Day 31 – Darwin, Australia
As we sailed into Darwin in heavy rain, it appeared this would be the first time that weather would hinder us – we are apparently between two typhoons, and while not in their direct path, they have stirred up the seas and rains around us. We passed through pretty heavy seas yesterday and last night, but not heavy enough to affect activities or prevent sleep. My barometer for when it gets “too rough” is when I can hear the elevators banging against the sides of the shafts, with a loud booming noise. This wasn’t even rough enough to cause a run on sea sick pills.
Darwin, capital of the Northwest Territories of Australia, is quite hot and humid, being much closer to the equator, and has two seasons instead of four – they have a dry season from April to September and a wet season from October to March. Temperatures range from “hot” in the dry season to “hotter” in the wet season.
This is the pier, as we edged toward it. Its claim to fame is being the site of the filming of the movie “Australia” where Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman drove the cattle down the pier and onto the ship. Neither of them was hanging around as we landed.
We decided to stay on board until the rain passed, and enjoyed a quiet breakfast on the back deck, as the storm blew through.
Eventually, we made our way ashore and passed through some very attractive high-rise waterfront condos, to the town.
The town is on a bluff, some sixty feet above the harbor area, and they have considerately placed an elevator which carried us up to a walkway into town – very nice. Darwin has experienced two events which have altered its architecture considerably – first, in February, 1942, the same planes which had attacked Pearl Harbor, had regrouped, moved to the southwest into the Timor sea, and bombed Darwin. They actually dropped more bombs on Darwin, than on Pearl, devastating the town. The second event was a major Typhoon, in 1974 which again flattened the town. In fact, there are only four residences in the town which pre-date these two events.
This church at the head of the bluff is typical of Darwin buildings – the front portion survived the bombs and typhoon, and the rest has been newly built.
The main attraction of the central business district is a pedestrian only mall which runs for about three blocks on Smith Street.
The ship is holding a contest on board, building ships to sail across the pool and our tablemates have formed a team to build a ship so Sally and I are searching for some supplies – a “QUEST” is born. In the general store, we found some heavy duty twine, 3 tubes of super glue, and the all important duct tape. Quest complete.
Any structure which is pre – 1942 immediately gains status as a “site”, such as this renovated hotel,
This general store,
And these remnants of the first movie theater.
A photo of the audience for the first “talkie” and an ancient projector from the theater. The theater is now a combination food court and shopping mall.
To our surprise and pleasure, our favorite mode of transportation, the Hop on – Hop off bus appeared – we didn’t even know they had one. He hopped aboard and began the 1-hour circuit.
As we moved out of the downtown, we passed a business that could probably only exist in this part of the world – it was a crocodile experience which allowed you to swim in a tank with the crocs – we kept going.
As the bus moved on we passed through a quite exclusive marina area built on reclaimed land. We then passed one of 4 the remaining pre-war residences – not a great photo opportunity, but it looks a lot like the older homes in Galveston, up on stilts.
We passed the Darwin Lawn Bowling Club – looks like fun, maybe kind of like Bocce?
We made our way round the circuit – a pleasant journey, but not an abundance of interesting photo opportunities.
As luck would have it, the Hop-On had a stop right in front of the ship, where we returned for a rest.
In the afternoon, I hiked into town to get a haircut (it has been a couple of months) at barbershop which Sally had spotted on our tour.
When I got back to the ship, before boarding I took a photo of the starboard side of the ship so I could highlight our cabin, to show where we live.
Our next ports are Muara, Brunei and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia on the island of Borneo.