Darwin, a small city of approximately 168,000 people, is the Capital of the Northern Territory (NT), Australia.
Having flown into Darwin NT on the 8.30 pm flight from Sydney (Wednesday 5th September 2023), we arrived at our Hotel at around 1.30 am (Thursday 6th September). For our first day we had planned a relaxed time of site seeing in the city using “the hop on hop off” Big (red) Bus.
The main attraction for that day was the Darwin Art Gallery and Museum. The Gallery was hosting the 2023 National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. Here’s a small selection of what we saw.
Darwin is known for many things, including being bombed by the Japanese during WWII, its large harbour (5 times larger than Sydney Harbour), its proximity to world renowned Kakadu and Litchfield National Parks and Cyclone Tracy (1974).
The gallery/ museum has a moving presentation of the devastation caused by Cyclone Tracey. I’m using the following photo to sum up this exhibit, because it was difficult to capture what we saw, but this is a totally inadequate representation of the exhibit and the suffering caused by Cyclone Tracy.
Lunch was at Saltwater@Bundilla behind the Gallery building, with a view of the harbour.
“And then it happened … at around 10 am on the 19th February 1942, dive bombers appeared and began bombing ships in the harbour … “
You may have previously known that Darwin was bombed during WWII, but did you know that prior to the bombings on 20th January 1942 four Japanese submarines arrived to lay mines at the entrance to Darwin’s Harbour and torpedo ships outside the harbour? Did you also know that the Japanese bombing of Darwin, as well as other sites in NT, WA and QLD continued for approximately 20 months? The Darwin Military Museum offers extensive information and first hand accounts of the WWII experience in Darwin. Well worth a visit!
What does Darwin look like now, after the WWII bombing and Cyclone Tracey in 1974?
Late in the afternoon on Friday 8th September we boarded “MS Cape Adieu” for a sunset dinner and harbour cruise.
The food was good ( 4 courses) and the people friendly.
Australian Senior Citizens receive free transport on Government Buses in Darwin, so we made good use of this, travelling to the following destinations.
Cullen Bay is a new development boasting expensive waterfront mansions, extensive private waterways and its own “Lock” to maintain constant water levels within its water channels.
Mindil Beach Markets
Mindil Beach Market is primarily a hot food market, however it does offer other things.
As is our “norm” we arrived at the markets early. We beat the crowds, but it was very hot with little shade and nowhere to sit. So after wandering through the markets we checked out the beach, then headed to the casino resort for a drink, and later dinner in their air-conditioned dinning room.
On Sunday 10 September we set out on a bus tour to Kakadu National Park with “Off Road Dreaming”. Pickup time was 5.30 am at our hotel. Our first stop of the tour was around 7am at the Corroboree Park Tavern, Marrakai NT for a coffee and snack and view of the “albino” buffalo.
Next Stop Mamukala Wetlands with plenty of food and water for plants, birds and other animals, even in the dry season.
Then to Ubirr for the cave/rock paintings, plus climbing the rocky outcrops for a view of the Kakadu Plateau.
These paintings shown below are estimated to be 5,000 years old.
Guluyambi on East Alligator River, in a small boat
Despite the river’s name there are no Alligators here. One of the early English explorers saw crocodiles on the river and thought they were alligators thus named it so. More than 200 years have passed and the crocodiles are still there, but strangely the river’s name remains Alligator River.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of both spear and launcher our guide threw the spear about 30 meters, near the other side of the river. The spear (made from a Hibiscus branch) floated in the river until he took the boat over to retrieve it.
Tuesday 12 September we travelled on a “Litchfield Escapes” tour bus to Litchfield National Park. Our first activity was to board a small boat on the Adelaide River to watch crocodiles jump out of the water for food. With “crocs” everywhere around us it was important to keep totally within the structure of the boat.
The “crocs” move quickly, so it wasn’t easy to capture sharp images of them.
We were there early that day and what looked like fog was actually smoke haze from hazard reduction burning.
There was another tour group on the river at the same time.
This pool is considered safe from Crocodiles because of the terrain, however a couple of months prior to our visit a small croc somehow found its way up the creek to the pool. It was captured and more safety measures were put in place.
In total we visited three swimming places in Litchfield National Park, but this was by far the best.
While travelling in the bus we saw many termite mounds of two varieties, described as “Cathedral” and “Magnetic”. We stopped to get photos of this “Cathedral” beauty. However I didn’t manage to capture a photo of the “Magnetic” variety, which look like grave headstones – orientated north south hence the name given to them.
In Darwin we stayed at the Mantra on Esplanade.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip to Darwin and it’s nearby attractions, which we would certainly recommend to you.