Travelling around Australia in a motorhome. A story of our travels starting from NSW then through Queensland, across to Northern Territory and Western Australia, then to South Australia, Victoria and finally across the seas to Tasmania. We have enjoyed everywhere we have visited and look forward to setting off again in our motorhome.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Darwin 30 July – 6 August 2006

Made an early start and settled into the Polo-Cross field at Darwin for our first night. Drove into town and checked out the other camp sites and found one that seems pleasant and good for our stay. All of Darwin is noisy for the next three weeks because of a major air force exercises taking place, although we are not too disturbed by it. Our site was vacated by a permanent resident the day before we arrived and backs on to the golf course which gives us a lovely outlook and shade from 3pm. The pool is great and we swim most days. During the week we have been looking around the city and its surrounds. Darwin has many fine public buildings for a city of only 80,000. It is a modern mixture of small town facilities mixed with capital city infrastructure – between the Japanese bombing, Cyclone Tracy and the white shoe brigade, there is not much left of the old town and most historical buildings date from the 1930’s or WWII. The city is very attractive along the Esplanade looking through a green belt of parks onto the wider harbour. The main suburbs all have lovely green space on the waters edge and everyone looks out across it. We’ve had a picnic lunch in the park on the harbour, fish and chips on the wharf, watched a colourful sunset on Mindil Beach with all the tourists and then ate at the famous food market there. The weather is great and very enjoyable with day max about 30 and nights about 20, plus lots of nice sea breezes. The shops in the city are a bit run down with quite a few vacant arcades, even in the centre. Seems the big shopping centre is at Casuarina a few suburbs away. Have not been there yet as shopping is not our hobby, though there are enough ordinary things to buy any day. Peter (once again), checked out mechanics for some ongoing work on the vehicles.
They are doing a lot of work around the old wharves to ‘Noosa-fy’ the waterfront. There are glossy brochures all around about a new development called Wharf One. It will have marinas, a wave lagoon, manmade beaches, parks, amphitheatres, etc. The brochure discusses the flying times from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai and Singapore. For anyone interested we learnt of a “budget” Singaporean airline called Tiger that has really cheap flights to and from Darwin. ($385 return and “two for one offers” - have a look). Went to the casino and had a flutter, but it was much like other casinos we have visited – just a giant leagues club.
We are interested in the Japanese bombing of Darwin, as Peter’s dad was working on the MV Neptuna in the harbour during the first raid at 19 February 1942. He spoke of it quite a bit and when you are here you really wish he was standing beside you to tell it as it was. It was obviously a very different Darwin to the one that is going on now.
On Saturday morning, we went to visit the local airforce base to view the planes taking part in the defence exercise. There were jet fighters from Australia, Thailand, Singapore and Britain here to participate in Operation Pitch Black. We have seen and heard quite a bit of it all. They had a sausage sizzle on and when we decided to buy one we found out that they had RUN OUT OF GAS! Seemed rather funny next to all the security etc.
The Sunday markets were at a few locations – they were a lot of fun and we bought a lovely local pendant made from very ancient sea bed stone.
The National Trust does fundraising every Sunday afternoon serving a High Tea at Burnett House, overlooking the harbour. We sat out in the tropical gardens in perfect splendour and enjoyed it.


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