Week 5 – Litchfield, Darwin
Up early this morning and on to “The Lost City” of Litchfield National Park. Now we try and say something positive about everything we see, BUT we think that a bunch of water deprived, heat stroked, deliriously punch drunk explorers’ imaginations got away from them. Pile a few rocks with some interesting formations together into a whole city. NO! We are comparing this city to “The Southern Lost City” mentioned in previous weeks.
Ok enough of the negative stuff. Tolmer Falls was next and the view here is quiet amazing. From the platform perched high above Tolmer Falls you can see that it is a single waterfall of many metres. Behind the falls there are caves which we believe are home to many thousands of bats, not that we felt like climbing down the cliffs and swimming the lagoon to find out. Certainly a very pretty site.
Wangi Falls was next (see picture right). These falls drop into a huge lagoon which is clear and deep in places. An ideal spot for a swim. At this point we had decided to head for Darwin, so we passed on the swim.
Now this one is not on the map, but on our way out of the top of the park we saw some more magnetic termite mounds. These were in greater number than the other ones we saw in the lower part of the park and due to a recent fire very spectacular due to the clear views and green surroundings.
Darwin – it is great to see civilisation again. More to come over the next few days, as we have decided to stay four days.
Rest Day. Washing, cleaning, planning and resting. Not one photo taken by either of us! Bliss……..
The last day of Winter! OK enough relaxing, it was off to town today. First stop was the Casuarina Shopping centre. Steve found the second book in a series he is reading on Len Beadell. (Plus a lifesaving cup of coffee from Jamaica Blue…mmmmm coffee……..) Then onto the city centre. After a drive around town we found ourselves at Stokes wharfs. The food looked great & the views were excellent too. Good spot to stop for lunch. The Barramundi was great and the beer was good too :))
Then it was back around the corner to the WWII fuel storage bunkers for a quick tour. OK here are the facts on the fuel bunkers. After the Japanese blew up the oil storage facilities in Darwin a few times it was decided to build these enormous tanks in the sandstone. Despite the heroic efforts involved (Most of the workers were over 50), these tanks were never filled. The one pictured right Tank No 5, is 171m long x 4.5m wide x 5m tall. Total capacity 3,874,500 Litres. This was one of 6 (if we remember correctly). Being constructed within sandstone, the rock releases water most of the year. The bottoms of the tanks have rusted away and have had to be cut out.
Next stop was a small war museum off East Point Road. The amazing thing we learnt was the similarities between the attack on Pearl Harbour and Darwin Harbour. Happening shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbour, the amount of explosive dropped on Darwin was twice that of Pearl. Some 64 bombing raids were made on Darwin over 22 months.
Next stop was the Mindil Markets at Mindil Beach. If you live in Brisbane you will understand the following description – they are a bit like a Jan Powers Market on steroids. These markets start at 4pm and end about 9pm. You get great food, entertainment and a wonderful sunset thrown in as well. We highly recommend the experience. Esther, the sunset you requested is one of the pictures below.
Friday 1st – ************ITS SPRING!**************
Another day to play tourist today. First item to attend to was our desperate need for diesel. Also needed some groceries so we headed to Coles for a 4 cent discount voucher, BUT we ended up buying 6 bottles of wine to get 20 cents a litre off. BARGAIN says Steve!!!! Total savings at bowser $30. Very handy. Wine cost about $2 nett per bottle. Next item on the tour for the day was the historic 1942 Qantas Empire Co plane hanger. To our surprise there was an old car / machinery exhibition there. Every thing from fuel pumps through to steam engines and military vehicles and stationary engines. The hanger itself housing the exhibition survived the 1942 bombing, but we are told it was hit by shrapnel. We later saw some damage shots and it was fairly extensive. Most of the work here belongs to one man. The results of 30 years of restoration, a great legacy to remind the world of their past.
Next stop was the Fannie Bay Gaol. The last hanging took place here on 7.8.1952, before the justice system prohibited the practice (This was a double hanging – not they didn’t hang him twice…two people). It is interesting to note that the first state to stop using hanging as a punishment was Queensland. Pictorial information plaques on the walls in the gaol record that it took a mere 25 seconds to snuff out someone’s life. Today the last western country to hang people is the United States. The visit to the gaol showed the stark environment that people who were incarcerated during this period must have endured. The institution has housed refugees as late as 1970. The 1974 Christmas Day Cyclone Tracy significantly damaged the gaol, and from this date it has been decommissioned and remains simply as a reminder of our past.
Back to Stokes Wharf for lunch of seafood.
On to the picturesque scenes of Nightcliff. On our way there we investigated a crack which has appeared in one of our BF Goodrich Tyres. We were told that we should chase up Bob Jane T Marts on what they recommend to do. Will see them tomorrow. (Bob Jane is where we purchased the tyres originally)
This morning the news on the tyre was terminal! 🙁 History – we have been monitoring the crack that appeared about Mt Mulligan. The cracks have grown in length and quantity. Worried about the possibilities of a blow out we decided to replace it. Just call it $260 worth of insurance.
OK that was the bad news – now some exciting news! On the way our next tourist attraction we always listen to HOT 100.1 fm, especially when our favourite announcers Amy and Vinnie are on. (Was that a paid advertisement??) Today as we approached WOW Site and Sound, that they had 2 telescopes to give away. We didn’t hear the suburb that we had to get to, but we decided to stop and check and YES we won one! I am not sure what was the greater thrill, meeting the on air talent, being interviewed on air OR the prize. So now we are presented with another item to squeeze into our ever so small vehicle. May have to drink some of that wine we bought yesterday?
The next point of call was the Australia Aviation Heritage Centre. This centre is in a huge hanger and it just manages to squeeze in a B52 Bomber! OK a picture here is worth a 1000 words!
OK enough picture, there was everything here from a Spitfire to a Huey helicopter. An incredible display of aviation history.
The USNS Mercy was in town, 400 people on leave after finishing a 72 day mission to East Timor. This really bought Darwin to life.
Drinks and wedges at Shenannigans, a local Irish Pub. Great beer, great wedges mmmmmmmmmmmmmm….
Museum today, of particular interest was the Cyclone Tracy exhibition
More vehicle modifications, this should make a little more space again, tomorrow we will look at sending a suitcase home of our excess belongings.
Drinks with our neighbours.
Rest day today. We have been rocked by the news that Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray today. A hero and a role model of particularly Alison’s, since she bumped into him once on a mountain side; he will be sadly missed.
A Poem for Steve
When you’re camping in the bush without the services of home,
It brings out the sorts of feelings that you’ve never ever known,
You can really meet with nature in a very special way,
With time to stop and look at all the wonders of the day.
Out where there’s no pollution, no traffic noise at all,
It brings a peaceful feeling right deep down in side your soul,
There’s no need for drugs or potions to helps you through your day,
I am high on just being out here with no hang over in the way.
Stay tuned as the adventure continues……