Head to Doctors Gully at high tide to see a natural phenomenon turned tourist attraction, as shoals of fish come to the shallow waters to be fed by hand.
For more than 60 years wild fish have gathered to Doctors Gully, attracted by an easy meal. Darwin Harbour’s large tidal movements, which can reach up to 26 feet ( 8 meters), bring large numbers of fish close to shore for a few hours at a time. Doctors Gully is an official marine sanctuary and these fish are protected. The wild fish are now accustomed to people, and many will feed right from your hand.
Aquascene facilitates the feeding of these inquisitive creatures. The center provides visitors with bread and has established some shallow platforms out of the way of stingrays, where you can stand with the fish swimming around your feet.
Several species are regulars at the feedings. Spot the toothless milkfish, which can grow over a 3 feet (1 meter) long, and see the impressive whiskers of the catfish. Feed the diamond-scaled mullet, who are usually not afraid to nibble on the bread in your outstretched hand. Rays, rock cod, and colorful parrotfish are shyer, but you can sometimes see those species lurking behind the more inquisitive visitors of the bay.
Aquascene’s guides are on hand to help identify the fish species, so you’ll be able to name the fish you met afterwards.
When the tide runs out, the fish follow the water back out to the Timor Sea. Before you leave, browse the Aquascene kiosk for keepsakes such as children’s coloring-in books, magnets and T-shirts. The gardens around Aquascene are also worth a stroll: you can see orchids there, within a tropical rainforest setting.
Doctors Gully is located just off Darwin’s esplanade, an easy walk from the city center. The fish feeding usually lasts for about an hour. Morning sessions between December and August are best if you want to see very large numbers of fish. Bring sunscreen and a hat, because there is not much shade available. It’s also a good idea to wear waterproof sandals if you want to wade in amongst the fish.
28 Doctors Gully Rd, Larrakeyah NT 0820, Australia | View Google Map