwin. A friend stayed here last year and couldn't stop raving about how nice it is. The views of the escarpment from the holiday house are by all accounts simply breathtaking and there's even a spa with a view. Sounds like it's the perfect for a weekend getaway from Darwin.


Need some inspiration on some drop dead gorgeous places to stay in Bali? 

Here are reviews of some of my favourites (others on my blog)

THE STONE HOUSE- Ubud - Divine Style, chilled & homely vibes

UMUJATI RETREAT - Ubud - Eco + Ethical + Divine

Mr Zimi Villa - Umalas, Bali - Designer and Fun 

Acacia Bungalows - Bingin, Bukit Peninsula - Funky beachy chic

*Growing up Troppo is about people sharing their little gems, their favourite places to stay, eat and place with kids. I'm not getting any freebies or incentives to profile or write about the places in this article.

Travel with kids - Growing Up Troppo - Libby Larsen

Libby Larsen - Growing up Troppo

I live in Darwin in the Top End of Australia with my lovely partner and two little boys. I have fallen in love with most things about life here; the sunset picnics, the relaxed outdoor lifestyle, interesting people and amazing landscapes. Growing up Troppo provides honest travel advice tips and inspiration 


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