We have spent several weeks in Darwin camping in our cars and would like to share our tips.
On weekends you can easily sleep in the parking lot of Parliament House. This is a private car park so rangers can not ban camping here. This car park is located conveniently right next to the party street in the center.
The Mindil Beach is a great place especially for vanlifers during the day, but you should definitely not camp there. The city of Darwin is quite strict regarding free campers, probably because there are just so many at certain times of the year.
Anyways, it's definitely not impossible to sleep for free in your car here. We spent many nights at the stadium on Douglas Street and Richardson Drive. Other nights we went to the industrial area and found a spot there. Never got a fine, just don't be in plain sight where all the tourists are.
For the night, the Harvey Norman Stadium offers. The stadium is located on Douglas Street - Richardson Drive. I put the place down in the map. Otherwise you should drive to an uninhabited area. A side street in the industrial area is ideal for this.
Maybe someone else has another great tip, would be great to read about it.
Mindil Beach - for Vanpackers during the Day
During the day you chill as a car-traveler usually on Mindil Beach. This is where most of the backpackers of Darwin hang out. Especially the sunset is worth seeing here.
On Thursdays and Sundays it can be overpopulated, as there is a market on these days and the parking lot is not only used by backpackers. The market is relatively small, but it's a good opportunity to try crocodile meat in the form of sausages, brochettes or burgers (spoiler: it tastes a bit like chicken).
At Mindil Beach there are also public toilets, each with a shower for men or women. At the toilet building there are also sockets - great for charging mobile phones, laptops, cameras, etc..
The water from the existing taps on Mindil is optimal and is perfect to drink. Water tabs are scattered throughout the park so you do not have to go to the toilets to wash dishes.
As a backpacker you have an easy life here. During the day you can practically camp here. However, you should make sure that cookers are not used outside of the car. If you are still caught cooking in the open, you are only asked to let the cooker disappear - without further problems (usually). Mindil Beach is big enough that you can set up a provisional volleyball court or start other games. Enjoy!
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