Monday, 18 June 2007

Northern Territory Holiday - Part 1 - Darwin

Sunday 3 JuneOur flight to Brisbane arrived at 7.30am. On our plane was Lenny (from work) and his family. My original plan had been to spend the day at State Library doing family history research, but unfortunately, the whole Cultural Centre Complex was closed for fail-over power testing! Wow, what bad luck! The only day in the whole year! So, we decided to spend the day just mooching around the city. It was lovely to just spend some time wandering around the city, with no time pressures…..

We took the air-train into town, and firstly went down to wander through the Riverside Markets. Darryl had ridden his bike through last year, but this time got to see things he hadn’t seen before. We took some photos of buildings and sculptures and then headed up through the Queen Street Mall…which seemed a little quiet (although it was pretty early in the morning). I decided that I wanted breakfast at Cerebos CafĂ© on George Street, so that was the destination, and Darryl joined me in a delicious meal. As we were going back to town, I thought we might check up on the new location for Brisbane City Library. The new building looks very garish, but I must admit that the interior is well set up. 

I headed for the internet computer while Darryl checked out some books about Darwin and Kakadu. We were

only allowed half an hour on the net, so then I was able to go and do some research on on the census records. Wow! I found some great stuff. Next we headed over to Southbank to see another lot of markets. These were lifestyle markets and had lots of interesting stalls. We then headed for Roma Street Gardens, but on the way saw that there was a steam train on the State platform. ‘The Baby Blue’ was built in 1952 and it seems that once a month there are trips held. I am still wondering if this was the steam train I saw run through Central Station last year….. We were hoping to catch up with Shane, but he hadn’t got the SMS messages and we ended up heading back to the airport to wait for our plane which left just after 9pm.

Our first major stop was the Northern Territory Parliament Building. This is quite a modern-looking impressive building. It was possible to do a tour of the inside, but was subject to a security scanner, which caused Darryl a little consternation when his pocket knife was detected and had to be confiscated for the duration of our tour! He realised too late that he had it on him. 
We then wandered down to the harbour precinct, checking out the Governor’s House, the
WWII Oil Storage Tunnels (although, we didn’t do the tour of these), and the Administrator’s Office (which was the old Court House and Police Station) – this was a lovely stone building.
We were intrigued by the Christ Church Cathedral – the remains from Cyclone Tracey in 1974 were incorporated into a new building. A walk through the park took us past the City Council buildings and a huge historic Banyan tree. We had a bit of fun at the Information Centre, when I happened to mention that we were booked on a ‘Kakadu Dreams’ tour. He asked if we had booked it ourselves or it had been booked for us.

When I said we booked it ourselves he seemed concerned and told us to wait while he raced off. I started to think that there was something quite wrong, when he returned with a glossy pamphlet featuring a big group of young people. It turns out that he was concerned both for us and 
for the tour company – due to our age! He said that often older people booked the tour (as it was pretty cheap), not realising that it was rough camping, travelling in the back of a troop carrier, and that the ‘young’ people partied late into the night! We gave him a bit of ‘stick’ about us not being prejudiced! We then headed straight out to buy wine for the evening festivities!

Next stop was the old Darwin Telegraph Station – this was Lyons Cottage, B.A.T. house, which had been built in 1925. In an amazing bit of luck for us, it was the annual reunion of the retired PMG officers and they were offering us the opportunity to send a telegram via the old telegraph system, using morse code via Adelaide. Darryl sent one to Eileen and George and I sent mine to my parents. The telegrams were received in Adelaide and then sent in the mail.

Along the bay was the Cenotaph and war memorial in a lovely park. One path led down to a beach, and while there we got chatting to a couple from Adelaide, who were travelling in their Hilux around Australia. We saw a very curious bird along the path – which turned out to be a
Red-footed scrub fowl. Although these seem to exist around the tropical coast down to Ingham, neither Darryl nor I have ever seen them before.
After 5pm, Judy, Darryl’s second cousin, picked us up and took us to Mindil Beach to watch the absolutely brilliant sunset, and we then ate at the nearby motor-boat club. Judy’s children were there, and her husband, George, turned up later. It was really lovely to meet them. Eventually we headed back to YHA and slept soundly.

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