Monday, 19 April 2021

Darwin Harbour

In the afternoon we feel brave and venture outside. I am proud to be a tourist. I do what tourists do.  Visit the oil tunnels. They were built in 1943 after the air raids. Never used to store fuel.

The oil tunnels are full of tourists reading posters about WW2.

Darwin was first bombed by the Japanese in February 1942. It was militarily very successful. Many ships were sunk etc.  The Japanese were not planning to invade. They wanted to defend their forces in Java and Timor. The air raids continued for about a year and petered out because the Japanese had priorities elsewhere. Not because the anti-aircraft guns were winning.

The tunnels are spacious, very central and cool.

Today Darwin prides itself on its links to Asia.

For lunch we have delicious sushi and Japanese green tea. We were not trying to prove a point. We just wanted to eat good food.

Darwin streets. No buskers. No street performers. No raffle collectors. Spend time indoors.  The streets are basically empty. Too hot to wander around town. The streets belong to people kicked out of their home tribal area.


Boat trip on the Harbour

Includes a smorgasbord. Plates overflow with pyramids of food.

The captain of the boat commentates and steers.

Everybody sits at their table, eats, drinks  and chats to the people at their table.

The Captain of the boat points out all the landmarks. A lot of them are related to WW2.

The Captain doesn’t interact with the passengers. He is separated from the passengers in his cabin. He receives no feedback or any questions. He drones on as us passengers go back for seconds.

We see a good sunset.

Holiday Snaps: Darwin Harbour


Darwin parkrun

It was a warm night. I wet my hair, wet my t-shirt, carry a water bottle and go through our front door towards parkrun. Parkrun is a 5 km community run.

The first person I see is wearing a Tasmanian T-shirt. I ask him and he comes from Hobart. I will remember him next time I see him in Hobart.

The parkrun starts. After each kilometre I drink water and wet my hair. Today is all about finishing. Not running a good time.

I finish. Stand around talking.

Lady: I’m coming to Hobart in July. Is it hilly?

Me: What do you define as hilly?

Lady: What is the fastest time there? That is a good guide?

Me: I make up the numbers. I don’t run with the ones who try and win.

Other ladies join in and begin talking about their home Parkruns. Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide. No mention of Darwin as home parkrun.

I used to think Darwin was hot. Now I know Darwin’s temperature varies and changes. Not just hot. Some days stinking hot. Some days hot and humid. Some days not designed for running.


Holiday Snaps: Parkrun Darwin


Sunday, 18 April 2021


 Wait for the bus with another lady. She is excited about what she saw yesterday.

Waiting for bus lady: I saw the jumping crocodiles. Wow you should have seen it.

The bus arrives. We board and sit.


Driver: I must mention the safety rules. In the unlikely event of an accident there is a hammer. Use it to break the window glass. There is a toilet. Use it in an emergency. If you need to go to the toilet, it is an emergency.

We stop for morning tea.


Bus driver: There are some old crocs, pigs in mud, some buffalo and old tractors. You are part of a group. Don’t wander around look at the animals and then say I’ve still got to go the toilet and get a drink. Toilet, drinks then animals. That’s the rules.


Back on the bus the driver talks: I’m a territorian we don’t have rules and regulations. We do what we want when we want if it doesn’t upset others.


No license needed for a boat. We are tough in the top end.


Back on the bus the driver drives and then realises he forgot something.


Driver: I’ve got to stop the bus and do a count. Have I left anybody behind?


No, he hasn’t.


Driver: Speed limit is 130 kays. Very unlucky to be caught. Straight level roads. No cars. No police patrolling.


In Kakadu the rock art is very predictable.


Tourists: How old is the rock art?


Tourist: How did they do the ones up high?


Tourist: Amazing they are so old.


Lunch is a smorgasbord. A queue of people. A pile of plates. A row of hot food. The first pot looks good. I’ll have a bit of that. I shuffle down and the next pot of food looks good. I’ll add a bit of that. I approach the end pot. That looks even better. Must have some of that. Pile a bit of that on top. My plate is a gigantic pyramid of unrelated food.


After getting my money’s worth I aim for a coffee machine. Which button do I press? What do these symbols mean? This holiday is a big learning experience. Showers, microwaves, air-conditioners and now this coffee machine.


Kakadu cruise: We see the big one. A crocodile sunning himself. Many birds. Plants stretching for miles and miles. 


Bus trip back the driver is back on his favourite topic.


Bus driver: In the NT no license to drive a boat. No testing of alcohol limit in a boat. No life jackets. As many people as you want in the boat. How cool is that?


You can get drunk and drive a boat at speed without a life jacket. You will think you are in heaven.


The trip back is very tiring. Doing nothing except watching the road unwind ahead of us.


Bus driver: Most of the aboriginals wandering the streets in Darwin have misbehaved and have kicked out of their traditional areas.


All laws broken involve men and women or alcohol. Not stealing. Nobody owns anything. Everything shared.


Holiday Snaps: Kakadu


Saturday, 17 April 2021

A tourist in Darwin

Breakfast is a packet of rolled oats with no bowls and no spoons. I pour some oats onto a bit of plastic and lick the oats. Taste good. The bed was good. The AC worked well.

Tourist by the pool: You can’t go out at night because of the aborigines in the streets. We walked around and didn’t feel safe. I don’t know where they get the alcohol from. They are not meant to have any and they always have some. They don’t do themselves any favours behaving like that in public.

Last night we went to buy a bottle of wine.

Lady selling wine: You must provide photo identification. Show you are not on the prohibited list.

We give a stunned surprised look.

Lady: Where do you come from?

Mrs. C: Tasmania.

Lady: Must be cool down there.

After breakfast we head for the local museum and art gallery.

Reception Lady: Did you walk. You are brave. Its hot out there. Where are you from?

Me: Hobart.

Reception Lady: Must be cool down there.  You soaking up a bit of this heat.

The people in Darwin seem to think every day in Hobart is cold.

It’s easy for us to go on holidays. We leave behind almost everything. You have to decide how to fit all your clothes in. Or buy extra when you get there.

The museum has some incredibly good animal panoramas. The most popular exhibit is called Cyclone Tracy.  It is packed with many children and adults. Quiet, curious and interested in Darwin 1974.

Many artefacts; photos; letters from the time. The museum itself was also destroyed by Cyclone Tracy. The Cyclone Tracy exhibit is very good and well curated.

I find something even better. A room containing aboriginal art. They are all unique works of art. Adjacent words give the story of the picture. The pictures all give you something to think about. They all look nice; good; beautiful. They are uplifting and full of hope. They are all full of artistic merit.

We walk back to our hotel. The heat envelopes, permeates everything. There is no joy or pleasure sitting in an air-conditioned room. The room is temporary respite. Temporary relief but we know it is out there waiting. Watching us. Getting ready to envelope us when we venture out. The heat is not going anywhere.

Holiday Snaps: Darwin


Friday, 16 April 2021


Bus driver: Drink lots of water. I don’t want anybody dehydrating. We have water in the bus. It is double filtered and then filtered again.

We arrive at a beautiful little pool.

Bus driver: I’ll give you 45minutes. Be back at 11:30.

I take a few photos. I do not take any photos of a lady banding over in her skimpy bikinis. I do not take photos of a lady adjusting the bum crack in her floral bathers.

Back on the bus the bus driver counts the numbers. Two short.

I reckon it was the two we passed on our way back to the bus heading away from the bus.

Driver: last week I had a couple who had their own timetable. I said it’s a short walk up this hill and back. Take 5 minutes. They didn’t return. I walked back up the hill. They had decided to take another track because it looked good. Everybody’s different. Thank god for that. Life would be very boring if we were all alike.

We sit and wait on the bus for two. When they turn up, they are going to receive cheers. Nobody on the bus is upset or complaining. It’s cool on the bus and hot and steaming outside.

We wait in the bus. Angry comments begin to bubble to the surface.

The driver paces around outside the bus. He is impotent. We wait on.

Driver: I’m expecting to see two very exhausted hot bothered running to the bus. I will give them a swift kick.

The two arrive: Sorry.

Everybody in the bus claps and cheers. Good heartedly. No bad feelings.

Holiday Snaps: Litchfield


Thursday, 15 April 2021


Tour guide: Europeans came here and within a few years 90% of the NT was grazing leases.

Some land has been given back to traditional owners. Took 11 years at Katherine. The local aborigines had to show others the sacred sites, prove they had knowledge of the area.

The aboriginal owned land gave the National Parks a 99-year lease to manage Nitmiluk National Park. National Parks manages all tours, flora and fauna including feral animals. National Parks consult with the traditional owners. 

Katherine was named after the daughter of a sponsor of an early explorer.

Chambers paid for the expedition of an early explorer. One of his daughters was called Katherine. Katherine is a nice name but Katherine River already had a name. For thousands of years. Katherine River was called Nitmiluk which translates as cicada place. The name described the place and told people what to look for.

Rock art was for visiting tribes. Told them which sites were sacred. What foods to eat and when.

During Burr or Dreamtime, the world was made and laws were given. Places were named. Sacred sites and sites to avoid were told. Language was given. Ways to behave with other tribes as given. 

Bula: The creator. Came from up north. Changed the landscape because of what he did. Left his image in rock art.

An aboriginal dreamtime story:

The serpent Bolung was made to be a river.  Needs to be respected.

Bolung the Rainbow Serpent lives in the deep green pools of the second gorge. No fishing in these pools. No drinking water from these pools. Pregnant women and new initiates may not swim in the Katherine River. If they, do you will get monsoons and floods.

Nitmiluk is so good its been on TV. On amazing race and MasterChef. That how good this place is. Even been on TV.

Holiday Snaps: Katherine