I had planned for missing the UN flight from Dili to Darwin by allowing for a few additional days in Darwin before my scheduled flight to Perth.If I was able to fly on the Friday as hoped then I would have time to explore the top end more thoroughly than I had when I came through in December.
As it happened I was one of only 2 passengers on the Friday morning flight from Dili to Darwin so I had 4 days to explore.
I had decided not to book any accommodation as it is still the wet season and Darwin is still reasonably quiet.
Darwin is a sizable city in Australian terms but the main disadvantage of it is how spread out everything is.The local bus service covers the city well but it is not as user friendly as it could be due to poor information at bus stops (when you can find one) and of course the time it takes to cover each run directly relates to how far it is from the city centre to the Casuarina Square shopping centre, which is the place to shop in Darwin, and where all busses seem to turn around.
I had an afternoon exploring Casuarina Square.I can safely report it is a big shopping mall.If you want to see the pick of Darwin movies then you should come to the cinema here.The food court is filled with all the usual stands from Middle Eastern, Asian and the American fast foods.I enjoyed my lunch here as it was a nice place to see the filthy workers, the teenage girls in their hot pants (which seem to be the latest Darwin fashion) and the rest of the population that confirm recent comments from the Australian Government about spiralling obesity are correct.
I remember thinking it an odd report from a nation so sport oriented but I guess not all Aussies work hard and play hard.
Another day I walked down through the city centre to the Darwin waterfront development near the StokesHillWharf.I followed the Heritage walk outlined in the free Darwin City Guide I got from the airport when I arrived. I saw the traditional architecture of Browns Mart (now housing a theatre) that managed to survive the war and the cyclone then the old town hall, that didn’t manage to survive a cyclone. From there I wandered through the park to the Beagle bells. These were arranged in a large semicircle from smallest to largest and rung beautifully when “donged” with my knuckles. Each bell is adorned with a native bird �"very nice.
From there I ambled down the steps to the wharf precinct and explored the development which is turning the old industrial area into an attractive port and play area for cruise ships entering the city. The main attraction here seemed to be the wave pool and lagoon. I’ve never actually seen one of these before and I was fascinated by the perfect rhythm of the waves splashing on the pavers.
Beagle bells -better with friends to help ring them
Everyone else just seemed to be enjoying the fun.
I walked past the entrance to the WWII fuel tunnels. This is attraction that opens the massive underground tanks to the public where inside the history of the fuel tunnels is laid out on the walls.
I climbed up to the top of the cliff above the tunnels and read the history of the Japanese attack on Darwin as told at “Survivors Lookout”. Darwin was attacked a few days before PearlHarbour, with greater losses.
Walking along the cliff top I enjoyed Darwins lovely parks.It’s hot here and I must congratulate the council for providing regular water fountains where I could take a few welcome gulps of water �"not cool but very refreshing!
day I walked to the George Brown Botanic Gardens with the intention to continue
on to the museum and art gallery of the Northern
gardens were easy to find and even though I had left shortly after breakfast
the tropical sun and high humidity was already starting to make me wilt by the
time I got there.
Brown would have made a careful observation of my condition because his botanic
garden was a working garden, started to determine which species of flora would
survive in the climate of this newly developed settlement.With several of the tracks closed for repair
I couldn’t cover much of the 42 hectares but I had an enjoyable walk in the
shade of the trees before heading to the museum for some air-conditioned art
into the grounds of the museum behind a large tour bus which emptied it’s
collection of well dressed “oldies” at the doorway.
Entry fee required to go beyond the fence to the wave pool
I weaved my way through the milling crowd and
started my exploration with the aboriginal art display before moving the
natural history display and the story of Darwin’s
destruction by a huge cyclone in the 70s.
there I was delighted to find some artefacts from Timor Leste.Very little heritage has been preserved after
so many years of the small country’s occupation by the Portuguese and then the
Indonesians.It was great to learn a
little more about the country I have lived in for the past 10 months.
museum also had an extensive crocodile display, a collection of ships and a
current show of weaving by regional artists.All in all it was a pleasant couple of hours.I finished my visit by having lunch in the
on-site café.The food was good, although
a little over priced.Service was poor
due to the influx of those who poured off the bus as I arrived.I guess we all had the same idea!
and fed I decided to walk back to the city along the coast.I would have liked to walk on the beach but
the tide was too high to get through below the cliffs.
Wharf precinct with convention centre left.
Along the way I enjoyed looking at the local
sites.Walking is always my main
activity when I travel, I love the new sights of any town –and who doesn’t love
to people watch?!
Darwin is being seriously developed.The high rise apartments are springing up
everywhere so as I made my way along the coast towards the city they were
becoming more frequent, until I reached the highest point of the cliff, Myilly
Point; there sat a small collection of houses of historical importance.The design was simple and appealed to me
architecturally.I have a vision in my
head in relation to one of my properties back in NZ and these little 2 story
dwellings looked very much like what I have in mind.I would have liked to go inside and have a
measure-up but probably not really the “done thing”.
ended with a couple of hours in the pool and dinner at the local café, Ducks