How many people get to live their dreams? I am..........!

This is my story from the time when Capt'n John and I first decided to sail around the big block, to circumnavigate this great land of ours, AUSTRALIA.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Darwin Goal and War Museum in Darwin

Thursday 29th November 2012

Darwin Goal and War Museum
We drove out to Fanny Bay (Mary had a hire car) to explore the old Fanny Bay Gaol. I think we spent a couple of hours roaming around the gaol and it was worth the time only the heat was keeping up inside the buildings.

For about a century, Fannie Bay Gaol was the premiere detention centre or gaol in Darwin. This correctional institution was built in 1882 and it depicts the most important social histories of Northern Territory. It is also known to be the former Labour Prison and Her Majesty's Gaol in the city from September 1883 to September 1979.

children's wing

The original architecture of this historical gaol composes two blocks with 16 stone cells, a washhouse and a dirty kitchen. However, during the late 1920's, there came a need for a particular cell for women prisoners and so a structure for this purpose was built. Soon after, another area was established for the purpose of keeping Aboriginal detainees. Furthermore, a remand section, a watch tower and maximum security wings were erected in the 1950s.

It was only in 1887 when the infirmary at the Fannie Bay Gaol was constructed. This area was, in 1952, devoted to final execution activities. Two Romanian immigrants, namely Jonus Nopoty and Jerry Coci, were executed here because they were found guilty murdering a local taxi driver.

hanging room

Fannie Bay Gaol discontinued its operation in 1979 because the detainees were sent to the penal institution at Berrimah. The prison is now called Fannie Bay Gaol Museum, which exhibits a number of compelling displays such as the video footage and pictures of the Cyclone Tracy. The photographs and other references depict the aftermath of the tragedy. In addition, one can also visit the museum to see the gaol's female prisoners section and mess area.

Fannie Bay Gaol Museum, no doubt, imparts the depressive environment of the prisoners who were detained here.

After the Jail we continued on out to East Point to the old gunnery site and the Military Museum.

I had not been in the new Military Museum display, I think there were only a few bits and pieces in and old shed last time I was there in 1996.

The Darwin Military Museum was originally established as an artillery museum by the Royal Australian Artillery Association Inc to exhibit photographs and artefacts from Darwin's history during World War II.

my dad was here

This new museum has the very latest in interactive and multimedia displays, plus so much military memorabilia and equipment.

It was a wonderfully moving experience and an absolute must for others visiting Darwin.

We had lunch at the Cool Spot, a local cafe in Fanny Bay, on a very hot afternoon after visiting the military museum. It was a very busy and buzzy cafe with aircon inside and just the Darwin heat outside. The cafe had heaps of choices on the menu, all reasonably priced, good simple food, great iced coffee and great for families. I am told that lots of locals go there on weekends.
carly enjoying her Sangria

It was back to the girl’s hotel for some R&R by the pool before heading out for our evening meal. I had chosen Moorish Cafe, a tapas bar and cafe in Knuckey Street,in the heart of Darwin.

Moorish offers an extensive tapas menu ideal a hot simmering evening along with a couple of glasses of house-made sangria There was a choice of more than 28 tapas dishes: from mainstay items such as Bulgarian feta and chorizo to the more exotic rosewater-marinated quail, ceviche of local jewfish, berber-spiced kangaroo and the ever-popular North African meatballs. A good choice was everyone’s comment!

Friday 30th – MrJ and I took the Greyhound coach out to Kakadu for the day – this I will write up in a separate page......................

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Visiting and Visitors in Darwin

18th – 28th November 2012
sunrise at the lock
Visitors to Darwin

The weekend of the 18th/19th MrJ and I stayed out at Graham and Fern’s. Graham and Fern with their son Raighne live on a small acreage out at Humpty Doo.
Humpty Doo is a small township approximately 40kms south of Darwin with a population of around 6,000.
Fern’s gardens have a unique flavour.

We had a visit from the Burdekin ducks, also known as the Radjah Shelduck, Burdekin ducks are found in coastal northern Australia. They mainly keep to brackish waters, mudbanks and mangrove-fringed mouths of tropical rivers. During the wet season they also visit inland freshwater swamps and lagoons. They begin to feed from late afternoon, and their diet includes molluscs, insects, algae and sedges. Eggs are laid in a nest that consists only of some self-supplied down feathers.

sunrise from the maria

 The following few days we spend our time at the marina on board ALANA ROSE catching up with much needed chores and tying to keep out of the heat. On one of those mornings MrJ and I did ride our fold up push bikes down to the shop at Tipperary. Another time a huge storm passed over dropping lightning bolts not too far away.

I was not game to go too far away from the boat for fear of getting zapped.

But the Wet Season has not really started as yet.

Monday 26th we took a little trip into town on the bikes and discovered some Christmas deco had been put up in the Smith St Mall; the mall is the very centre of the Darwin CBD and has undergone several facelifts as the city changed and modern retail shopping centres developed in the suburbs. Much of the mall was rebuilt during 2010 to provide a more usable and attractive pedestrian experience for visitors and shoppers. Older trees were replaced with smaller palms, providing a more open, cleaner pedestrian mall. Raintree Park provides an attractive inner city open space and is often used for community functions. The two massive trees and extended awnings provide a pleasant setting for local office workers and visitors to enjoy a lunch time break or relax in the shade.
In the middle of the mall is the Victoria Hotel, or The Vic as it is commonly known, it is a heritage listed pub built in 1890. The Vic Hotel is a popular tavern and nightclub. The hotel complex includes surrounding retails shops and offices accessed via Smith Street Mall and the Vic arcade. The Vic is popular with backpackers, and regularly hosts live bands.

Mary and Carly arrived from Sydney. They were staying in town as it is too hot to have anyone else stay on board without more aircons.

Wednesday 28th - I did the look around the Darwin CBD and some of the prominent building with Mary and Carly.
The Old Darwin Town Hall Ruins were built in 1883 during the Pine Creek gold rush. The building survived the bombing of Darwin by the Japanese during WWII, only to be destroyed by Cyclone Tracy 50 years later. All that is left standing is three walls with no roof. The building is Heritage listed. The Town Hall Ruins were left unused for many years until the bloody comedians rocked up. The Northern Territory was the last place in Australia that did not have a Comedy Venue. That was before May 16th 2009 when the Darwin Comedy Club was launched at the Town Hall Ruins and performing several times throughout the dry season and making this the most unique venue in the country. It made a great open-air theatrette as most of the old building still exists. It is said that the acoustics are brilliant.

Christ Church Anglican Cathedral was built in three months, of locally quarried red limestone in the rough town of Darwin, Northern Territories. The church was consecrated on 2 November 1902. During World War II the military took over the church as the Darwin Fortress and in February 1942 a Japanese air raid on Darwin caused damage by shrapnel. In 1974 cyclone Tracy destroyed all but the porch, which remains standing today in front of new construction. On 27 November 2011, Christ Church Cathedral, Darwin was filled to capacity with those who gathered for the blessing and re-dedication of the newly renovated and restored Cathedral.

Government House is an elegant, gabled, colonial-style building built in 1879, which survived both cyclones and bombs. The building is open to the public once a year and is the venue for formal government occasions and ceremonies.

Further along The Esplanade, on the corner of Smith Street, is the Old Police Station and Courthouse, also known as the Old Naval Headquarters because it was occupied by the Australian Navy during the Second World War. Rebuilt after suffering severe damage in the cyclone, they are now home to the offices for the Northern Territory administrator and staff.

Directly opposite these buildings is Survivors Lookout. It surveys the Wharf Precinct and Darwin Harbour to East Arm Port and the terminus of the Ghan, a historic train that originally terminated in Alice Springs but now runs across the continent from Adelaide. The lookout also marks a spot where World War II battles were witnessed by journalists and photographers

Parliament House is a large white rectangular building with one of the finest views of Darwin Harbour. Opened in 1994, this modern, imposing edifice also houses the Northern Territory Library and a cafe that opens out to an area of lawn, a large fountain and a great view.

Mary was very taken with the Darwin Hotel (used to be Kitty O'Shea's up until a few months ago) and we were forced to stop by there for a cold drink. ;o))

After a mid-day nana nap for the girls we all, including MrJ went down to Doctors Gully to experience the fish feeding frenzy.

Darwin’s Doctors Gully is known for Aquascene Fish Feeding and as the Darwin Catalina Flying Boat base. It was the site of Chinese market gardens and the first fresh water supply.

At high tide the water boils with hundreds of fish looking for a free feed, and the visitors are happy to oblige. This scene has become one of Darwin's best known tourist attractions and brings hundreds of people to the area at high tide when the fish come in. We were lucky to have a high tide in the late afternoon making the trip to the seaside a pleasure.

Carly playing four wise monkeys

This is also the site of a heritage listed area known as Peel's Well, a well which was gazetted on 19 April 1877 and provided water for the first gardens in the settlement and visiting ships.
Named after Doctor Robert Peel, the medical officer attached to Goyder’s survey party in 1869, the area became known by the colloquial name 'Doctor's Gully'.

one of the many sculpures at Aquascene

Most of the early gardeners were Chinese, with the first formal lease issued on 30 March 1875 to three Chinese settlers. During Wold War 11 this was an important base for Catalina Flying Boats. Some remains of wartime equipment can be still seen at low tide.
enjoy the sunset the Bicentennial Park

Friday, 30 November 2012

Territory Wildlife Park

Saturday 17th November 2012

Territory Wildlife Park
passing a roadtrain on its way up the highway
MrJ and I were so lucky to have the use of Alison’s car for the whole weekend; this enabled us to get out and about a bit further, this time we were up early and driving 50ks south down the Stuart Highway before turning off onto the Cox Peninsula Rd past Berry Spring and into the Territory Wildlife Park. No cars allowed in this tourist spot: we left the car in the shade and went on foot with both backpacks filled with camera and bottled water, in tow.
The Territory Wildlife Park has numerous tracks and pathways to hike or bike along plus the there is a great motorised train that runs around the entire park at half hour interval all day. The Park has a couple of extensive indoor exhibits as well as several interest outdoor areas.

MrJ and I walked along the bush track to the nocturnal house. Glowing with an eerie light the nocturnal house has an enormous range of reptiles, birds, amphibians and marsupials all of which prefer the night shift.
Add a white python, spiders, bats and the baby-like cry of the curlew and the atmosphere is delightfully spooky.

Brahminy Kite also known as the Red-backed Sea-eagle

Coming out into the harsh sunlight we left the nocturnal house to find our way along the tracks to the Birds of Prey display at the flight deck, definitely a must see.
Black breasted buzzard cracking an egg

As we looked on an osprey repeatedly dive bombed a pond to retrieve a fish, a huge wedge tailed eagle swooped down to land on a handler’s heavily protected arm and a barn owl silently flitted about, eyeing us all off.

And all the while a Jabiru, Australia’s only stork, strutted about looking for a free feed.

sea eagle

A running commentary informed us that an eagle can see in UV allowing it to follow urine and blood trails.

black cockatoo

We also learned that an osprey is equipped with polarised lenses so it can peer into the water and, to complete the league of superbirds, the Jabiru is armed with a beak strong enough to crack a turtle’s shell.

The special bird for me was the Black breasted buzzard a large dark raptor (bird of prey) with a very short, square-tipped tail. Long feathers on the nape may be raised in a short crest. White 'bull's eye' marks are seen under the wings, which are long and 'fingered' in flight. The breast is sandy-brown in light-phase birds or dark brown and black in the dark-phase. The tail is short and the wings are longer than the tail when the bird is perched. Females are larger than males. They soar high and, when flying low and hunting, often rock or sway from side to side. This species may also be called the Black-breasted Kite. Black-breasted Buzzards use stones to open eggs by picking up and dropping a stone onto the egg until it breaks.

Barn owl

young female white breasted sea eagle
Wedge-tailed Eagle
After the live display there was a meet and greet with the birds under the cover of the main building with two of the guides and two of the birds of prey.

Next MrJ and I hike in the scorching heat across to the Goose Lagoon which has a bird hide.

The Park is part of the natural environment which makes the Lagoon home to whatever might turn up including magpie geese, herons, ibis and assorted ducks.

After the outside heat we were glad to get back inside at the huge indoor aquarium display. The massive aquarium is remarkable, following the journey of a typical Top End river from the escarpment country, through to its estuary and on to the ocean.

freshwater croc

The centrepiece is a walk through section representing ponds and billabongs teeming with turtles, whip rays, barramundi and freshwater sawfish.

The smaller aquariums are home to various reef fish in their natural environment.

Nemo was there, peering out from the safety of his anemone, and there are plenty of other bizarre and colourful creatures.
my friend Mr Salty
The Territory Wildlife Park is big, 400 hectares, which sits squarely among three distinct zones; woodlands, wetlands and monsoon forest. The Park also plays a significant role in conservation. There are breeding programs for endangered species and facilities for the care of injured animals

black necked stork

There are many things to see and a program of activities, including animal feeding, continues throughout the day.

motor train

MrJ and I were feeling the intense heat; thank goodness for all the water drinking fountain placed around the park. A person could die of dehydration out there, especial since they left their water bottle in the car. ;o) It was time to be heading home, it was easier to catch the motorised train back to the entrance than to walk, back to where we left the car and be on our way but not without refuelling our weary bodies with a late lunch snack and an iced coffee from the cafe.

On the way back to Darwin we stopped off to look at the large termite mounds and the old WW2 airstrips long the side of the highway.

Two giant termite mounds standing up to two metres high on the side of the Cox Peninsula Rd about 50ks south of Darwin. Up to 100 years old these structures are unique to the northern parts of Australia. Called Magnetic Termite Mounds, enormous magnetic compasses, with their thin edges pointing north-south and broad backs east-west. This aspect minimises their exposure to the sun keeping the mounds cool for the magnetic termites inside.

WW2 Airstrips – Airstrips were constructed next to the Stuart highway to accommodate the influx of allies bombers and fighter planes. While travelling down the Stuart Highway you can't miss the signs and displays that indicate the WW2 Airstrips.