Pubs & Clubs
Dinah Beach Cruising Yacht Association (Dinah Beach)
You beauty, this is the place to be. About as much sophistication as a Scotsman's view on philanthropy, this place simply oozes style. It's so laid back the entire place is comatose. Be warned there is nothing pretentious about this joint. A more diverse membership would be hard to find, people from every ethnic background regularly use Dinah Beach as their watering hole. This is a great place to go to for a drink after work - especially on a Friday night when one can sit back with a cold beer and watch the antics of the local wildlife which inhabits the bar.
The bar at Dinah Beach has a roof but no sides and as such catches what breezes are around, which helps to keep things cool. Beers available are pretty standard fare however they are cold. Bar staff are friendly and attractive ,er, apart from Tony and Peter that is. There a very good, moderately priced, restaurant attached to the club which does a good line in steaks and seafood.
Dinah Beach was formed to service the needs of those cruising yachties who were not being looked after by the Sailing Club. As such, Dinah Beach is primarily concerned with sailing. During the wet season, Dinah Beach hosts a series of yacht races which take place in the confines of the harbour. These races are very popular with all classes of boats taking part.
STOP PRESS: Andrew has put together a web site for good 'ol Dinah Beach. Go get it!
Shenannigans (City centre)
Only been open about a year, this pub offers a good selection of beers, lively entertainment and a veritable smorgasbord of female (and male) talent. The pub is based on the (supposedly) traditional Irish Pub, complete with nicotine stained walls, Irish dog carrier on the wall, bare floorboards, Guiness and good pub grub. Be warned, the toilets are straight from hell, not that they aren't clean but they don't have any airconditioning so they get hot - very hot.
Shenannigans gets absolutely packed during the night, especially at the weekend. It's a favourite haunt of Backpackers and locals alike. The food is very good (as long as you can get a seat). Try the Kilkenny Draught - a very nice drop if I do say so myself. Entertainment is normally in the form of a band knocking out numbers with an Irish flavour, which appears to get the crowd up and dancing throughout the night. Shenannigans stays open 'til 2.00am and the staff and bouncers are relatively friendly (they were very nice the last time they threw me out).
Rorke's Drift (City centre)
Rorke's is another new pub, and is loosely based on an English pub, however (being English myself), I'm not sure where the connection is. Rorke's Drift, by the way, is the site of that famous battle between a handful of English soldiers and the Zulu nation, which took place at Rorke's Drift in Natal province in South Africa during the last century. There were more Victoria Cross medals awarded for that battle than in any other single battle (awarded to the Pom's that is, I don't think that the Zulus got anything other than dead). Anyway, as you walk into the place you'll find a glass case which houses a re-enactment of the battle acted out in toy soldiers - er, yes. For more info hire the movie "Zulu" starring Michael Caine - stirring stuff.
Back to the pub. Rorke's has a great selection of local and imported beers, especially Stella Artois, "Newky Brown", Boddington's with a widget in the can and Cafferys Bitter. The pub is spacious and very well airconditioned. Apparently the bar, which is the best in Darwin, was imported from Holland, that's what I heard anyway. The staff are pleasant and it's the only place I've come across in Darwin which has a female bouncer on the door. Once again, the place gets absolutely packed on weekend evenings. There is no live entertainment, but there is always music being played. A small restaurant serves meals which are very good value and absolutely huge.
Ski Club (Vesteys Beach)
If you want to go somewhere to relax and enjoy a cold beer while watching a famous Darwin sunset, then the Ski Club is the place to be. Set in beautiful grounds right on the waters edge, the Ski Club is a favourite place for locals and hosts some very good bands in an outdoor setting second to none. The club boasts a very nice swimming pool and a paddling pools for kids. There is a restaurant and the bar is comfortable although not airconditioned. Right next to the club is a public boat ramp and the club itself has washdown facilities for members boats. I think membership is around $10 per year.
If you are interested in Water skiing this can be arranged by talking to club officials. A few years ago the club hosted the World Waterski Championships which was quite a buzz.
The Green Room (City centre)
The Green Room is part of the Hotel Darwin, which is one of Darwin's oldest hotels. I've included this bar because it reflects the Darwin of a bygone era. The Green Room is a tropical bar with open walls and plenty of ceiling fans. It has an ambience all of its own. I think that it would be fair to say that a lot of Darwin's history had its roots in this pub.
There is a nice swimming pool and plenty of choices on the menu. Call in and have a quiet drink while you imagine yourself in the Darwin of yesteryear.
Gilligans (Wharf precinct)
Gilligans is a great place to kick back and watch the world go by. Situated above Christo's Restaurant on the wharf, you get a great view of the harbour and all the people wandering around the wharf precinct. Downstairs is Christo's Restaurant which is renowned for its seafood. There also lots of relatively inexpensive takeaway food outlets close by the bar.
You can sample beers from all over the world at Gilligans while watching the people down below or having a game of pool. The bar is only open in the evening (not Monday or Tuesday ), and there is often some live music.